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REinvent Nabs ‘Hana Korea,’ Starring ‘Pachinko”s Minha Kim and ‘Squid Game’s’ Kim Joo-ryung (EXCLUSIVE)

May 22, 2024
  • Source by Variety
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Copenhagen-based REinvent International Sales has picked up international sales rights to the major arthouse feature “Hana Korea,” based on the true story of a North Korean young defector who tries to carve herself a new life in South Korean society.  


The hybrid project, produced by Sonntag Pictures’ Sara Stockmann (“Armadillo”, “Bobbi Jene”) with Seesaw Pictures’ Heejung Oh (“Pearl of the Desert”) is due to start lensing in August on location in Korea.


Danish documentary filmmaker Frederik Sølberg (“Doel”) has partnered with some of Korea’s biggest talent on both sides of the camera to bring authenticity to his fiction debut.


In a major coup, writer-director Sharon Choi, the famous interpreter of Bong Joon-ho who first appeared by his side when he landed the Cannes Palme d’Or for “Parasite” in 2019, has boarded the project as co-writer. 

First A-list Korean acting talent on board include Minha Kim from Apple TV+ series “Pachinko” and the seasoned Kim Joo-ryung, seen in Netflix’s cult series “Squid Game” and Bong Joon-Ho’s multi-awarded “Memories of Murder”.  

Seasoned Danish cinematographer Camilla Hjelm (a European Film Award winner for “Land of Mine”) is also attached.


Sølberg will mix his documentary experience with a fiction narrative to reconstruct the true life of the young Hyesun, one of more than 30,000 North Korean who have defected to South Korea since the 1950s, of which 70% are women, according to official figures.

The story turns on Hyesun, a North Korean defector who is sent to the educational institution Hanawon (‘house of unity’) for three months where she undergoes training in democracy, freedom, equality and how to use a credit card. But everything is foreign to her. Hyesun must confront the challenges of letting go of her past and adapt to her new life in a hypermodern society which demands difference types of sacrifices.

Sølberg said he worked more than four years on developing the script, in close collaboration with the real protagonist. “Like Hyesun, I’m a stranger to South Korean culture. In that sense, I share a stranger’s position with her,” he stated.


Explaining his hybrid filmmaking technique, Sølberg said the feature will be shot on location, “incorporating elements from her real life into a distinct mise-en-scène.”

“My ambition is to create a film that is a true representation of Hyesun’s story and let her true essence shine through. Real events from Hyesun’s life are selected and reworked into a script, which is then brought to life with an actor portraying Hyesun. This process is deeply rooted in reality, a combination of documentary and fictional techniques translated through my visual language,” he said.

REinvent CEO and founder Rikke Ennis said: “We are incredibly proud to represent this unique and mind-blowing project. Rarely have I read such a strong script.”

“Having followed the success of ‘Parasite’ and knowing the fantastic talent behind “Hana Korea,” I have no doubt that this film will be a festival darling with a great box office potential,” said the seasoned sales executive.


The Danish/Korean co-production has received backing from the Danish Film Institute, DR, Eurimages, DMZ Industry, KCA and the Seoul Film Commission.

Written by Annika Pham

Link: https://variety.com/2024/film/news/kim-joo-ryung-reinvent-sharon-choi-1236004385/

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