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- Movie: Poongsan (Englsh title) / Poongsan Dog (literal title)
- Revised romanization: Poongsan Gae
- Hangul: 풍산개
- Director: Juhn Jai-Hong
- Writer: Kim Ki-Duk
- Producer: Kim Ki-Duk
- Cinematographer: Lee Jung-In
- Release Date: June 23, 2011
- Runtime: 121 min.
- Genre: Drama
- Distributor: Next Entertainment World
- Language: Korean
- Country: South Korea
A mysterious man nicknamed "Poongsan" (Yoon Kye-Sang) crosses between the South and North Korean border as a courier for hire. There's no way for people to contact him, but instead, Poongsan picks out potential clients from banners at a make shift memorial along the DMZ. Poongsan's next target is a man who wishes to bring a North Korean woman into South Korea.
Meanwhile, a man (Kim Jong-Soo) is pushed by the section chief (Han Ki-Joong) at the NIS to write a report on North Korea. That man was a high ranking official in North Korea prior to defecting to South Korea. He's protected by NIS agents, but still paranoid that North Korean assassins will kill him. He asks the section chief at the NIS to bring his lover In-Ok (Kim Gyu-Ri) to him from North Korea. Agents from the NIS learn of a man able to smuggle people across the border. They place a banner along a makeshift memorial at the DMZ border.
During the middle of the night, two NIS agents meet Poongsan who arrives on a motorcycle. When an NIS agent asks how long it will take to bring In-Ok into South Korea, Poongsan points to his watch to show 3 hours. The agent gives an incredulous laugh, but gets back into his car and waits for Poongsan. Poongsan runs off into the night towards the DMZ border.
Poongsan heads out to Pyeongyang to retrieve In-Ok. While they are crossing the border back into South Korea, In-Ok feels an attachment to this mysterious man who doesn't speak ...
- Japanese actor Joe Odagiri makes a cameo appearance in "Poongsan" as a North Korean soldier. Previously, Joe Odagiri worked with the film's writer & producer Kim Ki-Duk in his film "Dream". While filming "Dream," Joe Odagiri promised to appear in the next film directed by Juhn Jai-Hong who worked as a staff member on the set of "Dream". Opportunity arose while Joe Odagiri came to South Korea to act in the WWII film "My Way". During a break, Joe Odagiri travelled by car for 6 hours to Hwaseong City, a city in Gyeonggi Province, and spent 30 minutes on the set filming one scene as a North Korean border guard.
Additional Cast Members:
Q&A (Busan International Film Festival)
Q&A for "Poongsan" took place after a screening of the movie at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival on October 10, 2011. Appearing as speakers are actor Kim Jong-Soo & director Juhn Jai-Hong. AsianWiki editor Ki Mun was there and transcribed/translated the session.
- Juhn Jai-Hong (director) - Hello. I am director Juhn Jai-Hong who directed "Poongsan." As you might know, "Poongsan" was first released in June, 2011 and shown for a short time in movie theaters. I wanted to come to Busan and say hello to the audience. I am so happy to meet you.
- Kim Jong-Soo (actor) - Nice to meet to you. I am Kim Jong-Soo who played the North Korean defector in "Poongsan." Thank you for watching the movie. Yoon Kye-Sang or Kim Gyu-Ri should have been here as well. I can't replace them, but will try to answer your questions.
- Moderator - Tell us briefly about the process of how this low budget movie was planned, shot and eventually shown in BIFF.
- Juhn Jai-Hong (director) - We only had 200,000,000 Won ($180,000 USD) for the movie's budget. I was so lucky to have good staff members and actors like Yoon Kye-Sang, Kim Gyu-Ri and Kim Jong-Soo. They participated with no guarantees for money. We had to shoot 25 scenes over a one month period. It was very tight. I was most concerned about whether "Poongsan" would be shown in general movie theaters or not. Usually, general movie theaters do not show movies with 200,000,000 Won budgets. My first film "Beautiful" had a similar budget as "Poongsan." Even though it was invited to the Berlin International Film Festival, it did not screen in general movie theaters here in Korea. Fortunately, "Poongsan" was released in general movie theaters in June and did pretty at the good box office. I realized that if a movie is good people will watch the movie regardless of the budget.
- Moderator - Kim Jong-Soo, you performed in the movie with no guarantees for payment. What made you participate in the movie "Poongsan?"
- Kim Jong-Soo (actor) - The scenario was that good. Not only the actors, but everybody who read the scenario became fascinated by the script. Poongsan is an abstract character, but my character, the North Korean defector, is a concrete character. We see North Korean defectors only on the TV news, so I talked with the movie director who had a chance to meet a high ranking North Korean official at a meeting for separated families from North and South Korea. I approached my character as a person. While I was on the filming set, I didn't realize how harsh the filming set was. When I got back home it dawned on me how difficult it was. Nevertheless, the director, actors and staff all knew how harsh the conditions were and worked together for the common cause of the movie. For my last scene, I wore just pajamas. I was freezing, but I didn't feel it as much.
- Audience Question: - Did the main character, played by Yoon Kye-Sang, represent a Poongsan dog? He never spoke a word in the film, except screaming in certain scenes.
