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Call Me By Your Name receives unexpected attention in Korea


“Call Me By Your Name,” a European queer film, has risen to receive attention worldwide since its initial release during the 2017 Sundance Festival. The movie portrays love between 17-year-old Elio and his father’s assistant, Oliver, who is seven years older than him. The movie is based off a 2007 novel under the same name, written by Andre Aciman. The film won Best Adapted Screenplay at the 90th Academy Awards, and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Original Song.

What is interesting to see is that “Call Me By Your Name” did not only win over Americans, but also Koreans, who live in a rather conservative society. After its release on March 22, the film had already garnered over 160,000 viewers by Apr. 12. Additionally, as it is an adapted film, the original novel also came into the spotlight, ranking up in the bestseller sections of bookstores in the country.

“I was very excited to watch ‘Call Me By Your Name’ when it was finally released in Korea,” Sunhee Bae (11) said. “It was released since November in the States, but took until April to come here. I’m always very enthusiastic about the success of such films, especially in Korea. I think the public, at least the youth, is becoming more and more comfortable with dealing with content that portrays gay love. Apart from that unique factor, the film is also very artistic and simply well-made.”

“Call Me By Your Name” is actually not the first queer movie to succeed relatively; in 2016, “Carol” had 320,000 viewers, and “Moonlight” had 180,000 in 2017. According to CGV Research Center, half of the viewers of films of this genre were in their 20s, and 80 percent were women. The Research Center ended off with commentary that queer films tend to tap into characters’ feelings and draw them more sensitively, and that this aspect could appeal to specifically young women.

“Considering that ‘Moonlight’ was such a big hit last year worldwide, I was not too surprised when ‘Call Me By Your Name’ was doing well in the box office,” Jenny Oh (10) said. “But again, ‘Moonlight’ didn’t do as well in Korea as it did in the US. ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is also the same in the way that it does get attention, but it is not a huge hit across all ages and genders. I do not think these movies do much in changing people’s opinions about homosexual love. It’s  more like people who are already tolerant and supportive enjoy watching these kinds of movies.”

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