Chungmuro/Film News
Movieweek interview on Gu Hye-sun’s Magic
by | June 18, 2010 | 21 Comments

Gu Hye-sun‘s feature directorial debut, Magic, is now a week from its release, and the following is an interview from Movieweek featuring both her and her star, actress friend Seo Hyun-jin (who, by the way, was also featured in Gu’s short film The Madonna).

The movie takes place at an arts high school and is set in the world of music; Seo and the two lead actors (Kim Jung-wook and Im Ji-kyu) play students and musicians. Gu explains that she got the idea for the movie two years ago, when she went to a concert by cellist Song Young-hoon. She’d always wanted to do a music-themed movie and the lead character was originally a guitarist, but she changed that to a cellist after seeing the performance.

Gu’s next acting role will be as an aspiring musical actress in The Musical. Her next project behind the camera is a “vampire romance,” a film project she is currently writing and will direct. Magic opens on June 24.

I’ve seen a few reviews of Magic in the Korean press and the verdict is… mixed. They tend to praise the film’s visual quality but not so much the writing. Here’s a review in English from The Korea Times for the curious.

Now on to the Movieweek interview:

Director Gu Hye-sun & Seo Hyun-jin: “We get along really well”

You worked together on the short film The Madonna. Did you become good friends then?

Gu Hye-sun: “We were good friends before we started working together on it.”

Seo Hyun-jin: “We had friends in common, so as we all met together, we became friendly.”

Then somewhere along the line, you ditched the others and became friends?

Seo: “That’s right. [Laughs]”

Gu: “When we’re going through difficulties, we talk together.”

I find people can get close when they end up sharing their concerns and troubles.

Gu: “Since we’re both women, we got close talking about guys. [Laughs]”

Seo: “We talked about dating, and our ideal men.”

Gu: “We talked about every little thing, and found that we had similar inclinations toward the same kinds of things, and bonded through that.”

Seo: “But thankfully, our ideal men are different. [Laughs] If they were the same, we could run into trouble.”

What did you think of each other at first?

Seo: “We kept using polite speech with each other after being acquainted for about a year and a half. It was really awkward. Wherever I went, there she was. We’d greet each other [formally], saying, ‘Ah, hello?’ and ‘Yes, hello.’ [Laughs]

So to break it down, you had been acquainted but didn’t speak to each other, but wanted to?

Seo: “We’re both not the type who finds it easy to initiate conversation. It took us quite a while, since that was already a year and a half [of knowing each other].”

When did you have the chance to get closer?

Seo: “When we went on a trip together?”

Gu: “Yes, that’s right. The trip.”

You didn’t really speak, but you took a trip together?

Seo: “I was looking for someone whose schedule worked, and for some reason we were both available.”

Gu: “Before that, we would see each other pretty frequently so we had started to get closer, but it was on the trip that we became friends. I’d never gone to a public bath with friends before. But in Japan we went to the open-air baths, and became friends. Bathing friends. [Laughs] We also shared a room for about a week.”

So that’s how you became friends and filmed the short together, and then wrote the script for your feature.

Gu: “Yes, I was writing a female character, and I ended up putting some of Hyun-jin’s traits into her. She can be conservative, and doesn’t open her heart easily, but she pours her passion silently into her own work. Those things are expressed indirectly. She brought a lot of that with her.”

Watching Magic, the female lead has the feeling, “Can’t I love both [guys]?” I wondered if that had really happened, if you’d had that worry.

Gu (looking at Seo Hyun-jin): “You did, didn’t you? [Laughs]”

Seo: “You know how there are many types of love. You can truly love someone rationally, and you can love someone because you just feel it. On that point, I think a person can love without distinguishing gender.”

Gu: “In the movie, the character Ji-eun isn’t a leader. She doesn’t do anything from the beginning to end. But the guys just misunderstand for no reason. I think I was thinking more along those lines.”

Seo: “I hope that’s the case. I’m envious of Ji-eun. Why can’t I live that kind of life? [Laughs]”

Gu: “That makes it sadder. [Laughs]”

It must be gratifying to hear that the script was written thinking of you.