- Juhn Jai-Hong (director) - First of all, we think of the poongsan dog as a North Korean dog. But, the poongsan dog is our dog. Since South Korea and North Korea were separated the poongsan dog became known as a North Korean dog. I don't think it is right to think of the poongsan dog as a North Korean dog. When we shot the film I tried to put a poongsan dog in the movie, but we couldn't. The dog wasn't trained. I had to change the ending suddenly because of this. I thought the image of a poongsan dog matched the movie well. The dog itself is very savage, but also warm and loyal to its owner. I think those traits are similar to the main character played by Yoon Kye-Sang.
- Moderator - The characteristics of the poongsan dog and the Yoon Kye-Sang character are similar?
- Juhn Jai-Hong (director) - yes.
- Audience Question: - Yoon Kye-Sang's character never says a word, except to scream. Could you explain why?
- Juhn Jai-Hong (director) - Poongsan played by Yoon Kye-Sang is a symbolic character who is not South Korean or North Korean. If Poongsan spoke with a Seoul accent then he becomes a South Korean and if he spoke with a Pyongyang accent then he becomes a North Korea. So that is why he did not have any dialogue.
- Audience Question: - In the movie, there is a scene with Poongsan and a North Korean secret agent listening to operatic arias. I would like to know why that scene is in the movie and why that particular music?
- Juhn Jai-Hong (director) - I sang the operatic aria in the scene. First of all, I think the character of Poongan matches myself. I had a desire to put myself in the movie. Before studying film, I studied music. I wanted to put in one of my parts so I did. The operatic arias is Robert Schumann's "Die Lotosblume" - about the love of a sad lotus waiting for the moon. I think that can also relate to the sad love between Poongsan and In-Ok. I chose the song for that purpose.
- Moderator and audience asks Juhn Jai-Hong to sing the arias and he does so.
- Audience Question: - This question is for the actor Kim Jong-Soo. A later scene in the film has the North Korean defector attempting to commit suicide, but he stops. Yet, when Poongsan comes to kill him the North Korean defector accepts death. I wonder how you would accept such rapid emotional change?
- Kim Jong-Soo (actor) - I asked director Juhn Jai-Hong to give me 5 minutes on the busy shooting set. In the original scenario, the North Korean defector pulled the trigger of a gun, but it had no bullets. There was no possiblity that the section chief of The National Intelligence Service would give him a gun with bullets in it since he was the guy they wanted to protect. The North Korean defector is the one who is used in South Korea. I thought from the point of the view of the defector that he might pull the trigger. Right before filming, Juhn Jai-Hong changed things and wanted to start shooting right away. I asked him to give me 5 minutes to change my emotions. Then we shot the scene. I think what Juhn Jai-Hong changed was right. The North Korean defector is so desperate he walks into a situation where he knows he will get killed. It was difficult for me, because the script was changed the day we were to film it.
- Juhn Jai-Hong (director) - At first, I thought it would be cool to pull the trigger without having bullets in it, but I thought, at that time, the North Korean defector loves himself more than In-Ok so he can't kill himself. His life is important to him because he escaped North Korea and his family in North Korea was killed. But later, through In-Ok, the defector values In-Ok's life more than his and desperately wants to save In-Ok and wants to see her before he gets killed. That was my point of view of the North Korean defector. Actor Kim Jong-Soo kept asking me don't you think it would be more memorable if he pulled the trigger? I think my decision was right.
- Moderator - In the movie, there are many cheesy lines. I remember one which asked if that was CPR or a kiss? How were you with those lines?
- Kim Jong-Soo (actor) - When we filmed that scene I didn't think the line was cheesy. I felt the cheesiness from the audience's reaction to that line. From the viewpoint of a North Korean defector, North Korea is shut off from the world and right now it might be like South Korean in the 1960's and 1970's. In the 1960's and 1970's, even holding hands gave the impression that the couple was married. When I asked whether it was CPR or a kiss - it kind of meant accepting his mind. I did ask In-Ok the line seriously on the shooting set. You laugh because you are a third party. The person directly involved is anxious. Real love is like that. In the movie, irony comes out from those cheesy lines to contrast Poongsan's character.
- Audience Question: - What is your message from the final scenes involving the main character ... the messenger?
- Juhn Jai-Hong (director) - There is a message, but I prefer open endings. When I sang the song earlier, I think some felt sadness and some felt love. When I make a movie I don't want to take the position of an instructor ... ever. I think the audience knows better than me and what the audience thinks is right.
- Moderator - Tell us what your plans are for the near future?
- Kim Jong-Soo (actor) - An actor is a person who gets chosen. I would like for you to see me on the screen as often as possible. Thank you.
- Juhn Jai-Hong (director) - I have like three goals. First, I would like to make movies I am good at regardless of the budget. I made "Poongsan" with only 200,000,000 Won. Of course, a director wants to make a movie with a large budget, but a budget is a like a credit card to the director. If the director uses the credit card recklessly and a month later can't pay it back, he becomes a delinquent borrower. Secondly, I want to work with actors and actresses around my age. I am in my 30's and I think I am beginning to know about the depths of life. I want to make my next film with actors and actresses around my age who share a similar viewpoint. Lastly, I would like to be able to make movies in all types of genres. I think for those that have watched my first film "Beautiful" and now "Poongsan" would think those movies are different. I want to be a director who makes movies, not stereotyped by a certain image. I would like to make genre films.
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