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‘Concrete Utopia,’ ‘Moving’ sweep 59th Daejong Film Awards

Disgraced by poor participants’ turnout, the country’s one of the major film awards endeavors to revive its former reputation

Nov. 16, 2023 - 14:39 By Kim Da-sol
“Concrete Utopia” (Lotte Entertainment)

Director Um Tae-hwa’s dystopian thriller “Concrete Utopia” swept Wednesday’s 59th Daejong Film Awards.

Hosted by actor Cha In-pyo and comedian Jang Do-yeon, the award ceremony, also known as the Grand Bell Awards, was held at Gyeonggi Arts Center in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on a smaller scale than in previous years.

“Concrete Utopia” won the most coveted best picture award and five other awards, with Lee Byung-hun snatching the best actor award for his role in it. Actor Lee Sun-young won the best supporting actress award. "Concrete Utopia" is Korea's entry for next year's Oscars.

The best actress award went to Kim Seo-hyung of “Greenhouse,” which tells the story of a nurse and caregiver, Moon-jung, who lives in a greenhouse. It delves into the character's downfall as she tries to cover up the accidental death of an old couple in her care.

It was Kim’s fifth win at the Daejong Film Awards.

The best director award went to director Ryoo Seung-wan of “Smugglers,” which attracted 5.1 million moviegoers this summer, surpassing its breakeven point at 4 million admissions.

Kim Jong-su (left) and Park Jung-min (right) of “Smugglers” walk the red carpet at the 59th Daejong Film Awards at Gyeonggi Arts Center in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Actor Kim Seon-ho of “The Childe” and Kim Si-eun of “Next Sohee” bagged the rookie actor and actress awards, respectively.

Kim Seon-ho, mostly known for his innocuous image and dimpled smile, took up the challenge to show a different side in “The Childe,” his first-ever “neatly crazy” killer character.

“I appreciate all the people who allowed me to do the film. It was wonderful for me to participate in a film project which is a result of so many people’s passion and effort,” Kim said in his acceptance speech on Wednesday night.

Attempting to transform itself and recognize content also available on streaming platforms, Daejong Film Awards launched a streaming awards category this year.

The first recipients of Daejong Film Award’s best actor and actress awards in streaming were Choi Min-sik of Disney+ series “Big Bet” and Han Hyo-joo of Disney+ series “Moving.”

Han Hyo-joo poses for a photo during the 59th Daejong Film Awards at Gyeonggi Arts Center in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday. (Yonhap)

“I believe that I’m receiving this award on behalf of my team. I think Lee Mi-hyun of ‘Moving’ received so much love and positive feedback not because I was a good actor, but because director Park, writer Kang and all the other staff worked on making Lee an attractive character. There is nothing I can do alone,” Han said in her acceptance speech on the stage.

As the 59th Daejong Film Awards tried to stage a rebound from a slew of controversies that have plagued the country's oldest film awards, such as charges of unfair selection of winners and poor event organization, the event was held in a smaller scale with only a few actors in attendance.

The majority of the awards were presented by non-actors and many of the award recipients were absent, citing schedule conflicts. Lee Byung-hun and Kim Si-eun said they could not attend as they were shooting for the second series of “Squid Game.”

“This year, we focused on newness and fairness in giving the awards. Next year is our 60th anniversary. We hope to see more attention paid to the awards,” said Lee Yong-ki, the executive chairman of Daejong Film Awards.