We chat to Kim Kkobbi, co-star of Yang Ik-June’s Breathless – out Monday 22 March as a two-disc collector’s edition DVD…
Was this your first trip to London? How are you finding it? Any chance for sightseeing or shopping?
Yes, it was my first time. However, I’m only staying for one day so I couldn’t sightsee. After doing a few interviews, I went shopping and after dinner, partied all night. It was a busy day!
What brings you to the UK this time?
I came to Europe as I was invited to the Dublin International Film Festival so decided to visit London.
When I spoke to Yang Ik-June late last year, he told me that he’d seen you in a short film and you’d blown him away. Originally you’d been up for a different role in the film. Can you tell me how he approached you initially for the role, and how you came to be the lead?
Oh, the Director saw me in a short film which I appear as a secondary school student. He thought I was too young to play Yeon-hue so had intended me to play Sang-hoon’s younger sister’s role. However, when he met me I was older than he thought and felt that I was capable of playing Yeon-hue’s character.
How was it working with Yank Ik-June on his first film as a director? And how does it compare to the other films you’ve worked on?
First of all, Director Yang was originally an actor he knew exactly how to work with actors. How to get the best from actors, how to make actors comfortable. That was what I liked the most. Compared to working with other directors, it was more comfortable and enjoyable. And I learnt a lot – I mean immensely a lot. Through this experience, I feel I have developed a stage further.
The film deals quite frankly with domestic abuse, but according to Yang he was not aware of any message in the film until it was completed and watching it on screen. How did you feel about the subject matter and how he dealt with it.
Hmm… To be honest, I have not experienced domestic abuse so I could not empathise largely with that area. However, the father’s role within a family and his status etc was discussed frequently. Fathers remain dogmatic, dictatorial and unfriendly. They are loners. We talked a lot about fathers who have difficulty expressing in a normal and healthy manner. And such a father’s relationship with his children, love and hate relationship etc.
Both You and Yang have won awards for Breathless at festivals around the world, from the Blue Dragon awards to the Las Palmas Festival. Have you been surprised by the international critical acclaim and success of the film? Why do you think it’s struck such a chord with audiences?
Yes I was very surprised. It is both an honour and a burden. The audiences say that the film’s beginning is very violent and aggressive so it was difficult to watch. However, the more they watched, it is also humorous and as they get to know the circumstances within the story, they feel sad. Audiences who have similar experiences within their own families said that they could empathise particularly more. I think everyone has big and small family conflicts so the film struck a chord with many of the audiences.
Am I right in thinking you’ve actually appeared in several films before? (In fact some of our reader might be surprised by how many.) These include City Of Violence and The Ghost Theater, for which you were nominated for best new actress (some four years too late by the looks of it!). Which performances are you proudest of, and which are the ones you’d like to forget?
Well, I was not nominated for City of Violence but for The Ghost Theater. Hmm… I filmed in several feature length films as a minor role, a few short films, my first main character role in The Ghost Theater and Breathless was my second leading role. I don’t have any work that I am proud of yet… I am expectant and looking forward to my future.
What have you been working on since this film?
Yes, I’ve done a lot of work since Breathless. Be with me is being released this May and also Be my guest… Both were shown at the Pusan International Film Festival. I also have finished filming 창피해 (English title TBC – either So Shame or So Embarassing).
What actors and actresses do you admire?
Hmm…I have a lot of actors that I like. I tend to see actors and think one is great at this and another at something else; and in the process learn from them.
Thanks to Kim Kkobbi for her time, and Joey from Terracotta and Paul from The Associates for setting the interview up.