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INTERVIEWJung Yu-mi says Bong Joon-ho led her to 'Sleep'

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Actress Jung Yu-mi / Courtesy of Lotte Entertainment
Actress Jung Yu-mi / Courtesy of Lotte Entertainment

By Kwak Yeon-soo

Actress Jung Yu-mi has opened up about why she decided to star in Jason Yu's debut feature film "Sleep," revealing that director Bong Joon-ho's words played a huge part in her decision. Yu was a former assistant director to Bong on "Okja" (2017).

"One day I got a call from director Bong, and the first thing that popped into my head was, 'Finally he's offering me a role.' But instead, he told me, 'There is this guy (referring to Yu), and it would be nice if you could read his script,'" she said during an interview with The Korea Times at a cafe in Seoul, Tuesday.

When reading the script, Jung tried very hard not to be influenced by Bong's words. "The script was solid. It was written in a very structured and concise way that made me want to meet the director. I cannot compare two directors because I have never worked with Bong as an actress. But Yu definitely has his unique style of direction," she explained.

"Sleep" tells the story of newlyweds Hyun-su (Lee Sun-kyun) and Soo-jin (Jung) whose lives turn to horror as the husband begins exhibiting strange behaviors while asleep.

There are supernatural elements, including possession and exorcism, in the film. Soo-jin gradually develops symptoms of anxiety and paranoia, and as the story unfolds, she acts more aggressively to protect her newborn child.

Jung talked about portraying her character slipping into insanity over time. "I didn't expect viewers to comment on Soo-jin descending into a state of frenzied madness. I tried to depict her desperate struggle to protect her family," she said.

A scene from the film 'Sleep' / Courtesy of Lotte Entertainment
A scene from the film 'Sleep' / Courtesy of Lotte Entertainment

The actress talked about working together with Lee for the fourth time in a film. The duo starred together in Hong Sang-soo's three films before "Sleep." The first was 2009's "Lost in the Mountains," then again in "Oki's Movie" (2010) and "Our Sunhee" (2013).

"It's wonderful to work with somebody you know and trust so much. We don't have to explain ourselves because we know each other so well. It was fun to express the changing dynamics in the three-part film that blends many different genres, including comedy, romance, horror and thriller," she said.

She added: "Originally, director Yu described the film as 'a love story wrapped inside a thriller.'"

Jung revealed that she is not a fan of scary films. "I actually don't enjoy watching horror movies. They are not something I want to watch. However, filming a horror flick is not frightening at all because you are surrounded by hundreds of film crew on set," the actress said.

Asked if she ever had experienced a sleep disorder, the actress said, "There were times when I suffered a broken sleep schedule or had a sleep disorder. When I was younger, I pulled an occasional all-nighter. But now, I can't get through the day if I don't get enough sleep."

The film was invited to Cannes Critics' Week section at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

"Sleep" will hit local theaters on Sept. 6.

Kwak Yeon-soo


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