By Lee Jin-woo
Director Yoon Jong-bin
's first feature film "The Unforgiven
" drew keen attention at the Pusan International Film Festival earlier this month with its precise depiction of Korean military hierarchy. Those who missed the film in Pusan will have a chance to see it when it opens in Seoul this Friday.
Yoon, 26, a recent college graduate, tells the story of two junior high school friends who meet later in life. One is a sergeant who quickly adjusts to military life and the other is a private who struggles to resist the army's malpractices.
In the film, the sergeant, Tae-jung, tries to help his rebellious friend, private Sung-young, but the latter continues to cause trouble by breaking taboos in the barracks. After Tae-jung is discharged, Sung-young visits him on his annual leave but Tae-jung notices a change in his restless friend.
During an interview with The Korea Times in Pusan, Yoon said he is not fond of persuasive storytelling styles such as "Full Metal Jacket", directed by late Stanley Kubrick, but he did not intend to merely criticize practices of the military. Instead, the young director said he wanted to express sympathy for misfits by showing the complicated reality of army life.
"I wrote the story as I believed the military is a miniature of Korean society, containing all of the same social problems and inconsistencies", Yoon said. "Some people quickly adapt while others fight against what they believe is wrong. I felt it was so sad to see those misfits face tragic ends".
With a budget of a meager 20 million won ($19,000), including the 10 million won he received from the Korean Film Council, Yoon spent eight months shooting the film. His two main actors, Ha Jung-woo
and Seo Jang-won
, gave excellent performances despite receiving no financial compensation. The director himself was also part of the cast, playing an important supporting role as a feeble-minded private.
The film was shot in real military barracks for three days, and in order to do so, the director said he even had to submit a fake scenario to the Defense Ministry.
" won four awards at the Pusan fest, including one given out by an organization of international film critics and another voted on by visitors.
Regarding the conditions of the local independent film industry, he hoped the government and large enterprises find more promising young directors and support their projects.
"Due to the lack of financial support for young directors, many are under heavy financial burden. Some of them end up becoming credit defaulters", he said.
Regarding his second feature film, Yoon said he is working on a story about the changing friendships of people in their early 30s, affected by capitalism and differences in social class.