- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 28, 2007

SEOUL — A tiny city turned out to demonstrate against authoritarian rule, South Korean special forces went in and when the smoke cleared, more than 200 protesters were dead.

The Kwangju uprising of May 1980 — an event analogous here to China’s Tiananmen Square massacre nine years later — has haunted Koreans for 27 years. It marked the birth of a strong strain of anti-Americanism and continues to bedevil U.S. relations with one of its closest allies in Asia.

Now it has become the subject of a mainstream movie.

May 18th, produced by CJ Entertainment, Korea”s largest film production company, opens next month. CJ Entertainment is an affiliate of corporate giant Samsung and a partner with U.S. production company Dreamworks.

It stars South Korea”s most famous actor, Ahn Sung-ki, as a former commando embroiled in the uprising, alongside heart-throb Lee Jun-ki as a student protester.

I created it as close to the truth as possible, said director Kim Ji-hoon, at a screening for foreign reporters yesterday. It”s purely based on fact.

But one Westerner who was in South Korea at the time of the clashes remained unconvinced after watching the film.

I don”t think the evolution of the battle was accurate, but some of the moods of the time were, said Don Kirk, an American reporter who covered Kwangju and who consulted with the filmmakers for accuracy.