Exclusive Interview: Actor Kwon Hyun-sang and Director Jae Soh from “Let Me Out!”

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Kwan Hyun Sang and Jae Soh sat down for an hour-long interview with Cheryl Dawley and Jini Shim of KKonnect.

 

Here’s what they had to say about their upcoming movie,”Let Me Out” – coming to San Diego for one day one only – and more!

 

Cheryl: Hyun-sang-씨, congratulations on your first leading role! How was it being the main focus of a movie?

Kwon Hyun-sang: This was the first film where I was in over 90% of the scenes and dialog. It was a big responsibility, but it was a great experience.

Cheryl: What was the best part of filming this movie?

Kwon-Hyun-Sang-1Kwon Hyun-sang: The type of film this was – being about film students – was fun, because I have been a film student so it was a concept I knew.

Cheryl: What are your hopes for “Let Me Out” – especially with respect to U.S. audiences?

Jae Soh: I really hope US audiences enjoy this movie. American audiences see to receive indie films better than Korean audiences do. Plus American like Zombies!

Cheryl: Anything funny or interesting happen during filming that you want to share?

Kwon Hyun-sang:  We were actually trying to film, (being film students) but the film crew were actors, so no one really knew what they were doing, so it was interesting trying to get the scenes done!

Cheryl: Do you plan on doing movies in the US?

HSJ7Kwon Hyun-sang: Yes, I’d like to make films in Hollywood.

Cheryl: You’ve now been in horror, comedy, historical, drama. What is your favorite genre?

Kwon Hyun-sang: I don’t have a favorite genre. Since I haven’t had that much experience yet, I am still learning and enjoying all the genres. I can’t really choose. It’s all acting, they’re all good.

Cheryl: You come from a a very well-known theatrical family. Is it hard establishing a name for yourself under the shadow of your parents? Or are they a big help?

Kwon Hyun-sang: Having famous parents is not necessarily as big a help as you might think. In fact, sometimes it can be a hindrance. Because my father has such a successful career and such a good reputation, I am always very conscious of that, and I am careful about what I do. The media always seems very interested, though.

Cheryl: You’ve played really great bad guys and really sweet good guys. What’s your preference?

Kwon Hyun-sang: I like playing the good guys!  (Cheryl’s note: His answer was immediate and unequivocal!)

Hyun-sang and jaeCheryl: 2013 has been a really busy year for you so far: Dramas: Fugitive of Joseon, Queen of Ambition; Movies:  Let Me Out, A City In Blossom, Fists of Legend. Which was your biggest challenge?

Kwon Hyun-sang: The Fugitive of Joseon (천명). It was a historical drama, and the directors had very definite ideas about how they wanted the character portrayed, so I was always working on that. Also, there were a lot of action scenes, lots of swordplay, and I even got injured. 

Cheryl: What are you working on now?

Kwon Hyun-sang: It’s a secret! But I’m taking a short break then I’m working on a movie and a drama.

Cheryl: What are your professional ambitions?

Kwon Hyun-sang: I want to do many more films and dramas. Eventually, I want to work in the U.S., too. Hollywood!

Cheryl: Films and dramas are so different. Do you have a preference?

HSJ4Kwon Hyun-sang: They are very different. I like doing movies because there’s more time to build characters and the filming is done at a slower pace. On the drama set, everything is rushed. There’s not as much time to develop a character, no time to build friendships amongst the cast. 

Cheryl: What are your personal ambitions?

Kwon Hyun-sang:  I’m a workaholic. I have no ambitions outside of work!

Cheryl: “Let Me Out” seems to be a movie about making movies. What makes this one stand out?

Jae Soh: Although this type of movie is more common in the U.S. it is quite uncommon in Korea. Also, Zombie movies are not really done in Korea, so this is really unusual. Zombies are pretty popular in the US, so this movie should appeal to American audiences as well, especially since it’s a comedy.

Cheryl: You’ve gone from American cinematographer to Korean writer/director/producer! Big changes. What was the impetus for the change?

Jae Soh: I worked in the US doing a cinematography and working on short films. There were plenty of opportunities to do more work in those areas, but I really wanted to direct. I moved to Korea, thinking that would put me on the fast track, (laughs) and 18 years later I’ve directed a movie. It’s been good, though, reconnecting with my Korean history. I didn’t know much Korean when I moved back here!

Jae & HS
Photo courtesy of Jae Soh

Cheryl: What was the inspiration for “Let Me Out”?

Jae Soh: We were kind of under the gun to produce something fast when the money came through, but I believe that being ready when opportunity knocks is important. The script was easier to write because I have been a film student and professor and have worked in the film industry.

