YIDFF 2009 New Asian Currents
The Fool Doesn’t Catch a Cold
An Interview with Kim Kyung-man (Director)

Presidential Lies

Q: What was your aim in focusing on the presidential election?

KK: My previous film [The Things That We Shouldn’t Do, screened at YIDFF 2005] came about after I was invited to an anti-draft event by the organizer, so this time I made something I wanted to make. I had no choice but to accept the election of Lee Myung-bak, and I was angered by his numerous vague campaign promises, which made me realize his similarities with Park Chung-hee. I think that elderly people get a nostalgic feeling when President Park is mentioned because they think it was thanks to him that they were able to eat again, but that wasn’t his doing, it was made possible by the efforts of workers. The ones who benefited from economic development during his time in power were the chaebol [family-controlled corporate conglomerates], and the same goes for Lee Myung-bak. He raised the exchange rate after he was elected, which was advantageous for the export industry, but the cost of living went up, and the lives of working-class people became a lot harder. For the voting scenes, ex-presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun weren’t of the same ilk as Park Chung-hee or Lee Myung-bak, so I left them out.

Q: How do you rate Lee Hoi-chang, the opposition presidential candidate who lost the last three elections?

KK: He’s essentially similar to Lee Myung-bak. His clean image is just a fabrication of the media. He was prime minister during Kim Young-sam’s presidency, and during that time there was the Nakdong River contamination incident, which he apologized for, but that region was his support base. With that in mind, I used footage of him inspecting water quality.

Q: Do you see any differences between Korean presidents and Japanese prime ministers?

KK: The systems aren’t the issue, it’s the fact that there is a social class in both Japan and Korea who are able to become politicians, and above all they are affluent, so parliamentarians and bureaucrats possess real estate and financial wealth, which is similar to Japan. There is a hereditary system in Korea too, which also goes back to President Park, and marriage between political families occurs just as it does in Japan.

Q: Who were the two men who appear in the film?

KK: They are both documentary directors like me, and most days you’ll usually find them sitting around talking, so I put them in the film. I also used these filmmakers because they’re not in stable employment. Young people share a lot of the same opinions as they do, and they didn’t support Lee Myung-bak. When I asked them to chat about things unrelated to politics as much as possible, because they’re also film directors they avoided topics that I would have had to cut, and they gave me great performances.

Q: What was the meaning of your heavy use of archive footage?

KK: People’s perceptions of situations at the time become apparent when watching old footage. The intentions of the filmmakers were invested in the footage I used, so it was impossible for the end product to be objective. It can be a resource for looking back on a point in time, but selecting footage that I could use was harder than gathering it.

(Compiled by Iwahana Michiaki)

Interviewers: Iwahana Michiaki, Sato Hiroaki / Interpreter: Nemoto Rie / Translator: Don Brown
Photography: Ito Ayumi / Video: Kimuro Shiho / 2009-10-12