Seen in Jeonju

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The 33rd Blue Dragon Awards

28th November 2012

The 2012 edition of the Blue Dragon Film Awards will take place on November 30th. I am listing all the candidates for the major awards in their categories ahead of the festival and will update this post when the results are announced. Care to choose your favorites?

Best Film

best film

Winner: __Pieta_____

Best Director

best director

Winner: ____Jeong Ji-yeong_________

Best Actor

best actor

Winner: _____Choi Min-shik________

Best Actress

best actress

Winner: ____Im Soo-jeong_______

Best Supporting Actor

best supporting actor

Winner: ___Ryu Seung-ryong___

Best Supporting Actress

best supporting actress

Winner: ___Moon Jeong-hee______

Best New Director

best new director

Winner: ____Kim Hong-seon__________

Best New Actress

best new actress

Winner: __Kim Ko-eun__

Best New Actor

best new actor

Winner: ___Jo Jeong-seok__

Other awards:  Best Screenplay: __Nameless Gangster <Yoon Jong-bin>__, Best Cinematography: __Eungyo <Kim Tae-kyeong___, Best Lighting: ____Eungyo <Hong Seung-cheol>_____  Best Music: __Nameless Gangster <Jo Yeong-wook>_ Best Art Direction: ___Masquerade <Oh Hong-seok>_____, Best Short Film: __Night___


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Bae Doo-Na Interview

4th May 2012

One of my students at Woosuk University, Kim Han-eol, told me that he would like to develop his translation skills. He asked that I give him material to translate and wondered if I would go over it with him, helping him with grammar and vocabulary choices. Of course, I was happy to do that and directed him to entertainment news section of Daum.  I told him he could pick any article there and he selected an interview with actress Bae Doo-na written by Jo Jeong-Won, “Issue Reporter” of Daum Entertainment, published online April 30, 2012.  I think he did a great job on the translation and asked his permission to post the edited work here. He agreed.

Bae Doo-na is currently in theaters in the film As One.  It is the story of the first time South and North Korea united their athletes to particiapte in an international event. The Korean title of this film is simply ‘Korea‘ which is what the unified team was called but the English name was changed to As One since most non-Koreans take Korea to refer to South Korea. In the movie, Bae plays the North Korean table tennis athlete Lee Boon-hee.  What follows is the translation of the article:


20120430092410332“When the filming started, I became Lee Boon-hee and I could feel my heart race. Now I am gradually getting out of her shadow.”  The movie she is referring to is called As One (directed by Moon Hyeon-seong) and is based on the true story of the first union of North and South Korea when their table tennis teams worked together for 46 days under the name ‘Korea.’

During the matches, the North Korean player Lee Boon-hee had the image of being cold-blooded and fearless in the midst of a game. The coach of the team, Hyeon Jeong-hwa described her as a conceited person.  On the day of this interview in a cafe in Seoul, my first impression of Bae Doo-na was that she was unapproachable. Was this the influence of playing the role of Lee Boon-hee? As we spoke, that gradually faded and a warm personality and delightful energy emerged from her.

Lee Boon-hee rarely expresses her feelings in the story even when provoked by opponents. She merely responds with her own poker face and continues with her work. In this, there are some similarities between Bae Doo-na and Lee Boon-hee. However, Bae’s offscreen life is that of a purely brilliant woman and Lee Boon-hee may very well be that way as well. “I wonder what others, besides my family and friends, will think of the movie. My parents and friends cried like I did when they saw it. How was the movie?” she asked me.

In response to her question, I said, “I thought that your natural character was perfectly suited for playing that character as you two seem alike.” She was shocked by my answer and showed her gratitude.

“It is a pleasure to hear that the character and I are alike rather than I did a good job acting. I had been wondering what Lee Boon-hee would think if she had a chance to watch this film.”

The hardest thing about the role was the emotions that overwhelmed Bae. As soon as the cameras started rolling, she completely transformed into Lee Boon-hee.

