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Jeonju IFF opens with Kogonada’s thought-provoking film ‘After Yang’

April 28, 2022 - 21:14 By Song Seung-hyun

A scene from “After Yang” (Jeonju IFF)

JEONJU--Jeonju International Film Festival on Thursday kicked off with opening film “After Yang” directed by Kogonada.

“We selected it because it is a beautiful film. Not only is it set in the future but also it has deep thoughts on human nature,” Jeonju IFF co-programmer Chun Jin-su said during a press conference held on Thursday at JIFF Theque with actor Justin H. Min, who plays Yang in the movie. 

Chun added that he was also impressed by Kogonada’s directing style as well as the ensemble of actors.

“Since the film is about androids in the future, some might think that it is a commercial film. But it is a movie that reflects on human beings,” festival director Lee Joon-dong added. “Using a non-human android to reflect on a human appealed to us.”

“After Yang” is about a family -- father Jake, mother Kyra, their adopted daughter Mika, and Yang, an android who is a cultural techno-sapien, a type of robot used to teach adopted children about their heritage.

Actor Min vividly remembers the moment he read the script for the first time.

“I actually read the script while I was on an airplane. And as I was reading the script, I started to cry because I was very emotional reading it and the woman next to me asked me ‘Are you OK?’,” Min said.

He went on and explained what in the script made him so emotional.

“I think I cried because something I’ve always struggled with in my life was wanting more. More jobs, more money, more everything. It is a very American idea that we have,” he said. “As I was reading the script, there was such a sense of peace, calm and joy that Yang got from being this family member, and he didn’t need anything else. For some reason that really affected me. Because I kept thinking you don’t need more to be happy.”

Min also talked about an iconic dance sequence that the family performed together in the movie as a family bonding exercise.

“It was by far the scariest scene to shoot,” Min joked. “I think we were told two weeks before we started filming the dance sequence.”

Since the cast members were all in different parts of the world as well as the choreographer, the actor said they had to first learn the dance moves via Zoom before they could finally gather to practice together for three days. 

From left: Jeonju International Film Festival co-programmer Chun Jin-su, actor Justin Min and festival director Lee Joon-dong talk during a press conference held at JIFF Theque in Jeonju. (Song Seung-hyun/The Korea Herald)

“It was actually a very bonding experience. By the time we filmed the dance, we felt like a real family,” Min said.

The American actor also talked about a moment that he could personally resonate with his character Yang.

“There is that beautiful scene with Yang and Jake about tea, and he says ‘I wish tea meant something more to me than just facts about tea. I wish it was real and I wish I have memories of tea.’ That is how I feel every day in the United States,” Min said. “Because I look Korean. I know a lot about Korea because my parents are Korean. I speak a little bit of Korean. I eat Korean food. But sometimes I don’t feel like it is real, because I don’t have real memories of growing up in Korea.”

The 23rd Jeonju IFF runs through May 2. There will be 18 sections and 217 films will be screened during the festival.