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A Hard Day 2014

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About A Hard Day 💬

Driving back from his mother's funeral, homicide detective Ko Gun-soo (Sun-kyun Lee) runs over a man in a dark rural street. In a moment of desperation, he dumps the body in a coffin alongside his mother. A few days later, Gun-soo flips through a listing of open cases and finds his accident victim. His colleague is on the accident case and is slowly making progress. Making matters worse, a witness steps forward - a detective named Park Chang-min (Jin-Woong Cho). For a reason unclear to Gun-soo, Park wants the body. Without another choice to depend on, Gun-soo digs his mother's grave and retrieves the body, only to find gunshot wounds on it. As Park's threats become more vicious and hit closer to home, Gun-soo decides to face Park head-on once and for all.

  • Interview with the Director

Q: How did you come up with this film? How did you create the characters?

Seong-hun Kim: It all started with an idea. I watched Pedro Almodovar's Volver and it had a scene where the daughter character kills her partner and dumps him in the river. While watching this story unfold, I had various thoughts that were unrelated to Volver: ''During monsoon season in Korea, the river floods. Won't she get caught?'' Then I started thinking about what would be the most perfect way to dispose of a corpse. Of course, why not make a tomb? It wouldn't be conspicuous at all, even to the police. Then I pondered whose tomb would be the least suspicious... It'd be someone who would protect her child until her death: a mother. The inception of A HARD DAY started with this idea. If my mother ever sees this interview, she'd say: ''You'd do that to me?'' and be mortified. But I'd say, ''Rest easy, mom, I won't ever kill anyone.''

Q: Would you agree that the character of Gun-soo was also created in similar circumstances?

Seong-hun Kim: Yes. Gun-soo is a character who grows by overcoming various obstacles. At the beginning of the film, his obstacle is something physical, and in the latter half, Chang-min represents that obstacle. Gun-soo is someone who can quickly adapt to various obstacles he's confronted with. He's not MacGyver, but close to it.

Q: Despite the darkness of the film, you used plenty of humor. Was it important to balance these dark and comic elements?

Seong-hun Kim: Actually, I didn't set out to mechanically create a balance between the darkness and the humor. However, in my real life, there is a dark side and a humorous side, so I think the film reflects these parts of me.

Q: You used a lot of familiar elements from Korean films to kick off the narrative, such as a car accident, a corrupt police force and a funeral. Was it a deliberate choice?

Seong-hun Kim: It wasn't my intention to employ familiar Korean scenes but at the same time these elements of daily life in Korea, though they are somewhat exaggerated in the film, are similar to events we've read about in newspapers.

Q: More so than in other Korean films, your script employs a lot of cause and effect. Was this challenging to write?

Seong-hun Kim: When writing a script, every director faces a number of challenges so I wouldn't say that my challenges were any more significant when compared to other filmmakers. The hardest part about making this film was that the gap between when I wanted to make it and when it actually got going was quite long so I spent a long time preparing. However, I also think that this lengthy period allowed me to write a better screenplay.

Q: How did you create the film's strong pacing?

Seong-hun Kim: Just as the right foot follows the left, it was like a natural instinct.

Q: Was it important to cast Sun-kyun Lee for the lead role?

Seong-hun Kim: The image that Sun-kyun Lee presents to the audience is important since he seems like a nice person. If you put a person with this pleasant image in the film's situations, you can allow the audience to relate more. Although it'd be hard to call Gun-soo (LEE's character) a villain despite all the horrible things he does in the film, his actions are undoubtedly unethical. Even though the audience is watching every step of all the horrendous things, I needed an actor who could squeeze out sympathy and compassion from them. I knew right away that Sun-kyun Lee's charisma as an actor infused with the character of Gun-soo would morph into something special. The result is beyond my expectations.

Q: Why did you think that Jin-Woong Cho was a good fit for your antagonist?

