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‘Disturbing, but important’: ‘I Want to See Your Parent’s Face’ deals with school bullying

From left: Actors Ko Chang-seok, Chun Woo-hee and Sol Kyung-gu pose before an online press conference for “I Want to See Your Parent’s Face” on Thursday. (Mindmark)
From left: Actors Ko Chang-seok, Chun Woo-hee and Sol Kyung-gu pose before an online press conference for “I Want to See Your Parent’s Face” on Thursday. (Mindmark)

Director Kim Ji-hoon’s new film, “I Want to See Your Parent’s Face,” tells a deeply uncomfortable story about school bullying.

The cast, who have come to realize the weight of the subject matter, pleaded with moviegoers to come to the theater to watch the film during an online press conference held Thursday.

“Since the movie is about school bullying, audiences might feel uncomfortable watching it. Even though it can be uncomfortable, I think it is a topic that we should talk about. I hope that many people can watch our movie,” Chun Woo-hee said.

“It tells the stories of children and parents that should not be ignored. Please don’t turn a blind eye,” Ko Chang-seok added.

Kim’s film is based on the Japanese stage play “Oya no Kao ga Mitai” written by Seigo Hatasawa. In the movie, an eighth grade boy kills himself and leaves a note with names of the four students who bullied him. The four students’ parents are summoned to the school. In the process of finding out what happened to the boy who died, the parents of the alleged offenders try to prevent the truth from being revealed.

Although some people recommended the title be changed, director Kim said he wanted to keep it as it represents the topic he is trying to tell.

“The title ‘I Want to See Your Parent’s Face’ speaks for itself. It shows the rage (that victims’ families feel). The title sums up the story that I wanted to tell in this movie,” Kim said. “Instead of presenting the victim’s story, my film shows the story behind the offenders.”

Veteran actor Sol Kyung-gu, who played the father of one of the four students also agreed that the title is powerful.

“I, too, was drawn by the strong title,” Sol said. “I was very angry reading the script. I hope that this rage and regret that I felt can be delivered to the audience.”

Ko, who played a math teacher and also the father of one of the bullies, also said he was outraged while reading the script.

“I am an actor but I am also a parent of a child. I thought about what choice I would have made if I were in my character’s shoes. I was not sure of the answer,” Ko said. “I kept asking myself if I would be able to make a just choice. It was a confusing process but meaningful.”

Ko also added that strangely, he felt extremely guilty playing the character.

“I’ve never felt guilty while playing a villain, but it was a strange movie that made me feel guilty,” he said.

The filming was also unusually difficult, the director said.

“I experienced hardships filming this movie. I usually direct the actors my way, but for this film, I did not tell them what to do. I tried to listen to what the actors had to say,” the director said. “It was a difficult project because I had to constantly find answers to questions as I went.”

During the press conference, the actors also talked about the special casting process by which Chun got her role. Chun played young part-time teacher Song Jung-wook who tries to fight for the victim but struggles as she is new to the job.

“Sol Kyung-gu called me,” Chun said. “He said he was Sol Kyung-gu and convinced me (to take the role). And I was so grateful for his offer.”

“Song Jung-wook is such an important role. We all thought it had to be Chun Woo-hee who plays that role,” Sol said, explaining why he had called her even though they did not know each other personally.

“I don’t think I was very logical when trying to persuade her. I sort of begged her,” Sol joked.

Meanwhile, actor Oh Dal-su, who temporarily stepped away from acting in 2018 following allegations of sexual assault, did not attend the press conference. The movie was shot in 2017 before Oh’s sexual assault allegation surfaced later in the year.

“I Want to See Your Parent’s Face” will hit local theaters on April 27.

By Song Seung-hyun (