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[Herald Interview] Director of black comedy ‘Pipeline’ has nomadic mindset

“Pipeline” director Yoo Ha (Megabox Plus M)
“Pipeline” director Yoo Ha (Megabox Plus M)

Veteran director Yoo Ha’s new film, “Pipeline,” has a completely different vibe from his previous hits. While he’s best known for serious crime films such as “Little Odessa,” “Gangnam Blues” and “Spirit of Jeet Keun Do -- Once Upon a Time in High School,” this time he has come out with a black comedy.

“I have the mindset of a nomad. I like challenging myself by directing new genres that I haven’t done before,” he told a group of reporters during an interview held via Google Meet.

The director added that he had lots of fun filming “Pipeline.”

“I used to make films where characters carry around sashimi knives (as weapons). In this movie the mood was different and I got to talk and hang out with the actors more. I was very happy,” he said.

In Yoo’s new movie, Pindol (played by Seo In-guk), the best pipeline drilling technician in Korea, meets Gun-woo (played by Lee Soo-hyuk), the heir to a large conglomerate. Gun-woo promises Pindol 1 billion won ($886,689) in exchange for pulling off a dangerous oil heist. Pindol takes the offer and Gun-woo rounds up a team of four thieves -- Jeobsae (Eum Moon-suk), Manager Na (Yoo Seung-mok), Keunsab (Tae Hang-ho) and Counter (Bae Da-bin). But the plan does not go as Gun-woo and Pindol expect.

Yoo added that he also loved working with actors without much experience. That’s why he picked rookie actor Bae Da-bin, who has no experience in the Korean movie scene, to play Counter, an ambitious woman whose goal is to move to New Zealand with the money from the oil theft.

“I met Bae Da-bin through an audition. It’s difficult to pinpoint why I picked her but I like the pure image that she had. She barely wore any makeup at the time,” he said. “I usually enjoy casting actors that have an opposite image to the character.”

During the interview, Yoo also talked about his favorite characters in the movie.

“It is Pindol and Manager Na,” the director said. He likes Pindol because of how his personality changes as the story develops, he said.

“He is extremely selfish and does not feel any guilt to commit a crime,” Yoo said. “But he changes and starts caring about others while working with others in the underground tunnel.”

The reason he likes Manager Na is that the character is relatable.

“Na is a corrupt public worker who gambled to earn money for his daughter’s education. The character’s age is set close to my age so he is very relatable to me,” Yoo said. “Also he is an important character who causes the plot twist in the film.”

The director said he was also challenging himself by directing a webtoon-based drama titled “Dear X.”

“I’ve directed movies for over 20 years and now I want to refresh myself. So I am taking an adventure by directing a drama this time,” he said.

As a veteran movie director, he also commented on changes taking place in the filmmaking scene due to the growing streaming industry.

“Some might say that I am conservative. But I believe that watching movies in a theater has its own power. It is the reason why I have been creating films for decades,” he said. “Sadly, the era of movie theaters seems to have come to an end.”

Yoo’s “Pipeline” is now available in local theaters.

By Song Seung-hyun (