Shin Mina & Kong Hyo Jin’s Interview (movieweek)
Movieweek interviewed Shin Mina & Kong Hyo Jin who have been promoting their newly released film, Sisters on the Road (지금, 이대로가 좋아요; literal translation – I Like It As It Is Now).
MovieWeek (MW): Things must feel new again since the movie is premiering in about two years.
Shin Mina (SM): It was introduced last year at the Pusan International Film Festival and was screened this year at the Seoul International Women’s Film Festival, and the audience response was really [favourable]. It was a source of strength, although I was disappointed about the premiere being delayed.
Kong Hyo Jin (KHJ): Since we filmed in November of 2007, it’s been a long time. I went home after shooting for about a month from the first day of filming. I packed my stuff when I left the house. (Laughs) I went back home after filming was complete.
MW: Moreover, having a female director and female actors…., that kind of job site is uncommon.
SM: A feeling of doing some other work rather than filming a movie?
KHJ: We also said how it’s as if we’re filming some kind of documentary because we really didn’t have separate sets and just shot in natural settings (nature).
MW: I heard it’s a movie that has a lot of the director’s [own] experiences incorporated in it.
KHJ: There are times when [she's] like Myeong Eun and times when [she's] like Myeong Joo. Ah, Director would get surprisingly sad if I didn’t reply to a text message? (Laughs)
SM: Yeah, that’s right, that’s right. And when [Kong Hyo Jin and I] giggled amongst ourselves while watching the movie earlier, Director kept poking my side for us to stop laughing.
MW: Which scene did you laugh so much in?
SM: The scene where Hyo Jin unni is wearing a wig is completely hilarious. (Laughs)
KHJ: You can tell that [I'm] wearing a wig. I thought to myself, “Big trouble”, when I first saw it. Ah, ugly, ugly. Did you see the expression when Myeong Joo (I) was crying because we got into a car accident? Just look at my face, it’s completely ugly. (Laughs)
SM: No, I’m no joke either. My hair was completely tangled and disheveled. (Laughs) Each of us has a face we don’t like.
KHJ: Ah, I also discovered something that ruins [Mina]. When crying, she keeps sniffling her nose. (Laughs) Besides that though, everything [about Mina] pretty.
MW: I actually thought to myself, who could have done Myeong Joo’s role if not for Kong Hyo Jin?
KHJ: Actually, once you watch Crush and Blush, this is nothing. It’s fate, it’s fate [that I do such characters]. (Laughs) I’m not going to do it anymore. I think I have to take it easy on my body. Next time I’m going to act as a really refined, cool character.
KP’s note: Kong played very labourous, unglamourous characters in both movies.
SM: Why, what’s wrong with Myeong Joo?
KHJ: [You heard] at the press conference earlier – someone said that they were surprised after seeing the poster. I flared up in anger and demanded, “Why, what’s wrong with the poster?” (Laughs)
MW: In contrast to Myeong Joo, Myeong Eun is a character with a rough personality.
KHJ: Doesn’t it suit [Mina] perfectly? (Laughs)
SM: I like that so much. Nice, virtuous characters aren’t fun. Rather than just speaking uprightly, I think it’s more fun and suitable to [do characters] like Myeong Eun. Plus, I don’t suit very beautiful characters. When I was cast in Beauty and the Beast, there were [online] comments/replies such as “It’s Beast and the beast”. (Laughs) I like characters with distinct personalities. I liked how Myeong Eun was like that too.
MW: They say, Mina, [you] read the scenario and directly sought out the director.
SM: Then (and now) I had (have) a greed for clear characters. At that time, I read the scenario for Sisters on the Road and liked it so much that I went to meet the director. The casting was decided after a lot of discussion and right after that I thought of Hyo Jin unni. But the director was also thinking of Hyo Jin unni. There was concern over the age difference, but we figured it’d be okay because in reality we’re four years apart and in the movie we’re seven years apart.
MW: Isn’t it the first time you acted together, although you’ve known each other for a long time?
SM: When I debuted as a model and went to the studio for the first time, there was a boyish model who was doing a [photo] shoot so beautifully. That was Hyo Jin unni. I thought it was so marvelous back then and it’s amazing that as adults, we filmed a movie together and are doing interviews [together]. At the time [of modelling], I wondered, “How long will I be able to spend with that unni?”
KHJ: I remember that time.[You had] short bobbed hair and were really dark. At the time, models in middle school were considered extremely young. Even though there were high school students, there were no middle school students.
SM: Even ’til about one to two years ago there was nobody younger than me, but nowadays they’re all younger than me. It seems that I’m really aging. (Laughs)
MW: Since you filmed this movie as if you were on vacation, there must be a lot of memorable situations.
KHJ: Maybe because we filmed in new, unfamiliar places, but it really felt like a vacation. Dragging my slippers over to the next room to watch television, chat, and sleep together. Isn’t the scene with Myeong Joo and Myeong Eun under the autumnal leaves really delightful? The scene wasn’t originally there but we created it while discussing it with the director. No matter how much they quarrel and are awkward around each other, they’re still sisters. We wanted to give the feeling that without even realizing it over time, [Myeong Joo and Myeong Eun] became conscious of the fact that [they] are sisters.
