Sunday, March 03, 2013

Talent and wit of Korean Air Force wow global audiences

   Some weeks ago I was tipped by a lovely friend of mine regarding military parody of "Les Miserables" and of course I loved that from the first sound. I love musicals, I love parodies, so I had my day. I meant to write about this for some time but somehow something else was on my mind all the time.
Turns out - this is slowly becoming new viral sensation. This time with full sense, talent and coherence. They sing so damn well (no wonder Dino was pissed once).
Oh and English subs too.

Article from

“Do you hear the soldiers sing? Singing the song of the fighter wing?”

These are the words, sung to a familiar melody, that ring out in the first several minutes of “Les Militaribles,” a creative parody of the 2012 musical drama film Les Miserables. Produced by the Public Affairs Media Contents Team of the
Korean Air Force and starring members of the Air Force, “Les Militaribles” has become an online sensation. –
As of today, just three weeks after its release on YouTube, “Les Militaribles” has racked up more than 4.2 million views.

When first released, the 13-minute video evoked strong sympathy as well as nostalgia in Korea, where almost all men are required to serve time in the armed forces. From the first scene, which shows soldiers clearing snow, a daily and often grueling winter chore, to the brief ensuing love story that highlights the ups and downs of romance for young men consigned to two years of service, the production conveys to audiences the realities of barracks life.

Now, “Les Militaribles” is winning fans outside of Korea, with major international media outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, AFT, Al Jazeera, the BBC, and CNN taking notice of the production. Russell Crowe, the actor who starred in last year’s film, retweeted a link to the video, intensifying the attention.

“Russell Crowe, who played Javert in the musical movie, retweeted the link but my favorite actor Hugh Jackman hasn’t yet shown interest in our remake,” quipped Sgt. Lee Hyun-jae, who played the role of Jean Valjean.

Behind the scenes

“The idea to create ‘Les Militaribles’ came up in our conversation on the day we had watched the film Les Miserables,“ explained Lt. Chung Da-hoon, director of the video, about the original inspiration.

Talking about certain emotional scenes that had lingered in their minds with Lt. Kim Kyung-sin, both of whom belong to the Media Contents Team in the Republic of Korea Air Force, they were struck by a similarity between the appearance of several characters in the movie and their own fellow Korean soldiers: the garrison cap. After this discovery, they plunged into a search for more similarities.
They found, among others, that the serial number 24601, which, in Les Miserables, is the former prisoner identification number of protagonist Jean Valjean, sounds like the numbers used to identify soldiers, who also perform long hours of physical labor. They also made a comparison, though perhaps exaggerated, between the desperation of Jean Valjean who risked his life for a mere piece of bread, and that of the soldiers who longingly await visits to the army base from their girlfriends. The rest, as they say, is history.

Military personnel from all walks of life contributed their talents and skills to the production of the video. Lt. Lee Min-jeong, the only female vocalist in the Air Force, was picked up for the role of Cosette, while Sgt. Kim Gun-hee and Lee Hyun-jae, both of whom are music majors at their universities, took the roles of Lt. Javert and Jean Valjean.

Sgt. Bang Seong-jun, who completed two years of university before enlisting and has some experience producing amateur independent films, was in charge of filming. Lt. Chung created the Korean lyrics for the songs while directing the production as well. A total of 70 members of the Air Force Band and a ten-member media crew made concerted efforts in planning, directing, filming, and editing, devoting their energy to the success of the production.
The Air Force accommodated the young soldiers during their project, which made it possible for the plan to be translated into prompt action. It took no more than a week to finish the filming and recording, in an atmosphere that ensured the producers artistic freedom and independence. It took a month for the final product to be completed and uploaded to YouTube.

The popularity of the video has brought the production members and staff busier but also very happy days. The main cast members as well as the media production team have been flooded with requests for interviews, most of which have them perform their songs and reenact the shooting scenes again and again.

“If I could have a chance to record the song again, I could perform it way better now,” Kim Gun-hee said with a wistful smile.

The two main actors, who have been receiving an overflow of messages through SNS these days since shooting the hit video, shared their strong expectations for the upcoming leave.

By Lee Seung-ah