It was hard for me to hold back my tears in the last scene. I was expected to overcome the situation but I could not stop shedding tears. My body was out of my control and I was nauseous. I was mad at myself and it was horrible to endure. It is a scene that is supposed to be funny when the coach argues and gets a red card, however I could not stop crying and I resented myself for it.”

As One does not manipulate the audience into feeling sorrowful. It promotes an emotional response naturally and honestly. As Bae is also naturally honest with her emotions, it was hard for her to hide them.

“When I was in my 20’s,  I thought after each film that I would be myself again after filming wrapped up. It was like that when I finished making Air Doll (2012).  But after winding up As One, it was difficult for me to start my next film, Cloud Atlas. I cannot fully shake the image of Lee Boon-hee. I want to slow down.”

I proposed that in order to refresh herself that we order some sweet chocolates from the cafe and which I know she enjoys. But the image of Lee Boon-hee remains with her.

The movie As One has the power to immerse the audience into the film. The strength of the film lies in the fact that it is based on a true story.

“As I watched the film, I should have been watching my performance without any other thoughts, but I was fascinated by the movie. It was hard for me to look at it objectively after playing Lee Boon-hee. Audiences are going to like this film because the strong impression it will leave. They will find the last scenes really inspirational.”

Bae Doo-na is not beautiful in this film. For much of the film, her face is soaked in sweat and she did not like to wear make-up in this role.

“Actually, I don’t care for cosmetics. Even now I’m not wearing much. I hate to wear full make-up. And I will certainly not wear make-up if the story I am filming requires me to depict a real character. As an actress, unless I am on a public stage or need to look refreshed, I do not enjoy it.” (laughs)

Reflecting her real life onscreen… that is a common theme for both Bae Doo-na and Lee Boon-hee.

There was a rumor stating that the reason Bae was selected for this film was because she learned table tennis in elementary school, but when asked, the answer turned out to be “No.”

“As you know, I am right-handed and Lee Boon-hee was left-handed. For the basic moves, it was possible to use my right hand, but I had to learn to use my left hand and it was the first time I had to do anything like this. I had never used my left hand and for the harder moves, my strength was insufficient. My swings were unnatural and problems arose because my left hand was not strong enough and when I hit with my right hand, I was too strong.  I had to practice a lot before filming.”

When I asked Bae Doo-na what was the most difficult thing about making this film, she pondered the question and put deep meaning into her answer. “I have no regrets after making this film but I will think of As One whenever I face hardship. Table tennis requires a lot of energy even though it seems liek there are not many moves.”

As One will open on May 3rd. Bae Doo-na is preparing for her busy interview schedule in the coming days.

“After it premiered, the response has been very positive and we are optomistic that this film will do well.”

Barking Dogs Never Bite inspired her as an actress twelve years ago. In other words, it was her turning point. “After a decade, it is time for a new turning point. As One could provide the motivation for one.”

Finally, I asked her if she thought about getting married and if she has a boyfriend, and she laughed in response.

“In the past, I had to hide my emotions. But I don’t have to do that anymore. I am not interested in getting married, but I wouldn’t mind going out once in a while.”

It has been 14 years since Bae Doo-na debuted as an actress. In that time, she as accumulated an impressive filmography. We have no doubt that, as always, she is going to shine in As One

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The 32nd Blue Dragon Awards

25th November 2011

The thrity-second Blue Dragon movie awards are underway as I type this.  Below are the list of winners in the order they appear in the broadcast. I listed all the nominees and gave the winner a gold star under her or his image.

