“Everglow,” directed by So Jun-moon, depicts the love story of Jin-ok, a 70-year-old female diver of Jeju Island, also known as “haenyeo,” and a 30-something documentary producer Kyung-hoon.
The unconventional love story was a shock to veteran actor Go Doo-shim, 70, who plays Jin-ok in the upcoming film.
“Ji Hyun-woo and I have somewhat of an age gap. I was an actor who did not get to perform in many romantic films so I craved them. But when I read the script, I thought it is a shocking story,” she said during a press conference held at CGV Yongsan in central Seoul on Monday.
Although Go was not sure if she could pull off a love story with an actor much younger than her, she accepted the role after meeting with the director.
“During our first meeting, the director said ‘Go Doo-shim is Jeju Island and Go Doo-shim’s face is the scenery of Jeju.’ I was not sure about the role because I have not done many romantic movies but when I heard him say that, I could not say ‘no,’” Go said. “Also, the film takes place in my hometown Jeju, so I thought that I could play this role the best.”
Director So explained that he had Go in mind from the very start.
“I would not have created this movie if it were not for Go Doo-shim. We worked hard to cast her,” the director said. “The protagonist has to speak the Jeju dialect. When I first saw her I was so nervous that I could not speak properly.”
Go was the only actor he had in mind for the role.
“We were glad that she understood what we were trying to do and accepted our offer,” he added.
Casting Ji Hyun-woo, 36, who plays the film producer who comes to Jeju Island to make a documentary about Jin-ok, was also not easy, So said.
“It was very courageous for Ji Hyun-woo to take up this role,” So said. “Before the film shooting started, he went to Jeju Island by himself to do research. I am very grateful for his effort.”
“I wondered who would be willing to take the role to do a love story with an old actor (like me),” Go quipped.
During the conference, the veteran actor also shared the difficulties of playing haenyeo Jin-ok.
“To show the suntanned skin, I had to put on some dark makeup. However, after I filmed scenes in the water it was all gone,” Go said. “So our staff had a hard time. They had to redo the makeup and also draw some freckles on my face again.”
She also struggled with “sumbi sori,” a whistling sound that female divers make when they emerge from their minuteslong foray underwater.
“Making sumbi sori was not easy. Haenyeo have been making the sound for 40 to 50 years and it was hard to imitate that sound,” Go said.
Even though Go had attempted to make the sound herself during the shoot, the final sound that appears in the movie is not hers.
“It was too noisy with the waves and all. The sound that you hear in the movie was dubbed in afterward,” Go said.
Toward the end of the press conference, Ji, the male lead, added that he hopes the audience can watch the film with an open mind.
“I hope that audiences can take the film emotionally rather than rationally. I think that it can provoke people to think about what love is,” Ji said.
“Everglow” will hit local theaters on June 30.
By Song Seung-hyun (email@example.com