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Daily Drip

Guan Hu’s “Sacrifice” Joins Rush of Korean War Films Invading the Chinese Box Office

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Korean War drama Sacrifice hit Chinese cinemas on October 23, and has already racked up a massive 4.2 billion RMB (625 million USD) at the box office as China marks the 70th anniversary of its entry into the conflict on the Korean peninsula.

The movie was completed in just three months this summer, with filming starting on August 6. Directors Guan Hu, Guo Fan and Lu Yang took on the enormous task of getting the highly technical film to the big screen in such a short space of time, ensuring it could join a wave of nationalistic productions being released around the anniversary.

Starring some of the country’s best-known actors, such as Wu Jing (lead in the Wolf Warrior film series) and Deng Chao (Duckweed), the film focuses on the struggles of a group of Chinese soldiers fighting during the Korean War.

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Sacrifice is just one of a spate of films released or in the works that focus on the events of The Korean War. An animated film Salute to the Heroes, also hit cinemas on October 23. Incidentally, the Chinese name for that movie, aimed at a younger audience is 最可爱的人, which translates to The Cutest Person.

Up Close: The War in the 1950s, a documentary film based around the Korean War, was release two days later on October 25. Meanwhile, another movie with similar subject matter — Company of Heroes — is awaiting a release date.

Zhang Yimou also added to his slate of upcoming movie releases when he signed on to direct The Coldest Gun, also based during the Korean War. Zhang’s film may be the Chinese answer to American Sniper, as it focuses on Chinese sniper Zhang Taofang, who killed 214 people in 32 days.

The releases mark the anniversary of a conflict that is also being referred to in Chinese as “the War Against US Aggression,” at a time when relations between China and the US are practically submerged. As an example of the problematic relationship between the two countries, Sacrifice director Guan Hu was recently slammed for wearing a US Navy hat in a promotional video for the movie.

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Similarly, K-Pop group BTS found themselves in the middle of online squabbles after they won the Van Fleet Award (which is named after a commander who served in the Korean War). Nationalist sentiment was seemingly inflamed when band-member RM stated that, “We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women.”

While those comments may have seemed relatively harmless, the hashtag “BTS humiliate China” picked up 100s of millions of views, with some BTS fans who rushed to the group’s defense by calling for calm and clarifying the context being labelled as “brainwashed.”

And as fate would have it, this weekend’s League of Legends Worlds Final — one of the biggest esports competitions around and this year being held in Shanghai — will be contested between Korean team Damwon Gaming and Chinese outfit Suning Gaming.

Bryan Grogan
    Bryan is RADII's Culture Editor. He is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with an interest in culture stories with a social bent. He once correctly guessed all 151 original Pokemon in seven minutes for an online quiz.