The Korea Herald


Star musicians add own touches to films as music directors

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Oct. 18, 2023 - 16:00

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Music director Gray from the Netflix original film, “Ballerina” (Netflix) Music director Gray from the Netflix original film, “Ballerina” (Netflix)

Well-known musicians are joining hands with renowned and rookie filmmakers who want to create a unique atmosphere and maximize the dramatic elements in their films through sound.

Rapper-composer Gray recently took part in the production of "Ballerina" as the Netflix original film's music director. It was Gray's first time composing music for a film.

Soon after the movie’s release on Oct. 6, the film garnered global attention for protagonist Ok-joo's (Jun Jong-seo) flawless action sequences that fit well with the film's hip-hop score. The film tells the story of Ok-joo's merciless revenge on behalf of her friend, the titular ballerina Min-hee (Park Yu-rim). Kim Ji-hoon from the Netflix hit series “Money Heist: Korea -- Joint Economic Area,” stars as Choi Pro, a gang member who is targeted by Ok-joo for playing a role in the events that led to Min-hee taking her own life.

“I wanted to break away from the cliche of movies featuring ballerinas dancing to classical music,” Gray told the audience during an open talk session held during the 28th Busan International Film Festival that ended Oct. 13.

“I thought that this film had a special and unique style ... and I wished to portray the process of Ok-joo seeking revenge like a ballet performance. So, from the preproduction stage, I put an emphasis on music and the hues of color in the film,” said director Lee Chung-hyeon in an interview with The Korea Herald on Oct. 11, adding that he is a big fan of Gray.

“It feels great to work with young, trendy music composers who can easily transfer that trendiness ... to the screen. That experience really added a touch of 'Gen Z-ness' to our film,” said director Lee. As of Wednesday, the film sits at the top of Netflix’s global top 10 non-English films list in 89 countries.

Singer Chang Ki-ha also recently worked as a music director for director Ryoo Seung-wan’s female-led blockbuster “Smugglers,” which attracted more than 5 million moviegoers in Korea.

The film, which opened in local theaters on July 26, revolves around a group of “haenyeo,” or female divers, who become involved in illegal smuggling to make ends meet.

Chang has received positive feedback for reinterpreting old folk music, like “Cherry” by Choi Heon, to create a retro mood for the film, which is set in the 1970s.

“I received the scenario for the film three years ago. This was my first-ever music directing experience. It was a difficult task, but also a very worthwhile one,” Chang wrote in a post on his social media.

“I feel very excited to talk with the audience about my music in the film,” he added. Chang also participated in the BIFF open talk session.

Oh Hyuk (DooRooDooRoo Artist Company) Oh Hyuk (DooRooDooRoo Artist Company)

Oh Hyuk, leader of the band Hyukoh, also has experience as a music director, having composed the music for the upcoming film, “The Dream Songs.” Directed by Cho Hyun-chul, an actor and rookie filmmaker who is best known for his roles in “Hotel del Luna” and “D.P.,” the film tells the tale of two young girls who have feelings for each other.

Oh and Cho have also worked together in "Rustle," Cho’s earlier independent film.

“I asked Oh Hyuk if he could make sad but also awkward-feeling music. We understood each other without having to talk too much about it,” said director Cho.