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Kim Moo-yeol is back in uniform for NLL film

Takes on role of naval captain in film about North Korean attack

June 25,2015
Kim Moo-yeol.Provided by Studio 706
Actor Kim Moo-yeol received the script for “Northern Limit Line,” written and directed by Kim Hak-soon, last April.

He was serving in the Army at the time, as is required for all able-bodied South Korean men.

At the same time, the entire country was engulfed in deep sorrow after the deadly sinking of the Sewol ferry that claimed the lives of more than 300 people.

“Maybe it was the social mood back then, or the fact that I was in the Army,” he reminisced. “But I felt it was a sense of grave responsibility to star in the film.”

He was embarrassed to admit that he had completely forgotten about the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong, which occurred on June 29, 2002.

On that day, a North Korean guard ship raided one of Seoul’s high-speed boats on the western coast of the peninsula near the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime sea border between the two nations, resulting in the deaths of six South Korean seamen.

But the fight was largely overshadowed by the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which was being co-hosted by South Korea at the time.

Whatever Kim’s motivation for starring in the film, critics are impressed with his portrayal of Capt. Yoon Young-ha, the leader of the Chamsuri 357 boat that eventually sank into the sea’s depths.

The character is based on a real person - one of the six South Koreans who died in the incident.

Q. You began filming “Northern Limit Line” almost immediately after you finished serving in the Army. It must have felt like reenlisting.

A. In a way, yes (laughs). It really felt like it when we were filming in the Navy base in Jinhae, South Gyeongsang, for a month. Due to security reasons, all of the production team had to get in there early in the morning at the same time and then come out in the evening at the same time. Just because my scene was done, it didn’t mean I could get out of there early by myself. So we all ate and exercised together on the base. It was an environment where you couldn’t help but develop a sense of camaraderie.

It’s touching how Yoon is a soldier who values rules over anything else but becomes attached to his subordinates as time goes by.

Yes. Captain Yoon is someone who has a strong sense of duty and discipline. He trains his inferiors in a tough, merciless way so that they can react well in a crisis. I think that is, in a sense, his way of loving his people. I tried to show the human side of him here and there.

The real Captain Yoon was known to have been very quiet and calm. Did you take note of this?

No, but for his dying scene I took note of how he actually died based on people’s testimonies. Lt. Lee Hee-wan, who survived the shooting, said that when Yoon was sitting on the deck defending the boat before he died he looked like a “large mountain.” He attempted to withstand the shooting and not falter till the end.

As you finished serving in the military [last July] and got married [in April], it seems it’s an important period in terms of your life as well as your career.

You could say that. In my teens, acting was a hobby, and at some point I got serious about it. In my 20s I got lucky and was able to interact with audiences [by working in theater]. Over the years I gained recognition and fans. But I think my lucky days are over (laughs) and it’s time for me to really show my true colors as an actor.

What kind of characters are you drawn to?

Since my role as a dirty stock broker in the 2009 film “The Scam,” I only get offers of roles as killers, psychopaths and villains. But I hope I can discover more diverse characters to portray. When I was young I think I just wanted to look cool as an actor. But I know now that’s wrong. An actor is essentially a clown. It’s nothing that great. I also think that when you let go - of your body and mind - you perform best and really move people’s hearts.

What are some of the values you want to live by as an actor and as a man?

As an actor, I still have this wish inside to live as an artist. I don’t want to make compromises or settle for mediocrity or what’s available now. I guess in order to live like that, working hard is the only answer. As a man, I feel it’s my duty to live happily with my beloved family.

BY KIM NA-HYEON [hkim@joongang.co.kr]



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