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Scam victims seek way to move on

May 11,2017
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“Biting Fly” sheds light on how an ordinary family completely collapses after becoming victims of infamous con artist Cho Hee-pal’s pyramid scheme. [GRAMFILMS]


If last year’s blockbuster “Master” got its thrills from the criminal acts of notorious con artist Cho Hee-pal, who swindled about 70,000 people out of around 5 trillion won ($4.25 billion) over two years, the upcoming drama “Biting Fly” sheds light on the pain of the con man’s victims.

Starring Kim Jinu and Lee Yeon-doo, the low-budget movie starts off with public official Gang Hae-uk (Kim) and pharmacist Min Su-gyeong (Lee), a young couple about to get married. Things start picking up when Gang’s poor father and sister invest a large sum of money into what later turns out to be a pyramid scheme.

“Biting flies suck the blood out of cows and horses. [The title] implies that [the Cho Hee-pal incident] sucked the blood out of good citizens,” director An Cheol-ho (“Marbling”) told reporters during a press preview held in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, earlier this week.

“The film was made based on facts. Since [Cho Hee-pal incident] is still ongoing, I was very careful in case I pose harms on victims,” the filmmaker added.

The Daegu District Prosecutors’ Office confirmed the death of Cho last year. Prosecutor Kim Ju-won, who was in charge of the case, said in June that Cho collapsed in his hotel in 2011 after drinking liquor with his mistress in a karaoke bar in China.

Though he was brought to a nearby hospital, he died of a heart attack two days later.

Kim and Lee also expressed how careful they were in playing their characters.

“Since it deals with the infamous scam, it wasn’t easy for me to approach the role,” Kim said. While the actor mulled over whether to join the project, he took on the role in the hopes of contributing to make the country a better place to live in.

Kim’s co-star Lee expressed similar sentiments.

“It greatly influenced society a few years ago, and many people are still suffering,” Lee said. “I made up my mind to join the film, hoping to further spread [knowledge of] the incident and make sure such incident doesn’t repeat.”

In order to maintain objectivity, a representative of the Citizen’s Coalition for Respectable Household Economy, a civic organization created by the victims of Cho’s pyramid scheme, took part in making the story.

The 111-minute film is rated 15 and up. Though it will head to theaters this month, its exact release date is yet to be decided.

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]