Kim Min-hee as Seon-yeong in HELPLESS, a film by Byeon Yeong-ju. Picture courtesy CJ Entertainment. All rights reserved.



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Helpless (2012)

Opened: 04/20/2012 Limited

Theater List04/20/2012
CGV Cinemas04/20/2012 - 05/10/201221 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home

Genre: South Korean Suspense/Thriller

Rated: Unrated


In the blink of an eye, my fiancee vanished. Mun-ho (Lee Sun-kyun) and Seon-yeong (Kim Min-hee) are a couple engaged to be married who pull over at a rest stop on their way to meeting Mun-ho's parents. When Mun-ho returns to the car with coffee, he finds the car door flung open in the pouring rain with the engine still running - his fiancee is nowhere to be found. Her cell phone is switched off. All that's left behind is her hair clip on the floor of the restroom.

She is not who I knew her to be. In a desperate attempt to find his missing fiancee, Mun-ho rushes back to her apartment only to discover that it's been cleared out. Trying to reach a co-worker or someone with information, he finds her employers don't even exist. As he delves deeper, Mun-ho begins to realize that the woman he loves is not at all who he thought her to be.

Who was this person that I fell in love with? Mun-ho enlists his cousin, former detective, Jong-geun (Cho Seong-ha), for help. While initially accepting the job to earn some extra cash, Jong-geun finds that piecing together the shards of this woman's puzzle produces a horrifying picture.

About the Production

A unique collaboration of three great actors and an intense director

Three actors with strong individual colors were put together on the set of Helpless - Lee Sun-kyun, whose broad spectrum as an actor is reflected in his filmography which covers popular appeal and artistic quality across television and the silver screen; the lovely Kim Min-hee who is building up her name as a noteworthy actor; and Cho Seong-ha, undisputedly one of Korea's top scene stealers of the moment. These actors join forces with Byun Young-joo for her long-awaited comeback feature, Helpless. Their unique collaboration breathes life and intensity into the novel-turned thiller.

BYUN Young Joo returns after 8 years with a mystery thriller

Byun Young-joo returns to the director's chair after 8 long years. Her comeback piece, Helpless, is a thriller about a woman who vanishes on her way to meet her fiance's parents and the fiance's desperate search as he faces the shocking truth about her true identity.

The film is based on the book of a best-selling Japanese author, Miyabe Miyuki's Kasha, and translated for the U.S. in 1999 as All She was Worth. The work was described by the New York Times Book Review as "deep and moody." Through its portrayal of an individual who stumbles deeply and uncontrollably into tragedy, the book is considered by readers around the world to be a masterpiece that offers a sharp insight into the ills of our society. The long-time best seller was voted as one of the "10 Best Japanese Detective Novels of All Time." Fascinated by the book, Byun got in touch with the author and, through close discussions, pursued a film adaptation of the novel.

After choosing Helpless as her third feature to follow 2004's Flying Boys, Byun went through a long adaptation process, paying close attention to various elements such as different points of view looking into the incident and the relationships between characters. The result is a convincing picture of an atrocious incident that, disturbingly enough, could have happened to anyone.

In an interview during the pre-production stage, Byun expressed "Helpless is a thriller that builds extreme emotional suspense without the usual bloodfest," reflecting her confidence in the film. The director also commented that this was "a film through which I'll need to prove myself" and said she was pouring her heart and effort into the pre-production to ensure this thriller was worthy of being called her best work.

About the Filmmakers

Byun Young-joo (Director)

After studying Law at the prestigious Ehwa Women's University, Byun went to Chung-Ang University to study film. As a founding member of the women's film collective, Bariteo, she became actively involved in producing numerous independent projects. Later while still in her twenties, she founded the film company Boim Pictures Co. Ltd and made a documentary about Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers during World War II, often referred to as 'comfort women.' The film, The Murmuring, the first documentary to ever get a theatrical release in South Korea, was released when she was 29 years old and immediately established Byun as an important new voice in Korea. She went on to make sequels of the documentary in 1997 and 1999, titled Habitual Sadness and My Own Breathing, respectively.

