Kim Jee-woon Interview at the London Korean Film Festival

Kim Jee-woonKorean director Kim Jee-woon may not be a household name in this country, but chances are you may have come across his excellent tale of the supernatural A Tale of Two Sisters and you’ll definitely have heard of his Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie The Last Stand.

A suspense filmmaker in the same league as David Fincher or Brian De Palma, Kim Jee-woon’s movies peer into the darker corners of the human mind to stunning effect.

Kim Jee-woon - I Saw The Devil posterHis 2010 film I Saw the Devil is a serial killer classic in waiting, while The Good, The Bad, The Weird is an action movie with brains as well as brawn.

Kim is also a director who flits between feature films and short movies, and on 9th November presented four of his shorts to great acclaim at the London Korean Film Festival.

We caught up with him to discuss short films, including his most recent, One Perfect Day, Korean cinema and his move to Hollywood.

Rob Daniel: Short films are often seen as a stepping stone for directors wanting to make feature films, but you move between the two.  Why is this?

Kim Jee-woon: Four short films will be screened, including Coming Out and Memories. The reason I made those two was because my first two feature films, The Quiet Family and The Foul King, were in the comic-horror and melodrama genres.

Before going on to make A Tale of Two Sisters the shorts gave me a chance to experiment with new a genre (horror) before movie onto a supernatural feature movie.

So this was like an incubating process. Also, the waiting period before making a feature film is very long. What I love most is making films, so shorts allow me to retain that sense of passion, fun and love of making movies.

Kim Jee-woon - One Perfect DayRD: Your films are often scary, but you were scared when making your latest short, One Perfect Day, as it’s your first romcom?

KJ: Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. For me the romantic comedy is the most difficult genre.

I often wondered if I could make a romantic comedy in my lifetime and then I got this opportunity. There was a lot less pressure because it was a short film commissioned by a big company (sporting clothes retailer Kolon) so I thought let’s give it a try.

RD: Are they any genres left you really want to tackle?

KJ: I always wanted to try sci-fi noir and should be able to do that. One upcoming project I’m working on is a remake of the Japanese animation classic Jin-Roh, setting it in Korea as a live action feature.

RD: What will Korean movies bring to UK audiences who go to see them?

KJ: I’m not sure about the British audience per se, but when I took The Good, The Bad, The Weird to Cannes the festival director Thierry Fremaux said it was the most dynamic film from the most dynamic national cinema.

I feel many Korean directors make films as if they’re coming across cinema for the first time. This can give the movies a sense of naivety maybe but also purity and spontaneity and I think this is what overseas audiences can get from our movies.

Kim Jee-woon - Coward coverSM: Korean actors and directors are now working more frequently in Hollywood. Do you think they’re bringing something fresh to the Hollywood system and is that why you’re staying in Hollywood for your next feature, the comic book adaptation Coward?

KJ: I’m still very much curious about Hollywood, the actors, the stories, topics and locations for the movies.

On The Last Stand, because of the differences between the Korean film industry and Hollywood I feel I wasn’t able to give it my all, so I hope to do be able to do so with Coward.

The London Korean Film Festival runs to Friday 15th October and then tours selected UK cities. Click here for more information.

Click below to watch the entire One Perfect Day short movie!