Choreographer PARK Jae-in of THE WAILING and TRAIN TO BUSAN
by AHN Young-yoon /
Jan 03, 2017
"Actors and actresses have to learn how to use their body"
One of the most unique characters of this year’s Korean cinema is a zombie. They made a shocking appearance in NA Hong-jin’s THE WAILING, and then attacked people in flocks in YEON sang-ho’s TRAIN TO BUSAN. One of the biggest features of zombies is their unnaturally twisting movement. Choreographer PARK Jae-in is right there behind them.
PARK started her career as a rhythmic gymnast and has choreographed for a lot of singers. She is a dance professional in various fields while she currently runs a pole dance academy. Also, she has taken charge of choreography of Dancing Queen (2012) which starred UHM Jeong-hwa, and taught actors to dance the twist in the party scene of Ode to My Father (2014).
First of all, how did you join THE WAILING team?
I don’t know how director NA Hong-jin found me, but he contacted me asking to design zombie movement. In fact, horror is my favorite genre, especially films about exorcism. There is no reason to say no to such a suggestion. However, people around me tried to dissuade me. They said that NA is so dreadful that I couldn’t stand him. Anyway, I just accepted his suggestion, but actually the preparation was killing me. (laughs) However, it was exciting to prepare references for the film. Moreover, I thanked NA to entrust the elderly like me with such a project. In retrospect, he has given a big opportunity. He made me to think that I can study something again.
By the way, do you have any reference for the film?
The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Silent Hill. Both are favorite films of me and NA. I like that they seem to be real. I guess I made at least 500 references for the movement of Hyo-jin (KIM Hwan-hee). (laughs) I taught her by demonstration.
I think it was not easy to teach such a movement to a child actor like KIM Hwan-hee.
That’s why I wanted to meet her soon and see her flexibility. Well, she has a great flexibility! So she could portray the character without too much difficulty.
How did you make motions of the Stranger (KUNIMURA Jun)?
Originally, I wanted the movement of a four-footed animal. The trainer, who used to be a B-boy, figured out the movement running on all fours and gnawing an elk. However, it was too much for KUNIMURA’s age (61-year-old) and he has weak hip joints, so I had to give up the original idea. Instead, I combined motions of Japanese dance ‘Butoh’.
Then, training process is likely to be highly intensive.
Zombie actors have gone through really hard time. They trained for two to three months with their stiff joints. The actor who twisted his body in the hospital room had to practice for three months for that scene. Later, he said that he felt like getting a cramp in his inner parts.
Meanwhile, zombie actions of TRAIN TO BUSAN are very different. Can you tell us about the training and shooting?
Director YEON Sang-ho has a completely different directing style. He made an easy progress focusing more on groups, not on characters. In the film, zombies move fast while the others move in the dark, and some stand out in a mess. About 20 to 30 actors had been trained at a time in my studio, which is just as big as a train. I designed the movement in the studio room. Actors who played soldiers used to run on the mountains in The Tiger (2015). I had benefited from well-trained actors.
Besides genre films like THE WAILING or TRAIN TO BUSAN, choreographing actors’ performance seems to be needed a lot.
There was an imaginary sex scene in Secrets, Objects (2011). I coached JANG Seo-hee, a leading actress, for the scene. I think actors and actresses have to learn how to use their body by default. For example, actress LEE Na-young learns diverse dances like jazz, rhythmic gymnastics and pole dance. Such an attitude is required.
Is there any field you would like to try?
I’d like to do ghost movies once again. By the way, I heard the news that a film about 1988 Seoul Olympics will be made. I choreographed Olympics group gymnastics at that time. I’d like to bring in my experience to join the project if necessary. And I know a lot of behind stories of those days. (laughs)
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