The novel "Eun-gyo" by Park Bum-shin revolves around an affair between a poet in his 70s and a 17-year-old high school girl. It sparked heated debate as soon as it began to appear in serialized form on Park's personal blog, and now attention is focusing on the young actress who plays the female lead role in director Jung Ji-woo's film adaptation. The movie, "A Muse," is scheduled to be released on April 26.
In fact, the role has already catapulted 21-year-old Kim Go-eun from obscurity to the center of much media buzz concerning whether she will be able to rise to the challenge. As little is known about the actress, some have speculated that the producers are intentionally keeping her private life under wraps in order to create a more mysterious image for marketing purposes.
However, Kim said this wasn't the case. "I'm leading a normal life. It's not like people recognize me on the street or anything. Not much has changed since filming wrapped up in mid-February."
Kim, who is currently on a leave of absence from the School of Drama at Korea National University of Arts, has never appeared in a film or TV drama before, not even in a minor role. She has only previously acted in student productions or school plays. She met Jung last year through a circle of friends and was not even aware that auditions for the film were being held. "I ended up having an audition after chatting with the director. There wasn't even any time for me to prepare," Kim recalled.
About Eun-gyo, the character she plays, Kim said, "I don't think physical beauty alone could have unleashed so much passion in a man who had lived for over 70 years with a heart of a stone. Eun-gyo is very spontaneous and is too innocent to have thought about the consequences of what she is doing, but she also has a mature side. She lacks parental care and love, so she desires this from a surrogate father figure, and becomes obsessed with the idea. I think her feelings about the poet are not like the normal romantic feelings between a man and a woman, but rather an attachment towards someone who loves and cherishes her."
Apart from its provocative theme, the film has also caused a stir due to its scenes featuring nudity. The film features two graphic sex scenes.
"I felt anxious for days leading up those scenes, and I felt embarrassed whenever I imagined what they would be like. But when the cameras started rolling, I didn't feel ashamed, because I became totally immersed in the character," Kim said.
Kim's family moved to China when she was four and lived there for about 10 years. "I watched 'Together' by [famous Chinese director] Chen Kaige many times when I lived there, and I cried every time I saw it. Since that time, I wanted to become a filmmaker. Then I was led to plays by chance," said Kim. "When I stood on the stage for the first time, I was so nervous that I thought it would be so hard if I had to do this for the rest of my life. But from my second performance, I felt ecstatic, as if I had wings on my back, and I never wanted to step off the stage. I keep on acting because I want to hold on to that feeling."