In 2011, director Davy Chou was heading to South Korea for the first time when one of his best friends decided to tag along to show him around “her country.”
“It was shocking to hear her say ‘my country,’ ” Chou said during an appearance at Deadline’s Contenders Film: Los Angeles, since his friend never talked about Korea because she was adopted in France at an early age. “[It was] also very showing of her impulsive personality that Freddie, the character of the film, has.”
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Upon meeting his friend’s biological father and grandmother, Chou had the inspiration for Return to Seoul. Written and directed by Chou, Return to Seoul, or All The People I’ll Never Be, follows Freddie (Park Ji-Min), a 25-year-old French woman who travels to South Korea to find her biological family. Having been adopted and raised in France, Freddie’s travel to an unknown country takes her life in new and unexpected directions. The Sony Pictures Classics film premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section.
Chou said the most striking part of the meeting he witnessed was “the depth of the contradictory emotions mixing together. So much anger on the side of my friend, so much regret and sadness from the other side, and the impossibility of these two sides of the table to really communicate with the barrier of the language and the cultural barrier.”
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Casting presented a challenge for Chou, as the limited amount of Korean immigration to France presented only a small pool of candidates. “The film dealing with identity and culture, I wanted the main actress to have some Korean blood,” he says. Luckily, he managed to find Park Ji-Min to play Freddie, even though she had never planned on being an actor. “The charisma, the energy, she has all of that,” says Chou. “After three hours of hearing who she was and what she has experienced, I was feeling, ‘If that woman can act in front of a camera, she’s gonna be the one.’ ”
Check back Monday for the panel video.
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