Interview with the director of the TUNNEL : Kim Seong-hun

On the occasion of the release of the film TUNNEL event, the Korean director Kim Seong-hun was present in Paris. He gave us the pleasure to answer a few questions ! You can also find our review of the film on !

The synopsis of the TUNNEL

Then he comes home to find his family, a man is accidentally buried under a tunnel, at the wheel of his car. During a rescue operation on a national scale is in place for the out, scrutinized and commented on by the media, politicians and citizens, the man is playing his survival with the meager means at its disposal. How long will it be ?

Interview with Kim Seong-hun

Heavily applauded at the end of the projection of the TUNNEL, the filmmaker enters the film. March 16, 2017, at the Forum des Images, the audience of bloggers and journalists is conquered by this disaster movie of 2 hours ! The emotion passed, the microphone is given to the public for a session of questions / answers. Kim Seong-hun answers questions with a lot of humor, and also humility.

You are at the initiative of the scenario, that you have written. What is it that drove you to tell this particular story ?

Hello ! You have slept well ? Laughter of the public (editor’s NOTE : the film is very intense ! Impossible to sleep !) So before anything else, there is a novel that bears the same name. So for those who have a little bit of time, put you in Korean and try to read it. I hope that you will do so before the end of your life. Indeed, there is still a gap between the novel and the movie that you just see. But all in all it was a story I wanted to tell. It is for this reason that I made this film.

This is your third feature film and you are working with two huge stars (Ha Jung-Woo and Doona Bae). Is that something that has been difficult to work with them ? To convince them to play in your film ?

Actually, this is my third feature-length film. The second, I don’t know if some of you have already seen, it is Hard Day. And it is true that it was difficult at the time to make a cast as much as I wanted. But in any case, for the third that I have presented to you this evening, it was really very simple to work with Ha Jung-Woo and Doona Bae. They were immediately accepted. In fact, my very first feature film, I think that none of you saw it, it was a total flop ! My second, Hard Day, was much better compared to the first. So, for the third, I had a lot more facilities to select the actors with whom I wanted to work.

Behind this disaster movie, this survival, there is a critical vitriol of your company infrastructure. Is there something that you really want to say about Korean society ? And you don’t like perhaps ?

Before everything : I like Korea ! I would like to report it. This corruption as we see in the film is only a small part of the Korean company. I still want to stress once again that this is a micro part of the Korean company. And I think it is because of this micro part that we have been able to impeach the president of Korea. And I think that I am a part of these developer koreans who choose to take themes from the real life around us, to make a film. Of course, given that it is not a documentary film, I have deliberately pushed to the extreme, some situations to show of fiction, to exaggerate a bit some parts.

Is it difficult to convince the producers in Korea to do this kind of movie ?

No, it is the same producer who has worked on a Hard Day and TUNNEL. Personally, I think that at the time when I made Hard Day, this is a film that needed just a third of the budget TUNNEL. It is a period where no producer really did trust me, compared to my past is quite dark (editor’s NOTE : about his first film). And it is for this reason that it took a lot of time, many years to achieve my second film. In fact, he spent about 7 1/2 years between my first and my second film. Fortunately, for TUNNEL I didn’t wait that long ! This was much easier.

The film is tour-to-tour scary and very funny, the humour is ever present in the novel in origin or is it you have added ? This balance between angst and humor, she was hard to manage the writing ?

First of all, I can’t watch a horror movie ! When you look at the TUNNEL, the main subject is a disaster, a topic quite heavy. And to talk about a topic as heavy as this one, there are different ways of doing things. What I have chosen rather, it is to use the code humorous to pass messages. If I can allow myself to do a little comparison, this is like a good piece of steak ! When you eat a steak, this is finally a piece of meat, it is that of the protein. But if this is only the pure flesh, it could be a little bit too seconds And if there is a little bit of fat, it is better to pass the piece of meat ! And I think that in the film, it’s the same. The subject that can be too hard to bear, mixing in my own way with this little humorous side, it’s been a little bit better go on the pill in order to reduce a little bit the thing.

The film is a reference, or a nod to the events which allegedly took place in Korea ?

This movie was released in Korea last summer and this is the question I was most asked. I don’t know if some of you are aware of the disaster, which took place three years ago, of the disaster of the ferry Sewol that sank with 300 people. This disaster has so marked the life of all Korean people who have lived this period here. I haven’t used it as the direct in my film, but actually this will have an impact for making this film. The Sewol was a real trauma for all koreans, whether they are relatives of the victims or not. Necessarily, whether this is voluntary or not, it can have an impact on the way I made the film. When one sees a topic that is related to the survival of a human being, I think that all the koreans will be hurt and will think about this disaster of the ferry Sewol.

TUNNEL will certainly convince the producers. Can we hope, for the fourth production, a collaboration with Choi Min-sik ?

From an exterior point of view, yes, it may seem a little more simple for a fourth installment. But I think that if I accept the challenge to make a fourth one on a whim, this will not be obvious to arrive to a success.

Do you have any small ideas for the next generation ?

My future project is not a film but a series in production with NETFLIX. It is a series of eight episodes for which shooting will start this fall (2017) so it is visible to the next summer. This is a series rooted in the history of Korea, a political drama that takes place at the time of the Joseon dynasty (Sixteenth / Seventeenth century), but with zombies !

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