Hong Sang-soo admits recent film about affair reflects reality at Berlin Film Fest

By Rumy Doo

Director Hong Sang-soo and actress Kim Min-hee speak on their relationship after screening of “On the Beach at Night Alone”

  • Published : Feb 17, 2017 - 13:55
  • Updated : Feb 17, 2017 - 17:36

Director Hong Sang-soo and actress Kim Min-hee attended the Berlin International Film Festival together on Thursday, marking their first public appearance together since reports of their extramarital affair surfaced last June.

The two spoke at a press conference that followed the press screening of their latest film “On the Beach at Night Alone,” helmed and penned by Hong. It is the only Korean film competing in the main competition category of the film fest’s 67th edition.

“On the Beach at Night Alone,” centers on Young-hee, played by Kim, an actress who travels to Germany and to a beach in Korea’s Gangwon Province to contemplate the ending of an affair with a married film director.

During the press conference, when asked whether the film was autobiographical, Hong replied, “Many directors reflect their lives in film. It’s a matter of degree. ... I didn’t try to tell an autobiographical story, but I did try to get close to what really happened.”

Hong also hinted at the nature of his relationship with the actress. “Kim Min-hee and I have a very close relationship,” he said. “(This film) is the result of the combination of her opinions and mine.” 

Director Hong Sang-soo (left) and actress Kim Min-hee attend a press conference for the film “On the Beach at Night Alone” in Berlin on Thursday. (AFP-Yonhap)

Neither Hong nor Kim has officially confirmed or denied reports of their affair.

Kim spoke fondly of her time working with Hong. “The most important thing was that working with him was always new,” she said. “Every day was new filming with him and I am curious about the story he has created.”

Kim also commented on her role. “In the movie, (the character) asks herself about the emotion of love inside her heart,” she said. “If it is real love, I think you accept every action and come to understand it.”

“On the Beach at Night Alone” is Hong’s 19th film and his third at Berlin after “Night and Day” (2008) and “Nobody’s Daughter Haewon” (2013).

The screening of the 101-minute film took place in a full theater. Magazines such as Variety gave it favorable reviews, calling the film “unfussy in form, open in expression and gentle in reach as its maker revisits such recurring preoccupations as loneliness, regret and the value of love in life and art.”

The review also praised Kim for “a subtle, intuitive performance” and “working wonders ... muddling her self-pity with sharp, pained stabs of frank self-awareness too.”

The film also stars Jung Jae-young, Kwon Hae-hyo, Song Seon-mi and Moon Seong-geun and is expected to hit local theaters in March.

Hong and Kim are expected to attend the film festival’s closing ceremony together Sunday.

By Rumy Doo (doo@heraldcorp.com)