South Korea Box Office: Warner Bros. Local Thriller About North Korean Defection Debuts on Top

VIP Still - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Korea

'V.I.P.,' in which the CIA attempts to aid the defection of a high-ranking individual in Pyongyang, earned $6.9 million during its first weekend.

V.I.P., a new release by Warner Bros. Local Productions Korea, topped the South Korean box office over the weekend of Aug. 25-27, earning $6.9 million.

The film accounted for 25.1 percent of the market share on its debut weekend, an impressive bow considering its "19 and over" rating (the local equivalent of an R rating). Traditionally, films rated "15 and over" have performed strongly in South Korea.

Directed by Park Hoon-jung (New World), VIP tells the story of a conspiracy between the CIA and South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) for the defection of Kim Gwang-il, the son of a high-ranking Pyongyang official, in the hope of retrieving intel about the North Korean regime. Kim, however, becomes the primary suspect in a high-profile serial murder case.

In addition to starring some of South Korea's biggest A-listers, including Jang Dong-gun, Lee Jong-suk, Kim Myung-min and Park Hee-soon, the film has attracted attention for its portrayal of actual geopolitical relations—particularly in the wake of recent nuclear threats from North Korea.

"Organized defection [by authorities] has said to have occurred both in North and South Korea. I am not sure if it is still happening today, but I heard it was quite common in the past," said director Park.

"The story is definitely something that can actually happen here, and I thought it was a ripe subject matter for the big screen. I wanted to imagine what if this 'VIP guest' from the North happened to be a monster, and what would happen if social systems failed to do their part."