South Korean Director Returns From Seven-Year Hiatus With War Drama Based Upon True Story
By: Izumi Hasegawa
May 7, 2012
South Korean film director Je-kyu Kang returns from a seven-year hiatus with My Way, a stirring war drama about two rivals and their descent into World War II. Kang’s previous works center around spies, battles, and heists, so the man is no stranger to fight scenes. While speaking with Izumi Hasegawa, Kang remarks on translating the film, the relationship between Japan and Korea, and working with his complex cast.
Izumi Hasegawa: Why did you decide to cast Joe Odagiri, and why was he right for the part?
Je-kyu Kang: Odagiri Joe is a very detail-oriented actor. After watching some of his past films, I knew he would be able to handle the complex and 3-dimensional role of Tatsuo in My Way.
IH: How was your working relationship with Odagiri?
JK: He is a very warm person, even buying small gifts for the staff every time he went to Japan during filming. There were some concerns with this being his first war film, but by the end of shooting he was giving such a dedicated performance that the stuntmen gave him a round of applause. It was probably very difficult for him to be overseas and away from his family for 8 long months. I want to thank him again here for giving his utmost passion and performance.
IH: Since you don't speak Japanese, what was the process of translation and working with Japanese speaking actors?
JK: My Way was a film that required translations in 5 different languages, and in some cases there were more interpreters than actors. While there were some difficulties when trying to express detailed emotions, I could not let language become a big obstacle in creating a good film. The passion of the actors helped us overcome all this.
IH: How did Dong-gun Jang study Japanese?
JK: From 5 months before shooting, he learned basic conversation and pronunciation through a professional Japanese tutor. At the same time he received special guidance from a professional dialogue coach for specific lines and delivery of emotions within the film. In particular he received a lot of help from his fellow cast member, Odagiri Jo.
IH: How much of the film is based on fact?
JK: It is a true story up to the point where two men become POW's in Normandy, and the story of them being rivals and marathon runners is fictional.
IH: How do you think this film will affect feelings and attitudes Korea has towards Japan?
JK: My Wayis a film that intends to overcome the prejudice and pain that comes with the history between Korea and Japan, and aims to open up a new future for the two nations. It will take time, but I believe that the film's message will inevitably reach the hearts of the Korean and Japanese audience.
'My Way' released in the United States Friday, May 4th, 2012