BY Adrienne Stanley | Jul 09, 2015 01:04 PM EDT
Director Lee Won Suk is currently visiting New York City to participate in a question and answer session at the New York Asian Film Festival for his 2014 period film, "The Royal Tailor." The film served as a follow-up to his 2013 romantic comedy, "How to Use Guys with Secret Tips." "How to Use Guys with Secret Tips" is a contemporary piece, while "The Royal Tailor" continues to captivate audiences with its lavish costumes including ornate hanbok or traditional Korean dress. KDramaStars sat down with Lee Won Suk to discuss his transition from a college student who was educated within the United States to a filmmaker who has worked with luminaries with Korean entertainment. In his interview, Lee is candid about his work with Park Shin Hye and Yoo Yeon Seok, praising both stars for their on-set dedication and commitment to their craft.
KDramaStars: Did your experiences as a college student in the United States influence your directorial style?
Lee Won Suk: Right now, I am in a very different position than other Korean directors. I have my own style and some people think it is very Americanized. I have been influenced from many American directors like Wes Anderson, Spike Jonze and others who shoot in the B-rated, quirky style. Living here [in the United States] and receiving an education here, continues to influence me.
KDramaStars: Why did you decide to direct “The Royal Tailor?”
Lee Won Suk: I really liked the emphasis of fashion, in the film. I thought it was very interesting. Personally, I am not a fan of Korean period films. But I read the script and really liked it. Obviously, the first draft is not the same script which was reflected in the movie. However, I really loved the script from its first draft. It was something that I wanted to do, which was a big challenge for me.
KDramaStars: Can you please describe the casting process of “The Royal Tailor?”
Lee Won Suk: The casting was so easy, everything came together quickly. However, one of the most challenging aspects of casting Korean films is that there is a limited amount of top stars to choose from. With the major film companies including CJ Entertainment and Showbox, there is always a scramble to cast bankable actors. I was concerned I would not be able to cast A-list actors, but I dined with Han Suk Kyu and he agree to join the film. After that, Go Soo signed on and everything fell into place.
KDramaStars: Park Shin Hye is best known by international audiences for her roles in dramas like “You’re Beautiful” and “The Heirs,” while Yoo Yeon Seok gained attention for “Reply 1997.” What are your thoughts on working with Park Shin Hye and Yoo Yeon Seok?
Lee Won Suk: Working with Park Shin Hye and Yoo Yeon Seok was an amazing experience. They both really work hard, especially Park Shin Hye. She really brightened up the set. Han Suk Kyu can be very serious but when she would arrive, she would help him and everyone else on the set relax.
Park Shin Hye’s fan club is amazing. They were so kind to us. The entire set was treated to buffets and coffee trucks. Every other day, we were treated to something from her fan club. What else could we ask for? We were happy with her and her fans helped, as well.
As an actress, she’s always ready to film. She constantly practices and comes to the set with lots of questions. She spends a lot of time thinking about her character and will write tons of notes on her script. One of the most important things she contributed to the film was her insight on the emotional line of the queen. I was looking at the queen from a male perspective, but she would tell me, “As a woman, if I were the queen, I would do this or say this.” There would be times when she would become very emotional, as she connected with the role, where she would just start crying. She was very helpful with developing her character.
KDramaStars: Do you think audiences enjoy watching Park Shin Hye because of her emotional range and hard work?
Lee Won Suk: She did a lot of work with the film. There are some actors who just come to the set and film but she brings 500 percent to what she does. If she doesn’t reject the offer, I really want to work with her, in the future. I think that a lot of Korean directors want to work with her.
Park Shin Hye is the future of Korean actresses. There is a gap between the older actresses or ahjummas and the young stars who are following. She has the potential to have a long run as an actress. Another thing about her is that she cries so prettily. She knows how to make you feel something when you watch her. She is very honest, is a natural beauty and has a great face.
She is such a hard worker, even at the restaurant her family owns. Imagine visiting her restaurant and Park Shin Hye is cooking barbeque at your table.
KDramaStars: Can you tell me more about your work with Yoo Yeon Seok?
Lee Won Suk: Yoo Yeon Seok is such a hard worker. Unfortunately, some of his latest dramas and films have not done as well as they could have. But I really liked the work he did during “The Royal Tailor.” He has a great personality and is very caring.
KDramaStars: How long did it take to film “The Royal Tailor?” Can you describe the creative process behind the set?
Lee Won Suk: It was about 76 days. The filming process was between three or four months long.
KDramaStars: Can you discuss any of your future projects?
Lee Won Suk: I am currently working on a film in China, with a full Chinese cast and crew through CJ Entertainment in the country. After that, I will probably return to Korea to shoot.
Lee Won Suk will be present for a post-screening Q&A session at the New York Asian Film Festival on Thursday, July 9 at 8:30 p.m. at the Silas Theatre.
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