Director Chung Ji-young on “The Boys”: Addition of Fictional Elements Aimed to Elevate True Story

SEOUL - Director Chung Ji-young said Monday that the incorporation of fictional elements was essential to make his film "The Boys" more compelling for audiences. The film revisits a real-life 1999 case involving the wrongful conviction of three teenage boys for robbery and murder.

According to a new release by Yonhap News Agency, Chung stated that while some refer to him as the Ken Loach of South Korea—a nod to the British director known for his true-story-based films—he employs more dramatic devices to reach a broader audience. In "The Boys," Chung added a completely new character, Hwang Jun-cheol, a newly appointed police investigative chief who seeks justice for the wrongfully convicted teenagers.

Chung emphasized that although he utilizes dramatic elements, the core factual details of the story remain unchanged. His aim is to make the story more engaging without distorting the events that actually transpired. In 2016, a retrial exonerated the three boys of their robbery and murder charges.

The director explained that his motivation for making the film stemmed from the lack of accountability in the case. No one was held responsible for the wrongful convictions that led to the imprisonment of the innocent boys. Chung wanted to examine societal attitudes towards the weak, and he hopes the film will prompt viewers to consider whether they have remained indifferent to injustices like the one portrayed in the movie.

Chung has a long history of creating films based on real events, including "Unbowed" (2011) and "Black Money" (2019). He said that his work reflects his ongoing struggle to remain hopeful despite the tragic and frustrating events that have shaped many people's lives, including his own.

"For me, making films is like checking on where we are now and how we have lived, and finding the right coordinates. That is my mission," Chung concluded.

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