Kim Soo-Yong's 'Sorrow Even Up in Heaven' Gets Digital Facelift

Courtesy of KOFA.
"Sorrow Even Up in Heaven"

The Korea Film Archive has digitally restored the 1965 classic after locating a copy of the film in Taiwan.

SEOUL — The Korean Film Archive (KOFA) has digitally restored Kim Soo-yong's 1960s smash hit Sorrow Even Up in Heaven after locating a copy of the film in Taiwan, KOFA announced Monday.

The originally film had been lost at home but the dupe negative film — a copy of the original negative that is used for cinema screenings — was discovered in the neighboring Asian country.

Sorrow Even Up in Heaven, which follows the plight of an impoverished boy's efforts to support his family, drew some 285,000 admissions in Seoul alone when it opened in theaters. It was the highest grossing film of the year in 1965, and the second most watched film to date at the time after Shin Sang-ok's 1961 Seong Chun-hyang. Shin was the producer behind Sorrow Even Up in Heaven.

"It's deeply moving, as if a dead friend came back alive," the 84-year-old director Kim said ahead of the film's unveiling at KOFA's cinematheque in Seoul. Members of the film's cast and crew took part in the event held on Monday evening, including actor Choi Nan-gyeong and scriptwriter Shin Bong-seung, as well as veteran filmmakers Lee Jang-ho and Chung Ji-young.

The film had hitherto been classified as a Chinese film at the Chinese Taipei Film Archive and retained the original Korean dialogue.

"Normally films exported to Chinese-speaking territories are dubbed in Chinese and are stored that way. But this film was screened with Chinese subtitles with the original Korean sound. We were thus able to recover the original audiovisuals including the music score," said KOFA.

The Chinese Taipei Film Archive loaned the film to KOFA in March for the restoration process, and a digital cinema package was created using a copy of the film print. The original film will be returned to Taiwan next month. Sorrow will be shown as part of a film showcase in May for the 40th anniversary of KOFA's foundation.

This is not the first time that KOFA has collaborated with other countries to recover and restore old films. Several years ago Shin's Bound by Chastity Rules (1962) was found in Taiwan and was digitally restored for screenings at the Busan and Cannes Film Festivals, while Kim Ki-young's The Boxes of Death (1955) found its way back home from the United States.

Last year KOFA signed an accord with the Shanghai Film Museum to collaborate for film projects including restorations.