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Filmmaker Jero Yun Discusses His Busan Festival Opener ‘Beautiful Days’

Jero Yun, the Korean filmmaker behind Busan International Film Festival’s opening night film “Beautiful Days,” is a Busan-born filmmaker who has spent more than a decade studying and filmmaking in France. Yun is best-known for his shorts and documentaries about North Koreans in China, including “Promise” (2010), “Looking for North Koreans” (2012) and “Mrs. B., a North Korean Woman” (2016), which have played at international film festivals such as Cannes, Moscow and Zurich.

In “Beautiful Days,” his first fiction feature, Yun still sticks to the same theme. The story sees the story of a boy from China and his mother, who turns out to be a North Korean refugee, reuniting after years of separation.

“Since 2011, I’ve been talking about people on the border and connecting the theme with family and division (of Korea),” said Yun at the film’s press conference on Oct. 4. “When I was in Paris, I met a Korean-Chinese woman who had not met her son for nine years by that time. I traveled to China myself to see her son, and in the process I shot my documentary ‘Mrs. B.’ The idea for the script of ‘Beautiful Days’ emerged from that experience.”

Yun’s first-hand experience gave him the most detailed insight when building the characters for “Beautiful Days.”

“None of the characters in the film, except for the son, has names. They are ‘mother,’ ‘father’ or even a ‘man.’ That’s because many North Korean refugees settled in South Korea, or China, and do not use their real names. Many of them make up fake names. I had no reason to come up with real names for my characters in ‘Beautiful Days,’ ” Yun explained.

Yun said the ending sequence of the film shows his opinion and hope about the fast developing inter-Korean relations.

“The ending suggests that the ‘beautiful days’ will come in time. Like the son and mother in the film, when the relationship is at its worst state, it is necessary to reunite and start the dialogue. As a younger generation born after the division of Korea, I am glad to see the relations developing in a positive direction and hope it will get even better so that the ‘beautiful days’ can come to Korea,” said Yun. “My next feature, however, is likely to be in a different tone and genre. Aiming for a 2019 release, I am currently developing a horror film.”

A Korea-France co-production, international sales of “Beautiful Days” are being handled by South Korea’s Contents Panda, Next Entertainment World’s sales arm, at the Asian Film Market (Oct. 6-9).

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