Kim Hye Ja Clarifies Comments About Director Bong Joon Ho After Controversy, Says There Was No Sexual Assault
On June 5, the veteran actress shared her thoughts in a phone interview with Chosun Ilbo.
The controversy began at a black and white version screening of “Mother” and a following conversation with the audience that took place on May 9. At the event, Kim Hye Ja said, “In the film, there’s a scene where Won Bin says to Jin Goo (playing the role of his friend Jin Tae), ‘I also sleep with my mom.’ That day, I was sleeping when he touched my breast.”
She continued, “It wasn’t in the script, but I thought that there must’ve been a reason for it and stayed still. But he said that [Director Bong Joon Ho] told him to touch me.” When the host of the event asked for an explanation, director Bong Joon Ho replied, “I don’t really remember. It’s easy to have the fantasy that a director controls everything about a movie, but many things just happen on set.”
Some members of the audience then shared this on social media and claimed that “Kim Hye Ja practically confessed that she’s a victim of Me Too.” When director Bong Joon Ho won Palme D’Or at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, many media outlets brought this up and the issue began to spread.
In the phone interview, Kim Hye Ja said, “I feel so sorry to director Bong and Won Bin. I’m [upset] to the point where I don’t want to live.”
When asked how this happened, she explained, “After the film screening, there was time for a conversation with the audience. It was a fun time. In the film, Do Joon is a son who’s severely mentally challenged. There was a scene where he killed a girl, came home, and put his hand on his mom’s breast. It wasn’t in the script, but director Bong told me beforehand that Won Bin would be doing that. I tried to tell this in a fun way, and the situation blew up.”
Describing her current feelings, she said, “I was absolutely flabbergasted when I saw the articles and comments. I have blisters on my lips because I’ve been so upset. It was my mistake trying to explain it in a fun way, but to say that it was ‘Me Too’ as if I had witnessed something big? To say that director Bong and Won Bin planned to fool me and sexually harassed me? I feel scared and embarrassed even saying this. I feel so scared. I’m even thinking that out of the people who’ve been accused by Me Too thus far, there might be others who also feel that it was unfair.”
On the intent behind this controversy, Kim Hye Ja stated, “Director Bong received an award from Cannes Film Festival and returned. I think that there are people who are trying to take him down after he returned home with glory and enhanced national prestige. When I said that happened without director Bong telling me, I just said that to make it entertaining. A mentally challenged son can fall asleep with his hand on his mom’s breast. It’s also a problem that the media reports without fact checking. If you say that it’s sexual harassment and Me Too, then who’s the victim? Director Bong and I have already promised to work together in the next film.”
As for the next steps she’ll be taking regarding this issue, the actress said, “I heard that director Bong’s side will soon be releasing an explanation. I feel so sorry. I didn’t know that I’d be ambushed like this. The world and people seem like monsters.”
On the same day, production company Bareunson E&A released an official statement.
The full statement is below:
Hello. This is Barunson E&A, the production company for the film “Parasite.”
We would like to state a correction regarding “Mother” actress Kim Hye Ja’s Star Chair GV that took place on May 9.
After personally checking with Kim Hye Ja, she said that there was a mistake in her memory about the situation at the time.
Kim Hye Ja said, “‘Mother’ was a film where I talked a lot with director Bong and he said to me, ‘I’m not a mom so I think you’ll probably know the mind of the mom in the film more than me.'” Explaining the situation at the time, she said, “Now that I think about it, director Bong said to me before filming began, ‘Do Joon could put his hand on his mom’s breast,’ and I said, ‘So what if he puts his hand on it. A mentally challenged son can sleep while touching his mom’s breast.'” According to the actress, she spoke with the director before filming the scene, and it proceeded after it was discussed in advance.
She also added, “When I was filming that scene, I was lying down with the complex emotions of a mom with a mentally challenged son. I didn’t even take off my socks because I’d have to run out at anytime if something happened to my son. I acted with that kind of mindset, but since people are misunderstanding like this, I feel so sorry to director Bong and I’m fearful of this situation.”
The reason why the director didn’t clarify this at the time of the GV was because it was a comfortable setting where there was free conversation about the film, and he said that he couldn’t say anything more in case that it could be an embarrassing situation for Kim Hye Ja. Thank you.