Cheryl: Did you learn anything interesting while directing “Let Me Out”?

Jae Soh: Everything was a new experience. Just directing it was valuable experience. Learning to do things from the director’s point to view, and the production end as well. I was also more involved than usual in many other aspects of the film, such as promotion.

Cheryl: Is there anything you would change or do differently of you had the opportunity?

Jae Soh: Everything! As soon as you’re finished you find things you want to do differently!

Cheryl: Now that you’ve worked in the American film industry and the Korean film industry, can you compare and contrast? Especially with respect to artistic freedom, production, etc.

Jae Soh: On a basic level, the industries are very similar. There are some big differences in production. In the US, you have the Screen Actor’s Guild, unions, etc. There’s nothing like that in Korea. If production time runs over, no one gets paid overtime. Things are starting to change a little, though. Artistically, there is more freedom in Korea, in some ways. In the US, it seems you’re locked into certain formulas when making films. Korea films tend to break out of those molds. Artistically, they are not as set in their way – still experimenting. However, Korean audiences tend to be really picky. In fact, when American movies are released in Asia, they go to Korea first. If Korean audiences like it, it will do well everywhere.

Cheryl: What do you plan to do next? What’s the next project? Movies in Korea? Movies in the U.S.?

Jae Soh: I’m working on documentary about the changing landscape of Seoul. How the historical Seoul is disappearing. I’ve also got another feature film in the works. It will be more commercial. I would like to direct movies in the US, too.

All too soon, the questions were over, the evening was running late and it was time to bid our farewell. We thanked Hyun-sang and Jae for their time and for sharing a few laughs with us. Next – we see them at the movies!

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Join us for a Movie meet-up:

AMC Fashion Valley Wednesday Night

The movie starts at 7:00pm

After-movie meet-up and discussion review? I want to hear your voices. Let’s have coffee or drinks. Make suggestions below!

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[BIBIMBEATS] Local Beats: Hanging out with KPOP Star 2’s McKay Kim

This spring, KPOP Star 2, the highly anticipated second season of KPOP Star, brought together rising young talent from around the world. Unlike talent programs here in the United States, the KPOP Star series features performers putting their own twist on both popular Korean and English language songs complete with back-up dancers and pyrotechnics. Making it something of a golden ticket for those trying to make a break in the Korean music industry, KPOP Star is judged by representatives from Korea’s three largest entertainment labels – YG CEO Yang Hyun-suk, JYP CEO Park Jin-young, and SM’s veteran star BoA. Upon winning, the remaining artist gets to choose which label they want to sign with, though all participants can cultivate promising musical careers by simply getting onto the show. In the first season, winner Park Ji-min was brought into JYP Entertainment as a part of pop duo 15&, and her time spent in the competition made runner-up Lee Hi one of YG Entertainment’s strongest debuts. KPOP Star 2 champions, Akdong Musician, have already released their new single “I Love You” for the All About My Romance soundtrack, and YG Entertainment has recently announced their contract with season 2 finalist Bang Ye-dam. Yet despite their elimination in the third round, a strong and loyal fan base remains for season 2 trio, Raccoon Boys. The Raccoon Boys auditioned for KPOP Star 2 separately and were formed by BoA as the rounds progressed. The group consisted of rapper Kim Min-seok of Asan, South Korea and singers Brian Shin from Cupertino, Calif. and San Diego’s own, McKay Kim. KKonnect had the opportunity to interview McKay on one of his first visits back home since the program ended, taking a break before heading back to Korea to continuing working on his budding music career.

Q: What are your career plans for the future?
A: Honestly, I can’t say I have a definite plan so far. In fact, I have no plan – no clue! I haven’t contracted with any company yet, so once I go to Korea, my plans will become more concrete.

Q: What kind of artist do you aspire to be?
A: I want to become a John Mayer or Jason Mraz type of artist. I am into acoustic type songs that I can use my guitar with. Among Korean artists, I would like to sing Zion T types of songs.

Q: If you received an offer to be in an idol group, would you give in?
A: I would be flattered, but I am the stiffest person! I do favor CN Blue types of groups where it is a band rather than an idol group. I sure would love to learn how to dance though!

Q: Why did you choose to expand your music career in Korea?
A: I noticed that most of the music in Korea is pop. I want to start something new – start and become a music layer.

Q: How did you find out about KPOP Star?
A: My mom actually saw a flyer at Convoy Street in San Diego. She and I both did not have high expectations but we thought it would be a good experience.

