True crime story unravels in ‘Classified File’

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True crime story unravels in ‘Classified File’


Director Kwak Kyung-taek’s latest movie “The Classified File” unveils the story of two hidden figures from history - fortune teller Kim Joong-san (Yoo Hae-jin), left, and detective Go Gil-yong (Kim Yun-seok) - who played a major role in solving a kidnapping case that happened in 1978 in Busan. Provided by the distributor

When a movie is described as a crime thriller based on a true story, it leaves the audience with a number of preconceived notions.

First, it should make the heart pound. Second, it should come with a major twist at the end.

And third, watching incompetent, high-ranking officials fail to catch the real criminal should make the audience resent society.

But none of the aforementioned characteristics apply to upcoming movie “The Classified File,” directed by Kwak Kyung-taek of Korean box office hits “Friend” (2001) and “Mutt Boy” (2003).

Instead, an unlikely pair - detective Gong Gil-yong and fortune-telling Kim Joong-san - bring a sense of humanism and cordiality to the story while they attempt to solve a real-life kidnapping case in Busan that happened in 1978.

At the time, all eyes were on arresting the abductor and trying to make the search proceedings as open as possible. However, Kim and Gong believed the case should be strictly confidential in order to ensure the safety of the missing child.

Precedents from past cases suggested that an open investigation often leads to the death of the child in question.

Thanks to this strategy, the missing girl was found alive 33 days after she went missing, but the closed-door investigation meant the names of the true heroes were left out of the news report.

Their story was then forgotten for the next 37 years.

Director Kwak, who uncovered the tale while researching for a previous film, “Friend : The Great Legacy” (2013), said he instantly wanted to turn it into a movie.

“The kidnapping case itself wasn’t what I was trying to depict through the movie,” said Kwak during a press screening event on Monday at Wangsimni CGV, eastern Seoul.

“I wanted to tell the veiled story of these two people who sweated and ran harder than anybody 30 years ago to save the child, standing up for their beliefs.”

However, crafting a movie in which everyone already knows the ending was challenging even for veteran director Kim.

“The movie had a good message, but people said it couldn’t be a commercial movie,” Kim said.

“People pointed out that an investigative movie should have suspense and thrills but that mine didn’t have those,” he added.

Differing from the usual format, the film is charged with emotional scenes showing the desperation of the girl’s parents as well as Gong and Kim’s continuous efforts to bring the child back alive when their colleagues only seemed to care about arresting the culprit and taking the credit.

Actor Kim Yun-seok takes on the role of detective Gong.

While he has acted as a detective before in “Running Turtle” (2009) and “The Chaser” (2008), the 47-year-old made sure that he was offering something different this time.

“If the script was another typical type of hard-boiled crime thriller, I would have not taken it. But my character, Gong, was a father, a colleague and a middle-aged man who lived during that era, before he was a detective,” he said.

His fortune-telling partner is taken on by maverick actor Yoo Hae-jin, who dropped his usual frivolous personality and put on a weighty, father-figure persona.

The film opens nationwide on Thursday.


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