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The Informant races the clock to expose truth

A brief clip of the upcoming movie The Informant (also called Whistle Blower) has been released, and it looks gripping. The film is based on the true story of Hwang Woo-suk, the South Korean veterinarian (with a doctorate degree) and Seoul National University professor who received global press when he claimed to have successfully cloned human stem cells in 2005, but shocked the world when he was revealed to be a fraud less than twelve months later.

In the movie, Yoo Yeon-seok (Answer Me 1994, Gu Family Book) will play the whistleblower, a researcher who formerly worked under the now infamous doctor. He calls Park Hae-il (Gyeongju, Aging Family, Eungyo), the PD of an investigative news program, with the explosive information, and the simple act will lead to the revelation of an elaborate deception. In the teaser, Yoo’s character states urgently, “I don’t have any evidence. But… will you believe me?”

When he meets with Park Hae-il’s PD in person, he says in a grave tone, “From the beginning, the cloned embryonic cells—not one of them actually existed.” The news is shocking, as Dr. Hwang (renamed in the movie) had achieved celebrity status in Korea due to his perceived medical and scientific achievements. The PD and his witness go up against severe opposition from the public and from major companies (who threaten to pull their ads from the news program), and time is of the essence; the two must work desperately to reveal the truth before they are silenced. The urgency is shown in the clip, with Park shouting at the informant, “You must speak now—there won’t be another chance!”

The thriller has a very different vibe from the summer blockbusters previewed as of late, Park Hae-il is always so good, and its nice to see Yoo Yeon-seok choose such a meaty role to follow up his turn as Chilbongie—for these reasons, I’m really looking forward to the film’s release. The Informant is directed by Lim Soon-rye (South Bound, Rolling Home With a Bull) and hits in theaters in October.

Via Chosun

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It is historic truth that, 10 years ago, Dr. Hwang Woo Seok claimed to have created the world's first cloned human embryos and have extracted stem cells from them. Then the claim turned out to be a fraud. He was fired from Seoul National University and convicted of crimes.

But that was not the end of it, and the movie may be jumping the gun.

In January 2014, Nature posted a long article detailing Dr. Hwang and possible comeback of his cloning. Then, in February, Dr. Hwang was awarded a US patent covering the disputed work. What the hell is going on?

At present, Dr. Hwang heads the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation outside Seoul, where he is cloning dogs and other animals. According to Korean news media, he still maintains that the cell line was created by cloning, and is hoping the US patent will help persuade the Korean government to allow him to once again pursue human cloning for therapeutic purposes.

Stay tuned.

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A patent does not prove viability of a technology; all a patent does is protect that technology if someone else finds a way to use it - either working/sell-able on its own or as a stepping stone to something that is viable.

So think of it as an insurance policy, one that may be needed, but on the other hand may not. Thousands upon thousands of patents are issued every year that never amount to anything. I am sure the Korean government will not be overly impressed with the issuance of a patent.

Dr. Hwang may yet be hoping to get money and/or credibility by somehow piggybacking onto the research that others have done that has actually been successful; this also, unfortunately, would not be unusual.

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Interesting. And as the article was published in January 2014, and news of Dr. Hwang's US patent was released in February, it could very well be that such issues are raised in the movie. Or will that be too risky? Anyhow, please update us on your readings :-)

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Hwang can do or say what ever he wants. The fact remains that it was proven he fake data and evidence for his alleged cloning. As a result his two papers were retracted. In scientific terms, that means his claims have been proven false. End of story.

It is true Nature published a story about him attempting to make a comeback. It also published an accompanying commentary that makes clear this story should be seen as a rehabilitation of him or his research To quote from it,

"As readers will see, the article is not a show of support for Hwang’s research. Nor is it an attack. It is the story of a rare event: a scientist attempting with some success to dig himself out from the depths of ignominy. It is a journalistic exercise, not a scientific endorsement. And it was commissioned to mark the ten-year anniversary of the first paper — now retracted — in which Hwang claimed to have created cloned human embryonic stem-cell lines.

