“We have never been apart,” Hong Sang-soo who preferred to talk about infidelity, Kim Min-hee who hid her face and their 8-year relationship

Hong Sang-soo and Kim Min-hee’s love affair relationship has been through 8 years.

“We are always next to each other. We’ve never been apart. This is the first time in five years. Not once, not even a day apart. He wants to live like that. He said that people who love each other must be together.”

It is Kim Min-hee‘s line in the 2020 release, “The Woman Who Ran,” which director Hong Sang-soo and actor Kim Min-hee worked on together. In the movie, Kim Min-hee appears as Gam-who has never been separated from her husband for five years after their marriage. Gam-hee emphasizes to all three acquaintances she met while her husband was on a business trip, saying, “I have never been a day apart from my husband for five years.” The movie was released five years after director Hong Sang-soo and Kim Min-hee became lovers after “Right Now, Wrong Then” (2015). In other words, these two people projected themselves on the characters in the movie.

Hong Sang-soo Kim Min-hee

On April 21st, the new film “The Novelist’s Film” will be presented, in which lovers Hong Sang-soo and Kim Min-hee, who have now been wearing the tag of “infidelity” for eight years, work together for the ninth time. This work depicts novelist Jun-hee persuading actress Gil-soo, who he met on her way to the bookstore, to make a movie together. Kim Min-hee stars as actress Gil-soo, one of the movie’s main roles.

Hong Sang-soo Kim Min-hee
A screencap from the trailer of the movie, “The Novelist’s Film”

Before meeting Kim Min-hee, director Hong Sang-soo’s movies always featured infidelity. However, after meeting Kim Min-hee, director Hong Sang-soo began to consider life, death, and human relationships through his movies. “The Woman Who Ran” is the starting point for director Hong Sang-soo, who used “infidelity” as his signature material, to no longer use it as his movie material. This new film, “The Novelist’s Film,” also contains his view of a daily but more philosophical story while considering life. 

Hong Sang-soo Kim Min-hee
Director Kim Min-hee and Hong Sang-soo attended the 72nd Berlin Film Festival.

As such, director Hong Sang-soo is showing his changed interests after dating Kim Min-hee as a “material.” Kim Min-hee has also changed her “position” since meeting with director Hong Sang-soo. She became Hong Sang-soo‘s assistant as the director of the production department following her position as an actress. Earlier, Kim Min-hee did not appear directly on the screen in director Hong Sang-soo‘s “In front Of Your Face” (2021), but participated in the work as the director of the production department. In this new film, “The Novelist’s Film,” he also served as the lead actor and director of production. Kim Min-hee has now become the “Muse of Hong Sang-soo” in acting, production, and planning.

Director Hong Sang-soo and Kim Min-hee are rarely seen at overseas film festivals because of the public’s harsh view of their extramarital affair. At the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival held in February, the two were seen together in public for the first time in two years. They attended major events of “The Novelist’s Film” and went on with their schedules, and videos released by the film festival also showed them affectionately exchanging skinship or eye contact. When the movie was called the winner of the Silver Bear Award, Kim Min-hee hugged director Hong Sang-soo and shared her joy. However, the two did not appear again at the local press preview of “The Novelist’s Film” held on April 12th.

Hong Sang-soo Kim Min-hee

Still, what changed is that Kim Min-hee is proudly showing her face again on the poster of director Hong Sang-soo‘s movie. It is the first time in six years that Kim Min-hee directly showed her face on a poster of Hong Sang-soo‘s work since “Alone on the Beach at Night” in 2017. This is another small change about Kim Min-hee and Hong Sang-soo, who have completely disappeared in Korea.

The infidelity couple, who said they have never been apart for five years, are still working together in the eighth year as artists and lovers who inspire each other. After working together nine times, they have grown as filmmakers by changing the subject matter and challenging new areas. However, it is difficult for the story of these two people who have been publicly proven to have moral flaws to be truly told. This is why the audience cannot accept their “masterpieces” yet.

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