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Interview

JK YOUN Director of ODE TO MY FATHER

Dec 29, 2014
  • Writerby KIM Hyun-soo
  • View2359
"I wanted to prove that I can make well-made commercial films"
 
JK YOUN’s Ode to My Father reached 4 million admissions in just 14 days, after its release on December 17th. It’s not a surprise for JK YOUN who is known as one of the ’10 million admissions directors’. Will he be able to record a second 10 million hit film? Although we won’t know the final number for the film just yet, Ode to My Father has a personal meaning to YOUN. He has confessed that it’s a film made for his father and has been dreaming of creating it for ten years. Ode to My Father has also been invited officially to the Berlin International Film Festival in the Panorama Section, which gave the director the honor of being invited to an international film festival for the first time. We sat down with JK YOUN to know more about Ode to My Father.
 
How did you come to work on Ode to My Father?
I had my first child in 2004. The milestone made me think of my father who had passed away. I never had a chance to say thank you, and dreamt to make a film about fatherhood for him. However, in order to express the times set in the film, we needed at least USD 10 million. At the time, I was a failed director due to weak box office performance of Crazy Assassins (2003). Who would invest in such a director? However, after the box office hit Haeundae in 2009, I was able to start working on Ode to My Father.
 
HWANG Jung-min plays Deok-su from his 20s to senior years. Why did you choose HWANG for the role?
I needed an actor with a wide spectrum, who would be able to cover the character from his 20s to his 70s. There are many actors who would be able to cover the 30s to later years, but I could only think of HWANG Jung-min for Deok-su in Ode to My Father. Also, I thought his personality was very close to my father and me. We’re direct, but we have good intentions.
 
KIM Yun-jin who has her feet in Hollywood took on a feminine role in Ode to My Father, which was quite a surprise.
May people think that KIM Yun-jin suits a powerful character, but in reality, she is very feminine and soft. There were several scenes when authenticity was crucial, especially the scene where she cries her heart out, trying to save her loved one. I couldn’t think of anyone else but KIM. Also, I was interested in showing a different side of her that people are not aware of. Has anyone seen her romantic comedy? It is a newly found KIM Yun-jin in Ode to My Father.
 
The Korean title for the film is Kukje Market (International Market), located in Busan. Is there a reason why you chose it as your setting?
I was thinking about what location would be most suitable to show the historical changes in Korea during our parents’ generation and landed on Kukje Market. We went around the city of Busan a few times and then built a set in Gi-jang. To create the massive market, the production design team had to work on the set for 2 to 3 months. Although we fell in love with the set, we couldn’t keep it for very long. So on the last day of the shoot, we used it in the explosion scene. Watching the set burn down, really made us sad.
 

You’ve filmed in Busan, Seoul, Thailand and even Czech Republic, while bringing in a special make-up team from Sweden. What was the most memorable shoot for you?
The old coal mine in Czech Republic, which was shot as the German coal mine, actually had real coals. It was the perfect place for the shoot. We were able to utilize actual machinery that was used in that time, creating a realistic atmosphere. The actors really gave their all for these tough scenes, so it was most memorable to me. Not only that, many Czech staff members and supporting actors praised KIM Yun-jin’s performance. She has never studied German before, but her German skills were quite impressive. She practiced day and night to perfect her pronunciation and accents and the results were phenomenal.
 
What did you want to accomplish through Ode to My Father?
Many people recognize me as a comedy director, but I wanted to prove that I can make well-made commercial films. I really wanted to make a good film.
 
I think you’ve proved yourself through Berlin International Film Festival’s invitation.
It’s definitely an accomplishment. One of the Berlin programmers had commented that Ode to My Father is a well-made human drama in front of the backdrop of Korean contemporary history. But the comment about “emotionally-charged” made me the most ecstatic. I’m very curious to find out what the international audiences will think of this film. It has a very strong Korean color to it, but with the global relevance to family, love, and fatherhood; I think it’ll be relatable to everyone. I can’t wait to see their reactions.
 
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