South Korean MERS Scare: More Films Cancel Screenings, Promotional Events

MERS South Korea H 2015

A special showcase for 'My Intimate Enemies' and a press conference for 'The Assassination' have been canceled this week as more cases of MERS are confirmed.

Two more major South Korean films awaiting releases this summer have been canceled due to the MERS outbreak.

As of Tuesday, seven Koreans have died from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a deadly viral illness that was discovered in Saudi Arabia in 2012. The outbreak in Korea is the largest outside of the Middle Eastern country, with nine additional confirmed cases from the day before, for a total of 96. The number of quarantined individuals has also risen, to 2,892, which is 384 more than Monday.

Top officials of the World Health Organization arrived in Seoul on Monday to conduct a joint mission with Korea's health ministry. Though Keiji Fukuda, WHO's assistant director-general for health security, told local press that Korean authorities "are handling the situation well," public alarm continues to grow.

Promotional events for upcoming major summer movies have thus been canceled.

Twentieth Century Fox Korea called off a special showcase for My Intimate Enemies that was due to take place on Wednesday at Konkuk University in Seoul. Directed by Im Sang-soo (The Housemaid and The Taste of Money, both of which competed for the Palme d'Or at Cannes), the crime actioner is among a handful of local productions by Fox International Productions Korea and stars Ryu Seung-bum and Go Joon-hee. The showcase was expected to receive major media attention ahead of the film's release on June 25.

"We hope that that there will be no more harm caused by the MERS virus," said a spokesperson for My Intimate Enemies.

Meanwhile, a press conference that had been scheduled on Wednesday for the anticipated blockbuster The Assassination has been postponed. Directed by Choi Dong-hoon (The Thieves, one of the highest-grossing films of all time in Korea), the period drama by Showbox/Mediaplex has made headlines for starring Asian superstar Gianna Jun (aka Jun Ji-hyun) and A-listers Ha Jung-woo and Lee Jung-jae. The colonial-era story, which was pre-sold to nine territories (Well Go USA Entertainment will handle its North American release), will open in local theaters in July.

On Monday, premieres for Northern Limit Line, another anticipated summer blockbuster, and the annual Asian Film Policy Forum were also postponed or canceled. Theater admissions over the weekend of June 5-7 also went down considerably as an increasing number of Koreans are avoiding crowded areas.

June 9, 12:03 a.m. Updated number of confirmed MERS patients in South Korea from 95 to 96, following an additional reported case.