Seong-hun Kim: Chang-min (CHO's character) does not have as much screen time as Gun-soo, but he's a tremendous force whose presence is felt immediately on the screen. Rather than highlighting the force of the character by being more over-the-top and villainous, I wanted to convey bleakness without showing it. Chang-min glides through a fog of bleakness with a dark and off-the-wall sense of humor. You ask yourself, ''What kind of person is he?'' as you watch him. I'm a big fan of Jin-Woong Cho and he has a very strong screen presence. This comes from the way he talks and his actions. You get goosebumps when he comes on screen. Casting Jin-Woong Cho was a logical decision.

Q: The protagonist in A HARD DAY is flawed and makes many bad decisions. Were you worried that audiences might have trouble rooting for him?

Seong-hun Kim: I did have concerns that audiences may have trouble empathizing with the main character. However, in such cases, there is one way to make it work, which is to create a situation where the character isn't left with a choice. To give a clichéd example, if the protagonist has a sick child, he is presented with fewer options. Through the hard situations faced by the character, I hope to align the audience with him. This is a little different from what other directors might do so I was a little nervous. It's easier if you have a nice protagonist but this film isn't about good and evil. It's about witnessing what comes out of a person in these difficult situations.

Q: How careful were you with the scenes in the funeral home where Gun-soo has to open the coffin? Funerals are a sensitive matter.

Seong-hun Kim: If an audience approaches that particular scene in a serious manner, I think it'd be very uncomfortable. Tone, manner, and adjusting the intensity, were all crucial. Taking an all-out comedic approach would destroy the film's overall balance, but being too serious would be unbearable, so we aimed for a middle ground. It is an unethical scene to endure, but I wanted audiences to wish for Gun-soo's safety. A fair amount of humor, urgency, and suspense were all employed to create a balancing act. In the end, Sun-kyun Lee acted appropriately and made it work.

Q: What is your favorite scene?

Seong-hun Kim: Towards the end of the film, there is a scene that takes place in a reservoir. I fiddled with the shadows, creating suspense with the shadow of an approaching van. We needed to shoot it before the morning clouds popped up, and it took three days to get that shot. Rice farmers were planning to harvest their crops the following day, so we rushed the shoot and wrapped up in time.

Q: There are many long shots in the film. Was that intentionally planned?

Seong-hun Kim: I wanted to splice long shots with pre-determined short takes together. Since the story itself isn't unique, I wanted a narrative device that was noteworthy. I actually wanted those shots to linger even longer but we trimmed them in the edit.

Q: Your previous directorial effort, How the Lack of Love Affects Two Men was a comedy. Are there any similarities between the two films?

Seong-hun Kim: You can find similarities between my two films in the embedded humor. Whether you live a happy life or a tragic one, it all contains moments of humor. Life itself is humor.

Q: This film will be seen by international audiences. What would you like them to focus on since the film was made for Korean audiences?

Seong-hun Kim: I'm actually very curious as to how they'll react. From their point of view, the process of a funeral will be very interesting since it is so foreign to them. Of course, this film isn't strictly about traditional funerals, and it contains my own spin into funeral conventions, such as inserting humor into a serious scene. The film also portrays plenty of crooked cops. I planned for the confusion that sets in when those who must enforce the law, act out the evil that is within us. It was my intention to create these moments of irony. Please, understand that not all Korean officers are as corrupt as those seen in the film.

Q: How would you describe A HARD DAY?

Seong-hun Kim: Non-stop suspense and surprises.

A Hard Day Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Seong-hun Kim

Writing Credits

Seong-hun Kim (Written by)

Hae-jun Lee (Adaptation)


Sun-kyun Lee

Jin-Woong Cho

Dong-mi Shin

Bo-kyeong Kim

Jung-eun Heo

Man-sik Jeong

Jeong-geun Sin

Dong-Young Kim

Suk-Tae Joo

Music by

Young-Jin Mok

Cinematography by

Tae-Sung Kim

Genres: Action, Comedy, Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Country: South Korea

A Hard Day Official Trailer

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