The President's Last Bang
|The President's Last Bang|
|Revised Romanization||Geudttae Geusaramdeul|
|Directed by||Im Sang-soo|
|Produced by||Shin Chul|
|Written by||Im Sang-soo|
|Music by||Kim Hong-jib|
|Edited by||Lee Eun-soo|
|Distributed by||MK Pictures|
|Running time||102 minutes|
The President's Last Bang (Hangul: 그때 그사람들; RR: Geudttae Geusaramdeul)[nb 1] 1 is a 2005 satiric black comedy film by South Korean director Im Sang-soo about the events leading to and the aftermath of the assassination of Korean President Park Chung-hee by his close friend and Korean Intelligence Agency director Kim Jae-kyu.
The fictional portrayal of the former President has raised a storm of controversy, leading to a suit against the film by Park Chung-hee's only son, Park Ji-man. In 2005, a ruling by the Seoul Central Court ordered that 3 minutes and 50 seconds of documentary footage (mostly of demonstrations) be censored out of the film. In response, the director had the excised footage replaced with a blank screen for its running time. During its theatrical run, both nationally and internationally, only the censored version was shown.
The ruling was appealed, and in August 2006 overturned, with the court issuing the following statement: "We must broadly confirm the right of free expression concerning the depiction of public historical figures." The court also concluded that several scenes were an unjust smear against the former president and ordered MK Pictures, the production company that financed the film, to pay President Park's family 100 million won (roughly $105,000 USD).
Almost the entirety of the film focus on the few hours before and after Park's assassination on October 26, 1979. Undoubtedly the most controversial aspect of the film is its portrayal of Park. In the film, he is shown to be a cowardly libertine, having late-night drinking parties, pawing young women, and in particular having much admiration for Japanese culture, to the point of occasionally speaking Japanese himself.[nb 2]
The film starts out in a luxurious brothel, where KCIA Chief Agent Ju deals with the mother of a young woman who was one of Park's playmates, who has come with her daughter to offer her again to the President, by interrogating and intimidating them. KCIA director Kim gets scolded by a doctor about his drinking, a direct result of having to attend President Park's drinking parties. Scenes of various officials and low officers making their way to a heavily guarded safehouse follow, including Chief Agent Ju procuring an attractive young woman and the famous enka and trot singer Sim Soo-bong for the party.
During the dinner, President Park, his personal bodyguard Cha Ji-cheol, Director Kim, Chief Secretary Yang (appointed to the post to be Park's drinking buddy, portrayed as a total sycophant) discuss how to deal with demonstrators, with Cha berating Kim for not being repressive enough. Kim, having been agitated the entire day, decides then to kill Park, and hatches the plan with Chief Agent Ju and KCIA Col. Min.
Director Kim returns to the party, shoots Cha (who is unarmed) and Park, each with a single shot, jamming the pistol on this second shot. Soon thereafter, Agent Ju and Col. Min and a few minions kill the president's personal bodyguard staff and secure the building. Kim comes back with another gun and finishes off Cha and tells off Park before shooting him in the head. They move to make the scene resemble an ambush by North Korean forces, and Kim uses the political fear and tension to his advantage while convening a Cabinet Council.
Director Kim and Colonel Min meet with the Army higher-ups to sell them his version of events, but Chief Secretary Yang gets to them first and tells what really happened. With every agency under its own authority and the possibility of inter-agency war looming, the Army arrests Director Kim, leaving Agent Yu and Colonel Min helpless and confused. Realizing their fate, they call their families to say goodbye. Prime Minister Choi Kyu-ha ascends to the presidency, and the fates of those involved at the party, mostly execution, are listed.
- Song Jae-ho – Park Chung-hee
- Han Suk-kyu – KCIA Chief Agent Ju
- Baek Yoon-sik – KCIA director Kim Jae-kyu
Pusan Film Festival
The President's Last Bang was restored and screened in its entirety, from October 13 to 18, 2006, at the 11th Pusan International Film Festival.
- The original title (in English, "The People of Those Days") refers to a famous Korean song of a similar title – "That Man of those Days". According to official sources, this song was performed by Sim Soo-bong during the party the night of Park's assassination. In the movie, however, Sim Soo-bong is summoned to perform Japanese enka songs.
- The memory of Japanese Occupation fresh in the minds of many Koreans, this implies affection for if not association with Korea's former colonizers.
- The President's Last Bang at the Internet Movie Database
- Interview with the director
- Detailed review of the Region 3, 2-Disc Korean DVD Edition
- Review at koreanfilm.org