From left, director Jo Chang-ho, actress Hwang Woo-seul-hye and actor Kim Nam-gil pose during a photo session of a press conference for film "The Day Before" held at Ewha-Samsung Education Culture Center in Seoul, South Korea on March 9, 2010. [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
The star of hit TV series "Queen Seon-deok" fame made the remark Tuesday at a press conference also attended by his his co-star Hwang Woo-seul-hye who showed promise from her appearances in popular films "Crush and Blush" and "Speedy Scandal".
Kim said he had "never actually reached the verge of death" because of love, unlike the characters from "The Day Before" who, after becoming hurt by past loves, find comfort in each other and fall in love.
Mi-ah, played by Hwang, is the lone owner of a cafe who has painful memories from a past relationship and Soo-in, Kim's character, is a man who has lost everything after being betrayed by his lover. Mi-ah helps Soo-in, who is also a escaped prisoner, stay in hiding. And the two start opening up to each other.
Below are excerpts from the press conference attended by director Jo Chang-ho and lead actors Kim and Hwang.
Q: Love between a man and woman is not a new topic. What differentiates "The Day Before" from the already existent numerous romantic films and novels?
Jo Chang-ho (Jo): The first phrase that pops into mind when I think about this movie is 'maximization of emotion'. "The Day Before" asks how a person overcome with despair can continue to exist and become curious about his future. I wanted to deliver that message by showing the process of how the two actors try to achieve their love.
Q: Hwang Woo-seul-hye and Kim Nam-gil, you are both regarded promising actors. Are there any particular reasons you chose to take on this film?
Hwang Woo-seul-hye (Hwang): I cried as soon as I started reading the scenario. And my eyes were brimming with tears when I met with the director too. (laugh) I really liked the scenario -- I like ones that read well because I think they would be high in cinematic quality too.
Kim Nam-gil (Kim): Like her, I liked the scenario too. To the extent that although I have little acting experience, I thought it was the best scenario I've ever read. I think I'm drawn to movies with scenarios like this.
Q: You both had to play characters who have been hurt a lot. Were there any difficulties?
Hwang: I really wanted to take on this role because it was completely different from the roles I had taken on in the past -- I had never played such a role. I wanted to take the part so badly that I told myself I would do my best till the very end, no matter what difficulties I go through. Of course, I was scared when we were filming since I had to play the main female character and it was not easy portraying her because Mi-ah is such a mature girl.
Kim: I talked a lot to the director and Hwang about the situation my character was in and put a lot of thought into creating him by utilizing the brief experiences I have had in acting as best as I could.
Q: Have you ever been hurt by love like your character Soo-in from the movie?
Kim: I think maybe twice or three times. I'm not old but I have painful memories regarding my past relationships. In movies, it seems like some people find new meaning to life when they go to meet the one they love but my experiences with love didn't involve me going to death's door or anything. Though I thought it was a matter of life and death at the time. (laugh) The emotions of love I experienced turned out to be very weak compared to that shown in the movie.
Q: In the movie, you, Hwang Woo-seul-hye, was good at magic and Kim Nam-gil at cooking. It must've been pretty tough having to learn those skills on top of having to act.
Kim: I actually don't cook anything other than ramen at home. Between cooking and acting, I'm personally not sure which is harder. I know acting is my job but it was difficult to portray my character Soo-in because there were things I didn't understand about him. And I put in a lot of effort into trying to depict him as a chef but that too was difficult. No matter what type of work it is -- acting or doing narrating work -- I've realized that nothing comes easy because I experience my limit everytime.
Hwang: The process of learning how to do magic was more difficult than the acting. (laugh) It was my first time at it and my body just couldn't keep up with the various moves I had to put on. The hand motions were hard too so it was tough overall but also fun.
Q: This is a passionate melodrama which also draws on the meeting of a man and woman with tragic fates. Were there any difficulties in expressing their pain?
Hwang: It's a passionate melodrama but there actually was no explicit expression of emotions. I actually had a hard time because I had to control my acting. We had to show restraint in expressing our love in everything we do. I could not cry nor laugh too much and our conversations had to be restrained too. That's what was most hardest about the acting.
Kim: My character Soo-in has no choice but to be passive when it comes to his emotions so I thought hard about how I would be able to express that in a controlled and classy way because I could make the viewers feel frustrated if I wasn't careful. And it's a passionate melodrama but the scenario said Soo-in and Mi-ah don't hold hands even once. But even from just reading the scenario, I felt that I would really want to hold her hand or hug her. Not because of wanting to have physical contact with her but because it's so frustrating to see how the two's emotions escalate to a climax. (laugh) So I had a hard time shooting every scene because I was trying to figure out how I could effectively portray those elements. I also had to lose a lot of weight because of the situation Soo-in was in. I lost so much weight that people became suspicious that I had gotten plastic surgery. But it was nothing compared to the amount Kim Myung-min lost for film "Closer to Heaven" so it didn't become an issue which I was a bit disappointed over. (laugh) Emotion-wise, Soo-in was supposed to feel a sense of isolation but I liked to goof around with the staff on set so the director isolated me on purpose to help me focus.
Q: Kim, your drama "Bad Man", which is completely opposite from this film, will air right afterwards, and then you'll be leaving for the army.
Kim: My character Geon-wook from "Bad Man" and Soo-in from "The Day Before" are very different. Geon-wook is an active character who uses his genius mind and appeal to get what he wants and Soo-in is passive in regards to his emotions. As for going to the army, I got so many calls when news saying I would leave in June came out, and I had been sleeping. (laugh) The show will be airing until early August so I'll wrap that up and go to the military sometime between fall and winter. Working as an actor is important but I think the two years I will spend working as a public service worker will also be significant and precious to me. I would like to use that time efficiently in enriching myself.
Q: What kind of audience would you recommend watch "The Day Before"?
Jo: I'm hoping that any Korean who has more than 8,000 won in their pocket will watch it. And amongst them, those in particular who have been hurt and are in need of consolation.
Hwang: I hope those of you who are loving or want to love someone watch this movie. Both Kim and I worked hard for this film -- we tried to control our acting as best we could while putting ourselves through the pain our characters did -- and it has turned out great so I think it would be a good movie for lovers.
Kim: They're both not being honest. I just hope many people as possible watch it. (laugh) When you don't know much about love, it's much more pure and you can be more brave about it, but I think the more you know, the harder it gets. I hope such people will come to watch this movie and hope many of you love it.
From left, actor Kim Nam-gil and actress Hwang Woo-seul-hye pose during a photo session of a press conference for film "The Day Before" held at Ewha-Samsung Education Culture Center in Seoul, South Korea on March 9, 2010.
Actor Kim Nam-gil [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
Actor Kim Nam-gil [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
Actress Hwang Woo-seul-hye [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
Actress Hwang Woo-seul-hye [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
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