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[Herald Interview] Director believes 'Somebody' is more than a crime thriller

In creating a melodrama disguised as a thriller, Jung hopes to show an ideal society where differences are accepted

Director Jung Ji-woo (Netflix)
Director Jung Ji-woo (Netflix)

From a serial killer’s ruthless murders to terrified victims not knowing what to do, Netflix’s latest Korean original series “Somebody” offers everything one might expect to see in a frightening thriller series.

Yet, director Jung Ji-woo says he really created a melodrama that looks a lot like a suspense thriller.

"Somebody" presents a story about a dating app developer Kim Sum (played by Kang Hae-lim), who wishes to find someone who can truly understand her. She suffers from Asperger’s syndrome.

The director said he hoped to portray his ideal society through his characters -- Kim has Asperger's syndrome and Gi-eun paraplegia, while Mok-won is homosexual.

“I wanted the viewers to see the characters' differences as something natural like differences in height and weight,” Jung said during an interview with reporters at a cafe in Samcheong-dong, central Seoul, Tuesday.

“You cannot drive Gi-eun’s customized car -- a car specially designed for a driver with paraplegia -- on the road in Korea due to the current laws. But I hope these small changes will happen in the future,” the director told The Korea Herald.

The 28-year veteran director who debuted with the short film “Cliffy” in 1994, did not hide his excitement about his first drama series with Netflix.

“I was a filmmaker who always went over the average running time. So I always had curiosity and passion for shooting a drama series,” Jung said. “I wanted to create a project where I could develop my characters and expand their stories freely without any limit. The eight-part series definitely gave much more room for presenting deeper stories,” Jung said.

Meanwhile, he explained “Somebody” is not a series that follows the prevailing rules of drama series, like the cliffhanger-style ending.

The filmmaker said that he learned much while producing the series and hoped to challenge himself with another series.

Jung Ji-woo (right) speaks with actor Kang Hae-lim of “Somebody” (Netflix)
Jung Ji-woo (right) speaks with actor Kang Hae-lim of “Somebody” (Netflix)

Widely praised for discovering lesser-known talented and new actors including Kim Go-eun of “Eungyo” (2012) and Park Hae-jun of “4th Place” (2016), Jung also introduces rookie actresses -- Kang Hae-lim, Kim Yong-ji and Kim Su-yeon -- in his latest series.

“It may be very interesting for the audience to see a famous actor play various roles. But I feel great joy at discovering an actor who is in sync with the character in my work. The actor’s popularity doesn’t really matter,” the director said.

Director Jung Ji-woo (Netflix)
Director Jung Ji-woo (Netflix)

According to Jung, viewers of content on streaming services are slightly different from moviegoer, who make a conscious choice to watch a film in order to see their favorite actors.

“I believe the viewers are open and generous in watching the lesser-known rookie actors on the streaming services. I hope to meet more talented performers and work on an exciting story with them,” Jung said.

The eight-part thriller “Somebody” is now available on Netflix.



By Lee Si-jin (sj_lee@heraldcorp.com)
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