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Director Park Chan-wook’s “Lady Yeong-ae”

Posted July. 19, 2005 03:22,   


Lee Yeong-ae has changed.

The character Keum-ja that she plays in “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance” (to be released on July 28) is a vicious woman who plans revenge for 13 years on the man who betrayed her. There was a time when Eun-soo gave Sang-woo (Yu Ji-tae) the cold shoulder in “One Fine Spring Day” (2001), but revenge was a word that didn’t belong in “fresh-faced” Lee Yeong-ae’s vocabulary.

But the director of “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance,” Park Chan-wook, tells us Lee has truly changed. Park gave us the inside scoop on Lee after several months of filming on-set. Park also spoke on the personalities of stars who appeared in his past films such as Choi Min-sik, Song Kang-ho, Lee Byung-hun, Yu Ji-tae and Shin Ha-kyun.

Diligence is Lee Yeong-ae’s Middle Name-

Park: “There were frequent get-togethers while filming “Joint Security Area” (2000), with cast members like Lee Byung-hun, Kim Tae-woo, and Shin Ha-kyun. Lee would sing and have fun every time then, but as the sole lead in the upcoming movie, the tension built up.”

“She demanded retakes on the most mentally and physically challenging scenes without complaint. I told her it was fine, but it was always ‘one more time’ or nothing else. Lee professed that ‘it was because the role was a hard one and I wasn’t confident about it, and I wasn’t completely sure that this (acting) was the path for me,’ but I think it was because she felt she wasn’t living up to her own standards. At first I thought, ‘this is enough, why is she pushing it,’ but there were times when her acting would actually improve.”

“Lee is an extremely persistent person. She would bombard the director with questions until everything was perfectly clear; if it’s Lee Byung-hun for men, it’s Lee Yeong-ae for the female department. She’s either a very complex person who’s unfathomable, or a what-you-see-is-what-you-get simpleton. From what I’ve seen, she’s the latter.”

“Nod” versus “Nosy”-

“There are two kinds of actors-nodding ones who say “yeah” to the director’s instructions and then go off and do their own thing, and the nosy ones who badger the director with questions like, “How come? Why can’t I do this?”

“Choi Min-sik, Song Kang-ho, and Shin Ha-kyun are the nodding actors I’ve worked with, and Shin Ha-kyun tops them all. He doesn’t even reply to instructions.”

“Choi Min-sik exudes an aura of professionalism. Not only in acting, but also in his private life and beliefs. His priority is the pride he takes in being an artist. When Song Kang-ho acts, he tries to dump expressions. He’s more satisfied when the director says, “Let’s take out this part because we don’t need it,” during filming. Shin Ha-kyun is the most silent and boring of them all, but there’s a hidden flair in him.”

“Lee Byung-hun, Yu Ji-tae, and Lee Yeong-ae are nosy, and as expected, Lee Byung-hun wins. Instead of an artist’s self-consciousness, he just follows common sense. So he wants himself to be understood. When shooting ‘Three Monster,’ we asked him to write his name with his bottom, and he did exactly as he was told, saying, ‘Wow, this is fun.’ Yu Ji-tae puts in a tremendous amount of effort, and it pays off. In ‘One Fine Spring Day,’ ‘Old Boy,’ and ‘Woman is the Future of Man,’ he transformed himself for every role, completely different and more developed each time.”

“The nodding ones are easy to work with because they fare well on their own. On the other hand, something is created during the process of asking and answering for the nosy ones, so it’s fun because I feel like I’ve contributed as a director.”

Dong-Yong Min mindy@donga.com