Byun's first fictional feature, Ardor, based on best-selling novelist Jeon Gyeong-lin's Illicit Affair, was released in 2002 and starred Yunjin Kim of "Lost." 2 years later, she put out the delicate coming of age romance, Flying Boys. Byun also took part in the HD omnibus project Ten Ten, designed as part of the 10 year anniversary celebration of the International Women's Film Festival in Seoul. She was one of six directors who taking part in this project along with Ulrike Ottinger, Helen Lee, Lim Seong-min, Jang Hee-seon and Lee Soo-yeon.

Helpless will be Byun's comeback film after an eight year hiatus, and is proving to be her finest work to date.

Miyabe Miyuki (Author)

Miyabe was born in 1960 in Tokyo. After graduating from high school, Miyabe joined a law office and began taking writing classes at a writing school run by the Kodansha publishing company. In 1987, at the age of 27, she made her debut by winning the Best New Author at the prestigious Yomimono Prize with the short story, Wareraga rinjin no hanzai. She has been a prolific writer, publishing dozens of novels and winning many major literary prizes, including the Yamamoto Prize in 1993 for Kasha and the Naoki Prize in 1998 for Riyu. Her most famous novel in the English-speaking world is Kasha, translated by Alfred Birnbaum as All She Was Worth and published in 1999. A Japanese film adaptation of Riyu, directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi, was released in 2004. A lot of her work received film and TV adaptation including, Henjiwa iranai, Suna-ku gari, Crossfire, Nagai nagai Satsujin and Mohouhan. Currently, she is actively involved as a producer in film production and video game script writing.

About the Cast

Lee Sun-kyun (Mun-ho)

Mun-ho is a veterinarian who runs a private clinic. When his fiancee goes missing, he abandons everything to find her. As he digs deeper into the mystery of her disappearance, he discovers that everything about his fiancee, including her name, family and work history, was a lie. Despite the confusion and horror he faces as he discovers shocking suspicions about her past, Mun-ho is determined to find her - and hear the truth - before anyone else does.

In recent years, Lee Sun-kyun's name has become synonymous with "romance", following his appearances in successful TV series such as Coffee Prince and Pasta. Lee won the Best Actor award at the 11th Las Palmas International Film Festival for his highly-acclaimed performance in Paju, the work of another rare Korean female director Park Chan-Ok. He has also garnered critics' praise for his honest and convincing portrayal of characters in Hong Sang-soo's Night and Day and Oki's Movie. His clumsy but likeable character in the comedy Officer of the Year further expanded his spectrum.

Kim Min-hee (Seon-yeong)

Seon-yeong vanishes only weeks before her wedding. No one has a clue about her true identity nor her horrific past, and most of all, why she must keep it a secret. With everyone out to track her down, she is about to make another risky choice.

After starting her career in modeling, Kim Min-hee made her acting debut with the popular teen drama, School 2. She has since molded herself into a unique actress with quirky charms in various TV series and films, as well as establishing an identity as the "it girl" of South Korea known as much for her fashions as her acting. However, she proved herself to be more than just a pretty face when she won Best Female Actor at the Baeksang Arts Awards in 2007 for her charged performance in Hellcats.

Cho Seong-ha (Jong-Geun)

At the frantic request of his cousin Mun-ho, Jong-geun helps in the investigation of Seon-yeong's trail. As his search escalates, the former detective's hunch warns him of the dangerous truth behind Seon-yeong's disappearance - this is more than just a missing person case.

Coming from a long career of stage acting, CHO Seong-ha has gained reputation as one of the top scene stealers of the moment. CHO has brought his intensity and expertise as a stage actor to the screen in acclaimed films such as Bleak Night and Yellow Sea.