Ryoo Seung-wan feels as though he’s being tortured every time he watches his second feature film No Blood No Tears.
It may have been a decade since the Korean director made the film – which he says he made 'just to survive' – but it still elicits strong emotions.
"It feels like I'm being tortured every time I watch it," he says via an interpreter.
The director, who arrived in Sydney yesterday morning, has two films showing at this year's Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA): No Blood No Tears and last year's The Unjust.
Speaking at a press conference, Seung-wan applauded the festival’s courage for choosing The Unjust as its opening film. He describes his most recent offering, with its complicated structure and dark reality, as being about “people who make wrong decisions just to live”.
The film is about the hunt for a serial killer and involves a corrupt cop, prosecutor and the Korean president.
Seung-wan's wife, Kang Hye-jung, whom he met on the set of his 1996 short Transmuted Head, acts as producer on The Unjust, while his younger brother, Ryoo Seung-beom stars.
This marks the third time Hye-jung has produced one of her husband’s films, while the brothers have also worked together on several occasions.
Seung-wan brushes off accusations of nepotism though, revealing that he considered other actors for the role of Joo-Yang but no one was as good as Seung-beom. For them, it’s just business as they leave their personal relationship at home and refer to one another as "director" and "actor" on set.
Though he’s drawn comparisons to both Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino with his earlier work, Seung-wan says that he is totally different.
“I’m not trying to be a famous director; I’m trying to be a competent one,” the director said.
He can’t respect one-hit wonders, who disappear after one or two famous films. Rather the directors he most admires are those with long careers, who continue to work despite setbacks and failures, and it is this he wants for himself.
“The past and present don’t matter, walking toward the future is most important.”
KOFFIA takes place in Sydney from August 24-29 and in Melbourne from September 10-13.
Ryoo Seung-wan and interpreter.