IO – Although their acting may not have been recognized by The Academy, we imagine the SAG-winning cast of Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite has their pick of the litter when it comes to upcoming productions, both in Hollywood and beyond. We desperately hope this means they’ll be showing up in projects that let their skills shine rather than as Marvel villains or as part of the latest Disney live-action remakes. While that remains to be seen, one of the first projects coming post-Parasite for one of the stars is Fukuoka, featuring Jessica aka Kim Ki-jeong herself, Park So-dam.
The film, which actually premiered at last year’s Berlinale but is now arriving in Korean cinemas next month, comes from director Zhang Lu (A Quiet Dream, Gyeongju) and also stars Kwon Hae-hyo (recently seen in Hong Sang-soo’s The Day After and Hotel by the River). The Japan-set film follows two friends from college, who broke off their friendship after falling in love with the same woman, then reunite when a strange girl enters their lives.
It’s fitting that a young woman reunites old friends Hae-hyo and Jea-Moon in the whimsical and sometimes surreal film Fukuoka, because it was a rivalry over a young woman that caused them to part many years ago.
Hae-hyo, played by Kwon Hae-hyo, and Jea Moon, played by Yoon Jea-moon, were close in college but then ended their friendship and lost touch. However, as Jea-moon gets older he spends more time thinking about those days and his lost friendship. One day, a mysterious young woman, played by Park So-dam, visits his second-hand bookstore and inspires him to visit Japan and search for Hae-hyo.
The old friends meet in Fukuoka, joined by their mysterious muse, but it’s hard to pin down exactly who or what she really is. For a start she speaks Chinese, Japanese and Korean fluently, never explaining how she got to be proficient. Is Park’s character a ghost or does she symbolize the choice that divided the two friends, a choice they can choose to see differently?
Fukuoka is directed by Zhang Lu, a former literature professor and novelist, who once said he had divorced himself from literature, yet books play a prominent role in the film. Park’s character arrives at the bookstore with a book of Chinese erotica. One of the film’s characters carries a book by Japanese author Haruki Murakami, which seems apt because Murakami’s work famously blends fantasy and real-life longing in a similar way.
Zhang, a third-generation Korean-Chinese filmmaker, now living in Korea, also wrote the screenplay for Fukuoka. He began his film career with the 2000 short film Eleven, which he once claimed was made on a bet that anyone could make a film. Five years later, his second feature Grain in Ear won the Acid award at the Cannes Film Festival. Iri was Zhang’s first film shot in Korea and starred Uhm Tae-woong and Yoon Jin-seo. His 2014 film Gyeongju, starring Park Hae-il and Shin Min-a, tells the story of a Beijing-based Korean professor searching for an erotic painting. In 2015, the director cast Ahn Sung-ki, Moon So-ri, Park Hae-il and Han Ye-ri in the 70-minute film Love in the Era of Film. Fukuoka is the second time that Zhang has worked with Park and Yoon, who also appeared in his film Ode To A Goose.
Park So-dam recently appeared in Oscar-winning Best Picture Parasite and will soon be seen in the 2020 TV drama Record of Youth. Yoon Jae-moon appeared in the films Tazza: One Eyed Jack, Astronomy, and The Drug King, while Kwon Hae-hyo is a popular film and drama actor, recently seen in the dramas, The Crowned Clown and WWW: The Search. (rp/*