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‘Intruder’ questions universal beliefs about family at a time of forced togetherness amid pandemic

A scene from “Intruder” (Acemaker Movie Works)
A scene from “Intruder” (Acemaker Movie Works)

Mystery thriller “Intruder” is finally opening in local cinemas on June 4. Due to delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the first South Korean film to make its box office debut since early March.

“I’m feeling nervous and rather burdened as well, but it’s my hope that our film becomes an exemplary precedent for films to follow,” director Sohn Won-pyung said Wednesday during a press conference after a press screening.

The film revolves around Seo-jin, played by Kim Mu-yeol, and his family after the sudden return of his sister Yu-jin, played by Song Ji-hyo, who went missing 25 years ago. Seo-jin, who suffers from emotional difficulties after losing his wife in a car accident, feels his family is changing after the arrival of Yu-jin. Oddly faithful to her parents and her niece -- who are almost complete strangers to her -- Yu-jin not only settles in fast as a member of the family but seems to take charge of the household.

The movie is based on Sohn’s novel “Almond,” which she began writing around eight years ago.

“The story has gone through many changes over time. I wrote ‘Almond’ shortly after giving birth to my child, so the story is based on the thoughts I had during my pregnancy. I had wondered whether I’d be able to accept my child as family (after a time of estrangement),” Sohn said.


The director of “Intruder” poses for photos with the two lead actors during a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday. From left: actor Kim Mu-yeol, director Sohn Won-pyung and actress Song Ji-hyo. (Yonhap)
The director of “Intruder” poses for photos with the two lead actors during a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday. From left: actor Kim Mu-yeol, director Sohn Won-pyung and actress Song Ji-hyo. (Yonhap)

“The idea of family is mostly accepted positively and warmly in our society, but at the same time, family holds the deepest secrets and sometimes the darkest of them. I thought, maybe, the universal belief about family may be an illusion, and I wanted to ask the question in the form of a thriller,” the director added.

The writer-director, who is making her feature debut with the upcoming movie, is also the author of two other novels, “April Snow” and “The Counterattack at Thirty” (translated title).

“Intruder” was originally slated to open in March but its screening was delayed twice due to concerns about COVID-19. The film is seen as heralding the release of a string of new films in the coming weeks.

“It was heartwarming to stand on the stage and see the audience sitting with an empty seat between them,” actor Kim Mu-yeol said at the press conference. “We make films to share stories with the audience, and although we are physically distanced from each other, we hope that our story helps people bond together.”

Song Ji-hyo, who is returning to the big screen after two years, added, “Although safety is of the utmost importance, we hope this becomes a chance for the audience to come to the cinema to enjoy cultural activities and to revitalize the film industry.”



By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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