HAF feature interview with KIM Baek-jun, <Monsters>

by JUNG Han-seok   03.08.2012
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Director KIM Baek-jun (born in 1970) is preparing his third film <Monsters> with production company JK Film (<Haeundae>). The project’s budget is set at about KW 800 million (US$711,000). He graduated from the Department of Theater and Film at Kyungsung University in Busan and worked as assistant director on films such as <Crazy First Love> (2003) and <Way to Go, Rose> (2005). He made his directorial debut with <My Dear Diary>, which was invited to the Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF) competition. His second feature <Farewell> was in the Butterfly competition at the Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival (CinDi). <Monsters> will be taking part in the 10th Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) this month.
KCT: Tell us about your first film, <My Dear Diary>.
KIM: I am close with the cinematographer of <My Dear Diary>, JUNG Sung-wook. We went to the same school together. He has worked with me since I was making short films. This film I’m preparing now, <Monsters>, will also be shot by him. The script of <My Dear Diary> was written by him. I dramatized it and directed it. It’s a story of growth, about the love, despair and hope of young people in their twenties.
KCT: What about your second, <Farewell> - how did you think up that film?
KIM: It’s about an ethnic Korean-Chinese brother and sister who are left in South Korea. It starts with the image of them coming and going every day at places like the airport and passenger boat terminal. It was while I was thinking about why that brother and sister were coming and going to and from those places when that film came about. 
KCT: What inspired you to do <MONSTERS>?
KIM: It was when I was editing <Farewell>. I remember it as around summer last year. I was watching the news when I heard a phrase. It was news about a new phrase that high school students are using these days. Have you ever heard the word “bbang shuttle”? It’s a term Korea high school students use. The strong kids in the class make the weak ones go buy they bread “bbang” in Korean at the school store. They call those weak kids that run the bread errands “bbang shuttles”. They say there are phrases like “stocking shuttles” and “sanitary pad shuttles” as well. Ranks are perpetuated within the school and new phrases are created alluding to them. I felt it was truly cruel when I came across news of this sort of thing happening. And so that’s why I wanted to do this story. It took me two months to write the first draft of the script. I revised it little by little and completed it last year.
KCT: How far along are you with the production?
KIM: We’re still in casting. I think pre-production will be more concrete after we get back from HAF. We’ll probably be able to set a specific production size then as well.
KCT: What kind of image are you thinking of for the main character?
KIM: First let me tell you a little more about the story. It will feature a situation where a victim of school violence becomes a victimizer in the same way to another kid. Because the main character is double-sided like this, I think it would be good if he also has a dual image. Rather than an actor who has an emphasis on just his strong side or just his weak side, I’m looking for one who has images of both. I haven’t decided yet whether to cast an actor who is actually in their late teens, or to cast an actor in their twenties for the teenage role. There are three main characters. I met and talked with LEE David who played the middle school student that is involved in a crime in director LEE Chang-dong’s <Poetry>. But we just met and discussed it; the casting is not decided yet.
KCT: Where do you plan to shoot this film?
KIM: In Busan. I spent my adolescence in Busan. I lived there for more than ten years. I know the area well, so it’s easy to think up places that would be cinematically usable. My past two films were also both shot in Busan. But we haven’t settled on specific locations.

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