Gu: “I talked to her about the script first, before I talked about casting. But on the way home, I did tell her, ‘But still, you have to do it.’ [Laughs]”

Seo: “She told me to just read it first, so I read it and thought it was interesting. After that, she told me to act in it. I was doubtful: ‘Why? Will that really be okay?’ [Laughs]”

Gu: “Actually, I used Hyun-jin in The Madonna because she helped me, and in Magic because I matched the character to her personality. She’s also musical, and I had a lot of faith in her. Other actors may just act, but she could show a musical side too. She’s never played the piano, but I had that faith that she could pull it off. In the end, she played everything herself. She would practice the piano while screaming. [Laughs]”

Seo: “Honestly, a few times I wanted to break the piano. [Laughs] I was in such a temper.”

But you still performed everything in the movie?

Gu: “Yes, she did. She took some lessons, and practiced a lot on her own. There was a piano in the office, and she’d come to practice on it. I could hear clang-clang noises occasionally coming from the room, and her shrieks. Outside, I’d feel a pang of sympathy. [Laughs] I thought I may have burdened her with too much. Even so, in the end she did it all herself without complaining.”

Seo: “No, I did say a few times that I couldn’t do it, that it was too hard. [Laughs] That it wouldn’t work. But even if I couldn’t play the full-length piece, after practicing for four months, I could play the several bars that you see in the movie.”

After making you suffer, she must have paid you a high salary.

Seo: “She bought me lots of dinners.”

Gu: “I told her I’d pay her a lot next time. [Laughs]”

Since your actor was your friend, you must have talked a lot while filming.

Gu: “She had too much faith in me. She’d leave a lot to me, and look to me for support because I’m also an actor. It’s strange that before we began shooting, we talked a lot about the movie, but as we were filming we didn’t really.”

As you talked, were there specific suggestions she made?

Gu: “Ah, the scene in the screenplay where she walks barefoot in the snow.”

Seo: “On the day we were going to shoot the scene, it didn’t snow so we put down something else, but that looked too pretty. It was obvious it wasn’t snow. But on days we were filming other scenes, it kept snowing constantly. The entire area was covered in snow, and it was beautiful. So I said, if we don’t film it today, when can we?”

Gu: “That scene is the image in our poster. The second poster.”

Working with a friend on your first feature must have made it less stressful.

Gu: “She was on my side no matter what. And she’d tattle to me if anyone did anything to me. [Laughs]”

Seo: “And then we’d say to each other, ‘Omo, how could that happen? They shouldn’t do that!'”

So you’d hit someone for her?

Seo: “I couldn’t go as far as hitting someone, but I’d write in her notebook — a death note. [Laughs]”

She refers to the Japanese manga Death Note; writing a name in a supernatural diary meant that the reaper would kill the person whose name was written there.

Gu: “They say that a director is the loneliest person on the set, but with a friend there, it wasn’t lonely at all.”

Even still, you must have undergone a lot of difficulties in your first feature film.

Gu: “More than anything, dealing with budget issues was the most difficult part of it. I had to be responsible for the budget. I was responsible for making sure the personnel were able to be paid, and had to give up things on the set because of budget restrictions. That was difficult.”

Via Movieweek (Part 1), Part 2, Herald Biz


21 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. kaedejun

    i read the review – that’s quite disappointing, especially after reading their interview together. gu and seo seemed to have fun, but the film ended up being too heavy.

  2. cathy

    i wonder if it is good as Beethoven virus

  3. Sonam

    She looks so nice in these pictures. Like the way she’s dressed. She seems like a nice smart person. Now only if she had not been in BOF.

  4. okdubu

    @sonam lol it’s no use wishing she hadn’t been in bof.

    and i’d like to see how convincing shj’s piano-playing is because in most cases it’s painfully obvious when someone is faking it or is new to the instrument.

  5. Rickshot

    Goo hye Sun should stick to acting. she’s like what, 26? she hasnt even honed her acting craft yet (as evidenced in BOF) so i just think its odd that she’s in charge of directing other actors when she herself does not even have that much experience in the industry. And her forays into art/writing also seem like she was trying to do too many things at once, while simultaneously failing in each aspect. harsh? perhaps, but she’s coming off as someone who had like two hit series’ and thinks she’s “beyond” acting by doing all these other things.

    most people who read her book or her see her artwork or her film, will have done so based on the name recognition from her popular series, not because she’s some gifted auteur. go back to your serials goo hye sun.

