The concept of ‘HAN’
The concept of ‘Han’ referenced in the film’s title is a uniquely South Korean notion. It is the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese word 恨, which means hate; To the Koreans, it refers to a lingering sense of un-avenged wrongdoing or unresolved trauma that may psychosomatically trigger physical sensations of nausea or discomfort.
Its origins are possibly historical, theorized by some scholars to have emerged as a hangover from South Korea’s experience under Japanese occupation.
This film from writer-director Jonathan Choo grapples exactly with the weighty theme of justice and penance.
Veteran TV actor Zhu Houren playing father to a damned son, whom in a fit of panic, flees the crime scene after a hit-and-run. Zhu’s character embarks on a pilgrimage to Korea to seek out the deceased girl’s Father, seeking forgiveness, parent to parent. The film poses pertinent questions on atonement and absolution; when is an apology enough to explain away a life and does it matter if it’s the sinner’s messenger that comes knocking?
The idea behind HAN :
I initially just wanted to go overseas to make a film, which now, I would tell people is not a good way to start. There is no reason why you should go overseas if your story does not require it. We worked backwards in that sense. There was an emotion and a broad brushstroke idea that I was trying to express as a human being and filmmaker. That ultimately culminated in the film itself, with the idea of love and forgiveness. I wanted to do it in a dual, cross-boundary landscape. Many magical things came together and fell into place for HAN.
The film did much good for me because it was sent to NYFA and won Best Director, which was a huge encouragement for me. It also bagged the Notable Cinematography award at Camerimage as well. It helped me get a place at the National Film & Television School (NFTS) and a scholarship too. It was a good experience, more than just making a film. There were many challenges. but my team pushed together so well, that we never felt stuck at a problem for a long time. We just kept pushing through.
Writer/Director: Jonathan Choo
Producer: Shammini G
Cast: Choo Houren (veteran Medicorp actor), Winstar Tey, Kim Jung Soo, Shin Young-Jin
Festivals and Competitions:
It has won multiple awards including Best Pic at SG National Youth Film Awards 2016:
Best Picture and Best Director, Singapore National Youth Film Awards 2016.
Best Production Design, Singapore National Youth Film Awards 2016.
Golden Tadpole (Notable Cinematography), Camerimage 2016.
12th Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival, 2017.
Jaipur International Film Festival 2017.
Cleveland International Film Festival 2017.
Short shorts Film Festival and Asia 2017
Tehran International Film Festival
Lubin International Film Festival
Inspiration behind the production design of HAN:
Julie: For HAN, I was really inspired by the emotional conflict between the characters, and the way the characters are in contrast to one another (like the Korean father vs. the Singaporean father, or the Elderly father vs. his Young Son) and visual elements like the space, sets, props and wardrobe help reflect this sense of balance (or imbalance), depending on where the characters are on their journey to self-discovery and reconciliation. Aesthetically, we tried to emulate the balance/imbalance of Edward Hopper paintings, or more traditional Korean Films.
Inspiration behind HAN:
Jonathan: Han stands for unresolved grief in Korean and it's an inexplicable state of sadness that the people go through in Korea, mainly because of the tough history they've gone through. this state of mind really fascinated me and I been to Korea a couple of times, I felt like I could relate to this idea of Han and wanted to make a film about it.
The Director, Jonathan Choo is the older son of actor Zhu Houren.
The film shines when the camera sits and observes, allowing Zhu’s performance to breathe. The veteran delivers an embattled performance, biting and gritting; the drop of his eyes conveying an ocean of attrition.