• Interview


‘Confidently!’ The Mindset of Korea's Top Musician on Cannes’ Red Carpet

Jul 15, 2022
  • Writerby Park Hyejin
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Actor Lee Jieun of Broker



In 2022, Actor Lee Jieun finished her first commercial film debut ceremony with Broker at the Festival de Cannes. Broker is the first Korean film directed by Japanese master Kore-eda Hirokazu, starring Song Kangho, Kang Dongwon, Bae Doona, Lee Jooyoung, etc. Broker depicts an unexpected and special journey of those who become involved around a baby box. Actor Lee Jieun played Soyoung in the film, an unmarried mom who wants to abandon her baby. While talking in an excited voice on Cannes’ red carpet for her first commercial film, she soon said as below in a calm voice.


“When the camera showed me out of the blue, I made a heart that diffidently. It was the worst gesture that I made at Cannes. I thought I should do everything confidently and not do anything that looked stupid. However, while making the worst gesture, I thought I wanted to come to Cannes again before I die.” 


This is Lee Jieun. If she wants to do something, she surely does it. Thanks to this, every step is clear taken by IU, a solo music artist representing Korea, and Actor Lee Jieun. And she never stops. She always looks forward to a better 'next' and challenges. 


Actor Lee Jieun started her acting career with Dream High, a KBS2 TV series in 2011, and steadily won popularity as a leading actor in many series, including You Are the Best!, The Producers, and Moon Lovers. After that, she met My Mister, a TV series that became a turning point in her acting life. She comforted countless people by delicately expressing Lee Jian, the main character who has lived a rough life. In particular, My Mister was released through the global OTT service after the end of the show, receiving enthusiastic responses overseas. 


- When Broker was premiered at Cannes, a standing ovation poured out. Your overwhelmed facial expression on the screen was quite impressive. How did you feel at that time?

= The applause was really loud. It was touching, and I felt very bewildered. Since it was my first experience, it was impossible and fake for me to pretend to be relaxed. Listening to the constant applause, I looked at Kang Dongwon and Lee Jooyoung next to me and said, "Someone has to finish it." (Laughs)


- We could confirm once again in Cannes that Lee Jieun is a ‘global star.’ The local response was hot from the moment you arrived at the airport, right? Did you expect such a hot response?   

= No, I really didn't expect that. When I arrived at Nice Airport in France, I was surprised to see my fans waiting for me. When I stood on the red carpet, some fans asked me to write my autograph on the CDs of my songs. So, I doubted, "Is it a prank camera?" (Laughs) When I asked an official of the film festival if I could approach my fans, he said, “Of course, you can.” The moment when I met my fans made me feel free most. Actually, I thought no one would know me in Cannes, but I was grateful that they knew me and welcomed me.


- Your first commercial film debut, working with a foreign master director, first entry to Cannes, etc. The film Broker seems to have a lot of meanings for Actor Lee Jieun

= Yes, it's still amazing, and I can't believe it. Although it’s my first movie, the director, the actors, and the staff members are all veterans of the movie world. It was a great opportunity for me to work with them. I had a lot of fun working with them, and of course, there were moments when I felt small. Honestly, I kept trying not to relax throughout the filming, thinking, ‘OMG, I can't believe I’m making this film with them! At least, I shouldn't harm it.’


- Director Kore-eda Hirokazu praised, “Actor Lee Jieun finds answers really fast.” Tell us about your first meeting. 

= The first meeting was done by video. Then the director came to Korea and interviewed me face-to-face in person. At that time, the director said he really enjoyed the series, My Mister. Since then, he looked up a lot of videos of my songs and said he even has the DVD of my concert. So, I thought, “Hmm, you're really interested in me. It's not lip service at all.” I was really fascinated by the fact.


- Before starting the shoot, we heard that Director Kore-eda gave you a handwritten letter himself. Did he write a handwritten letter about his thoughts and ideas on the character you were going to play and the past story of the character that doesn't appear in the movie? What was your first impression of Soyoung, the character you played, through the director's handwritten letter? 

= When I first read the stories in the handwritten letter, I thought, “She is such a drain. If I have someone like her around me, I don’t think I would make good friends with her."  I was worried about how to express Soyoung because she had gone through many things since little. Honestly, it was hard for me to act the character.


- What was the most decisive reason you decided to play the role of Soyoung? 

= At a time when I had to decide on my next work, I vaguely thought, "I want to play the role of a mother." Without any concrete ideas, I just wanted to play the role of a mother who had experienced childbirth. I was offered the character at that moment, and I really wanted to do it well.


- Any special reasons you wanted to play the role of a mother? 

= Not a special reason at all. Giving birth brings real physical pain, right? I just had a vague idea that I wanted to play the role of a person who endured great pain that I couldn't imagine.


- What was the hardest part while acting? 

= Soyoung's setting as an ‘unmarried mom who tries to abandon her baby’ contains complicated circumstances. She is not a character lacking motherhood. According to the director's direction, sometimes Soyoung had to look like a mom without motherhood, or she had to hide it. At some point, Soyoung’s motherhood had to be revealed in her eyes, too. It was really hard to express such mixed emotions.


- So, how did you solve the problem? 

= I asked the director a lot of questions. Now that I think about it, I think I bothered him a lot. (laughs) However, the director gave me a sincere answer every single time. Sometimes he said, "I think I should think about that, too. I will tell you in a few days.” Since he was sincerely thinking about the problems with me, I could trust him and keep acting.


- It was your first time working with a foreign director. Was there any language barrier? 

= Since we spoke in different languages, we could focus on each other's words more not to miss them. In that way, the director also made me concentrate fully.


- What message do you want Broker to leave to the audience? 

= First, I reflected on myself after meeting Broker. I realized that I only led my own life. I only lived thinking about the things making me suffer and what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, an ‘unmarried mom’ is an area I never experienced and thought deeply about. I'm an adult in my 30s now, but I’ve led a life within a small boundary. Through the movie, I realized that I needed to turn my eyes to somewhere else other than myself.

There are still many social prejudices against unmarried mothers. Now, I hope those perceptions can change a little. There are so many types of families in modern times. I dare to think that our society should accept such diverse types of families more generously.  


- As a singer, ‘IU,’ you have already built a superb career. Also, as Actor Lee Jieun, you have built your career step by step in the TV series and now expanded the stage to movies. Tell us about your future goal, please. 

= I love acting. Acting is obviously difficult, but I want to keep doing it and do it well. That has been my wish since I was little. I debuted as a singer first, and since I have been much active as a singer so far, I know some people still feel awkward when I say I am an actor. However, I'm really grateful that people seem to accept me as Actor Lee Jieun little by little now. It is also encouraging for me personally. I don’t have any specific goals in the future. Instead, I hope that my image as an actor can be accepted naturally whether they like it or not.

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