|Director Kang Dae-gyu, second from left, poses with actors Sung Dong-il, left, Kim Hee-won, right, Ha Ji-won and Park So-yi during a press event held in Seoul, Wednesday. / Courtesy of CJ Entertainment|
By Kwak Yeon-soo
The family drama "Pawn" is a "tear-jerker" film that offers a unique yet touching exploration of a family, according to the film's cast. It revolves around Doo-seok (Sung Dong-il) and Jong-bae (Kim Hee-won), debt collectors who look intimidating but are actually kind-hearted.
The two go to collect debt from an illegal immigrant named Myung-ja (Kim Yun-jin), who offers her 9-year-old daughter Seung-yi as collateral.
But Myung-ja gets deported and the two are left to look after Seung-yi. The younger Seung-yi is played by child actor Park So-yi, and actress Ha Ji-won plays the older version of the character.
Sung explained that "Pawn" isn't about the traditional definition of a family, it holds a message that highlights the importance of caring for our neighbors.
"As a father of three children, I feel responsible to tell a warm story with heart that all families can agree on," he said during an online press conference for the film in Seoul, Wednesday.
Returning to the cinema for the first time in five years, Ha said she was moved to tears when she first read the script.
"After reading the script, I thought we need to hear this kind of impactful story that delivers a sense of hope and positivity. I was able to empathize with Seung-yi's emotions. I'm sure that many audiences will be touched by the unusual relationship between Seung-yi, Doo-seok and Jong-bae," she said.
Kim said he liked the fact that the film illuminated the importance of human connections when society puts so much focus on materialistic things.
"We're living in a time where connections between people are fading away. Although the characters aren't 'blood-related,' they spend time together at home. I think it's a special experience to get closer with non-family members and be able to feel their presence," he said.
|Sung Dong-il, left, and Ha Ji-won in a scene from the film "Pawn" / Courtesy of CJ Entertainment|
Director Kang Dae-gyu said he was delighted at the opportunity to work with Sung, Kim and Ha.
"Because Sung and Kim are close friends in real-life, they had great chemistry on set like Tom & Jerry," he said.
Having worked with Ha in "Duelist" and "Haeundae" before, Kang said "Ha is a reliable actor who is able to evoke realistic emotions into her performance. Even when we had to film the same scene multiple times, she was always ready to call upon the same emotion when playing the character."
On child actor Park, Kang lauded her energy and enthusiasm. "Finding young Seung-yi's character was a tough process. The audition went on for months until I found So-yi. She was incredibly attentive on set," he said.
Park, who also starred as Hwang Jung-min's daughter in "Deliver Us From Evil," was chosen among 300 candidates who auditioned for the role of young Seung-yi.
Kang said he hopes the audience will recall warm memories through '90s set props and fashion style. The filmmaker previously helmed hit prison drama "Harmony" and has worked on scripts for "The Himalayas" and "Confidential Assignment."
"The art team tried to add a retro flair to Doo-seok's house, furniture, traditional crafts and street fashion in order to achieve a '90s vibe. The CD player also plays a key role in delivering the main theme of the film," Kang said.
"Pawn" is set to hit local theaters in September.