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The Hardest Part Was My Visibility: Kim Ha-Neul

Monday, October 3rd, 2011
Kim Ha-neul

Blind comes at a time when the genre exploration which has taken place in the Korean film industry in the last few years has led to demands that moviemakers reach deeper and further for their subject matter. Selected as the Most Popular Project in the 2009 Hit By Pitch held by the Producers Guild of Korea and regarded as one of the hottest projects on Chungmuro, Blind is worthy of attention as it represents a novel approach to the thriller genre.

In the film, as cases of missing female college students continue to pile in, a woman reports witnessing a hit-and-run. The witness turns out to be a visually impaired woman played by Kim Ha-Neul, whose testimony the police is reluctant to believe at first, but eventually trusts as the woman displays her acute senses other than her sight. Then one day a second witness, played by Yoo Seung-Ho, comes on the scene, but he is unable to corroborate the woman’s testimony. As the case develops, they find that the victim of the hit-and-run case is one of the missing college girls and the puzzling chase of the serial killer begins. Who is telling the truth?

Blind is reminiscent of the classic thriller Wait Until Dark (1967) in which Audrey Hepburn played a blind woman. In Blind, creating the suspense hangs on amplifying the tension in situations where sight cannot play any role. The woman drills to the core of the case just by sensing the sounds and their directions, smelling the scents, and remembering the feeling of the wisp of wind that brushed her ears when the window opened. Kim Ha-Neul, who has been expanding her scope by appearing in comedy, romance, and even horror films, is quite believable as a blind person. The combination of Kim Ha-Neul and Yoo Seung-Ho, who is one of Chungmuro’s rising stars, comes from an accurate assessment of the demands of Korean popular culture.

Kim, heroine of the movie, did her best in filming despite the possibility of losing her eyesight from an accident which happened on the set. Kim plays a blind person as her first attempt in her acting career in Blind. Throughout the Mega Box press interview, she talked about truth and artifice in her acting.

How did you arrive at this approach for telling Sua’s story?

Kim: I met and studied blind people and their lives a month before the shooting for her character in the film. I went through a lot of things while shooting this project. I studied Audrey Hepburn’s Wait Until Dark and Al Pacino’s Scent Of A Woman. I also suffered from panic disorder and got injured by losing her eyesight for a moment while shooting. But, I felt great because these things mean that I really concentrated on my character.

How has the long process of creating Sua character deepened your acting career?

Kim: Sua has her own trauma and overcomes at the end. She grows up by unexpected happenings. What I liked about playing Sua character was that I could feel and deliver the complex feelings. During the shooting, I doubted if I could express her feeling and emotional burdens. I ended up with the doubt, but that’s still very special to me comparing my previous acting experience.

Any special preparation for the role?

Kim: I spent quite a long period of time with the blind, to act, not to pretend. During the time with them, I tried to research their eyes and their movement. Also, I’ve read books written by them and watched films about them. I always thought about how to be more like Sua on the set. I usually make up a solid character before the shooting, but this time was different. I had to go over rehearsals and fit into the circumstances that Sua would have done. I always thought about how the blind would feel and react to the film, so I couldn’t move on to the next.

How was playing the blind character?

Kim: Acting the blind was hard, but even harder part was tracing a hit-and-run accident as a blind woman. Getting bruises all over the body was very natural. I was fortunate to complete the shooting with no broken bones. To meet the shooting schedule, I had to be careful, but was always fearful in the dark. There was a battery scene played by my double. She cried because of the hardship and I cried even more for her.

What was the hardest part in acting?

Kim: The hardest part was my visibility. I’d unknowingly move my eyes and hesitate. But one day, I fell down not knowing what a step way from me was. Regardless of the pain, I was so glad that I could finally act in the dark.

Last comment?

Kim: I was so lonely and feeling stuck during the shooting, I guess I was so channeled to the Sua character. I wasn’t in this kind of mood in any of my previous works. I hope many people enjoy the film and cheer for me and Sua.

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