Adding a completely new character to "The Boys" was necessary to make the based-on-a-true-story film more compelling, director Chung Ji-young said Monday.
"Some people call me the Ken Loach of South Korea. But I create more dramatic devices than (he does) to share my story with a wider audience," Chung said at a press conference in Seoul. He referred to British director Ken Loach, who is famous for making films based on true events.
"The Boys" revisits a 1999 case in which three teenage boys were wrongfully convicted of robbery and murder in forced confessions.
The director made up the lead character, Hwang Jun-cheol, a newly appointed police investigative chief who tries to get justice for the boys.
"When I borrow a real-life story in my movie, I tend to use dramatic devices. But I leave the core story intact and don't distort what happened," the director said, adding that the fictional part was aimed at making the story more gripping and interesting.
In 2016, the three boys were exonerated of their robbery and murder charges through a retrial.
The director said he was compelled to make a film about the case, after witnessing no one was held accountable for the wrongful convictions that led to the imprisonment of the innocent boys.
"Powerful people pick on the weak when most people, who see themselves on the side of the weak, choose to stay silent" and do nothing about it, the director said.
"I wanted to reflect upon how our society views the weak," he said, adding he hoped his audience would "reflect upon themselves whether they chose to remain indifferent and silent to the boys' misfortune as if looking on a fire across a river."
Since his directorial debut in 1982, Chung has made a number of films based on true events, including the courtroom drama "Unbowed" (2011) and the white collar crime film "Black Money" (2019).
His filmography, he said, demonstrates his "struggle to stay positive" and "to find hope" amid many tragic events that left many people, including himself, feeling a sense of helplessness and frustration.
"For me, making films is like checking on where we are now and how we have lived, and finding the right coordinates. That is my mission," Chung said.
The film is set to be released on Nov. 1.