This July 27, both North and South Korea are celebrating the 63 rd anniversary of the end of the Korean War, which ravaged the peninsula on which both countries lay from 1950 to 1953 and served as a flashpoint of the larger ideological conflict between democracy and communism that was the Cold War of the latter 20 th Century. While the two sides remain in a state of war – they only signed an armistice (end of fighting) and not a peace treaty – they also both claim victory over the other and are commemorating the event as such.
An extra bit of celebration for South Korea is the locally produced film “Incheon Sangnyuk Jakjeon”, to be released internationally as “Operation Chromite”. Opening in theaters that same day, it is a war drama documenting a large-scale United Nations military operation of the Korean War that was initially seen as a high-risk gamble with lopsided odds, but became a smashing success that turned the tide of the fighting and saved South Korea from total conquest by the North.
The operation, launched in September of 1950, saw 75,000 UN troops perform a dangerous amphibious landing on the port of Inchon, behind the forward lines of the North Korean army in South Korean territory. This counterattack after the Northern assault on the UN Pusan Perimeter protecting what was left of unoccupied South Korea, saw North Korean forces being pushed all the way back to the border with China. And the present-day South Korean production of Taewon Entertainment isn’t going to re-enact this important historical battle on the big screen by halves. They have some major Hollywood star power in their efforts, thanks to Liam Neeson who plays US General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, who planned Operation Chromite and commanded it to fruition.
Of his debut role in a Korean movie, Neeson told Variety in an interview that he sees in MacArthur the same “supreme confidence” by another historical figure he has portrayed in the past:World War II Jew rescuer Oskar Schindler from 1993’s “Schindler’s List”. He expressed admiration of the movie’s director John H. Lee, remarking that he had crafted a great emotional script and a story that is both complicated yet simple enough for the moviegoers to understand. He then spoke of the difficulties in filming a war movie saying, “I can’t believe John has finished this film. When we were shooting, it seemed like a mountain to climb.” Neeson also had nothing but praise for his Korean co-stars and production crew, describing them as “professional, fast, focused and mind-blowing”.
“Operation Chromite” also stars Korean matinee star Lee Jung-jae as MacArthur’s Korean second in command. Its international release will be handled by CJ Entertainment and will reach the US on August 12.
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