The Age of Success (Seong-gong sidae) (1988)|
Director : Jang Seon-Woo
Production Company : Hwang Ki-Seong Production
Date of Rate : 1988-05-30
Date of Theatrical Release : 1988-06-04
Running Time : 110 min.
Opening Theater : Piccadilly Theater
Genre : Melodrama
Writer : Jang Seon-Woo
Producer : Hwang Ki-Seong
Director of PhotoGraphy : Yoo Young-Kil
Gaffer : Kim Jin-Do
Music : Lee Jong-Ku
Art Director : Park Jae-Ju
Editor : Kim Hyeon
Ahn Seong-Ki, Lee Hye-Young
Kim Pan-chok (Ahn Sung-ki) believes that success is everything. At a job interview, Pan-chok captivates his interviewer (Choi Bong) with his eloquence and instantly becomes a promising new employee. Assigned to the marketing department of Yumi Inc., a spices and additives company within the Makgang Group, Pan-chok is injured as a result of excessive competition with industry forerunner Gammi Inc. and is admitted to a hospital. After a groundbreaking idea he comes up with while still in the hospital is approved by the board of executives, Pan-chok is appointed as a staff member in the planning division in addition to his original assignment. By extracting corporate secrets from rival companies through a cafe owner named Sung So-bi (Lee Hye-young) and bribing reporters to strike damaging blows at the corporate image of competitors, Pan-chok succeeds in dramatically increasing Yumi Inc.'s market share. In record time, he rises to the post of department head. He continues to ride the fastlane to success by planning new products at just the right time and launching them effectively. Asserting that even love is valuable only when it is in demand, he coldly rejects So-bi's love. But the beleaguered Gammi Inc. puts out a new product that overturns the market shares of the two companies, and Pan-chok suddenly finds himself in a corner. He tries everything in his power to bounce back from his plight, but is ruined through the vengeful machinations of So-bi. Demoted to a remote branch in the countryside, he comes up with a new idea, which is promptly ignored by his company. In extreme agitation, Pan-chok speeds along the road and is killed when his car accidentally overturns. [Translator's note: "Panchok" means marketing or sales promotion in Korean.]
"A cutting-edge allegory of Korea's capitalist society" (Byun Jai-ran)
The Age of Success is a masterful film that allegorically delves into the inhumanness lurking within Korean capitalism and, beyond that, capitalism in general. Although allegory as an artistic mode is well-suited to the communication of morals and enlightenment, it nonetheless harbors the danger of falling into an overly trite formula. However, Jang Seon-woo's film portrays the rise and fall of Kim Pan-chok, an archetype of the capitalist snob, using bold formal experiments on one hand and detailed description on the other, thereby avoiding the pitfalls of allegory while making the best of its strengths. The images of advertisements that crop up repeatedly throughout the film signal the tendency toward intertextuality that will become manifest in Jang Seon-woo's subsequent works. The movie does ample justice to the promotional copy on its VHS release: "1988, Korean cinema makes a clear leap."
Director Bio: Jang Seon-woo (1952- )
As a film critic in the early 80s, he introduced realism in filmmaking by advocating "exciting camera," as well as "open movie." He co-produced Seoul Emperor (Seoul hwangje) in 1986 and made his directorial debut in 1988 with The Age of Success (Seong-gong sidae), initiating the New Wave in Korean cinema. Although his movies were variegated, - dealing with issues of sexuality, capitalism and history - because he showed an unhindered view of reality in his movies, he was always labeled as a realist. His most important works include A Short Love Affair (Umugbaemi-ui salang) (1990), The road to race track (Gyeongmajang ganeun gil) (1991), The Avatamska Sutra (Hwa-eomgyeong) (1993), To you from me (Neo-ege naleul bonaenda) (1994), A Petal (Kkoch-ip) (1996), and Lies (Geojismal) (1999).