Byun Sung-hyun, director of the action thriller Kill Boksoon, has discussed his movie in detail following its’ invitation to the Berlin International Film Festival.
The film follows a female assassin, Gil Bok-soon, who is also a single mother to a teenage daughter. The killer gets caught up in some dangerous situations as she balances her personal and professional life.
At a press conference, he explained, “I didn’t expect it at all. I thought Kill Bok-soon was not the type of film that would be selected by a festival like Berlin. It’s a genre film. But the screening took place in a theater of 1,800 seats and I was very moved to see the audiences empathizing with the story.”
The director revealed that he was inspired by Boksoon actor Jeon Do-yeon’s relationship with her daughter. “We met and had many conversations to get ideas for a film, and I learned that there was a great gap between her roles as a mother and an actress. Then I thought that it would be interesting to show this juxtaposition through a character who has a job of both raising a person and killing a person.”
Moreover, Byun explained, “I was both thankful and uncomfortable when I was filming the action scenes. In some scenes, I was about to give up after seeing the actors struggle so much. I finally said I would find my way around it through editing, but the actors insisted that they would do it one more time. I was very grateful, but it was also quite painful watching them suffer. I told my director of photography that I would never shoot an action movie again.”
Delving deeper into the film’s themes and dialogue, Byun said, “Because it’s a genre film, I consciously put in a lot of conceptual dialogue that might resonate with the era we live in. The film delves into many contradicting ideas and it wouldn’t make any sense to emphasize the ethics because it’s ultimately a story about killing people. I guess I wanted to say that everything in the world is contradictory, and has both evil and good sides. If someone were to ask me ‘what is ethical,’ my conclusion is that as long as you don’t lose a sense of dignity you’re fine.”
Kill Boksoon is out now.