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Best-selling authors, veteran actors jump to filmmaking

By Kwak Yeon-soo

Novelist-turned-director Sohn Won-pyung / Courtesy of AceMaker Movieworks
Novelist-turned-director Sohn Won-pyung / Courtesy of AceMaker Movieworks
Novelists and actors are making career jumps to the film industry as filmmakers, making use of their storytelling skills.

Best-selling author Sohn Won-pyung is making her feature film debut with "Intruder," which is set to hit local theaters on June 4. An adaptation of her award-winning novel "Almond," "Intruder" centers on a woman who returns to her family after being missing for 25 years.

"Almond" has sold over 400,000 copies in Korea and, in addition to Japanese and English versions, is slated for release in Spanish, Hebrew and other languages. It won the Changbi Prize for Young Adult Fiction in 2016 and Japanese Booksellers' Awards for translated fiction novel in 2020.

The novelist-turned-director explained that filmmaking requires a degree of collaboration in contrast to writing a book, which is a private act for the most part.

A subtle and creative approach to topics is the strength of novelist-turned-directors, as they write the screenplays themselves and control the storytelling process.

"While making the film, Sohn was able to see the big picture in small details without missing anything," said Kim Moo-yul, who stars in the film "Intruder." "She had everything ― the setting, characters, action and how everything comes out in the end ― in her mind and gave specific direction to the cast and crew."

Novelist-turned-director Chun Myung-gwan, center, poses for a photo with the cast of
Novelist-turned-director Chun Myung-gwan, center, poses for a photo with the cast of "The Boiling Blood" in this photo provided by Kidari ENT. / Courtesy of Kidari ENT

Another writer Chun Myung-gwan, well-known for his award-winning story "Whale," is set to make his directorial debut in the second half of this year with "The Boiling Blood." An adaptation of novelist Kim Un-su's 2016 novel of the same name, "The Boiling Blood" revolves around a gang member who tries to cut ties with gang life and start over.

Chun started off as a screenwriter with the 1999 film "The Great Chef" before earning fame as a novelist. He has constantly expressed his desire to become a director one day.

Taking a break from acting, Jung Jin-young is set to make his directorial debut with the mystery drama "Me and Me" on June 18 to embark on a second career as a filmmaker.

Jung confessed that he had to compartmentalize a lot of stuff in his head, but his long acting career helped in directing actors.

"When giving instructions to actors on set, I tried to move closer to them and discuss which emotions and feelings to pull out in each scene. This way, we felt more connected," Jung said.

Actress Cho Eun-ji is also looking to debut as a filmmaker with "Not the Lips," starring Ryu Seung-ryong, Oh Na-ra, Kim Hee-won and Lee Yoo-young.

Cho debuted as an actress in Im Sang-soo's "Tears" in 2001 and is known for works such as "My Scary Girl" and "The Villainess." She debuted as a filmmaker with the short film "2 Nights, 3 Days" in 2017, which screened at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival and London Korean Film Festival.



By Kwak Yeon-soo

Novelist-turned-director Sohn Won-pyung / Courtesy of AceMaker Movieworks
Novelist-turned-director Sohn Won-pyung / Courtesy of AceMaker Movieworks
Novelists and actors are making career jumps to the film industry as filmmakers, making use of their storytelling skills.

Best-selling author Sohn Won-pyung is making her feature film debut with "Intruder," which is set to hit local theaters on June 4. An adaptation of her award-winning novel "Almond," "Intruder" centers on a woman who returns to her family after being missing for 25 years.

"Almond" has sold over 400,000 copies in Korea and, in addition to Japanese and English versions, is slated for release in Spanish, Hebrew and other languages. It won the Changbi Prize for Young Adult Fiction in 2016 and Japanese Booksellers' Awards for translated fiction novel in 2020.

The novelist-turned-director explained that filmmaking requires a degree of collaboration in contrast to writing a book, which is a private act for the most part.

A subtle and creative approach to topics is the strength of novelist-turned-directors, as they write the screenplays themselves and control the storytelling process.

"While making the film, Sohn was able to see the big picture in small details without missing anything," said Kim Moo-yul, who stars in the film "Intruder." "She had everything ― the setting, characters, action and how everything comes out in the end ― in her mind and gave specific direction to the cast and crew."

Novelist-turned-director Chun Myung-gwan, center, poses for a photo with the cast of
Novelist-turned-director Chun Myung-gwan, center, poses for a photo with the cast of "The Boiling Blood" in this photo provided by Kidari ENT. / Courtesy of Kidari ENT

Another writer Chun Myung-gwan, well-known for his award-winning story "Whale," is set to make his directorial debut in the second half of this year with "The Boiling Blood." An adaptation of novelist Kim Un-su's 2016 novel of the same name, "The Boiling Blood" revolves around a gang member who tries to cut ties with gang life and start over.

Chun started off as a screenwriter with the 1999 film "The Great Chef" before earning fame as a novelist. He has constantly expressed his desire to become a director one day.

Taking a break from acting, Jung Jin-young is set to make his directorial debut with the mystery drama "Me and Me" on June 18 to embark on a second career as a filmmaker.

Jung confessed that he had to compartmentalize a lot of stuff in his head, but his long acting career helped in directing actors.

"When giving instructions to actors on set, I tried to move closer to them and discuss which emotions and feelings to pull out in each scene. This way, we felt more connected," Jung said.

Actress Cho Eun-ji is also looking to debut as a filmmaker with "Not the Lips," starring Ryu Seung-ryong, Oh Na-ra, Kim Hee-won and Lee Yoo-young.

Cho debuted as an actress in Im Sang-soo's "Tears" in 2001 and is known for works such as "My Scary Girl" and "The Villainess." She debuted as a filmmaker with the short film "2 Nights, 3 Days" in 2017, which screened at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival and London Korean Film Festival.



Kwak Yeon-soo yeons.kwak@koreatimes.co.kr

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