Christine Yoo ’86 Debuts “Wedding Palace”

Christine Yoo ’86, one of the first female Asian-American directors in the American film industry, debuted her romantic comedy film “Wedding Palace” in Kemper Auditorium last Friday night. “Wedding Palace” will play in national theaters August or September this year. “We are very excited that [Yoo] wanted to come back to her alma mater, and it is an honor for us to have her be here, along with screening her film,” said Aya Murata, Advisor to Asian and Asian American Students. The film consists of a predominantly Asian and Asian American cast, a relative rarity in the Hollywood film industry, and uses a combination of Korean and English to make the movie realistic and accessible to audiences in both the United States and Korea. “Wedding Palace” stars Brian Tee and Hye Jeong Kang as the two main characters, 29-year-olds Jason and Na Young, who fall in love over the internet while they are 9,000 miles apart, Jason in Los Angeles and Na Young in Korea. The film marks Kang’s debut in an English-speaking film. In the film, Jason struggles with an old family curse that will end only if he marries the right girl. Jason’s overprotective family tries to find the perfect girl for Jason and wonders whether Na Young will be the one. Seyoung Lee ’12, Head of Asian Society, said, “It’s been really amazing getting an alumna to come back to screen a movie, and I guess it’s really empowering because almost all of the actors featured in the movie are Asian American and in that sense, because we don’t really see Asian American actors in Hollywood, it’s an interesting experience to see them on screen.” Following the film screening, Yoo held a question and answer and discussion session with the audience. She talked about the difficulties she encountered while producing the movie. “It’s incredibly difficult [as an Asian-American in Hollywood]. For me personally, I did not have any connections whatsoever into the entertainment industry…I turned to the Los Angeles Koreatown business community for support and other Korean corporate sponsors.” She also talked about her experience at Andover as a student and said that she didn’t discover her passion for film until her mid-20s. “I did a lot of fine arts here [at Andover], and film was kind of an outgrowth of music. I was a competitive piano player when I was a kid, so film, to me, was like music and art.” Yoo began developing her initial idea for the film in 1999, and the process continued over the course of several years. In 1999, before the Internet and telecommunications industry had fully developed, Yoo planned to create Jason and Na Young’s love using a fictional video chat communication device. But by the end of the filmmaking process, the advent of innovative Internet communication software like Skype allowed Yoo to create a more realistic cyberspace love relationship. The audience, which included students, Yoo’s fellow alumni and friends and some Exeter students, often broke out into laughter after comical lines and scenes in the film. “I thought [the film] was an interesting amalgamation of Asian and American film cultures, and while translation of a language to another can be difficult, I thought [Yoo] did quite well,” said Stacy Ramos ’14. Murata discussed screening “Wedding Palace” with Yoo after one of Yoo’s classmates told Murata that the film would soon be released. “Hopefully we can make [“Wedding Palace”] a commercial success, and I’ll be able to go on more easily to the next projects,” said Yoo.