SM: I kept causing NGs while filming that scene because I couldn’t control my laughter. (Laughs)
MW: Doesn’t Myeong Eun smile slightly as she sprinkles the leaves? It gave off the thought that sisters are sisters after all.
KHJ: So we discussed that too. If [Myeong Joo and Myeong Eun] were to find a roll of film that hasn’t been developed, and when they get it printed to find childhood pictures of them getting along well. No matter what, they’re sisters – we worried that their relations were too strained. But still, if [Myeong Eun's] unni (older sister) told her to do something, she would still do it because she was the dongseng (younger sibling). (Laughs)
SM: Even while angry, she goes to fetch cleansing cream from the bag for her sister.
KHJ: I thought it was so funny on the boat. If her insides are churning, why doesn’t she just sleep rather than going around looking for her? When she’s just going to show her temper anyways.
SM: To tell her about the promise that Myeong Joo must keep while travelling. That’s how moments where we confront each other and fight are created. (Laughs)
KHJ: There are going to be many parts that the audience will connect with. I’ll be happy if people think, “That’s right, that’s why you [two] are sisters. Resolve it quickly,” or “I wonder what my unni/hyung is doing right now?”
MW: There’s something about family. How do I say it… there’s a kind of affection that’s difficult to express.
KHJ: There really is something about being family. To be honest, there’s a lot of cases where family is worse than others. But you keep covering up (forgiving) [their wrongdoings]. There are all different kinds of families. When people say ‘a harmonious family is like this’ or ‘a family should be like that’, doesn’t that take away hope from people whose families aren’t like that? It makes them think, “Why is my family different?”, and be scarred.
MW: Myeong Eun and Seung Ah are characters who were hurt because of such prejudice against them.
SM: That’s right. Myeong Eun would have felt affection while looking at Seung Ah, who reminds [Myeong Eun] of herself when she was younger. With Myeong Eun’s personality, she can’t openly show her affection but asking “Have you eaten?” is her [way of caring].
KHJ: I think the purpose of our film is finding the friendship between sisters. The English title is exactly that – Sisters on the Road. The plot is about finding the sisterly love that had been disregarded. People don’t need to be so surprised or unwilling to let go of Myeong Joo and Myeong Eun’s family secret. I wish people would watch with open hearts and recognize that there are so many different types of people in the world. Myeong Joo and Myeong Eun realized that while travelling.
MW: Travelling definitely matures a person. Can you recall a memorable travel [experience]?
SM: The year before last was my first time staying alone in New York for about a month and a half or two[...] I think it really helped to know that I did something on my own. I really enjoyed that I could see myself very objectively. Ah, I thought places such as clubs would be uncomfortable since [people would recognize me because] I debuted when I was young, but [when I went] in New York where nobody recognized me anyways, it wasn’t fun and I was sleepy. (Laughs)
KHJ: You’re supposed to go to clubs with close friends. I met Mina in New York at that time. I said, “Mina, Let’s go somewhere nice” but she said, “Unni, I think I’m getting cold symptoms,” and didn’t come out. Of course, if you aren’t sick, you wouldn’t be Mina.
SM: I was really sick that day. And it was raining. (Laughs)
KHJ: Why must you get sick? I was going to play with you! (Laughs) I’ve gone on lots of vacations, but never alone. I’d like to go on the path through India or Chile like Santiago. People around me have said that if you go to India that a new world will be opened. I want to go when I can put down all of my baggage (metaphor). Not yet, but I’m going to go if I think that I’ve become too contaminated with things like money or fame.
MW: I’m curious as to whether things are good “now” and “as is” like in the [Korean movie] title.
SM: To be honest I’m someone who had a lot of grievances and dissatisfaction, but I think right now things are really good as is. I wish it could be like this for just three years.
KHJ: So you’re living a satisfied (complacent) life. (Laughs)
SM: I think I’m hypnotizing myself. I used to be the type to question, ‘Why am I like this?’, but I’m becoming more positive. Not any more and not any less, but just as it is. I think the satisfaction I feel now is just right. I hope it lasts for long. Whether my age is 30 or 40…, well, if I look at Hyo Jin unni, Min Hee unni, or Soo Jung unni, 30 doesn’t seem to be a big deal. (Laughs) I think people remain the same, it’s just their age that changes.
KP’s note: Born in 1980, Kong Hyo Jin and Lim Soo Jung have hit 30 in Korean age. Kim Min Hee is still a couple of years away.
KHJ: No. There are times when I feel that [I/they] have definitely changed. I think my late 20s was a point when I began thinking differently. I think there are more aspects that I have to be responsible for as an actor. I’d like to continue evolving until the day I quit this work (acting). And then if I come to a point where I’m chasing riches and fame, I want to travel far away.
Sisters on the Road – some stills: Photofix 40
Sisters on the Road – trailer: