Director questions the meaning of family in ‘Beautiful Days’

October 4, 2018

BUSAN, Oct. 4 (Yonhap) — “Beautiful Days,” the opener of this year’s Busan International Film Festival, is about a North Korean defector who works at a bar in South Korea and her hidden secrets that finally come to light as her grown-up son visits her after 14 years apart.

“It’s a film about family. It asks a question about the meaning of family, disintegration and reunion,” Yun Jero, who helmed the movie, said during a press conference at the 23rd BIFF in the southern city of Busan.

He said the movie was inspired by true stories of North Korea defectors he met in China while working on a documentary film.

Actress Lee Na-young poses for photos during a press conference for "Beautiful Days" at the 23rd Busan International Film Festival in Busan on Oct. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

Actress Lee Na-young poses for photos during a press conference for “Beautiful Days” at the 23rd Busan International Film Festival in Busan on Oct. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

“When I studied in Paris, I became friends with a Chinese woman of Korean ethnicity. I have made a short film based on her story of not being able to go visit her son in China for nine years … I visited the country to meet her son for the film and with this as an occasion, I came to know some North Korea defectors living there and shot a documentary film about them for three years. This experience led me to write the story of ‘Beautiful Days’.”

The North Korean defector drama has drawn wide media attention for being actress Lee Na-young’s first appearance on the screen since the movie “Howling” (2012). Lee married popular actor Won Bin in July 2015 and gave birth to her first child the following year.

Lee said she didn’t intend to remain in inactive for such a long time.

“I think I’ve been waiting for a story that I like and I could play with a bit of confidence. Along the way, I received this screenplay that exactly suited my taste and decided to be in it.”

Director Yun Jero of "Beautiful Days" speaks during a press conference for the film at the 23rd Busan International Film Festival in Busan on Oct. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

Director Yun Jero of “Beautiful Days” speaks during a press conference for the film at the 23rd Busan International Film Festival in Busan on Oct. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

Her character is an ill-fated North Korean refugee who was sold as a bride to a Chinese-Korean man when she was a young woman and has since lived a life of tragedy.

“She is a woman who lives life as proudly as she can despite her tragic situation,” Lee said of the “mother” character. “I found this attitude very attractive.”

Asked about her matured acting skills, she said she thinks her experience as a mother made that happen.

“Before, I had to resort to my imagination to deliver such emotions. But now I think I’m able to emphasize with them.”

“Beautiful Days” is scheduled to open in local theaters in November.

The director and main cast of "Beautiful Days" pose for photos during a press conference for "Beautiful Days" at the 23rd Busan International Film Festival in Busan on Oct. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

The director and main cast of “Beautiful Days” pose for photos during a press conference for “Beautiful Days” at the 23rd Busan International Film Festival in Busan on Oct. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

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