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Actor-turned-director debuts with ‘Me and Me’

“Me and Me” actor Cho Jin-woong (left) and director Jung Jin-young attend a press conference Thursday. (Acemaker Movie Works)
“Me and Me” actor Cho Jin-woong (left) and director Jung Jin-young attend a press conference Thursday. (Acemaker Movie Works)

An established actor of 33-year career, Jung Jin-young has gone behind the cameras for the first time to direct the film “Me and Me.”

Set for release on June 18, the movie revolves around a detective named Hyeong-gu who finds everything he knew about himself had disappeared, as he was investigating a mysterious fire accident that took the lives of a married couple. Veteran actor Cho Jin-woong takes on the role of the detective.

On Thursday, Jung and Cho held a press conference to promote the movie. The event was livestreamed online due to the ongoing concerns against the COVID-19 spread.

According to Jung, although he started his career as an actor in his early twenties, it was directing that he had originally dreamed of since he was 17 years old.

“It was a dream that had faded out, which I had sort of given up on. As I watched directors around me make their own films, I felt more and more that I would not be able to do the job, because it requires too vast spectrum of roles and responsibility over many people. It was only around four years ago that I started to think about making films in a way that I could manage, and I’ve achieved my high school dream at the age of 57,” Jung said.

While the movie’s Korean title can be roughly translated to “The Disappeared Time,” the rookie director says the film delves into questions about existence and life that he had pondered about for a long time.

“I wanted to talk about matters such as what life is and what significance my existence held, and I wanted to tell the story in an entertaining way. There are many humorous parts in the film. It’s a little different from the existing narratives we have been familiar with,” the director said.

“Me and Me” poster (Acemaker Movie Works)
“Me and Me” poster (Acemaker Movie Works)

Jung said he had Cho in mind as his lead character even before he had completed the script.

“I tried to visualize my characters as I wrote the scenario, and Cho came into my mind. I wrote the script imagining him,” Jung said, adding, “Actors ‘experience’ their character as they act. They experience the character’s life inside the film, and even parts of the life that is not in the script as they prepare. Based on my several experiences of detective roles, Jin-woong was the perfect match to the detective I had drawn in my mind.”

Jung’s long acting experience made it possible for him to give a more detailed direction to actors while shooting. According to Cho, Jung is a director who understands the actors.

“He knows my itching part and scratches the exact point. Sometimes, shooting gets extended as the director tries to understand the actors, but Jung knew right away so it was much easier,” Cho said.

“Although his position has changed, I think that’s all that has changed. His fundamental (attitude) as a person about his film has not changed at all. I think many fellow actors will be inspired by Jung, and even I thought that if I were to attempt directing, I would do it as Jung has done,” Cho added.

Nothing was easy during his first production, but the actor-director says he was more than happy.

“I think I slept for around 3 1/2 hours in average (during the production period). It was physically challenging, but I felt full of energy. Looking back, I don’t know how I even thought of starting the whole thing,” Jung said.

Meanwhile, Cho sent words of encouragement for his cineastes undergoing one of the worst periods in the Korean cinema history with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Art is a source of reward and healing for the public and it will continue as long as humanity exists. Although it is a difficult time right now, artists have to think about how we could better present contents to the audience in such a critical situation,” Cho said.

By Choi Ji-won (