Domestic Movie Phenomenon 'Ode to My Father' Crosses 10M Admissions in South Korea

Ode to My Father Still - H 2015
Courtesy of HANSUNGHEE

Ode to My Father Still - H 2015

The family drama is among a select group films to attract a fifth of the local population.

South Korean drama Ode to My Father crossed 10 million in admissions at the Korean box office on Wednesday, becoming one of the few films here to attract a fifth of the local population (50 million).

Korean offices primarily use admissions to measure box-office performance, and the CJ Entertainment release has become the 11th Korean film, and 14th overall, to garner 10 million admissions. Only three non-Korean titles — Avatar, Frozen and Interstellar — have reached the milestone in local box-office history.

In financial terms, Ode to My Father has grossed about $72 million (77.9 billion won) according to the Korean Film Council's KOBIS database on Wednesday. Lost actress Yunjin Kim stars in this generational epic about making sacrifices for one's family amid Korea's fast economic development following the Korean War (1950-53).

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The film is directed by JK Youn, who is now the first director to have more than one title in "the elite 10-million admissions club." Youn's 2009 tsunami blockbuster Tidal Wave (a.k.a. Haeundae), also distributed by CJ Entertainment, brought in 11.32 million admissions (about $75 million).

Critics have attributed the film's success to the mainstream appeal of family dramas centered on paternal love, and as well CJ Entertainment's proactive, almost aggressive marketing tactics. Controversial political interpretations of the story have also hotwired media and SNS outlets. Ode has been topping the local box office for four straight weeks and will make its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival next month.

Meanwhile, Interstellar crossed 10 million admissions on Christmas Day last year. Still showing in theaters since becoming a local phenomenon, the Christopher Nolan space epic has so far brought in more than 10.24 million viewers or more than $75.63 million according to the Korean Film Council.