|Actress Kim Hyang-gi is seen in the film "Youngju." / Courtesy of CGV|
By Park Jin-hai
Small-budget film "Youngju," starring rising star Kim Hyang-gi and veteran actor Yu Jae-myeong, tells a story of forgiveness through a tragic accident.
Kim, best known for her role in the "Along with the Gods" series, plays the leading role of Young-ju, who stuggles to make a living with her little brother after losing both parents in a car accident. The film follows what happens after Young-ju decides to meet those responsible for the accident five years later.
The film's writer and director Cha Sung-Duk says her directorial debut feature was inspired by her own story of loss.
"The film's synopsis is based on the story that I've been holding in my heart for a long time," the director said during a press conference at a theater in Seoul, Tuesday. "In a sense, the film stems from my private story. Like Young-ju, I also lost my parents in an accident when I was a teenager.
"When I thought of making it into a film, the first thing that came to my mind was that I want to meet those perpetrators and see what kind of lives they have been leading since then. After all, it is a story of people who experienced devastating losses and those surviving post-tragedy."
In the film, Young-ju, 19, faces economic hardship. She approaches Sang-mun, played by Yu, the man responsible for the accident that killed her parents, to exact some revenge by stealing money from him. But as she works at their small store in a market selling dim sum and tofu, she realizes Sang-mun and his wife also are suffering trauma and guilt.
Sang-mun and his wife, without knowing Young-ju's identity, take her in as their daughter and she finds her hatred and vengeance toward them slowly changing to feelings of sympathy and forgiveness.
"When I read the script, I really liked its down-to-earth story and what it symbolizes in today's world," Yu said. "It felt soft but sharp at the same time. In a world where perpetrators and victims live together, the film solemnly asks of the meaning of forgiveness through the personal life of Young-ju.
"The accident makes one party an offender and another party a victim. It tells something that can happen to you, your close friends or anybody. This film ponders over what should come after tragedy hits you. It is a sad yet heartwarming story."
Kim said: "Embracing the pain to her heart fully, I believe Young-ju must have grown stronger. I hope our film audiences can have time to face themselves to move on."
The film hits local theaters on Nov. 22.