Asia

South Korean parody of Les Miserables is a YouTube hit

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe video has received thousands of hits and even a nod from Russell Crowe

The South Korean air force has posted a video parody of Les Miserables on YouTube, featuring snow-shovelling airmen, a love struck conscript and an unduly harsh superior officer.

"Les Militaribles" has had more than 400,000 YouTube views since Tuesday.

In their version of Victor Hugo's epic tale of romance and revolution in 19th century France, the action takes place on a windswept air force base.

The film version of Les Miserables has been nominated for eight Oscars.

Heavy snowfall

The South Korean parody adapts the musical's big numbers including Look Down, I Dreamed a Dream and Do You Hear the People Sing? by replacing the original lyrics with an alternative Korean-language version.

The video begins with young uniformed airmen performing hard labour as they clear a runway after heavy snowfall.

Look Down becomes "Dig Down" as the conscripts chant: "Dig down, dig down, and clear the snow below... There is no end to this accursed snow."

The action then follows the efforts of the play's hero, Jean Valjean, to escape further snow shovelling so that he can see his girlfriend Cosette.

The themes of love, honour and revolution that made Les Miserables so famous are in effect swept away in the video, which bears only a minor resemblance to the source material.

In the original, Valjean is protector and guardian of his adopted daughter Cosette.

In the South Korean version Valjean has to escape his overbearing superior officer who insists that he return from seeing her within one hour, leaving the loving couple only a short time together.

"We made the video to lift the spirit of servicemen who had to work so hard to clear snow during the unusually heavy winter this year," Major Cheon Myeong-Nyeong, one of the officers behind the project, told the AFP news agency.

"We hope that the video can help shatter the image of the military as a dull place and encourage more youth to take the service with delight."

All the cast in the video - with the exception of the woman playing Cosette - are conscripts.

Two years of military service is compulsory for all able-bodied men in South Korea, which technically remains at war with its neighbour, North Korea.

More on this story