With the ending of popular Korean drama Protect the Boss, the director Sohn Junghyun and screenplay writer Kwon Ki Young had recently been interviewed by 10Asia on September 29th, 2011. Below is the translated transcript of the interview.
The romance love story between heir of chaebol and secretary is already old-fashioned. But, since the premiere the drama shows a refreshing plot of third-generation chaebol and 88-generation (working class) set aside class gap to be together. SBS’s Protect the Boss breaks the inherent formulated subject, and progresses forward vitally just like the steps of Noh Eun Sul, such as romantic comedy. A supposedly already known story but burst forth to unpredictable direction, not even a scold-able characters, everybody has a pitiful side, and also humorous side. This fairy tale for grown up adults was produced by director Sohn Junghyun and screenplay writer Kwon Ki Young.
10Asia: This is the cooperation on miniseries again 4 years after SBS’s Crazy for Love. How is it started?
Director: Originally we have planned a TV series together, but after composing it’s already summer, TV station wanted a shorter romantic comedy drama so it’s changed into this. Anyway, writer Kwon won’t write old-fashioned story, so there should be new thing coming out, but need a commercial model, so chaebol is set as the lead, in order to show that we have the basic conscience, and to break from previous cliché. Ordinary people hardly seen a tycoon, even if seen will pant, can’t speak properly, so I think how about fulfill that in the drama.
Scriptwriter: In order to write a drama, need about 1 year time. But Protect the Boss has only 6 months since start. Originally I have planned to write story about “880,000 KRW generation”, so it’s depressed if I gave up, eventually it’s put into the typical frame of romantic with chaebol. Very thank to people who said our script is innovative, but it’s not purposely to produce like this. To be frank, except the role of “880,000 KRW generation,” the rest of chaebol siblings’ characters is old stuff. Only that inside there is some different topic, even if only a little, also wants to break the conventional.
10Asia: If Jo Min-hee (played by Ko Joon-hee) in Crazy for Love is a woman full of desire to climb up the ladder, Noh Eun Sul on the other hand is a woman who does not even dream of it, just want to have a job. The change is it because of concern towards young people currently?
Scriptwriter: Actually, it’s also not because of such a great intention. Just think that it will be better if there is change. In fact, anguish for a long time if the ending is too fairy tale. Everyone becomes happy, and find their own ways, is it too not realistic. However, doesn’t Noh Eun Sul go to study in the end. Even though does not specify what she is learning. I who am 37 years old is very lucky, can do something personally enjoy. Surrounding people doesn’t even know what they want to do. Always feels so wrong. Of course not everyone can do work that they like, but I discover that, people can’t even make their own choice on what should do. So, Eun Sul receives the gift in the end. Not because of she had dream before, if only she just want a job, now it’s fulfilled. Additionally, the gift for Eun Sul, if everyone can have it then it’ll be best, have such a wish.
10Asia: The emphasis of the drama seems like on the first half where Nol Eun Sul and Cha Ji Hun develops feeling. Commonly it’s only after half of the show, only will make certain relationship between them, but they are getting closer in the first half of the show, and the feeling is certain.
Scriptwriter: Indeed want them to be together as soon as possible. A question that can be solved by a sentence, cause misunderstanding because of not been spoke out, I did not wish for such a plot, so I was in dilemma. Later I told director, “Director, gone case. I got into trouble.” Worried until such extent, luckily it’s fun. The characters are intact, and naturally lead to story in enterprise, after Eun Sul goes into society, she caused a small incident, and the incident has been expanded. In fact, there are very unrealistic plot, but working to ensure that the plot can match reality, even if just a little for feelings generated and things happened within this framework.
10Asia: But, after the middle to the late part of the show, you don’t think of writing something more dramatic, or create misunderstanding, to add scenes and maintain viewership ratings? Anyway, the drama is extended.
Scriptwriter: I cried upon hearing about extension.
Director: That’s why, when I told her to add some flavors to incite her, she didn’t take in. For example, Ji Hun and Moo Won are actually siblings of same father different mother.
