[Interview] Ku Hye Sun – Big Issue Korea No.93
Ku Hye Sun, a woman who still has a lot to show.
For a while now, Ku Hye Sun has been described as a well-rounded beauty who is so busy writing, composing, drawing and acting that there isn’t enough time in a 24-hour day for her to do all that she does. Now, however, she is learning to let it go. Ku Hye Sun’s new movie, <Daughter>, is a first movie where she both acts and directs. She still wants to much more as an actress and as a director, but she wants to do it more slowly while taking in some breaths.
How did you think of the script for <Daughter>?
If my previous works are of fantasy genre, I wanted to tell a realistic story. I also felt that there aren’t enough stories about women, so I wanted to tell a story of a mother and a daughter. There also was a time when my friends and I had a discussion about whether children are properties or independent entities.
You appeared briefly in <Magic> but this is your first time starring in your movie. Right?
Yes, actually, this is my first time acting in a movie, ever. I have wanted to play a cold character if I ever had a chance to act in a movie. If someone else wrote the scenario, most likely, I would not have been considered for that part. So far, I have basically played bright characters in dramas. As a director, I even had some doubts about casting me for the role. You might say, we were slightly ignoring each other.
You mean the Director Ku Hye Sun and Actress Ku Hye Sun?
Yes. I, as an actress, slightly ignored the director me; and I as the director slightly ignored the actress Ku Hye Sun. Once I realized my behavior, I was able to contemplate on the issue more objectively. Basically it was my first time collaborating with myself. It was really hard. Very.
How difficult was it to Okay a cut?
It was near impossible. I am a director who normally does not do numerous takes. However, I was so overly detailed about filming my own scenes that even the filming director confirmed that: “you film for too long only over your shots.” (laughter). But, because it is I looking at myself, it was not easy to Okay it.
How was it to work with Shim HyeJin?
She is just so much more experienced. She just popped up in my head for the mother’s role. I was so happy when she agreed to take the role. I already knew how talented she is, but I was even more amazed by her on the set.
You also acted along side her.
It was hard. We did not have many scenes together, but I felt it was difficult. Because she is amazingly focused in her concentration and energy for her scenes that I strongly felt the pressure to perfectly shoot the scene in one take. She is so perfectly prepared for her scenes that we did not want to cause any NG’s due to some on-location complications. So, we were all on edgy. (laughter)
The mother in the movie is an abnormal character; how did you decide on that?
She may be extreme, but there is a reality to that role. One expert who appeared in a discussion program mentioned that more birth parents abuse their children than stepparents. When we were young, it was normal to receive physical and/or violent punishment from not only our parents but also from the school. Instead of trying to understand from the children’s perspective, children were basically thought to be properties/possessions. I feel that our generation would understand and identify with it.
I think Ku Hye Sun-ssi’s mother may feel sad watching the movie.
(laughter) My mother has not watched it yet. If she watches it, she may complain, “when was I ever like that?” I was not that close to my mother when I was a junior high school student. I do have some memories about that period but, of course, my mother is not the mother in the movie.
Your movie is very different from most Korean movies in how the parents are portrayed. Not much filial piety. Most family movies want to stimulate heartfelt emotions.
Our parents are the absolute when we are young. However, now that I am an adult, parents seem more like the children. In reality, they were quite young when I was a child. I am not married yet, but, at my age, my parents were already raising two children 6 and 4 years old. In a way, they also became parents at a very young age. When I see it that way, I may not understand it 100 percent, but I feel compassion for them.
In your past interview, you mentioned that it is your family that motivates you when things get tough. Do you still feel that way?
I guess that is not the absolute either. When we live together, I long to live alone. When I live alone, I miss them. The important thing is to become an independent entity. But, I don’t think that I am mentally completely independent yet.
I felt that mother’s abusive language was bit too much in the movie. You wrote the script.
Initially, I showed the movie to a friend. That friend broke into tears by saying: “I grew up listening to one of those words.” The movie mother’s words may be harsh, but I am saying that we grew up hearing at least one of those words. Parents may not think that the child will be hurt. It is the difference of perspective. Parents remember more their good deeds for the sake of their children and the children remember more the hurt that they received.
People who make movies have something they want to say. What is your message?
I don’t want to emphasize any hope or expectation. I feel that futile hopes may actually weaken people instead. We may confuse the desire that someone else may have implanted in us as our hope. It is nice to have miracles. But we cannot just hope for miracles like “yes, you can do it too”. At times, it can feel unmanageable. Sometimes I feel like saying, “it is ok not to have so much hope; it is ok to just let it be.” I wanted to say something like that.
Do you think you changed some of your thinking since you became 30?
A lot. I may have lived more like a dharma/tumble-and-up/self-righting doll in my 20’s, but now I feel that I don’t have to always live like that. In the past, I think I was overheated. My passion was overheated and I felt as if I can do anything. But now, I am thinking I don’t want to try too hard for something that is not working. The way I refuse/reject has also become more diverse. In the past, I used to lie when I refuse/reject but now I tell the truth. Saying no was so hard that I realized at some point that I was living other people’s lives.
The way you make movies must have changed too?
In my 20’s, people mostly said to me: “Just do it with courage” or “It is not too late to do it later when you are older”. But, I was able to make an incomprehensible movie because I was in my 20’s. I don’t think I would be able to make a movie because I was swept up by overwhelming emotions when I am in my 40’s. If people are born with enough energy to last the next 50 years, I feel as if I already used it all up within 10 years.
I heard that you felt a big sense of inferiority at younger age. What type of inferiority?
I compared myself to others. We live in a culture that emphasizes competition. If you did not do well in your studies, you were treated as if you did not matter much. Discrimination is far worse in the entertainment world than the school. I can feel it immediately that now I have learned to let it go a lot. In the past, I wished to release my movies in a grand style, but now it does not matter to be if the opening is small. I was once hit by the BOF rave which has now passed. I could not think straight back then. Even if I tried to calm down, there was something that always made me drift high up. All the people that I met said they liked me.
Some people say that was your heyday.
They could be right. But, at that time, truth could not be sorted out. They may have said they liked me but I felt so much doubt. I felt as if they were all lying to me. Things are clearer now. What I like and who likes me have become clearer.
What is your greatest issue now?
How do I spend the time? Time moves too slowly. (laughter) In the past, I was a “plan-man”=one who is obsessive about doing things on time. I had my entire day tightly planned out in my notebook. My notebook was at the level of being perverted. I discovered the very anxious me when I was not able to accomplish what was in that notebook. So, I folded the notebook. I took away some of the promises and deleted many agendas. Eventually tasks have shrunk and now the time does not move quickly for me.
You were able to change suddenly like that?
I was lacking the time to just enjoy life. One day I happen to see a tree and said to myself, “I did not know that tree looked like that”. I frequented that road where the tree stood, but it was the first time I really saw it. I wondered at that moment, how have I lived so far. And, I thought how should I live now? Of course, whenever we think about new things, new problems arise too. Nevertheless, I am thinking about what kind of person I would like to be.
Finally, how would you like the audience to view the movie, <Daughter>?
I am not making movies to do something extraordinary. It is about how I am spending the time. Those who are watching it are also just spending their time to become briefly absorbed. I feel like that is what living is about. Spending the time together. For about one hour and 20 minutes, some people may be projecting their own story, but not too seriously. I just think it is nice to just spend the time together like that. (laughter).
Source: Big Issue Korea by AyeSuper
Translation by cheerkoo @ soompi