From left, director Kim Hyeong-joon-I, actress Han Hye-jin and actors Ryoo Seung-beom and Seol Kyeong-gu pose during a photo session of a press conference for film "No Mercy" held at a CJ CGV theater in Seoul, South Korea on December 22, 2009. [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
Q: This film garnered interest because of the acting standoff between Seol Kyeong-gu and Ryoo Seung-beom more than anything. How would you evaluate each other's acting?
Seol Kyeong-gu (Seol): The characters we each played were like water and oil -- they never become involved with each other. That's why we both spent a lot of time consumed in our own thoughts. Our roles were completely cut off from each other so after wrapping up shooting of "No Mercy", we said that next time we should try appearing in a film where we communicate well.
Ryoo Seung-beom (Ryoo): I saw the movie for the first time today. And I know it sounds cheesy to say this here but I thanked Seol after seeing the movie. You may call it a standoff but acting isn't like ping pong so I worried a lot on set. I was worried what the final product would look like but I think the film speaks for itself. I think a certain force from Seol, who played the role of Kang Min-ho, embraced everything.
Q: What was it like observing the relationship of the two from a third person's point of view?
Han Hye-jin (Han): They started talking less and less from the latter half of the film. They even stopped eating together. I think they were being considerate toward each other because of the thought that their friendship may interfere in concentrating on their roles.
Q: How would you rate your own acting? You took on a role as important as Seol's and Ryoo's but it was your first time.
Han: I would give myself 50 points. I do tend to be stingy toward myself but I really did see a lot of flaws in my acting today.
Kim Hyeong-joon-I (Kim): From a producer's point of view, the character Min Seo-young is a very difficult one to play. She has to be able to keep her emotions neutral because she is the one who finds important clues within the story amidst the high tension between the two male characters while having to understand Kang Min-ho's behavior since he is her teacher. She did a good job of it though. She said it was her first time shooting a movie but she immersed herself into her character right away, as if she had done this several times before.
Q: There seem to be more people involved in the past fatal bond between Kang Min-ho and Lee Sung-ho. What's the reason Kang Min-ho is punished more severely?
Kim: I think this is an issue of perspective. Lee Sung-ho had been taking revenge on everyone involved for over ten years and I think Kang Min-ho was his last target. I guess I would have shown the process if this was sort of a drama.
Q: The film looks like a thriller on the outside but the ending to the film leaves more of a frustration rather than a relief from the case getting solved.
Seol: Amongst ourselves, we called the film a drama designed like a thriller. If any of you see this as a thriller, it means you took a step back and looked at it from a very objective point of view. "No Mercy" is more of a film where you follow the story by assimilating to the characters. Regardless of whoever's steps you follow -- whether it be Kang Min-ho's, Lee Sung-ho's or Min Seo-young's -- you'll have fun.
Q: You're usually an actor who is good at playing comical roles but you took on a very serious film this time. Is there anything you were aiming for?
Ryoo: For me personally, regardless of the film, it's all part of a singular process so I don't stress over having to prove anything new. And I'm not saying that I'm doing a rough job of it without any goal. I personally like laughing, films that can make people laugh and making people laugh with my acting. But there are also films like this one. I came off as a scary murderer because I took on this film, not because I had a certain determination.
Q: What is the meaning of 'mercy' that you wanted to portray through this film?
Kim: I think it's something you cannot execute if you do not stand in the other person's shoes. When I was writing the scenario and shooting the film, I wanted to place Kang Min-ho and Lee Sung-ho on level circumstances so that the audience could sympathize with them. I leveled every scene in the end where Kang Min-ho and Lee Sung-ho's emotions appear. I think the audience will be able to think about the meaning of mercy by taking both of their emotions into consideration.
Actor Seol Kyeong-gu [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
Actor Ryoo Seung-beom [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
Actress Han Hye-jin [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
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