Best New Actor:

blue dragon new actor

Best New Actress:

blue dragon new actress

Best New Director:

blue dragon new director

Best Supporting Actor:

blue dragon supporting actor

Best Supporting Actress:

blue dragon supporting actress

Best Director:

blue dragons best director

Best Actor:

blue dragon best actor

Best Actress:

blue dragon best actress

Best Film:

blue dragons best film

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The 48th Daejong Film Awards

19th October 2011

best film Frontline48 Grand Bell Movie AwardsThis past Monday, the 48th Daejong (which means Grand Bell) Film Festival was held in Seoul. Not really a film festival at all, it is actually an awards show akin to the Academy Awards, giving out prizes to the best domestic films.  Winning the grand prize for ‘Best Film’ was the epic war movie pictured right, Frontline. It faced some stiff competition though from Unjust, Sunny, War of the Arrows and Yellow Sea. But, although Frontline won first place, it’s director, Jang Hoon, did not win the title of Best Director.  Instead, that went to the director of Sunny, Kim Hyeong-cheol.  The award for Best New Director went to Yoon Seong-hyeon for his film Bleak Night. Actor Won Bin one the “Toyota Most Popular” Award and veteran actor Lee Dae-geun was given a lifetime achievement award.  Actually, the night was filled with veteran actors and actress being nominated for prizes, which was nice to see. Below the nominees and the winners for the best/supporting and new actors and actresses.  Let’s start with the ladies…

best new actress

The prize for Best New Actress went to Moon Chae-won for her role in War of the Arrows which is still in theaters as of this writing.  Personally, I might have gone with Kim So-ra in this case for Sunny but I really have to wonder how Shin Se-kyeong made this list.  She was in the film Hindsight which is not a film I recommend…

best supporting actress

The Award for Best Supporting Actress went to Shim Eun-kyeong for Romantic Heaven.  I have to take their word for that as I have not yet seen this movie.  She must have done an excellent job because the other actresses were all quite good in their parts, especially Kim Soo-mi in Late Blossoms and Kim Ji-yeong in The Last Blossom. (that is not a typo– they are different films with similar titles).

best actress

The Grand Bell Movie Awards declared Kim Ha-neul the Best Actress for her part in Blind. Also nominated for the prize were Bae Jong-ok (The Last Blossom), Kim Hye-soo (Villain and Widow), Choi Kang-hee (Petty Romance) and Yoon So-jeong (Late Blossoms).

best new actor

Now for the men.  The award for Best New Actor went to Lee Je-hoon for his work in the movie Bleak Night… as opposed to his work in Frontline which earned him a second nomination.  Jang Gi-beom was on the list for Glove, Yoo Yeon-seok for Re-Encounter and Kim Hwan-yeong for Ryangkangdo: Merry Christmas, North! which, to the best of my knowledge has not yet opened in theaters outside of film festivals. Maybe closer to the holidays?

best supporting actor

The trophy for Best Supporting Actor was awarded to Jo Seong-ha for the action/thriller Yellow Sea. I admit that movie has grown on me and deserves to be looked at without comparing it to the director’s previous film (Chaser).  Yoo Hae-jin is also a very talented actor and I would not have minded if he had won this prize as well.

best actor

Finally, Park Hae-il won the prize for Best Actor due to War of the Arrows.  (I am very happy they changed the English title from Arrow: The Ultimate Weapon that KOFIC had originally listed on its website).  Lee Soon-jae was nominated for his work in Late Blossom, former G.O.D. member Yoon Gye-sang was listed for Poongsan, Cha Tae-hyeon for Hello, Ghost and Kim Yoon-seok for Yellow Sea.

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Twist Kim passes away

30th November 2010

twist kimIt’s not often that I have time to post during the week when the semester is coming to an end, but I felt that this was important enough for me to take time off from other work to mention. Twist Kim, a staple character actor of the sixties and early 70s passed away today at the age of 74. The cause of death was a stroke.  Twist Kim was born Kim Han-seob in 1936 in the southern city of Busan. He debuted in 1962 in a small role in the film The Man From Tokyo.  Two years later, he was paired with Shin Seong-il in the classic film Barefoot Youth and was launched to stardom. His career wound down about a decade later, although he made sporadic appearances in movies up until 1999 and starred in a short film Dancing Cop, Twist Kim in 2001. 

