South Korea's 'Masquerade' Admissions Hit 10 Million Mark

3:45 PM PST 10/21/2012 by Lee Hyo-won

Choo Chang-min’s period epic about a king and his jester double becomes the seventh local release to reach the milestone on home turf.

Masquerade, directed by Choo Chang-min, became the seventh South Korean film to sell more than 10 million tickets over the weekend. Topping the local box office for a sixth consecutive week, the period drama reached the number in just 38 days.

Masquerade sold 10.04 million tickets in just 38 days since opening on Sept. 13, at about the same speed as Avatar,” CJ Entertainment said. ”Among homegrown movies, it reached 10 million admissions in the shortest time span, seven days earlier than (Lee Jun-ik’s) King and the Clown, which took 45 days in 2005-2006.”

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Masquerade is a Prince and the Pauper story set in 17th-century Korea, with G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra star Lee Byung-hun playing dual roles: a king fearing assassination and a common jester recruited to be his double. The latter is forced to occupy the throne when the king falls into a coma and surprises all by demonstrating just leadership in the corrupt court.

The film’s entry into the coveted “10 million-ticket club” comes not long after Choi Dong-hoon’s The Thieves (Showbox), which set a new record in Korean box office history by recording 13 million admissions in August. This is the first time more than one domestic film has hit the 10 million mark in South Korea in the same year.

“We believe Masquerade’s box office score is all the more significant because it opened during the slow season; the six other Korean movies and even Avatar were released during peak summer or winter holidays. It remains on top of the box office in spite of a diverse range of films opening, and this may just well be the beginning of a new record,” CJ Entertainment said.

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Observers say the political drama’s release is timely, offering a topical story ahead of the Korean presidential election in December. Celebrities are credited with helping spread the word about the film through social networking services. Best-selling novelist and popular microblogger Lee Oi-soo said through Twitter, “Politicians in particular should pay attention to this movie, and citizens also ought to refer to it when thinking of what kind of president to elect.”

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