Director takes aim at ‘public enemies’ of society

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Director takes aim at ‘public enemies’ of society

“This time, I will attack the ‘true’ public enemy,” said Kang Woo-suk, the director of “Public Enemy,” a popular Korean film about a psychopathic killer and an investigator who tracks him down. The film, released in 2002, sold more than 3 million tickets.
Now, Mr. Kang, 44, has completed the sequel, “Public Enemy 2,” which opens on Jan. 27, and, according to him, deals with more serious issues.
In this film, Kang Cheol-jung (Seol Gyeong-gu), a public prosecutor, seeks to bring to justice Han Sang-u (Jeong Jun-ho), an evil and greedy president of a high school foundation.
“The first ‘Public Enemy’ was actually a ‘lie.’ The first one was about a psychotic criminal, but the second one shows the rotten side of society,” Mr. Kang said.
“As many people pointed out, a psychopath who killed his parents was more an ‘evil man’ than a ‘public enemy.’ This time, the film will show a man who harms society with his greed.”
Mr. Kang said the movie would provoke some anger among those who see it. “The movie is also going to criticize those who think they are better than others because of their class and their wealth,” he said. “However, my intention is not to divide people into two groups. It would be nice to live in a society where rich people are respected.”
Mr. Kang added that he wants to deal with social issues in his films in the future.
The director of last year’s hit film “Silmido,” Mr. Kang said that as he watched audiences’ reaction to the movie, “I realized how much a film could do to a society. I want my films to touch on sensitive issues in society.”
The director’s motivation for making “social” films in the future developed as he observed a depressed society. “These days, all I see in the newspapers is bad news. Every part of society has problems,” he said.
“One of my friends is a director at a large corporation. Even though his income is decent enough, he doesn’t have time to enjoy life. Society constantly pushes everyone to make money. It’s all about materialism.
“It doesn’t mean that I’m trying to blame only certain groups of people. But protecting the weaker segment of society is urgent. Those who have [money] should help those who don’t,” observed Mr. Kang.
“Rich people should be humble and modest. They should stop thinking that money can do everything. Why do ‘ordinary people’ feel insecure? Why do they hate rich people? Some people may feel guilty watching the movie.”
Mr. Kang was not particularly enthusiastic about last year’s films.
“There were not many ‘touching’ movies last year. Even though some people say that ‘Silmido’ and ‘Taegukgi’ were good enough, I wish there were more films that satisfied the public’s taste.”
This year, he noted, there will be some promising films, such as “Dalkomhan Insaeng (A Bittersweet Life),” directed by Kim Jee-woon, and “Taepung (Typhoon),” by Gwak Gyeong-taek.
The Korean film industry is currently in a difficult state, Mr. Kang said. “The only way for the Korean film industry to survive is through exports. So, we should make films that are a lot better than regular TV dramas.
“Great films satisfy both the audience and critics. Since Korean audiences have good taste in movies, if a movie is successful in Korea, it will sell outside as well,” he said.

by Park Jeong-ho
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