Does choosing to be alone really mean that we are better off? Hong Sung-yun, the director of the thought-provoking melodramatic film “Alone”, disagrees. “We’re all connected no matter what, so a proper farewell is a courtesy to closing a chapter,” Hong said.
“Alone” tells a story about Gina, a top employee at a credit card company’s call center. He chooses to live alone and avoids building relationships with the people around him until the death of his neighbor puts pressure on him to deal with these relationships one by one. Although the theme of loneliness spreads throughout the film, Gina’s attitude is against her father (played by Park Geong-bak), her rookie colleague Sujan (Jung Da-Yun) and her new neighbor Seonghun (Seo Hyun-woo). Everything serves as a reminder of human connection, especially in difficult times.
The 22nd premiered at Zionzu International. Sold by the Film Festival, and by M-Line Distribution, “Aloneers” has won two awards. Lead actress Gong Seung-yeon was awarded Best Actor and Hong was awarded the CGV Earthhouse Award. The film is now playing in Toronto before moving to San Sebastian.
Diversity Caught with Hong Sung-yun to discuss his thoughts and messages through “Alone” and film directing.
Tell the story of “Aloners” from your lens.
The film is about Gina, an employee of a credit card call center. He believes that isolating himself leads to a more comfortable life due to his past injuries and wounds. The sudden death of his neighbor called on him to re-evaluate his life and gradually address the people of his life with his loneliness.
What was the motivation behind Gina’s story?
Gina’s character stems from my fear of being hurt by others, so to deal with loneliness, I chose to make noise from the device instead. One day, I saw a documentary about death and kept crying for no reason. This forced me to reconsider the idea of being alone because the realization of dying alone was frightening. Gina is a character who holds all these thoughts.
In addition to the themes of Nienel compatibility, the films seem to reflect multiple aspects of Korean culture and society today. How have you worked in film and what acceptance do you want from the international audience?
Korean culture is highly relationship-based. Until a few years ago, eating at restaurants or traveling alone was a daunting task. With this change in perception, I feel the conflict that comes with it. The growing popularity of social networks and the variety of programs that offer celebrities the joy of being alone may seem cool, but on the contrary, there was probably no choice but to be alone.
Therefore, I have added a scene referring to the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup. The Korean football team was playing in the semifinals and the whole country was roaring with every family wearing red shirts, gathered on the big screen nearby to watch the game. Without much explanation, patriotism and the Red Sea scene are deeply engraved in the heart of every Korean. I wanted to use that emotion to remind the audience of our connection to others, even if we believe that pushing people away acts as a form of self-defense.
Since we are all connected, we can at least do something to stop saying goodbye to others. Yet with Gina, she was hurt by others and faced the feeling of abandonment at a young age. It is challenging to give him something that he has never had or experienced. Still, recklessly at the end of the movie, Gina tries to do it, which I hope will warmly welcome the international audience.
Your achievements since graduating from the Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA) are already impressive. What caused you to embark on this journey, and how did it begin?
Although I love movies, I worked for three years in a film-related company and decided to give up thinking about what it would be like to be a film director. So I drowned. There was no dramatic reason, I just wanted to realize my desire and imagination. The work and life of a film director is not easy, but I still like to be one. Several new questions have arisen and I am excited to find answers through the process of making the next film.
What advice would you give to other aspiring female managers?
I’ve heard women have to be literally ‘crazy dogs’ to be film directors. I think that meant being tough and aggressive towards the opponent. Of course, I did it especially when others disrespected my opinion because of my gender, age or lack of experience. Perhaps displaying aggression creates my perceived “weakness”.
Anyway, I want to be a good man and a respected director. This is probably more challenging for female directors than for male directors. I hope other aspiring female managers can refute these existing ideas and I will look back at their examples when I get tired. At the moment, I still have a lot to learn but I will continue to try my best.