“Love Never Fails” cast, director discuss topic of suicide


The subject of suicide is explored in quite a few South Korean selections at this year’s Busan International Film Festival.  While Min Byung-hun’s “Love Never Fails” (사랑이이긴다) is based on a couple of true stories woven together into a narrative about a dysfunctional family, the film focuses more on the psychological aftermath of the teenage girl who commits the act (played by newcomer Oh You-jin), her overbearing mother (longtime stage actress Choi Jung-won in her first film role) and emasculated father (veteran Jang Hyun-sung (장현성)).  None of the daughter’s academic achievements is good enough for her mother, even when she finishes at the top of her class, and a second wasted on play is a second that should have been spent studying.

“The audience might feel that the mother in the film is not very realistic, but every two days there are suicides by jumping off buildings and cliffs of students that is happening in this country,” said Min, who started to tear up over the subject during the post-screening question-and-answer session on Oct. 5 in Busan.  “Despite all of that, I am strong believer that love must win.”

“This was a daunting challenge for me,” Choi said.  “The reason I chose this film as my debut is because I agree with the director that the reality of this country is very frustrating.  As a parent of a daughter who is the same age of the girl in the film, I think those who make the top of the class are kind of naturally talented.  So I want to be a mother who fulfills and supports the dream of my child, whatever she can excel at and whatever she wants to do in life.”

Weaving in and out of cold reality and dream-like visions, “Love Never Fails” also brings in a side story of a father who faces increasing pressure to provide for the family as a physician.  The deterioration of his mental health – which ties in an argument with a taxi driver over 30,000 won (US$30), also based on a true event – sometimes intersects with that of the mother and daughter, but his inability to connect emotionally with them comes at a cost.

“I think it’s very difficult,” Jang said of the pressure that children in South Korean society face to excel.  “I’m a father of two.  My children are about to enter this same rat race.  I think the parents who have children of a similar age as mine, we share the same worries.  So I want my kids to grow up to be someone who cares about people around them rather than worry about how good they are in sports or what their grades are at school.”

“The reality is that a lot of parents give up their own lives so that their children can make academic achievements,” Choi said. “So my hope is that the parents like me would see this film and that they can reflect back on themselves.  Like, ‘Am I little bit like this mother’s character?’”

English translations for the Q&A were provided by the Busan International Film Festival.  “Love Never Fails” made its world premiere in Busan.

Video: “Love Never Fails” Q&A excerpts, Oct. 5, 2014 – Busan International Film Festival
video by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine