SEOUL: The South Korean air force has posted a “Les Miserables” video parody on YouTube, complete with snow-shovelling airmen, a lovelorn military service conscript and a vindictive superior officer.
The 14-minute video, entitled “Les Militaribles”, has garnered more than 400,000 views in just a few days and even received a Twitter nod from one of the stars of the Hollywood version, Russell Crowe.
The parody uses the same famous score for the musical's big numbers “Look Down,” “I Dreamed a Dream” and “Do You Hear the People Sing?” but replaces the original lyrics with an alternative Korean-language version.
In the opening scene, young airmen doing their military service labour at clearing a runway after a 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 loose plot centres around one airman, Valjean, whose girlfriend, Cosette, has come to the base to visit.
His overbearing superior Javert insists he return in one hour, leaving the couple only a few snatched minutes 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,” said Major Cheon Myeong-Nyeong, one of the officers behind the project.
All the cast - with the exception of the woman playing Cosette - were conscripts, he told AFP.
Two years of military service is mandatory for all able-bodied men in South Korea, which technically remains at war with its rival, the North.
Many serve in remote, mountainous areas and get little time off to visit family or friends.
“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,” Cheon said.