Director Ryoo Seung-wan’s blockbuster “Smugglers” on Friday won best picture at the 44th Blue Dragon Film Awards, a prestigious film awards show in South Korea.
The 130-minute crime action film tells the story of a group of “haenyeo”-- female divers from Jeju Island -- who become involved in illegal smuggling to make ends meet.
“Smugglers” secured an additional three trophies, including best supporting actor for Zo In-sung, best new actress for Go Min-si and best music for Chang Ki-ha.
"I appreciate that director Ryoo Seung-wan and filmmaker Kang Hye-jeong gave me the opportunity to work with such great actors. I even cried on the final day of filming," Zo said in his acceptance speech. "If time allows, I want to share a hug with Kim Hye-soo, who (I am sure) is happy for me," Zo added.
In response, Kim, who co-hosted Friday's ceremony and who also starred in the movie, said, "I also learned a lot from him while working on 'Smugglers.' Zo, of course, has created a number of excellent works (in his career), but I believe there is more to come from him."
It was the last show that Kim co-hosted. Serving as a co-host for the awards ceremony for 30 years, Kim's name has become synonymous with the Blue Dragon Film Awards.
Meanwhile, the award for best director went to director Um Tae-hwa of “Concrete Utopia,” a dystopian thriller which tells the story of the residents of an apartment complex that survived a catastrophic quake in Seoul. "Concrete Utopia" is Korea's entry for next year's Oscars.
“Concrete Utopia” also saw Lee Byung-hun, who played the lead in the movie, win the award for best actor. This was Lee's second Blue Dragon award, after he won the award for best actor for "Inside Men" in 2016.
The best actress award went to Jung Yu-mi of “Sleep,” a mystery thriller that revolves around a newlywed couple who go through a difficult time when the husband starts sleepwalking.
Director Ahn Tae-jin received the best new director award for “The Night Owl,” the story of a blind acupuncturist who can only see at night working in a Joseon-era (1392-1910) palace.
“The Night Owl” received two other awards, including the best editing and cinematography and lighting awards.
A total of 179 Korean films released at local theaters and on streaming platforms between Oct. 7 2022 and Oct. 11 2023 were considered for this year's Blue Dragon Film Awards. The awards are given based on the result of surveys by experts and moviegoers.