  6. koreandramasrock

    The main actress reminds me of Ok Ji Young from love marriage

  7. dramafan

    Let’s us keep an open mind. Wait till the movie comes out. She may have the potential to be a good director.Most of the reviews had been positive.There are very few female korean directors. Perhaps a different prospective will be interesting. GHS has said that directing has helped her more aware of what to improve on her acting. I applaud her for having the courage to try something new.

  8. ips

    I know, Koreandramasrock, I thought it was ok ji young too!!! AND IM JIGYOO IS SOO HOTTT! hehe, just saying..

  9. asianromance

    the images from the movie look pretty awesome. I think she has some potential as a director. I don’t think she’s going to have a bit hit right away, but she’ll get there one day. I think it is sort of brave of her to venture out to directing. There is just so much responsibility involved. She could have just gone onto some other cushy drama, but she didn’t.

    The feel of the shots remind me a bit of Jay Chou’s “Secret”. Jay Chou is foremost a singer but has gotten into directing and Secret was his directorial debut. I think the reception was pretty good and my friend, who isn’t that fond of the asian music/video/movies, loved it.

  10. 10 LoveKdramas

    I like that she is doing so much with her time, who cares if she is failing, she doesn’t she keeps moving forward. Can you imagine when she is 30 years old and she is asked what she did in her youth? She can actually say “I took advantage of the opportunities that came my,” and mean it. Personally, I wish I could say that.

  11. 11 samoa

    Her management sure knows what marketing is all about-They know he fans age range-no matter how bad he works are, she’s sure got attention. I think I like her better as an artist and director rather than acting. She’s still far away into what we call ‘ talented’ esp in directing’, but I can see a potential . Money and fame can buy everything.

  12. 12 ais

    I’m so happy with GHS’ booming career both behind and in front of the camera.. and it’s nice to see a beautiful friendship between these two young ladies.

  13. 13 Sonam

    lol …I know. But I do seem to be getting over it. The sight of her doesn’t make me irrationally irritated.

  14. 14 tic tac

    I think there are more than just friends.

  15. 15 Minnetter

    when i saw the poster walking barefoot in the snow I was reminded of Lee Wan in Tree of Heaven..

    It may be interesting, I hope that she didn´t bite off more than she could chew…

  16. 16 crystal

    wahhh, i love Gu hye-sun.. <3

  17. 17 llama

    I thought of Jay Chou’s Secret too! That was my first thought actually while looking at all the pictures. The lightning and atmosphere is similar. Waiting for the movie to be out first before actually judging it.

  18. 18 kimchiRadish

    @ tic tac: Same here. I feel like the interviewer is insinuating that Gu an Seo are a package. Look at the second picture! (Why the heck are they in a bed?) But whatever, I have nothing against GLBT so whatever.

  19. 19 regie

    puhlease…just let her be the best that she can be! she’s still young! what’s wrong if she tries doing other avenues? isn’t that worthy of an inspiration for the young generation to follow? well…i admire her and her passion to do many things at this young age…she sure will have a lot to tell her children when she gets old. lol!

  20. 20 rainerust

    Just because she can’t act well doesn’t mean she can’t do other things well, and I give her kudos for her courage to dabble in all the different areas that interest, because hey, how many of us will be able to do that?

    And visual quality wise, it certainly looks good. I have to say though, the story’s writing sounds disappointing. Maybe something which you can partially attribute to GHS’s lack of experience and relative youth (or not)? She oughta find a really fabulous writer, and make films together. Seems like she’s managed to pull off quite a good budget project.

  21. 21 lorna

    i really love Gu from The King and I, Pure Heart of 19 and BOF and i can’t wait to see this new film of her “Magic”.. I just hope she’ll concentrate more on her acting rather than directing.

    Gu please consider also making another film with LMH or Suh Jisuk in a more matured role.

    Godbless always….