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Korean Cinema NOW: Whistle Blower

Saturday, April 11, 2015
12:00 AM
Michigan Theater, 603 E Liberty St, Ann Arbor, MI

Background: Though fictionalized, the film is based on real-life scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who was at the center of one of the largest investigations of scientific fraud in recent memory. Hwang, then a professor of biotechnology at Seoul National University (SNU), gained international renown in 2004 after claiming that he had successfully carried out experiments cloning human embryonic stem cells. In 2005, an anonymous tip from whistleblower Ryu Young-joon, a former researcher at Hwang's lab, led to MBC program PD Notebook uncovering Hwang's ethical violations and fabricated data, which was confirmed by an SNU investigative panel in 2006. Hwang's research was discredited and in 2009, a South Korean court convicted him of embezzlement and bioethical violations.

Story: TV news producer Yoon Min-cheol is desperate for a scoop for his investigative journalism program PD Chase. One day, he receives a tip that The Newman Medical, the biggest sterility clinic in Korea, buys ovum illegally. But while investigating, he is shocked to discover that scientist Lee Jang-hwan seems to be involved in the case. Lee had gained widespread acclaim and press attention following his groundbreaking experiments cloning human embryonic stem cells, and is considered a national hero whose research may mean the cure to several illnesses. As Yoon hesitates whether to pursue such a revered and powerful figure, he gets an anonymous call from Shim Min-ho, a young scientist who works for Lee's lab. Shim claims that Lee's stem cell research has largely been fabricated and unethical, and the two join forces to expose Lee's scientific fraud and bring the truth to the public, despite its disbelieving and harsh reaction.

2014  |  114 Minutes  |  Directed by Yim Soon-rye