South Korean thriller ‘Concrete Utopia’, starring prominent actors such as Lee Byung-hun and Park Seo-joon, and actress Park Bo-young, has been selected as the country’s next Oscar entry.
Recently, the film’s distributor Lotte Entertainment announced that the Korean Film Council (Kofic) had selected the post-apocalyptic thriller to be submitted in the International Feature Film category for the 96th Academy Awards.
Directed by Eom Tae-hwa, the movie is set in modern-day Seoul and explores the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake. It follows the story of the residents of Hwang Goong Apartments, the only building left standing in an earthquake-ravaged Seoul.
Released on August 9, across 1,621 screens worldwide, by August 18, it become the third highest-grossing Korean film of 2023 with a gross of US dollars 17,476,060 (Dh64 million) and 2.4 million ticket admissions according to Kofic.
The Oscar's non-English movie section requires each country to submit a single film as their official representative.
This year, ‘Concrete Utopia’ and ‘Cobweb’ competed as finalists for South Korea’s submission.
Concrete Utopia was picked unanimously by a seven-judge panel that indicated in a statement that the film’s plot is in line with the ongoing debates around recession and global warming, and “expertly explores the topic of class conflict”.
This was also the main theme of Bong Joon-ho's film ‘Parasite’, which won best picture, best director, best original screenplay, and best international feature film at the 92nd Academy Awards in 2020.
“In Korea, an apartment building symbolises class and wealth. After only a low-income housing complex Hwang Goong Apartments was left standing, the various desires of the characters struggling for survival were well-portrayed. It is an original story well-led by Lee Byung-hun (of Squid Games fame),” the judges said, according to a story on the South Korean entertainment website soompi.com.
“At a time when global recession and natural disasters are hitting every corner of the globe, ‘Concrete Utopia’ features not heroes, but ordinary people trying to survive,” they added.
“We wanted to select a film that feels Korean but is also geared towards the global standard that strikes a good balance between artistic and mainstream.”
The 96th Academy Awards are slated for March next year.