The article highlights notes of caution for those who would rush to rehabilitate this disgraced researcher. Most worryingly, Hwang is pushing — with some success — to get recognition that his cells are indeed the world’s first cloned human stem-cell line. That is not supported either by independent scientific evidence produced since he published his now-retracted paper, or by evidence from his own laboratory, which fabricated data after tests showed that the cell line was not cloned. Hwang has taken the unscientific path of getting patent offices and court rooms, rather than his expert peers, to judge his scientific claims."

In fact, Nature makes effort to stress that Hwang was, in fact, never an important scientist:

"Hwang’s position panders to the views of many of his diehard supporters, who treat the matter as if a great scientist’s great discovery had been somehow unfairly taken away; as if Hwang lost his reputation on a technicality. Indeed, the whistle-blower who endured persecution to set the record straight about Hwang’s research has been portrayed online as a traitor who embarrassed the country, hampered a distinguished scientist and set back the progress of South Korea’s biotechnology.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The evidence suggests that Hwang was not a great scientist. His claims to have done cloning work on cows in the late 1990s were backed up with photographs and promoted through political connections rather than scientific publications. What was the contribution to scientific knowledge of his human-cloning work? In May 2013, cell biologist Shoukhrat Mitalipov published results showing that he had finally achieved the human-cloning breakthrough that Hwang had claimed in 2004. Mitalipov told Nature: 'I don’t have much to say about Hwang; his studies in human somatic-cell nuclear transfer were not informative and did not affect me at all.' Eggs were given in vain to Hwang’s lab by around 120 donors. The potential of Hwang’s claimed work was over-hyped even before the work was...

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"...should NOT be seen.." Sigh!

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...exposed as fraudulent, especially considering that superior technologies — such as stem cells made from reprogrammed adult cells — were already in the offing." (http://www.nature.com/news/don-t-rush-to-rehabilitate-hwang-1.14554)

It is very positive that Korean film makers contribute to setting the record straight. Hopefully it will help make clear to the public that Hwang was never more than a scientific fraud.

(My first post was cut off after the 3000th character.)

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Thank you for taking the time to explain the back story in such detail, hjw. Much appreciated.

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Thank you very kamsa, indeed!

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Sounds like an interesting movie (and the story also seems to parallel the much more recent Japanese story about fake stem cell results by Japanese researchers).

Whistle blowing in Korea and many other countries (including Europe) is a much riskier business than in the US, as libel and defamation laws are often used to silence the whistle blowers. So much so that it often shows up as a trope in k-dramas where the good guys are threatened with lawsuits for defamation.

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Park Hae-il! Park Hae-il! Park Hae-il! Park Hae-il! Park Hae-il! (*falls off chair in a fan girl faint*)

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He is perfect <3

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After I recovered, I went back to a previous post about his movie with Shin Mina. And I realized I pretty much said the same thing there. I really cannot put coherent words together about this man.

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I've been fan-girling over him after watching Moss. He is one of those rare talents that we might never get to see in Dramaland but Jo Seung-woo gave me hope. I thought I'd never get to see him in a drama but he did 2.
Right now I'd be happy with just a cameo appearance.

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Yoo Yeon Seok seems to step into movie direction now, from Royal Tailor to this. Not that I'm complaining though, I'm happy he's gaining more recognition and he truly deserve this.
But if this movie hits theaters on Oct it means I can only watch it next year... :((

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Park Hae Il, bring it dude!

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This is an interesting story and I'm looking forward to viewing this even if Park Hae Il was not in it.

Yoo Yeon Seok didn't really move me in Gu Family Book but I believe in second chances :)

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There is no words to describe how excited I am for this movie. Been anticipating for it for months and I hope it really delivers. Yoo Yeon Seok <3

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This whole story is very interesting to say the least. I remember bits of the news back then but I didn't really invest any thoughts on it. Now with this movie and some pretty well informed Beanies I am in check. ;-)

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