Scriptwriter: After 10th episode, was worried a lot with director. It is not good, whether or not to add in the plot of traffic accident, people around pointed out that the drama does not issue of contradiction. Final conclusion is that even if the ratings dropped a few percentage points, cannot destroy the integrity of roles as of now. It’s really hard on the position of scriptwriter. Need a antagonist in order to trigger an event, but we has not such a role.
10Asia: Looks like it’s a drama that pays attention to characters. From Noh Eun Sul to Chairman Cha none is evildoer, and everyone has childish side, seems to have let us see how this set of people look at others.
Scriptwriter: In this world there is bad guy, also have very extreme criminal. People with power will also make mistake. Of course will make mistake. Because is human. Moreover, have their own ambitions and positions. But what surprised me the most is how could so shameless. So, no matter with what method, want to write story that will not become like this. Moreover, the chaebol’s character is set as very childish, can let people see their imperfect side, will feel very delightful. Also want everyone to understand, in a way, for some people, they are very good people. Although the intention is not very great, but chaebol in the drama has a stereotype, so, hope to change that, and hence such as role.
10Asia: In Crazy for Love, the lead characters have physiological trauma, and also have many dramatic incidents. But in Protect the Boss, Ji Hun overcame his painfulness, and other characters are bright and positive. Is it reflect the change of angle of view of current 20th to 30th generation from the past 20th to 30th generation.
Scriptwriter: It’s the change of view on love itself. Now there is no need get mad to fall in love. It’s hard enough to survive, if not crazy, then it is impossible to like that. In SBS’s The Princess’ Man, because it’s a historical drama, it’s possible to absorb that kid of plot inside the huge whirlpool of date, but in modern times, I would not like that personally, and in addition to love, there are also a lot of problems. So do Eun Sul and Ji HUn, although in love, but compared with the love, Eun Sul cannot ignore the issue of loan, and Ji Hun, although aware that his parents is wrong, but he cannot ignore the matter, and thus is thrown into conflict. Of course, for fear that if too much description on these will become a failure, so it takes up the least weight, but also think that when dealing with practical problems and love, in fact standards are similar. Given auch a thought, will feel some regret as the part of real love seemed like not given enough appearance, but from the outset I feel that the era where protagonists fall on tough battle has become obsolete, now is not the kind of era.
10Asia: Director has a lot of parts to pay attention to in order not looked overcautious?
Director: Fundamentally speaking, in order to let the audience watches the drama easily and comfortably, the shot cannot be too large. Generally used bust shot (chest up) to the close up shot, but to ensure that able to watch with no burden, tries to not pull very close to the maximum limit. The most headache for me was the interview scene at the beginning of drama, when Choi Kang Hee had to boxing and danced “mamamama” (Girl’s Day Twinkle Twinkle), the staffs broke out. Although the process was miserable, ultimately it’s a right choice towards a positive emotional side. So, although the audience responded that hoping to reduce particularly funny scenes, my idea is not too much emphasis and takes along one-time then it’s good.
10Asia: Overall, although the script has set the characters, but after finalizing the actors, it seemed like the the characteristics of the actors have been added. For example, Park Young-Kyu, he is hilarious even when serious, continuing his all-along image at the same time present a different face.
Scriptwriter: When writing episode 2, I still cannot find the feeling, Chairman Cha should be acted by who. But when heard that Park Young-Kyu will be the actor, everybody’s response was “ah!”
Director: High five.
Scriptwriter: When first met Wang Ji Hye who played Seo Na Yoon, very liked her when saying the sentece of “although pretending to be elegant but actually is a fool” inside the script. Her eyes looking at me flashed, can feel that she really wants the role. Previously acted in a lot of similar supporting actress’s roles, and the desire to play a special role, can be completely felt just like telepathy. So, after confirming the casts, have even better thoughts, characters are more lively.
Director: Choi Kang Hee seems to have gene of romantic comedy. Even acted with the whole body one does not feel exaggerated. Because Ji Sung has the pressure to subvert the image, was a little worried, but after communicating, manage to find a suitable route.
10Asia: As for someone like Kim Jaejoong, he does not have too much experience in acting. And Cha Muwon is a unique character which is typical perform guy and heir to chaebol estate, and also has slack and has a funny side. So it does not seem that it would have been easy for an actor to grasp the tone of the character. How did you direct him with regards to the acting?
