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Ko - production in Busan
  • KIM Hak-soon Director of NORTHERN LIMIT LINE
  • by HA Sung-tae /  Oct 07, 2015
  • A Precious Gift Called Sympathy
     
    Northern Limit Line was a precious opportunity, says KIM Hak-soon. It is obvious that he has feels overwhelmed after the thirteen years he had spent, ever since the low-budget independent movie A Man Watching Video until the experience of making a big budget 3D commercial movie Northern Limit Line. The fullness of his heart may be attributed to his supporters inside and outside film industry, who made it possible for him to make Northern Limit Line, which 6 million audiences watched.
     
    Before he went on with the anecdotes about Northern Limit Line, he first brought up this remark: “I really felt the power of film and culture. Some say cinema is propaganda in a way. Though not in the exactly same sense, I would say that cinema can certainly affect young people’s mind. I felt
    some kind of satisfaction. I learned for sure what it is like to mentally communicate with individuals, which is somewhat different from communicating through politics, speeches or books. I also felt proud that I could contribute to this country spiritually and culturally. Money is a different story. All simply, it was a truly great experience for me."
     
    For some, Northern Limit Line might have been understood in a form of "patriotism marketing" while for others it could have been a war blockbuster. Only for a few, it was foremost a 3D movie. However, if it were not designed in the 3D format, with the naval battle scene included, Northern Limit Line could have had an extremely tough journey. To be sure, the Korean Film Council (KOFIC)’s support for 3D films was the very first budget that Northern Limit Line had in the beginning. 
     
    “This film came into being thanks to the KOFIC’s support. I haven’t told anyone, but no investor was interested. However, we were able to take the first step because we won KRW 8 hundred million (USD 680,000) from the KOFIC’s 3D film support fund as well as equipment including 3D cameras. Corporate sponsors/investors and the navy came on board only because the government supported us. And since the KOFIC and the Ministry of National Defense signed an MOU, things have speeded up.”
     
    However, production itself was never easy. As widely known, the main cast had to be changed during the shooting, and the shooting schedule was also delayed. It was KIM’s willpower and the nationwide sentimental consensus towards the subject that made it possible to complete the production. That is why it had to get a popular crowd funding, which big budget films rarely need.
     
    “Giving up was not an option, you know. I couldn’t just throw up the funding that I’ve already received.  In fact, the budget dried up really fast every day. When we went for the crowd funding, we felt as if we were holding onto the last straw. And I learned the power of people’s support from that experience.”
     
    To Keep up Trust
     

     
    The full-scale support from the navy and the Ministry of National Defense was another strong pillar for the team, during the production of Northern Limit Line. KIM wanted to make Northern Limit Line, the film that based on a true battle between South and North Korea, a film that can satisfy both the audience and the military. Before KIM’s Northern Limit Line, two well-known directors tried to make movies based on the same battle. Here, KIM emphasizes the importance of trust.
     
    “From the military’s perspective, the two other had too much verbal violence in the scenario, which they did not like much. It was known that another movie that had some connection to the air force brought up some complaint from the army after its release; like, why they supported the film to begin with. I didn’t want to be obsessed with meticulous details. I cut away what I had to cut away, and got their support. They say there has been no film like Northern Limit Line that was so in tune with the army. It was not necessarily for the country or the military. It was just our strategy. We don’t need to annoy anyone to earn their maximum support. And it was also a matter of ethics and trust. Future projects will get the army’s support more easily only if Northern Limit Line sets a good example, right? It was our trust strategy.”
     
    To keep up such ethics and trust, KIM and ROSETTA CINEAMA are preparing a meaningful project that is mainly about launching a foundation for the victims of the naval battle, and more widely, for the entire army. For that, they are planning a program with which soldiers with trauma can get counseling services as well as some practical support. The fund will come from the profit that Northern Limit Line made, and additional finance will be brought in, in association with the Ministry of National Defense. It also reflects KIM’s philosophy that filmmakers should also stick to work ethics and virtues with firm commitment.
     
    “I wanted to return to the society what I have earned through Northern Limit Line. I wanted to change the usual assumption that filmmakers only chase money. I made the budget with help from the Ministry, and citizens participated, too. I wanted to make it clear, at a social level, that people from the culture and art industry do not just live for money. A lot has been said about Northern Limit Line, socially and politically, but I wish people would think about what is really important. In CHOI In-hoon’s novel "The Plaza," the protagonist chooses a third country, neither South nor North. We need to think about the reason. I wish people wouldn’t take cinema or the whole world too politically.”
     
    It took a very long time for KIM to bring his two films to light. Now he says that he wants to keep making films once every two or three years. He is also currently developing some ideas. First of all, he is planning a film about comfort women, but carefully, trying not to lose universality. His plan is to co-operate with filmmakers from the US and China. Now that KIM has experienced the power of sympathy from the audience with Northern Limit Line, he is now making a speedy progress for next steps.
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