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Boo Ji Young and Shim Jae Myung Discuss Korean Women In Film, 'Cart' And The Rise Of EXO's D.O. [Exclusive Interview]

BY Adrienne Stanley | Jul 07, 2015 11:43 PM EDT

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Director Boo Ji Young and producer Shim Jae Myung recently appeared at the New York Asian Film Festival, as part of a retrospective titled Myung Films: Pioneers and Women Behind the Camera in Korean Film. Boo Ji Young received critical acclaim for her second directorial work, "Cart." The star-studded cast includes veteran actress Kim Young Jae (The Attorney, Kill Me, Heal Me) and EXO's D.O. (Do Kyung Soo), in his acting debut. 

"Cart" is a 2014 social critique which examines the plight of older Korean women who were unjustifiably laid off from their part-time jobs at a big-box store. The film is based on a true story of a labor uprising which occurred in 2007, in which the big-box retailer Homover, dismissed temporary workers in exchange for outsourced employment. KDramastars spoke with Boo Ji Young and Myung Films founder Shim Jae Myung about "Cart" and the rise of EXO's D.O. as an acting idol, during their appearance at the New York Asian Film Festival. 

KDramastars: What are the differences on the perspectives that can be provided by female producers and directors?

Shim Jae Myung:  In the film industry and in [Korean] society, I consider myself an outsider. I’m not in the mainstream. That’s why I’m interested in topics that are different. If this movie “Cart” was about male workers, I may not have shown interest. As a female producer, I wanted to explore the plight of female workers within the labor force. I think that my position in Korean society has allowed me to provide a different perspective.

Boo Ji Young:  I think that “Cart” was created because it was the work of a female producer. This was a very different perspective and very is still very unique in Korean society.

KDramastars: “Cart” marked the acting debut of EXO’s D.O.  What are your thoughts on his performance in the film and his reception in projects including the drama “It’s Okay, That’s Love?” 

Boo Ji Young: The character of Choi Tae Young was an attempt to make the film more accessible to the youth. It was a special attempt on the part of the film’s producers. I had no thoughts about casting an idol star. But then I met him [D.O.]. After seeing his image and talking to him, I thought he would be a very good fit for the role. He read the script and he proved that he could be very strong in his acting, as well.

Afterward, he appeared in two dramas: “It’s Okay, That’s Love” and “I Remember You.” After seeing him in these dramas, I thought that he had even more potential than I had envisioned. In one role, he appears to be outgoing but he has a dark side. In the other, he portrays a murderer.

He was so much better, in both roles, than I had ever expected. But I really I feel that his acting will bloom in movie projects. When it comes to acting, it is more of a film medium where one can show their true talents.  I have very high hopes for his next film.

Shim Jae Myung: He is currently in the process of shooting a melodramatic film. So, look forward to that.

KDramastars: Myung Films has been responsible for unique, captivating movies from “Cart” and “Waikiki Brothers” to “Architecture 101.” What are your thoughts on the opportunities the company has presented to women within the field?

Shim Jae Myung: I started out working in film, at the entry level, with other film companies. Next, I started my own company. I’ve produced 30 films over the past 20 years. Regarding your second question about more opportunities for women in the film industry, I’ve always felt that I needed to become powerful, in order to become more influential, to provide more opportunities for other women. I’m very aggressive and very proactive to create films by women directors.

KDramastars: “Cart” provides social commentary on the plight of temporary workers, particularly those who are older women and poor. In addition to the real-life circumstances, the film was loosely based on, what served as a basis for the film?

Boo Ji Young:  The reason why I started working on this film was because the producer brought “Cart” to me and I liked the script. I think that the plight of the non-full time labor workers is a very serious social issue, along with unemployment. That was a social concern then and it remains an issue in Korea, now. Many part-time workers are worried about their employment and the threat of being fired. Because it involves older female workers, it really became an important issue to me. These were common housewives, who are not used to asserting their own views.

They were very meek and maintained a very low status, in society. These women decided to go against the status quo and to fight for their rights for over 500 days. This issue is not related to livelihood, but it also allowed the women to look at themselves from a different perspective. They were not just mothers, who had a weak status in society. They were people had pride and had the right to examine themselves, to find themselves. I think the sense of identity was a major point of the message of “Cart.”

KDramastars: What are your thoughts on the Myung Films: Women Behind the Camera retrospective at the New York Asian Film Festival? What are your feelings about having the opportunity to present the works of female directors and producers to audiences in the United States? 

Shim Jae Myung: The New York Asian Film Festival has been going on for 10 years. I am very pleased that we have this film festival in the United States to showcase Asian films, especially Korean movies. I’m very grateful that the film festival has a focus on female filmmakers. I am happy to see that there are six movies that were produced by my company, Myung Films, that are screening here. It is auspicious that Myung Films is celebrating its 20-year anniversary, making it a very meaningful opportunity and significant festival for us. From now on, I would like to continue to make movies with new topics and genres, that I have not explored in the past two decades. Therefore, I continue to have high expectations for myself.

Boo Ji Young: The topic of the festival is specifically Women Behind the Camera. I think it is very special that we have the opportunity at this film festival to showcase Korean female filmmakers. I think it is a positive effort to understand Asian and Korean female filmmakers. That in and of itself is a very precious effort and something that the major film festivals have not attempted to do. I was recently at a large festival and there was a smaller focus on female directors, but it wasn’t as concentrated as the NY Asian Film Festival’s emphasis on Korean female filmmakers. I feel strong support from this event and I feel very encouraged by the attention this has generated.

The New York Asian Film Festival will be held at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and SVA Theater through July 11. 

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