“Dear Jinri” Documentary Director Sheds Light On Sulli’s Real Personality


During the 28th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), celebrated documentarian Jung Yoon Suk unveiled his film Dear Jinri for the first time. The documentary is built around the final interview given by K-Pop singer Choi Jinri, better known by her stage name Sulli, shortly before her tragic passing in 2019.

A screengrab from “Dear Jinri” | @Busanfilmfest/YouTube

The project was originally named Persona: Sulli, but the production had to be halted when the singer passed away in the middle of filming. Dear Jinri was only one part of the project, the other one being a short film named 4: Clean Island.

After the documentary’s screening at BIFF, director Jung participated in an interactive session with the audience and talked about the behind-the-scenes persona of Sulli.

Sulli | @jelly_jilli/Instagram

Recalling how he wanted his documentary to follow the protagonist’s mind and actions, Jung mentioned that Sulli was very perceptive of the creative process and “a great listener” in general.

When I gave an opinion as a director, instead of making personal arguments as an actor, she would genuinely listen to my perspective.

—  Jung Yoon Suk

Jung remembered the deceased idol-actress with fondness, saying that she always had an accommodating personality, much in contrast with the public’s perception of her character.

She always tried to embrace the thoughts of others. I felt that this side of her was in contrast with the image of Sulli that the public knew. I realized, ‘Aha. So this is who Jinri really is.’

—  Jung Yoon Suk

Jung also emphasized that the documentary’s best efforts went into portraying the artist Sulli before the entertainer. He mentioned how she had the “self-consciousness” of a true artist, and that’s why it was essential for Dear Jinri to see her through that lens.

Director Jung Yoon Suk | BIFF

The director also had a theory on why Sulli’s public image differed so drastically from her real-life personality. In his opinion, entertainment content omits almost 90% of the footage shot of a person and cherry-picks “key” moments in the post-production editing to abide by obvious time limitations. But in the process, a lot of the genuine moments conveying the real identity of the person on screen are lost.

And so, I think that some of her actions could have seemed radical from the public’s perspective, leading to misunderstandings and controversies.

—  Jung Yoon Suk

The late idol-actress’s brief life was, in fact, marred with numerous incidents of public vitriol, and her tragic passing opened up the floodgate of discourse surrounding cyberbullying, even leading to the creation of a bill named “Sulli Act.”

Meanwhile, fans remember her as a hardworking artist. Sulli made her debut in the entertainment industry as a child actor in 2005 and went on to debut as a member of the girl group f(x) in 2009. She departed from the group in 2015 and remained active as an actress till her passing.

 He explained why there might be a gap between the real her and her public image. 

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