|Revised Romanization||Taekoesu Yonggary|
|Directed by||Kim Ki-duk|
|Written by||Kim Ki-duk
|Music by||Jeon Jeong-Keun|
Keukdong Entertainment Company
|Distributed by||AIP-TV (USA)|
Yonggary (Hangul: 대괴수 용가리; RR: Taekoesu Yongary; lit. Great Monster Yongary), is a 1967 South Korean monster film directed by Kim Ki-duk and featuring special effects by Kenichi Nakagawa. The film was made to rival the success of Godzilla and featured the same style and techniques of special effects filmmaking used in Godzilla and other Kaiju films utilizing suitmation and miniature sets. Indeed, the Japanese production company Toei would help co-produce the film with Keukdong Entertainment.
The film was released direct to Television in the United States by American International Pictures in 1969 as Yongary, Monster from the Deep.
In the Middle East, a bomb is set off that creates massive earthquakes. Meanwhile, in South Korea, a young couple is about to get married and the tension builds when South Korea sends a manned space capsule to investigate the bomb site. The earthquake makes its way to South Korea, caused by a giant monster named Yongary (inspired by a mythical creature in Korean lore). Yongary attacks Seoul and makes his way to the oil refineries where he consumes the oil. A child related to the aforementioned couple turns off the refineries' oil basins; Yonggary, enraged, starts attacking until a chemical explosion at the refinery proves to have an effect on it. The Korean Government then uses oil to draw Yonggary on a local river, and kills it with a refined version of the ammonia compound.
Keukdong Entertainment Company employed staff from Equis Productions and Daiei Film's special effects staff to helm the film's special effects. Masao Yagi, who built the Gamera suit two years prior, supervised the construction of the Yonggary suit. Director Kim Ki-duk found that the suit lacked terror and was disappointed with the final results but proceeded to film with the suit since there was no time or money to produce a new suit. Lee Byoung-woo, the film's associate producer, acted as an intermediate between the Korean filmmakers and the Japanese staff and helped train the Korean staff in the special effects techniques used by the Japanese crew.
Principal photography began on April 3rd, 1967 while the special effects photography commenced on April 6th with Cho Kyoung-min performing in the Yonggary suit, who was paid ₩100,000 ($400 in USD). The special effects took three months to shoot and were filmed in two studios in Seoul. The miniatures and models costed ₩5 million ($20,000 in USD), the 12 constructed sets costed ₩7 million ($27,000 in USD), and the Yonggary suit costed ₩1.2 million ($5,000 in USD).
Infamously, when the film was being sold overseas, the producers (due to a lack of experience) shipped all the original materials, including the original negatives and sound elements. As a result, the original Korean version of the film has been deemed lost and the AIP English version is the only version of Yonggary that survives.
For its release in North America, Keukdong Entertainment Company sold the film to American International Pictures and released it under the new title Yongary, Monster from the Deep through their television division in 1969. AIP-TV attached Salvatore Billitteri to supervise the English version's post-production. Due to the negatives having been lost, AIP's English version of Yonggary is the only version of the film available.
The film opened in Seoul on August 13, 1967 and sold 110,000 to 150,000 tickets during its theatrical run, which was a success for the film at the time due to a low amount of cinemas in the country (550 screens total) and the population at the time being 25 million.
In the United States, the original film is now widely available on DVD in various budget-DVD packs and single budget DVDs. MGM released the original Yongary, Monster from the Deep as part of their Midnite Movies series on September 11, 2007. It is paired as a double feature with the giant ape film Konga (1961). James Owsley, a former Director of Technical Services for MGM, could not find the original Korean negative, and believes that it may no longer exist. However, it was soon discovered that roughly 48 minutes of the cut of the film in its original language still exists.
Due to the original prints having been lost, Yonggary became unavailable on television and home media in its native country for 44 years until it was broadcast on television for the first time on June 19, 2011, however, it was the English dub version of the film that was broadcast with Korean subtitles taken from the film's original Korean script.
Film scholar and critic Kim So-Young published an essay in 2000 where he noted how the evacuation and destruction scenes in the original Godzilla film reminded Japanese audiences of the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the evacuation and destruction scenes in Yonggary similarly reminded Korean audiences of the Korean War. Young also addressed the film's theme of masculinity, stating that the astronaut and the young scientist are "tested to prove their masculinity throughout the story" and alludes to the country's crisis of masculinity at that time. Young addressed that the little boy is the real hero of the film, believing the boy to be a mirror image of Yonggary and as a symbol of Korea's future.
In other media
An edited version of the film is featured in an episode of This Movie Sucks! where it is made fun of by Ed the Sock and Liana K, with regular contributor Ron Sparks only in the show occasionally as a voice with Ed telling him "you're not in this episode". Instead of being taped on the usual set the episode features Liana on the set of a giantess video that she is shooting, where (like Yongary) she is destroying a city. It also features a lengthy comparison by Ed of Yongary's rolling around to his dog when he has to go to the bathroom. The 1993 comedy Young-Goo and Dinosaur Zu-Zu, also directed by Shim Hyung-rae parodies Yongary several times, mainly the design of the titular monster.
- Aiken, Keith (September 20, 2007). "YONGARY, MONSTER FROM THE DEEP on MGM DVD". Scifi Japan. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
- Audio commentary by film historian Steve Ryfle & writer/critic Kim Song-ho - Yongary, 2015 Kino Lorber Inc. Bluray release
- Ragone, August (January 28, 2015). "RIDDLE OF "YONGARY, THE GREAT MONSTER"! Could Toei Possess Original Korean Elements?". The Good, the Bad, and Godzilla. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
- Fangoria - America's Horror Magazine
- "Toho Kingdom • View topic - YOUNG-GOO AND DINOSAUR ZU-ZU". tohokingdom.com. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
- Milner, David (1995). "Yongary - Monster From The Deep". Cult Movies 13: 16.
- Yonggary at the Internet Movie Database
- Yonggary is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- Holland, Chris; Scott Hamilton (April 26, 2000). "Yongary, Monster from the Deep (Review)". stomptokyo.com. Retrieved 2007-05-14.
- Warren, Jason. "YONGARY, MONSTER FROM THE DEEP (Review)". scifilm.org. Retrieved 2007-05-14.
- Google Video