Q: Did you predict that you would get this far on KPOP Star?
A: No! Every stage was an unexpected yet sweet surprise. The first song that I sang was written by me. I had originally planned to sing Bum Soo-kim’s “I Miss You (보고싶다)”, but I changed it at the last minute. I felt like I was unprepared, so I felt very blessed when I passed.

Q: What drove you choose to sing the song that you wrote?
A: At first I didn’t have the confidence that I could pass with a song that I wrote, but my mom encouraged me and I was glad that others also liked it. I would like to pursue not only singing but songwriting as well. I don’t want to follow by the rules but establish my own color with the music that I write.

Q: If BoA, Yang Hyun-suk, and JYP were to compete in KPOP Star themselves, who do you think would win?
A: I think BoA would win. I think she would be the closest to making it big in America too. She always reminds me of Britney Spears – pretty and talented. While working at the set of KPOP Star, I realized that she is very smart – and she’s good. She has talent, and she’s wise too.

Q: Any shout outs to your friends in San Diego?
A: Though I can’t guarantee a visit soon, hopefully I will be able to see you guys soon. I hope I can come back as a successful artist and make you guys proud!

The Anatomy of a Dragon Boat Team

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The Anatomy of a Dragon Boat Team- Fateh K.

A calm and temperate Saturday Morning, light wind, the water at Mission Bay glistening a steel blue, and hundreds of warriors armed with paddles preparing for aquatic battle in one of the world’s oldest sports tradition, the Dragon Boat Race.  After a moment of peace, the sound of the primordial yells of the racers resonated in the air, each cry synchronized with the thundering drums leading them followed by a powerful whooshing noise as the racers propelled the boat while vying for position, such an exhilarating experience. And I was only a spectator

On May 4th, the atmosphere was electric as teams representing various local schools, companies and cultural organizations convened on Playa Pacifica at Mission Bay for the 9th Annual Dragon Boat Festival.

I was so astounded by the display of team spirit, grit, camaraderie, and athletic acumen showed by the competitors, that I felt obligated to interview one of the racers to get an understanding about what it takes to be a part of a Dragon Boat Team.  This Is my interview with Mr. Tenshing Honda, Captain of the  San Diego Chinese Historical Museum Musing Dragons.

1. Team Name (Nick Name)?

Musing Dragons

2. What Group Is Your Team Representing?

San Diego Chinese Historical Museum

3. What Inspired Your Team Name?

Not quite sure. I’m a graduate student at UCSD who was asked to coach the team.

4. Why Did You and Your Group Decide to Join the Dragon Boat Race?

I’ve paddled for 6 years (high school and undergraduate at UCLA) so I’m extremely passionate about the sport. A classmate at UCSD in the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies told me about the Musing Dragons and jumped at the offer to paddle. The San Diego Chinese Historical Museum is an important donor to our China Focus club and so to show our thanks we try to fill up boats for the Musing Dragons.

5. How Does a Team Prepare for a Dragon Boat Race (i.e. breakfast, group exercises, superstitions, pep-rally)?

Since our team had never practiced or raced on the water before, I had our team do simulation drills. I broke down the race to starts, powers, and finishes. I taught basic strokes and form to each individual paddler. As for “team spirit”, we definitely had fun with it. I had our team re-use an old high school chant I had: “who are we? _____. What do we do? Stroke it. How do we stroke it? Longer, harder, faster, all night long”. Also, coming off the boats, I had our team form tunnels to congratulate everyone on their effort. Everyone seemed to enjoy our team spirit.

6. What Attributes Must a Team Possess to Win a Race?

Timing, focus, energy, and cohesion. When all four come together your boat glides and there’s nothing like that feeling in the world.

7. What Makes Your Team Unique?

With the exception of two paddlers, no one on our team had ever paddled. We practiced for the first time paddling out to the start line. Even with this challenge we managed to win one race and our times got better by every race (1:25 to 1:14 to 1:12).

8. Lessons Learned from the Competition?

Have fun. I’m a very competitive person but it’s important to enjoy the sport. I hadn’t paddled for 4 years and I forgot how much I missed the sport

9. What Is the Most Rewarding Experience of Participating in the San Diego Dragon Boat Festival?

Seeing my team grow right before my eyes. As I mentioned before, my team had never paddled before. And yet we were very competitive. The time of our last race would have beaten half of the teams at the Festival…very proud moment. Finally, it was incredible to see the selflessness of many of our members. We had about 22 paddlers but people were quick to offer up their seat so their friends could paddle. Very unselfish team.

10. Advice for Future Competitors?

You are only as strong as the weakest person on your boat. Timing is everything and so do all you can to be in sync with everyone on your team, on and off the board to build team chemistry.

Team Musing Dragons