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Ko - production in Busan
  • TRUE FICTION's Director KIM Jin-muk
  • by KIM Su-bin /  Apr 30, 2018
  • “I like films with twists that also contain critical messages”

    Director KIM Jin-muk's debut feature film TRUE FICTION is gaining international attention even before its domestic release. Internationally renowned genre film festival, Fantasporto, awarded the film with Directors Week Official Section’s Best Film and Best Screenplay prizes. The murder story depicts the encounter of the ruling party’s presidential candidate, Kang Seok (OH Man-seok), with a suspicious young man (JI Hyun-woo), while trying to hide his slush funds in a remote country house. 

    The story unfolds in an unexpected way and the genre spans from a black comedy to a suspense thriller. The film has received positive reviews for its originality. We met with director KIM Jin-muk who made an impressive debut with this film.

    -I heard it's been 8 years since you wrote your first draft. There must have been lots of complications until the release.
    We had to change our production company multiple times. It was hard but we managed to find investors with the third production company and although we switched companies, I continued working with producer JEONG Yong-wook. He was actually more determined about this project than I was. I think I was able to complete this film thanks to having a partner like him. I read the first draft again not too long ago and found that the framework hasn't changed much since then. I was in my early 30s when I first started the project but am now already in my 40s, so it feels very different. 

    -Did anything inspire you to make this story?
    I went to a forest lodge with my friends in the early spring. On the way, there was a dead animal on the road and I was shocked. Once we arrived, we set up our tent and went to bed, but it was strange because no one else was there. I thought it would be really scary if the people living in that area started to come at us. That night, I started jotting down my ideas.

    -How did you decide to include a politician character?
    If there is something that hasn’t changed back then and now, it is that politicians are first to be covered by the news. I have been interested in social issues since I started filmmaking. These days, politicians are often symbolic representations of the villain, but when I wrote the script, not many films dealt directly with politicians stories. That's why I thought such a character might be interesting.

    -LEE Kyung-seok and YEOM Jung-gil are examples of corrupt politicians. That's why watching them get a taste of their own medicine from the rural youth was a pleasant feeling. But Soon-tae is a character who's hard to grasp.
    If Soon-tae had a motive for his actions, I thought it would be too typical. When I was writing the scenario, I thought about how most protagonists in thrillers take revenge after a childhood trauma and that's why I chose to omit Soon-tae's past. I think being unpredictable is his charm.

    -You tell your story through a series of small twists. Is there a reason why you chose this way?
    I wanted to write a screenplay that I could enjoy reading. I feel like I need a constant stream of twists to entertain me, so I think I compulsively added many of them. A part of me thinks I included too many. I always loved black comedy and thriller films, and even my graduating film was in the same genre. Twists lead the story, and it contains a critical message. The storytelling style of TRUE FICTION isn't something we're familiar with in Korea, but since I had so much fun writing the script I wasn't too worried about the audience reaction.

    -JI Hyun-woo and OH Man-seok both perform new characters you can't find in their filmography.
    I never thought JI Hyun-woo would be able to play an ambiguous character like Soon-tae because of his innocent and kind image. But when I watched the drama Awl, I realized that he's more than capable of performing characters that are on the opposite spectrum of his previous style. I had him read the screenplay and we met after that. I was reassured then. Not only can he act a wide spectrum of characters, he's also a sincere person. Everyone on set agreed on how earnest he was, so I was able to depend on him. OH Man-seok is an actor who I always admired. I watched Hedwig and the Angry Inch when I was in university and I always imagined working with someone as amazing as he is. He did so well throughout the shoot. I couldn't have asked for anything more from him.

    -After working as a crew member on 2005's Sad Movie, The Art of Seduction and 2006's Tazza: The High Rollers, we don't see any commercial films in your filmography. What have you been occupied with until now?
    I actually shot a short film in 2010. Right after the short, I wrote the screenplay for TRUE FICTION. I was planning to work on another film as an assistant director, but it didn't work out. It drained me, so I quit my job and focused on my writing.

    -As it took you quite a while to debut, your family and friends must be excited by the news of your film's release and the awards you won.
    That's right. I studied film at Hanyang University. I went to university late and graduated late, so naturally, I started working on sets late. I was about 30 when I started working in the industry. I still know many colleagues who are writing their screenplays and I hope they'll find hope and cheer up seeing me.

    -What made you want to make films?
    When I was young, I just wanted to leave something behind in this world. That's not what drives me anymore but I just want to do the best I can to make entertaining films.

    -What kind of films do you want to make?
    In my next film, I want to cut down the swearing, as well as the number of lines to allow more people to enjoy it. I'm thinking of an SF film and a crime film, among many other genres. I'm currently writing the screenplay for a crime movie.
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