Twist Kim earned his nickname because of his skill at dancing the twist which he displays in several of his movies. Kim was able to easily switch between playing a tough, lowlife to lovable comic-relief characters. Although I recently complained about his comedy style in the film Father and Sons (his ‘eye-dancing’ scenes were really not funny), I loved the way he acted in films like Barefoot Youth and Early Rain.

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Park Yong-ha

30th June 2010

park yong-haToday, the Korean film and entertainment world was rocked by yet another shocking suicide, this time by actor/singer Park Yong-ha.  The Associate Press article about his death, written by Kim Hyeong-jin reads as follows:  A popular South Korean actor and singer killed himself Wednesday in distress over career pressures while caring for his terminally ill father, police said, the latest in a string of high-profile suicides in the Asian country. Park Yong-ha, 33, is believed to have “impulsively” hanged himself with the electric cord of his camcorder at his Seoul home hours after he came home intoxicated, Seoul’s Gangnam Police Station said in a statement.“We have determined that it’s obvious he killed himself,” the statement said. No suicide note was found and Park didn’t have medical problems such as depression or money troubles, it said. Police, however, said Park had been under stress because he had to juggle management of his entertainment company and his career while his father was fighting stomach cancer.  “I must be sick instead of you, father. I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” the police statement quoted Park as tearfully telling his father before his mother later found the entertainer dead in his room.  Park also told acquaintances earlier this week that his work was “difficult and this kind of life is so hard.”  The actor had been faithfully nursing his 62-year-old father and had been taking sleeping pills due to insomnia, an official at Seoul Metropolitan Agency said, citing Park’s mother.  Park debuted in the late 1990s and starred in the 2002 television drama “Winter Sonata,” which drummed up a following in Japan and Southeast Asia. He held several concerts in Japan and released eight CD albums there. One of his fans was said to be Japan’s former first lady, Akie Abe.  Park’s death was the top news in Japan along with the country’s grueling loss to Paraguay on penalties Tuesday at the World Cup. Some Japanese TV networks had live coverage from Seoul with TV reporters standing in front of Park’s home.  Park’s online fan sites both in South Korea and Japan were paralyzed due to massive traffic. He was supposed to hold 12 concerts across Japan from July 2 to Aug. 22 and the tickets were sold out, according to Japanese record company Pony Canyon Inc.   Park’s body was moved to a Seoul hospital for a three-day mourning period before cremation, Yonhap news agency reported, citing his family.

The above article, for some reason concentrating on his fan reactions in Japan, fails to mention Park’s contributions to movies and especially tv in addition to his albums (9 in all).  His debut was actually in film.  In 1989, when he was just 12 years old, Park appeared in The Island of Women directed by Ha Ryun.  When he was a little older, he had his second role on MBCs Theme Game. This led to steady acting parts throughout the 90s but it wasn’t until the daily drama See and See Again (March 1998-April 1999) that he became a household name.  Also in 1998, he starred in his second film, If It Snows on Christmas, alongside Kim Hyeon-ju.  Between 1999 and 2002 when he had his third film role, Park appeared in seven other tv dramas including the abvoe mentioned Winter Sonata. There was a third film in there called Summer Story, but it was never released in theaters. His fourth movie was a remake of the classic, I Hate You, But Again (there is a confusing number of translations for this title) called simply Again in English. Sometime while appearing in all these tv shows and movies, Park found time to graduate from Jungang University’s department of Performing Arts. His singing career took off during the early part of the 2000s and he returned triumphantly to television with the well-received All In starring Lee Byeong-heon. More recently, Park was in a tv drama called Love Song and was in the thriller Scam in theaters. 

His life was much too short.  

