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article imageScience movie tops Korean box office

By Tim Sandle     Oct 12, 2014 in Entertainment
Seoul - A movie based on the Woo Suk Hwang cloning scandal has proved to be popular in South Korea. The movie is called "Whistleblower." Although the movie is a hit, for some the events depicted drift a little from reality.
The South Korean film Je-bo-ja ("Whistleblower"), based on the transgressions of disgraced stem cell scientist Woo Suk Hwang, sits atop the country’s box office, raking in more than 4.5 billion South Korean Won (about $4.3 million) in its first weekend in theaters. The movie stars Yoo Yeon-seok as Shim Min-ho and Park Hae-il as Yoon Min-cheol. The name of the convicted scientist is changed to Lee Jang-hwan in the film.
The movie dramatizes one of the biggest scientific scandals in history (a report about the real case is detailed on The Scientist website). In the mid-2000s, a scientist named Woo Suk Hwang faked data and unethically procured oocytes to claim the successful creation of stem-cell lines from cloned human embryos. Hwang's research was discredited and in 2009, a South Korean court convicted him of embezzlement and bioethical violations.
Asian Wiki describes the movie's plot as:
Lee Jang-Hwan (Lee Kyoung-Young) receives widespread acclaim and media attention after successfully cloning human embryo stem cells. A TV news program PD, Yoon Min-Cheol (Park Hae-Il) receives a phone call from an anonymous source. The anonymous source is Shim Min-Ho (Yoo Yeon-Seok) who has done stem cell research with Lee Jang-Hwan in the past. Shim Min-Ho blows the whistle on Lee Jang-Hwan's work. Results were fabricated along with other unethical practices. PD Yoon Min-Cheol believes Shim Min-Ho and decides to take his story public.
The trailer is shown below:
Although the movie has proved successful with movie going audiences, the scientific community are not as impressed. According to science site Nature the movie skews several facts.
Young Joon Ryu, who was the actual whistleblower, has said that Whistleblower credits a news reporter character (Shim Min-ho, played by Yoo Yeon-seok pictured above) with many of the revelations that he and bloggers brought to light about the scandal. While he said he understood the movie’s focus on “fast action, dramatic conflicts and famous actors,” he told Nature that the movie’s truth bending was eerily familiar to what he had experienced in Hwang’s laboratory.
Replying to the criticism, the movie's director Soon Rye Yim told Nature that his film was not meant to be a faithful retelling of events but rather a “restructure fiction” crafted to entertain moviegoers. “I wanted to portray him [Hwang] as a character who faces a very human problem, and to show there is room to understand his actions,” Yim said.
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