'A Taxi Driver' wins best picture at Daejong Film Awards

"A Taxi Driver," a local box office hit about a pro-democracy uprising in the country, won best picture at the 54th annual Daejong Film Awards on Wednesday.

The movie, directed by Jang Hoon, is inspired by the real-life story of a Seoul taxi driver who takes the late German correspondent Jurgen Hinzpeter to the southwestern provincial city of Gwangju for a large offer of money and witnesses the horrors of the bloody military crackdown on the pro-democracy people's uprising of May 1980. Hinzpeter, helped by the taxi driver, becomes the first western reporter to send out footage of the bloodshed.

The film starring Song Kang-ho and German actor Thomas Kretschmann sat on the box office throne for a long time, selling more than 12 million tickets after it opened in August.

"I think this award to 'A Taxi Driver' is a consolation for the country's painful modern history and support for the role of the press," said Park Eun-kyung, head of the film's studio The Lamp, on her last of two trips to the podium at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts in central Seoul. She thanked the film's director, cast and crew members.

While "A Taxi Driver" received only two prizes -- best picture and best planning, it was a big night for "Anarchist from Colony" which landed five prizes, including best director and best actress.

"Anarchist from Colony" earned Lee Joon-ik the best director award while its heroine Choi Hee-seo picked up both best rookie actress and best actress for her performance as Kaneko Fumiko, comrade and Japanese wife of Park Yeol, a Korean anarchist who fought for Korean independence from Japanese colonial rule. The film also received art direction and costume design awards.
 

Actress Choi Hee-seo and director Lee Joon-ik walk on the red carpet at the 54th Daejong Film Awards in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

"The King" received four prizes -- best screenplay, best supporting actor and actress and best editing.

Seol Kyung-gu got best actor for playing the underboss of a large-scale drug trafficking ring in "The Merciless" by director Byun Sung-hyun.

Park Seo-jun was honored as best supporting actor for his police university cadget role in "Midnight Runners." Um Tae-hwa received best rookie director for "Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned," a story about a boy who mysteriously disappears when he goes to the mountains with his friend, only to return as a full-grown adult a few days later. 
 

Actor Seol Kyung-gu receives flowers from his fans at the 54th Daejong Film Awards in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

A Special Award for film industry people who greatly contributed to the development of the industry went to late actress Kim Young-ae who died of pancreatic cancer in April.

Her son ascended to the podium to pick up the prize on her behalf. "I realized how much affection she had for films and how diligently she lived only after she passed away," he said. "Please keep remebering her."

As South Korea's equivalent of the Academy Awards, the Daejong Film Awards was launched in 1962 to boost the quality of Korean films and to support the industry. (Yonhap)