Park Yong-ha:  August 12, 1977-June 30, 2010

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Kim Yeong-ae

30th November 2009

After the mid-term exams, one student who was struggling in a class asked if she could do some extra work to improve her grade.  I pointed to a stack of Cine21 magazines on the coffee table in my office and told her she could pick any interview out of them to translate and submit to me before finals.  To my surprise, instead of choosing a more popular, hipper star, she chose Kim Yeong-ae.  I admit I hadn’t even read this interview prior to her choosing it.  Kim Yeong-ae had been in many movies in the 70s and early eighties but has done mostly television work since then.  She left tv for awhile to run a company selling cosmetics—most notoriously mud packs.  These mud packs were soon rumored to cause skin disease because of an alleged contaminent.  Although the rumors were proven false and she won the lawsuits against her, her business was in shambles.  Frankly, I almost did not post this articles.  Much of what Ms Kim says is so negative.   Here is the article as translated by my student.  (This interview in its original Korean language form can be found in Cine21 n. 720, Sept 8, 2009. The original interview was conducted by Lee Hwa-jeong and can be viewed here – )… ( seems my student skipped a few sentences along the way…but it was a good effort otherwise)

kim yeong-aeWhy did you choose to act in the movie Goodbye, Mother out of all the possible roles you could have had?          When I was offered the role of the mother in Goodbye, Mother, my situation was quite difficult.  I wasn’t really feeling ready to work.  I was appearing in a drama here and there, but I didn’t feel I was ready to take on a film part. However, the scenario caught my attention and I liked the fact that it was the story of ordinary people. My favorite parts to play are of the people next door like I did in the dramas ‘Wave‘ and ‘Brothers’ River’.

The movie is the story of the relationship between Ae-ja and her mother…but it seems to me that Ae-ja is the larger role.     My part was large enough! I was worried about how my acting would be received and if I could manage the part.

Well, they say that once you learn how to ride a bicycle, you never forget. I think the same can be said for your acting skills.   No, that’s not true.  My acting is not improving as I get older and I am always so tired after wrapping up a shoot that I catch a cold.  I see other actor’s my age performing and I think to myself, “Her style of acting is so old-fashioned!” I think people might look at me the same way. I feel as if I have lost my ability to concentrate and think on my feet since my role in Hwang Jin-yi about three years ago.  And since I had been through so much since that part, I was worried that I would not be able to do as much as I used to.

Although I was excited to be on a movie set again, I was still nervous. I was worried about my reputation and the fact that I was rusty after several years of not acting. I threw up often and couldn’t sleep at all. I even suffered from a burst blood vessel in my eye–all because of high expectations of myself.

I’m not sure that director Jeong Ki-hoon knew that.  He referred to you as an ‘expert’ and that you were very helpful on the set. Everyone else was calling you ‘Mother’.    That’s natural considering my role.  There is somewhat of an age gap between myself and the director who often told me I was a ‘fox’.  He directed me well and got me feeling like an actress again in no time at all.

There are many scenes where you interact with your ‘daughter’ played by Choi Kang-hee. I was wondering what you thought of her as an actress…    She is more like a friend to me…but a younger friend. We have a lot in common and many similar interests. We both have some bold ideas and hate staying in one place.  And besides that, we are both anti-social!

I don’t understand that. With your long experience as an actress and your time as a CEO, you should be good at mingling with people.    No.  When I go shopping for clothes, my stylist picks everything out.  I have kept the same hairdresser since I was 28.  I have a person who is responsible for my makeup and nails.  I just follow the people around me.  I prefer to maintain my relationships with these people whom  I already know.

That sounds kind of scary.  It’s just that I want everything to be scheduled for me and to go smoothly. I actually keep myself in control.  It also means that I expect alot of my co-stars as well. Of course, I am not talking about making mistakes.  Everyone does that. However, I don’t want he or she to ignore me.  I cannot stand that!  I always try my best and give a huge effort with whatever task I’m given.  I have heard from many people over the years that I am too strict. However I don’t agree with them.  My character in Hwang Jin-yi was so strict that I was fed up with playing her.  One day my son told me that the character was just like me! (Laughs)  I guess I always try to be perfect.

