USC director shoots for Student Academy Award with North-South Korean love story

July 11, 2014
"A One and A Two" Director Ahn Sungho, left, poses with actors Ryu Hyun-kyung and Tim Jo at the Korea Times LA.

“A One and A Two” Director Ahn Sungho, left, poses with actors Ryu Hyun-kyung and Tim Jo.

A USC film student’s project, “A One and A Two,” will feature Korean actress Ryu Hyun-kyung and Korean American actor Tim Jo.

Directed and written by Ahn Sung-ho, 32, the short film is about an obstacled romance that blossoms between a Korean man and a North Korea woman who meet as students at an American university.

“I started the scenario with the idea of an exchange program between North Korean and American universities and completed it with consultation help from North Korean studies professors,” Ahn said. “We’ll enter it into festivals as a 15- to 20-minute short film, but the ultimate goal is the Student Academy Awards.”

The Student Academy Awards, put on by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is as prestigious to student filmmakers as the Oscars are to the film industry.

Ahn, who previously attended Hanyang University’s theater and film program, directed a short film called “Heaven and Hell” that drew praise from the Sleepwalkers International Short Film festival in Estonia. He enrolled at USC in 2011 after a stint as an assistant director at Q Channel, a Korean cable channel.

The film’s name was taken from a Chinese film of the same title by Director Edward Yang, Ahn said.

Ryu, known for her work in the film “Manshin,” and Jo, who rose to attention as Reggie Jackson on the now-cancelled ABC comedy “The Neighbors,” will play the leading roles.

“There aren’t many films that deal with the dilemma between ideology and love in Korea, so I was drawn to the role of a North Korean student who comes to America. I also wanted to experience the American film production system,” Ryu, who will play Eun-chae, a member of the ruling elite in North Korea, said. “In this reality of decreasing interest in Korean unification among young people, I hope this film brings about thoughts of a future unified Korea in which people freely love and freely study.”

Jo will depict Sang-yup, the student who falls in love with Eun-chae without knowing where she is from. He said Americans see North Korea as a closed-off nation stuck in the 1980s and as a country to parody.

At one time, there were more than 200 North Korean students studying abroad in the U.S., he said. Last year, there were 17 students from North Korea studying in the states.

You may pass by a North Korean college student without even knowing it, and the film is an imagination of that scenario, Jo said.

Filming begins July 18, and plans are underway to start a Kickstarter campaign to help crowd-fund the project.

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