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“Filming Seems to Run in My Family”

Posted August. 27, 2007 07:26,   


Their father made a comeback in 17 years as a director. Two sons rolled up their sleeves to help him. The new film “Mother Never Dies” (to be released at theater on Sep. 13) is directed by actor-turned-director Hah Myung-jung. His two sons reportedly chipped in their best to make his father’s first comeback since 1990.

The new film, based on the namesake novel of Choi In-ho, depicts a family relationship between a mother (Han Hye-suk) and her son/writer Choi Ho. Being a boyfriend and son of a widowed mother, Choi announces his departure from her. After a long separation, they reunite and the mother passes away. Director Hah reportedly wrote the scenario himself and directed it. He also acts as old Choi Ho. His first son Sang-won plays the role of young Choi Ho, while his second son produced the film. Actually, the Hahs boast of a famous filming heritage. Hah’s late brother Hah Gil-jong was a renowned movie director in Korea.

When asked to evaluate the performance of his son, Hah showed a happy shyness and said, “He did a wonderful job. The role required a lot. Actually, he demonstrated excellence back in college. He was a member of a college theatrical troupe.” Listening to his father, Sang-won smiled, saying, “Mom would surely say, ‘You are spoiling him.’” Director Hah, however, spoke down his role. “I made too many mistakes. I thought about giving up. I felt really sorry for the others.”

When it comes to filming, a tension usually arises between the producer who wishes to finish it ASAP and the director who completes it as perfect as possible. Did the same thing happen? “Why would it have been different? [My second son] kept pushing me. I was about to explode. Actually, if it had not been my son, I would have.”

The film will surely arouse old memories among people in 40s and 50s. What about the younger generations? When asked, director Hah answered, citing a line from the original novel, “‘Our mother screams out of loneliness, but we don’t listen.’ The figure of ‘mother’ is the root of the entire human race. The whole life is a process of getting independent from the mother. In this respect, I think young people share it.” In other words, he stressed the possibility and importance of inter-generational communication.

“Directing was 100 times harder than I expected. I studied it for the past 17 years. I spent three entire years on learning how to write scenarios.”

One day after winning the “Korean Oscar” for the best actor in 1973, he visited a speech expert, asking for help. The expert got surprised and asked, “You won the wonderful award yesterday. How come you need a speech expert like me?” Then, Hah reportedly said, “I am all fake. I have to learn a lot more.” In this sense, Hah is a “young” director longing and willing to learn more. His communication ability seems to come from there.