Director Lee Doo-yong, a pioneer who chose historical dramas under pressure from censorship, passes away

[Reporter Seong Ha-hoon]

▲ ‘Pyeongchang International Peace Film Festival’ Kim Dong-ho and Lee Doo-yong Gangneung International Film Festival Chairman Kim Dong-ho and Director Lee Doo-yong (right) attending the 2020 Pyeongchang International Film Festival.
ⓒ Lee Jeong-min

Director Lee Doo-yong, a master of Korean action films, passed away on the 19th. He died at the age of 81.

Director Lee Doo-yong, born in 1942, was a pioneer of Korean action films in the 1970s, but in a reality where freedom of expression was restricted due to censorship, he created a film world through historical dramas. In this process, he became one of the representative directors of Korean films, receiving attention both domestically and internationally. He has directed 63 films, and including screenplays, adaptations, and films in which he served as a producer, his filmography reaches 103 films.

Director Lee Doo-yong’s film career started during his school days with <Knights of the Round Table> (Richard Thorpe, 1953), <Quo Vadis> (Mervyn LeRoy, 1951), <Ten Commandments> It was my obsession with Hollywood movies such as ‘Sorrow’ (Mervyn Leroy, 1940) and ‘An Angel in Green Garden’ (Clarence Brown, 1944) that gave me the opportunity. Through media interviews, etc. during his lifetime, the deceased said, “He followed his parents or older sister to a school in the Cheongpa-dong area or a temporary theater set up at Hyochang Playground, and said, “The prosecutor and the female teacher.””We used to watch silent movies narrated by a byeonsa together with

Next, a senior from college who was working as an assistant film director said, “You are good at drawing, so it would be good for you to become a film director in the future.” After that, I went to the Malli-dong filming studio to meet him, and he immediately handed me the recording board he was writing on and told me to write down whatever he told me to do, so I started working as a scripter. He said, “I postponed going to college until later and fell in love with it. When I graduated from high school, a senior who was an assistant director suggested that I study film, so I jumped into the film industry.”

After working as a scripter and gaining directing training as an assistant director, he made his directorial debut in 1970 with the melodrama “The Lost Veil” . Initially, he worked on a few melodramas like his debut film, and then, while pondering a film genre that could be sold overseas in a poor production environment, he came up with the idea of ​​an action film. Afterwards, in 1974, he directed a series of Taekwondo films, starting with <Yongho sparring>.

Director Lee Doo-yong thought that rather than looking only at Korea’s narrow domestic market and lamenting about it, he could make high-quality films by promoting our films overseas, making money and investing in domestic films. It was an almost impossible thought at the time, and it was not born out of simple patriotism or a brilliant idea for our underdeveloped film industry, but rather a desperate wish to survive and to enrich my films. As a practice, I came up with an action story that was easy to understand even if the language and customs of each country were different.

Since Hollywood was so good at making general action movies, they were worried about making a unique action movie that they were not familiar with and showing it to foreigners, so they strategically decided to make a Taekwondo movie using ‘foot’.

In 1974 alone, <Dragon and Tiger Sparring> <Bridge of Jukgeom> <The return of one leg> <Left Foot of Anger> <One leg returned> <Traitor> He made 6 taekwondo movies, including: However, the media and the film industry do not treat them as actors, but call them ‘aww new actors’ and call director Lee Doo-yong an ‘aww bad movie’ (supporting action actors are ‘ugh’ He said he was a professional director (movies where people fall down while screaming) and called action movies of the time in a low-key tone.

I chose a historical drama because it suffered from censorship, but

Director Lee Doo-yong
ⓒ Materials owned by the Korean Film Archive

Director Lee Doo-yong, feeling sad about this, gave up action movies and filmed films with folk themes, such as

At that time, ‘You can’t talk about soldiers, and if you portray the People’s Army in a humane way, you’ll be in big trouble’ This censorship practice, which is ridiculous according to today’s common sense, led to him being called to the prosecutor’s office, which took issue with the part in the movie that expressed the human inner self of partisans.

Afterwards, he set out to find material that was free from censorship issues, such as <Skin>(1980), <Cruelty Against Women>(1983), <Bong>(1985), <Eunuch>(1986).), <Up>(1988), etc. are historical dramas that depict folk life or an oriental view of life and death.

Director Lee Doo-yong judged that historical dramas would not be affected by ideological or political issues, but this prediction was wrong. This was because the head of the censorship agency, who saw the final scene of the eunuch’s rebellion in <Eunuch>, did not give permission for a while, saying it was reminiscent of a ‘coup d’état’. The issue of censorship was somewhat relieved when the pre-censorship system for scripts was abolished after the June Uprising in 1987.

Director Lee Doo-yong’s works have received high praise overseas. His 1980 film

Director Lee Doo-yong’s works since the 1980s have received considerable acclaim, including

He served as president of the Korean Film Directors Association in 1995, and was appointed as a member of the Korean Film Rating Board in 1999 during the Kim Dae-jung administration. Starting with a special exhibition at the 2007 Cinematheque Friends Film Festival, retrospectives and special exhibitions were held at the Bucheon Film Festival and Busan Film Festival. In 2008, he was included in the list of 35 representative Korean filmmakers selected by the Korean Film Archive.

The funeral was set up in Room 5 of the Seoul National University Hospital funeral hall, and the funeral was held at 1pm on Sunday the 21st. He will be buried at Eden Memorial Park in Namyaju after passing through Seoul Memorial Park.

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