Actor Yoo Teo's directorial debut film 'Log in Belgium' is love letter to cinema - Korea Times
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Actor Yoo Teo's directorial debut film 'Log in Belgium' is love letter to cinema

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Actor Yoo Teo / Courtesy of C-Jes Entertainment
Actor Yoo Teo / Courtesy of C-Jes Entertainment

By Kwak Yeon-soo

When the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread around the world in early 2020, Yoo Teo was in Atwerp, Belgium, filming James Payen's soccer world drama-thriller series, "The Window."

Shortly after the outbreak, borders were shut down and production was halted. The cast and crew returned home. Yoo's hands were tied because his flight was canceled due to the border restrictions. He was left with no other choice but to stay alone in his hotel room.

The 65-minute film follows Yoo's daily record of 15 days of quarantine, set mostly in his hotel. Shot on smartphone, it gives a rare glimpse into his daily life, where he self-tapes for an audition, takes an evening stroll, dances like nobody's watching and makes dumplings.

"In the hotel room, I was incredibly lonely. Being away from home and feeling isolated from family and friends in Korea, I was estranged and terrified. So I started recording myself so I wouldn't lose my mind," he said during a recent interview with The Korea Times via Zoom.

Yoo shared that he had no intention of putting together a film until he showed it to his loved ones after returning to Korea.

"I came back to Korea in mid-April, but I didn't look at those video clips until October because I was too embarrassed. I also wanted to wait until I could see myself objectively. Then, a few people suggested that I film some additional scenes in Korea and turn it into a movie," he said.

Describing "Log in Belgium" as a full-hearted essay, Yoo said he wanted to present his candid emotions and self-observation to truly show who he really is.

"I got an audition call from the U.S. for a new project, but I had to audition via self-tape. Since there wasn't anyone who could help me read the lines, I created an alter ego for myself to read the lines back and forth," he said.

Actor-director Yoo Teo poses during a press conference for the film
Actor-director Yoo Teo poses during a press conference for the film "Log in Belgium" in Seoul, Tuesday. Courtesy of Atnine Film

In the film, the actor-director speaks in three different languages ― German, English and Korean.

"I used three languages to keep the three-act story structure. English symbolizes the present, German signifies the past and Korean implies the future," he explained.

Born and raised in Cologne, Germany, Yoo moved to the United States when he turned 20 to study acting at the highly regarded Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York. He later took an intensive course at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in the United Kingdom and performed in theater productions in Germany. In 2009, Yoo moved to Korea to pursue acting.

Yoo said that his debut film is a love letter to cinema. "I just love storytelling and cinema. I want to keep sharing my personal stories with my fans as an actor, director and author," he said. Yoo is author of a children's book titled "Sock Monster Thoe," which was released last year.

The film premiered at the DMZ International Documentary Film Festival in September and is currently screening at Seoul Independent Film Festival running through Dec. 3.

"Log in Belgium" will hit local theaters, Dec. 1.

Kwak Yeon-soo

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