[Interview] Ku Hye Sun “Further I searched into death, I saw life.”
Her third film is called ‘Daughter’–keyword in all her movies is ‘death’.
“I continue to work on throwing things out–only 3 pairs of shoes, clothes are by sponsors.”
It is rare to see entertainers who do as many various type of works as Ku Hye Sun (30). She debut as a talent and stays active not only as an actress, but as a director, artist, composer, writer and singer. The older she gets, scope of her interest as well as her activities widened.
She may get praises like “she is pretty and talented”, but she also hears sarcasms like “try to do one thing well”. A praise may end with a smile, but insults scratch her heart and leave deep marks.
Even so, she continued to direct, draw and write. Her filmography started from short films like Cheerful Caretaker (2008), Dear (2010), Pieces of Memory(2012) to feature films like Magic(2010) and Peach Tree (2010).
Then she reappeared as a director with another feature film ‘Daughter’. This time, she is also the main actress. It is her first time to act as the lead actress for her movie. Instead of choosing a soft and cushy story, she decided on a heavy theme that dealt with the relationship between mother and daughter and death.
She heard about the violent case, ‘chil-gok step-mother’, and became so enraged that she started to write the script. She mixed into her script both personal as well as many other stories of family violence that she heard throughout elementary to high school years.
“Recently, such incidents of violence increased a great deal. What is even more shocking is that the source of violence against these children is their own families. I sometimes wonder if there should be a certification to become parents.”
The movie deals with the story of Sanyi who grew up being hit and constantly observed by her strict mother since young age. In front of others, the mother is reserved and well-mannered, however, she becomes hypocritically and unhesitatingly abusive when alone with her daughter.
“I did not show the movie to my mother for fear that she will misunderstand. There were many peers who lived in fear during the school years. Family violence was really serious. Everybody believed that it was right to hit if the child does not listen. There were more incidents of violence against the children by their own birth parents.
The casting of Shim HyeJin was a ‘Devine Movement’. Shim HyeJin’s acting from an out-of-control angry person in one moment to a calm and quietly abusive person the next was amazingly flawless.
“I did not even give her the fee but she immediately responded to my request. I told myself that I was not going to make this movie if Shim Hyejin-sunbae refused the offer. Fortunately, I received her okay readily.”
Ku Hye Sun may be a director but she is also an actress. It must have been hard for her to make acting directions to her senior?
“I did not make any direction that went beyond the scenario. She acted well without them. She was so considerate and thought that I would have hard time making request that she even purposely came to tell me to ‘tell her if there is any problem’. She would even just suggest to me if she should do that scene again. She is already such a superb actress that she had no problem in leading the scenes. If it was really necessary, I did say, ‘let’s do that again’. (laughter)
Both the movie printing and the marketing cost 1-uck-2-chun-mon won=120 million won. Due to the small budget, the movie was shot in 8 meetings and there weren’t that many actors. She did not even spend that much time and effort on art and lighting as she did in her previous works. And the color is also very subdued in this film. The heaviness of the movie’s theme and the low budget determined the movie’s general color.
“The budget for the editing work was already decided long before. The budget was nearly the cost of one day’s meal. We had to keep to the budget very tightly and there could not be any waste. Even though we worked hard to stay in the budget, the staff was hardly paid fully either.
Because of so many things that Ku Hye Sun does, she is often referred to as ‘all-around-beauty’. But abusive insults follow her too.
Insults to me have become gradually upgraded. Initially, there were simple personal attacks. But the more works I released, the insults to me became even higher quality. I just plainly said to myself I will just live with insults that are at least higher-quality.These days, I am anticipating insults that would be on an even higher dimension than ‘why don’t you just stick with one thing and do well’ or ‘It must be that anybody can easily become a director’
“Those words scarred me when I made my first movie, however, now, I find myself doing ‘stop blaming yourself comedy act’. These days, I have a standard about listening to insults against me. Is this an insult that can be a medicine for me or is this simply a poison full of malice.”
When I asked her how about concentrating on acting, she aggressively responded even before I finished my sentence: “I don’t think I can agree with that.” If people are only interested in using telephone, they should carry cell phones that only make and receive calls. But, these days, people carry smart phones. People go to college and decide on one major so why is our high school teaching 12 different subjects?
If you are going to operate a coffee shop, you still have to know other things like about setting up the decorations, the light, the music, etc. It is the same with making movies.You also have to know about lighting, art and technical things. I may do many different things, but, ultimately, there is only one root/foundation. It is something that takes a lot of time to complete. I cannot agree with the idea of telling me to do just one thing.”
The keyword that is the common denominator of all her movies so faris ‘death’. Life and death are like the two side of a same coin. She says:”One needs to know about death to make way to live.”
She started to wonder about “If I die, who will clean up this room? Who will wash the dishes?” From that point on, she started to throw things away. Now, she is so adept at it that she just has three pairs of shoes left. Due to frequent moving, she threw away most of her clothes. In her 3-pyung, square-ish room, she does not even have a bed. Due to the cold air that arises, she sleeps with a tent up in her room. She sold her car. She takes the bus when she comes to Seoul. Nobody recognizes you?
“As long as I dont make eye contacts, nobody recognizes me. Also if I bow my head over the smartphone, nobody knows me either. Surprisingly, people really do not have interest in others.”(hahaha)
She says that “the biggest extravagance is desiring thriftiness”. “Even though she releases her creativeness in order to communicate with others, she says it does not happen as she hoped and wished. To be acknowledged is something that I cannot control.”
“Originally, I started this work to become more free. However, the more I express myself, they are returned to me in the form of chain and yokes. So, I really don’t know what will happen in the future. I really am not sure how I will live either. However, no matter what I decide to do, I will not regret.”
Translation by cheerkoo @ soompi