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Director says ‘Kim Ji-young, Born 1982’ a story that ‘must be told’

Sept. 30, 2019 - 15:21 By Yoon Min-sik
A book dealing with the hotly debated topic of gender equality has been made into a film, challenging the audience to ponder the issue of discrimination as the controversial source material did upon its 2016 release.

“As a mother of two, a daughter and someone living in this society, there were a lot of parts (in the book) that I could relate to,” said director Kim Do-yeong of “Kim Ji-young, Born 1982,” her first feature film.

“Since the book had presented several topics of discussion for society, there was pressure about whether or not I could create a movie and preserve the value of the original, this being my first feature film. But I thought it was a story that was worth telling, one that must be told.”

The movie, like the book, tells the story of a fictional woman named Kim Ji-young, who was born in 1982. The original book consisted of episodes of discrimination that Kim experienced as a daughter, student, young adult, mom and woman in South Korean society.

It stars Jung Yu-mi as the title character and Gong Yoo as her husband, Dae-hyeon. The two shared the screen most recently in the 2016 zombie apocalypse film “Train to Busan.”

Jung Yu-mi poses during a press conference to promote “Kim Ji-young, Born 1982,” in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

“Actually, I am not married and have not raised a child. So rather than to relate to the story, it reminded me a lot of the people around me. I felt guilty, asking myself whether or not I’ve been avoiding these issues with the excuse that I was busy,” Jung said. “I had a chance to reflect upon myself.”

Gong said the script reminded him of his family, which made him very emotional at times. “(When reading the script) I felt like I became Dae-hyeon, which made me think that I had to take the part. I was so emotional that I called my mother and, for the first time, talked about how hard it must have been for her to raise me,” he said.

Gong said his co-star, a year younger than the character she plays, is “exactly like the character.”

The director said her biggest task was to weave the series of independent episodes in the original material into a story with a central narrative. “It had to be a story through which the audience could empathize with Kim and see through Kim’s eyes. The stories of the peripheral characters had to be more detailed,” she said.

While the film is based on one of the bestselling books of 2016, the source material has also been the subject of controversy. Some critics have pointed out its flaws as a literary piece, while others criticize it for simplifying and exaggerating the gender issue.

The film opens in local theaters in October.

By Yoon Min-sik