By Kwon Mee-yoo
English subtitles for Korean movies are now available at two local theaters, Cinus Myeongdong and Cinus Gangnam.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government has arranged the subtitling as part of its move to make the capital a more expatriate-friendly city. The service started on March 23, but since there had been newly released Korean movie then, the theaters screened ``Old Partner'' and ``More Than Blue.''
The first in the lineup of new films with English subtitles is ``Private Eye,'' a film about a private detective played by renowned actor Hwang Jung-min released on April 2.
``We had a preview with English subtitles on March 27 and received positive reactions from foreign residents. The theater had only 180 seats but more than 250 foreigners came and some had to wait,'' said Kim Mi-mi of the city's Cultural Industry Division.
``Cinus Myeongdong is located in the center of Seoul, and Myeongdong is one of the popular destinations for foreigners in the city. Gangnam, southern Seoul, is another youth-packed area,'' said JK Kim, the public relations manager of Cinus.
The city plans to provide English-language subtitles for all Korean movies to be released this year on opening days. If more than one movie is released on the same day, the theaters will alternate screenings.
In late April, more local movies, including ``Insa-dong Scandal,'' starring Kim Rae-won, and award-winning director Park Chan-wook's vampire story ``Thirst'' are to be released with the subtitles.
``I hope that Cinus and Seoul are successful in their campaign to make subtitled films available to us all and that there will be a permanent home providing those of us who need assistance a place to enjoy Korean movies,'' said Paul Matthews, an expatriate living in Seoul, on his blog after watching the preview of ``Private Eye.''
However, the project has not been well publicized and has not drawn large foreign audiences yet, although both theaters said they have seen a modest increase in customers.
``Before the English subtitles service, there were three or four groups of foreigners. We have around 10 groups of foreigners now, although we don't have exact statistics,'' said a manager of Cinus Gangnam.
``This is just the beginning of the regular screening of English-subtitled Korean movies. We have a banner advertising the service at our Web site and put up posters in all our branches in Seoul,'' said Kim.