There used to be a time when it was almost impossible to come across gay characters in Korean films, let alone have an entire film devoted to the topic of gay life.
Things have changed since those repressive days. Films about what it is like to be gay in Korea have been released, gaining relative success in the indie film scene and some were even invited to prestigious international film festivals such as Berlin.
“White Night” directed by LeeSong Heeil is one such film. TenAsia English was proud and happy to talk with the director and cast of this gorgeous film.
Q. Did you expect such a great response from the public to “White Night”?
Yi: I didn't expect this at all since the film was done in a very small-scale manner.
Q. How did the filming go?
Yi: We were just busy shooting. We didn’t know that we would get such a great response from the public. It is amazing. I was surprised to see that I have fans, so I’m replying every comment that they send me via Twitter.
Q. “White Night” seems like the right film which came to you at the right time. As a heterosexual, wasn't it stressful for you to portray a homosexual?
Yi: Frankly speaking, I am not repulsed by homosexuals. I was just curious about my partner. It was a natural curiosity because he was going to be the one who I would act together with. When I first met One Tae Hee, he had a bushy beard. He looked more macho because of his character in the film but his real personality is quite different. He is caring and I’m the opposite.
I was concerned about whether I would be able to act my role right. I read the script and there was nothing shocking. My questions were ‘will I be able to do this?’ and ‘how can I do this right,’ but director LeeSong Hee-il was worried about other stuff. Since many actors turned him down due to the role's sexual identity, LeeSong asked me about whether I can persuade my parents or not. I told him with confidence that, “I can convince them because I live my own life and they wouldn't be doing the role.”
However, there was some issue in the middle of the filming. My mother read the script and asked me, “is this the one you're doing?' and told me to quit right away. She told me that she will pay the expenses caused by the breach of contract. I told her to trust me and as a grown-up, I can make my own decisions. Then my father came to me and told me to leave the house, so I did.
Q. How they react after you were invited to the Berlin International Film Festival?
Yi: My mother read all the articles about it. I asked her when she read them all and she said, “I have to read it because you don’t tell me about it any more.” We talked about it this morning. She told me to think carefully when choosing the role even though I’m still a new face in the industry.
Father didn’t say much but I think he probably watched the movie alone in the theater or at least read about it. He carries video clips and a commercial that I did on his cell phone.
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