The mother in the movie Goodbye, Mother really seems to suit you. She is also an upright person who always follows her principles.   I think I have a lot in common with her.

I heard that many people called their mothers right after watching Goodbye Mother. That must be because your role was special.  Although I played the mother, I thought of myself as the daughter while acting. My own mother passed away when she was 79.  I was stunned when she died. Even though I had been taking care of her for twenty years, I never expected that she would pass away suddenly. I thought she would always be beside  me.  I most regret what I last said to her on the phone. “I’m busy, tell me what you want to say.” And then I hung up

Tell me about when you were younger. Your photos are beautiful. You must have attracted many men.    When I was in middle school, the children in the village used to follow me around with sticks and call me very derogatory names.  They used a term meaning half-breed because my skin was so white, my forehead was high and my eyes were brown.  My father was very strict with me when he saw boys following me. He assumed I was leading them on and I was severely scolded.

It must have been difficult then to get your father’s permission to get into acting.   Well, I was quite spunky! I didn’t go back home for a month after submitting my application to a vocational high school. My mother suffered from his complaining that she did not raise me better.  I used to rebel quite a bit.  By the time I started to get into acting, he was too sick to prevent me and then he passed away a short time later.

Did you really want to be an actress? I think you were influenced by many people telling you  that you were beautiful.   In the past, men and women who were good-looking were asked if they were interested in acting. I’m from Busan and when I came to Seoul, my friend urged me to apply to an acting competition at MBC. So I applied.  I wonder what would I have done if I had not won. What would I have become? I used to dream of being a housewife.

When did you really start getting into acting? With my aunt’s support I set about learning everything I could about acting while I was staying in Seoul. I didnn’t know the first thing about it. But I was the eldest child and I did not want to bring shame to my family. When I look back, I think the reason I made it so far in this field is because of my pride and patience.  I had my first leading role when I was 25 and I loved it. At this time, Kim Ja-ok, Ko Doo-shim and I were very popular.

You were in a lot of movies in the 1970s but afterwards you seemed to switch to television parts.  I was in various kinds of movies in the past.  But always meeting new people on the movie set and shortly after parting ways only to meet another new group made me feel very uncomfortable.  I was also in some adult films but I stopped doing them because I was worried that my son would go into a video shop and find them.  That thought makes me laugh now.  Frankly, I was a terrible mother. I usually checked if he had done his homework with a phone call. I think now that I should have spent more time with him rather than working so much.

Your business venture ended quite messily. Although you won the lawsuit, it must have been quite stressful coming right after your divorce.   Owning a business was not for me.  I felt like a dog on a chain taking care of 80 or 90 employees.  After the rumors broke out, I wanted to die! But I couldn’t because I didn’t want people thinking, “She deserved to die.” I cannot tell you how much I suffered during that time.

How did you get through it?   Nothing could console me then and it made me very bitter towards my husband. I wanted to have it all–I don’t do anything in moderation.  I wanted to keep a generous mind toward everyone but I couldn’t do that within my own family.  I guess I can’t change who I am.

The movie Goodbye Mother has brought you back.  Yes but I was worried about negative comments because I am nearly 60.  Actors thrive on compliments.  I want to hear that my part was the best in the movie, not that I was the best.

As an actress, are you afraid of getting older?  Getting old is inevitable.  It is something people should just accept. No one can stay beautiful forever. However, age has its own beauty.  I think Meryl Streep’s wrinkles are beautiful, but not my own. If I had a calmer life, I would have taken better care of my skin.  But I am more interested in people referring to me as a good actress rather than a pretty face.

So are you going to continue acting?  Of course I will. I don’t think of myself as a star but while I was away from acting, fans kept asking when I would return.  I really appreciated that.  I appreciate all the love people have shown me and I am repaying that love by returning to acting.  However, I won’t rush into it and I will pursue it at my own pace.

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