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Ko - production in Busan
  • by Pierce Conran /  Jun 18, 2019

  • 2013 | 116 MIN | Comedy, Romance
    DIRECTOR LEE Won-suk
    CAST LEE Si-young, OH Jung-se, PARK Yeong-gyu
    RELEASE DATE February 14, 2013
    CONTACT Daisy Entertainment
    Tel +82 2 338 1007
    Fax +82 2 338 5134

    Playfully lampooning codes of the romantic-comedy genre while also lovingly embracing them, the colorful and vivacious How to Use Guys with Secret Tips (2013) announced the arrival of a new voice in the commercial Korean film realm in the form of Director LEE Won-suk.

    LEE Si-young leads the cast as Bona, a young woman who has been tirelessly working as a second assistant director at an ad production company, where she is routinely passed up for promotion and maligned by her superiors and co-workers. Things only get worse when she causes a fuss on a new ad shoot starring LEE Seung-jae (OH Jung-se), one of the country’s top stars, whose company recently moved into the same building as her own. Stranded at the end of the day, she comes across a strange merchant (PARK Yeong-gyu) near the beach who sells her a ‘How to Use Guys with Secret Tips’ self-help video. Against her better interest she looks at the old tapes and though she laughs at the simplistic techniques they describe, she soon discovers how easily manipulated men can be.

    During a reshoot for the same commercial, after she mistakenly leaves the original footage in a taxi, the director and assistant director fail to make it to set after a crash, leaving Bona to step up to the plate, which earns her the admiration of Seung-jae.

    While the film was unable to find an audience at the time of its release in early 2013, LEE’s debut was embraced by enthusiastic viewers overseas, where it won the Golden Mulberry Award at the Far East Film Festival in Udine as well as the Bronze Prize for Best Asian Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal. Furthermore, despite its low local returns, the film has also been admired by critics and viewers for its visual flair and comic instincts, not to mention its feministic undertones, turning LEE into a familiar name in the industry.

    Having studied at Boston University and the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, director LEE brought a different perspective to the industry with a new stylistic approach as well as a subversive narrative that mines humor by highlighting the often simplistic gender dynamics of the Korean romcom while also successfully adhering to them. Along the way, LEE also foregrounds sexual discrimination in the Korean workplace and lookism in society at large. Director LEE next made the lively period drama The Royal Tailor (2014).

    Active across the big and small screen, Bona was LEE Si-young’s third romcom role in a film on the trot, after Meet the In-Laws (2011) and Couples (2011), following which she moved onto darker genres, such as this year’s revenge drama No MercyOH Jung-se (Swing Kids, 2018) takes on a rare leading role while the cast features several comic highlights, such as PARK Yeong-gyu (I am the King, 2012), BAE Sung-woo (The King, 2017) and KIM Min-jae (The Battleship Island, 2017).
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