Director: When he had the first practice, he was so tense that I felt very worried. He asked Ahn Naesang who had come in for a cameo, “Brother, teach me how can I loosen up a bit.” Ji Sung and Choi Kanghee also understand that only if Jaejoong did well then the overall effect will be good, and so helped him a lot. Jaejoong was afraid in front of the camera, and so I told him to do whatever he wished. I feel that the talent that he originally had inside of him began to show itself starting from the 4th episode.
Scriptwriter: I think he himself has the talent personally. That is why the speed of his improvement in the project was extraordinary. In truth the writer does not have many chances to see the actor very often so I do not know well, but I think that Kim Jaejoong himself actually has similarity to the character of Muwon. He is very playful and is a bit of sillyness too, so I think that as the drama progressed, Jaejoong’s own self came out more and more.
10Asia: Although the theme is romantic comedy, but when showing the subject of chaebol, it has pointed out a lot of problems in realistic. Chairman Cha (played by Park Young Kyu) has associated with Kim Seung-youn of Hanwha, the illegal succession of management rights is also rather sensitive issue, the world is so dangerous, as a writer, don’t you worry about these?
Scriptwriter: Does not worry about this. For example, in American drama, one is GOP, another is Democratic Party, the political stand is very obvious, similarly with humor and satire and etc. Let others envy about their recognition of diversity. On the other hand I was warning myself, the role of President Cha in real world, some parts of it should be criticized, but it may be glorified. However, when writing the character, I found it’s interesting. Anyway, can anyhow write how the powerful people in reality be in drama. They should now calmly accept these as the fun of it, then only it can be.
10Asia: Should have spent a lot of effort on description of the enterprise and the market. On issue of chaebol succession, although the results can be unrealistic, deal with kindly, but details of the investigation is not clear, this attitude is very interesting.
Scriptwriter: On this issue, has done a lot of survey. Commissioned people to help gather material, me too, open book to find information whenever free, see how to write part of the enterprise. Data are very interesting, but if you keep the details too much, then it is boring, had been thinking for a long time about what degree should the drama explains. Seems to do many of the survey, only used 1-2%.
10Asia: After doing so many homework, how to implement the succession of managerial authority?
Scriptwriter: This is smartness of brain. How can it be done.
10Asia: We understand that you initially is the assistant to Kim Ji Woo writer. The “Resurrection” wrote by Kim Ji Woo used to on the headline of newspaper when it was released, and she is a serious writer. So if the investigation on materials related the point of view and details of drama is influenced by her.
Scriptwriter: Kim Ji Woo is a write who I am very respect, that I will pay a visit right after I wrote my work. “Stock Flower” and “Over the Green Fields” were works completed together with teacher. Actually, when I first met with the teacher, I was a newcomer who was not even understand the word ‘dramatic structure.’ At that time when seeing teacher did material investigation, even if relatively small proportion, as along as the role appeared in the drama, I tried as much as possible to meet with these people, naturally I have learned that. This is my greatest wealth, so, even if cannot as the teacher, but will my best to look up to her. Also want to retain as much as possible the reality details, for this aspect, the director and the props group have done very well.
10Asia: In “Resurrection”, one of the line is “humanity is hope”. While “Protect the Boss” is not so direct, but in conclusion it’s a positive drama.
Director: In fact, there have been a few times thinking of using implied meaning. In second episode, Eun Sul prayed to the moon, “Please give me work!” I was thinking how will it like if praying to the martyr statue of Jeon Tae-iw (workers rights fighter in South Korea), but felt like too straightforward, so I gave up.
Scriptwriter: Human is hope is a thinking most ordinary people will have. But, when writing story about chaebol I was thinking let’s change it. Now, big corporations even wants to eat the pie of fried rice cake market, which is not normal, then how about these issues are solved by a ordinary person, but not a influential celebrity. That’s the role of Noh Eun Sul. She who entered like a pebble, not too pleased by others, only good in fight, but is honest, and thus other people are gradually changed. Although put a lot of efforts to prevent the lines are too direct, but still want to focus on integrating the issue of succession through Ji Hun or Moowon in the eighteen episodes.
