A Movie About Science Fraud Is Killing At The Korean Box Office

Illustration for article titled A Movie About Science Fraud Is Killing At The Korean Box Office

A movie based on the scandal surrounding disgraced South Korean cloning expert Woo-Suk Hwang has been topping box office sales in the region since it debuted last week.


Via Nature newsblog:

The movie, Whistleblower, shines a sympathetic light on [Hwang], the professor who in 2004 and 2005 claimed to have created stem-cell lines from cloned human embryos. The achievement would have provided a means to make cells genetically identical to a patient's own, and able to form almost any type of cell in the body. But hopes were shattered when Hwang's claims turned out to be based on fraudulent data and unethical procurement of eggs.

A trailer for the film gives you a (highly dramatized) sense of Hwang's rise and fall, the praise heaped upon him in reaction to his initial claims, and his subsequent undoing. Hwang's reputation remains a point of contention – to this day there are those who support and believe in Hwang's cloning abilities, and see those responsible for his downfall as "betrayers." I wasn't able to track down an English-subtitled version, but the way this trailer's cut makes the events pretty easy to follow:

Young-Joon Ryu, the real-world whistleblower who worked in Hwang's lab and first brought his fraudulent activities to light, is unhappy with the film's portrayal of Hwang's takedown, which director Yim Soon-rye has called a "restructured fiction" of actual events. According to Ryu, his contributions, and the contributions of various news outlets, in outing Hwang as a scientific fraud, have been composited and credited to the determined reporter at the center of the film.


More at Nature.

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What amazing to me is that the Korean public is interested enough in the conduct and policy of science to watch this movie in such numbers.

Can you imagine trying to pitch a movie like this to producers in Hollywood?