Chinese urge suspension of ‘Midnight Runners’

Chinese living in Korea said they will ask a local court to suspend the screening of the movie, “Midnight Runners,” which they claim mischaracterizes them as “poor, vicious criminals.”

Dozens of Chinese staged a protest near Seoul’s Daerim Station, Sunday, urging director Kim Joo-hwan to take down the movie immediately and make a public apology over the negative depiction of the Chinese.

Their demand comes at a time when tension is building between the two countries over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system here to defend against North Korea’s nuclear threats.

The story is about two police trainees who witness a Chinese gang kidnapping children for organ trafficking. In the film, the Daerim District, a neighborhood predominated by Chinese, is portrayed as a dangerous area where even police have lost control.

“I think depicting Chinese as criminals and their town as a crime-ridden area really crosses the line,” Park Ok-sun, the director of a special committee of more than 40 Chinese groups, said. “It thwarts the efforts of Chinese who try hard to improve the area’s image as safe and lively.”

They claimed that 800,000 Chinese living here have been unfairly treated even though they have contributed much to Korea’s economy and culture.

Movie Rock, the production company of the movie, apologized in a statement it sent to the committee.

“We deeply apologize to everyone who felt discomfort about the way the Chinese were depicted in the film,” the company said. “We made such fictional depictions only to evoke suspense.”

The company also promised not to make films that can cause such misunderstanding. “We will try our best to promote harmony among multicultural members in Korean society.”

But the company rejected the committee’s request to choose between adding a phrase like “the movie is fiction” or taking it down. It also refused to hold a press conference to make a public apology.

In response, the committee said it will file an injunction as well as a damage suit with a Seoul court against the company.

Despite the controversy, Midnight Runners has been a big box-office success, drawing more than 5.5 million viewers here so far.

Beginning in Indonesia on Aug. 23, the movie is expected to open in a total of 12 countries overseas, including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Britain, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, and the Philippines.

By Jung Min-ho

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