10Asia: The biggest characteristic of Noh Eunsul is that she is most knowledgeable and most mature among all the characters in the drama. The drama that centers around the lead role who is common folk who have the general education ethnic is not much.
Scriptwriter: I think it’s unrelated to education or formal schooling level. The lines have already mentioned, I think the children and parents should independent of each other. Parents over-regulate children, children interfere too much on parents, are not a good thing, in order to maintain the status adult should be more serious. In contrast, Eunsul does not ignore father who is nothing, although she herself is not too excellent, but she is a healthy person who relies on own strength to live, and I feel that everybody should be like this. But when wrote to seventh episode, I noticed that Eun Sul had became an “excellent” person, and felt that the spiritual support for Eun-sul was decreasing. At this time I was really troubled for a long time. She is just a very ordinary but intelligent person, I felt that I did not perform her role perfectly, and felt frightened. When starting to write episode 8, I told director, “Director, it seems Eunsul no longer a person,” and also tried to express more inner conflicts and feelings of Eun Sul, but there were still many incomplete parts of other characters, so it was difficult.
10Asia: By contrast, the most interesting aspect of character of Ji Hun is that, as second or third generation of chaebol, he is poor on work which is rare. Of course there are also some other reasons, but as the drama’s protagonist, has not a personal shortcomings, but with social vulnerability, which is very special.
Scriptwriter: In fact, what we now know about second and third generation of chaebol is not very strong either. In addition, everything is done by somebody else, so if something goes wrong, there is people who will settle the aftermath, and even if does wrong, will also be told “you’re right.” Although definitely well educated, but spiritual growth might be missing, so the the character was set with a little childish. But it’s not completely useless because of been son of a chaebol. So, Ji Hun is a kind person in the first place, and on the part of phobia, although the drama has a lot of portraying, but because there is such patient in my family, so I am very familiar with the topic. “Can even wrote in drama?” I asked him before, and he told me I can write what I want, so I wrote it.
10Asia: As the rating of previous drama “Crazy for Love” was not high. So there was more pressure for this round of copyrights selling, especially when the competition is intense recently.
Director: So I strongly encouraged to add more seasoning, but writer did not bite. No matter what, in the first two episodes should account for the background story to the audience, at the same time presents a very interesting atmosphere, so the speed is a little quicker during the start.
Scriptwriter: “Crazy for Love” ratings was not good, so I had lots of pressure when writing. Although this time the ratings are not particularly hight, and had fallen off in the middle of series, but it’s more relaxed.
Director: The drop in ratings were much higher, so when hearing “do not lose the qualities, have a good ending,” I was really very appreciative.
10Asia: After completing a work with good response, what is the next topic planned to write?
Scriptwriter: This is unclear. Originally prepared with the director for a magical theme, after that there is a large law firm.
Director: I would like to take on the story of time traveling, and is trying to convince the writer.
Scriptwriter: In case heard by leaders, there will be more topics that can make people fainted. Super-power, large tragedy, story takes place in the near. But then, thought it was a new subject, when start planning that found that already has a similar model. This time too, it seems very difficult ot avoid the basic framework of romantic comedy drama, and it looks like the issue to continue to face in future. There is no more completey new subject story, and if want to write new ideas based on current subjects, then have to see more of other works. When writing this work, I also learned many things.
10Asia: Actually among people who produces the TV series will inevitably lead to conflicts. Have worked twice, and if planning to cooperate in future, is there any aspect that particularly have a tacit agreement?
Director: Writer Kwon able to maintain the completeness of the script under any circumstance. Even with shorter time. Actors understand this.
Scriptwriter: No matter what happened, director won’t give psychological pressure to writer. Always the unconditional “never mind,” even when I really cannot continue to write and want to run away, is also “never mind.” So it’s a high-level tactic that causes me unable to trigger conflict.
Director: When a good writer is bounded by time, then it may go haywire. Even if I am impatient, I will trust writer wait for writer, as it’s better to have a work with higher level of quality.