Time for boy’s killer to repentDirector Park Jin-pyo is known for grabbing public attention with his films on issues such as having an HIV-positive patient in your home ― “You’re My Sunshine” ― or the sexual desires of elderly singles in their 70s in “Too Young to Die.” His next film, “His Voice,” is aimed at making the perpetrator of an actual kidnap-homicide case repent for what he did 16 years ago. The “he,” Park stressed, is the man who kidnapped 9-year-old Lee Hyeong-ho in 1991 only to leave the little boy’s body in a ditch near his home in Apgujeong-dong. The suspect is still at large.
“You know what, I really hope he gets to watch this film,” he said, squinting through horn-rimmed glasses. “We want to tell him that we have not forgotten his wrongdoings. [The film] is not about us deploring that we weren’t able to catch him, it’s about a ray of hope that we might still catch him.”
The closest the police got to a suspect was to issue a vague “profile” based on the kidnapper’s voice and handwriting. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations for the case expired last January ending the investigation. But that was exactly what drew the makers of the film to push the story ahead.
“Our goal is to show it is nonsense for a child abduction-murder investigation to have such a short expiration term,” Park said.
Park said he remembered the case clearly. He had been an assistant producer for a television crime show that followed the story when the incident occurred. The suspect had been calling the boy’s parents periodically during the 44 days the boy was missing, asking them for 70 million won ($75,000). Despite the forensic investigation, police have failed to catch the killer. Sixteen years later, the director went to the boy’s parents to get their permission to make the case into a film. The boy’s parents said, “okay.”
But unlike his previous films that sought public attention, the film is expecting some negative response as some Internet users are calling it an “exploitation of a tragedy for commercial purposes” after a trailer showed actor Kang Dong-won whispering threats from a public pay phone and actress Kim Nam-joo as the boy’s mother wailing into her phone. As for the suspect’s voice, the director borrowed the actual voice of the suspect the investigators recorded 16 years ago. But the director was firm about his motives.
“I focused on expressing what the parents might have gone through,” he said. “So that ‘he’ can watch it and feel something.”
by Lee Min-a