Kim Jae Hyun, director of SBS’ Friday-Saturday drama “One Dollar Lawyer,” has addressed the controversy over the reduction and frequent cancellations of the drama.
“One Dollar Lawyer” ended on November 11 with its highest viewer rating of 15.2% (based on Nielsen Korea).
It tells the story of a troublemaker lawyer Cheon Ji Hoon (to be played by Namgoong Min), he is extremely skilled but only charges 1000 won ($0.78) as his attorney’s fee. The story focuses on Cheon Ji Hoon as he faces the rich who escape the law and their lawyers who charge expensive fees.
It was loved by viewers for its pleasant and cheerful twist on the unfair and unreasonable aspects of society. However, it was criticized by viewers for the cancellation of the series without any special reason and for the reduction of the drama from 14 episodes to 12 episodes. Director Kim Jae Hyun, who directed the drama, expressed his feelings about ending the drama through a written interview.
Q. How do you feel about the success of “One Dollar Lawyer”?
The staff had a hard time. It’s good that it became a work that they can be proud of.
Q. What is the most important part of the production of “One Dollar Lawyer”?
There are many genres mixed in our drama, and we tried to make each genre easy to understand, in a pattern that everyone knows. Humanism in some episodes, horror in some episodes, or melodrama… That’s how I changed the tone and manners of the drama each time. At the same time, he tried his best not to miss the essence of comedy dramas. The coordination was not easy.
Q. What is the most elaborate scene in “One Dollar Lawyer” and why?
I worked the hardest when filming part eight. Part 8 was ‘The story of Ji Hoon, who lived in the castle, meeting Ju Young and coming out of the castle.’ I did my best to convey it as similar to that image as I can.
If I had to pick the hardest scene among them, I would pick the sequence that leads to Ji Hoon drinking alone and then showered by the rain with Ju Young side by side. I have worked on the shooting by looking at the lighting, the movements of the cast, and the feeling of the sprinkling of water(rain spraying device). The two actors lay on the street for nearly three hours.
The moment comes when the actor understands the character better than the director. Then the director becomes comfortable. Minor directing or explanation of the scene is not needed. You just have to sit in front of the monitor and observe the mood of the scene, and you can always take it the way you want to film it… By that time, no matter what scene comes, it will be quite fun to select them, but our drama has come to that point really quickly. If I had to pick the reason why this drama went well, I’d like to give all the credit to the actors. They did more things than the script included and the director directed. Thank you.
Q. There was a plagiarism dispute in “My Lawyer, Mr. Jo,” was there any difficulty when you were in charge of directing this drama?
It was hard. It would be a lie if I say I didn’t have any thoughts. But I also knew how the two writers were frustrated by the incident. I know that the misunderstanding caused by the similarity of the subject matter had broken the beginnings of the two writers. How unfair it must have been for them. So, I wanted to do more. I was asked a lot of similar questions when I started this drama. Even then, I answered like this. ‘Why should I try to make it different from that work when it’s not the same work? “One Dollar Lawyer” is just “One Dollar Lawyer,” so I can make it as it is. After that, I tried to see the work as it is without being swayed by the words of the world.
Q. Despite the good response, the number of episodes was not extended but reduced. What is the reason?
There have been a lot of internal discussions. It’s not anyone’s fault. It was my first time, but I realized that there are things that can’t be done just with my will and efforts. Nevertheless, I am grateful to those who watched until the end.
Q. There was also an evaluation that it was ‘anticlimax’ (started with a bang but had a dull ending), saying that the fun of the second half dropped sharply compared to the first half. What would you say to self-evaluate the shortcomings?
More relationships could’ve been unraveled. Ji Hoon’s last stop. The relationship between Min Hyuk (played by Choi Dae Hoon) and Ji Hoon…. The relationship between Min Hyuk and Ye Jin (played by Gong Min Jung) who have been secretly laid down. Or Marie’s (Kim Ji Eun) growing-up story. Hyun Moo (Lee Deok Hwa) and Young Jun (Ha Sung Kwang) are starting anew. I wanted to solve those things more abundantly. I had a lot of things in my head, but I’m so sad that I couldn’t show them all.
What do you think of this?