Down-to-earth Shin goes superhuman in 'The Witch: Part 2'
The sequel to 2018 box office hit "The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion" is out with a fresh face and a slew of superhumans.
Continuing the story of human clones with supernatural powers created as a part of a global experiment, "The Witch: Part 2. The Other One" kicks off as a laboratory on Jeju Island gets invaded by an unknown group and a teenage model deemed to be the most powerful clone of all, portrayed by actor Shin Si-ah, escapes. She is referred to as "girl" throughout the film.
Various teams of superhumans from around the world are unleashed to retrieve the girl, who has taken shelter in a regular household in Jeju, where Kyung-hee, portrayed by Park Eun-bin, lives with her brother.
Since premiering on June 15, over 1.5 million tickets have been sold and the film is No. 1 in the local box office, according to data from the Korean Film Council on Tuesday.
The Korea JoongAng Daily interviewed actors Shin Si-ah on June 13 and Park Eun-bin on June 17 to discuss "The Witch: Part 2. The Other One."
"Since my character was experiencing the outside world for the first time, I worked extensively on emptying myself of everything that I knew," said Shin. Director Park Hun-jung "would tell me that I can be reduced to a state of nothingness."
Petite and doe-eyed yet dangerously destructive, Shin's character convincingly leads the 237-minute film with barely any lines.
Shin, 24, beat 1,408 individuals over three rounds of auditions and is making her debut in the film. It was her first ever acting audition. She is still in university, finishing off her senior year.
"I was very anxious while waiting for the result of the audition, but one day I got a call from an unknown number, and it was director Park. He asked me what I was doing, and I said that I was eating bread. Then, he told me to finish my bread, get some rest and wait. Later, I got another call from him telling me to come and get my script. I couldn't believe it."
Anticipation for Shin's performance in the new film runs especially high as Kim Da-mi debuted as the lead in "The Witch: Part 1" and catapulted to fame. She went on to star as lead in "Itaewon Class" (2020) and SBS's "Our Beloved Summer" (2021-22).
"On set, I received advice from Kim Da-mi. When I was unsure of myself, she assured me that I was doing well and instilled confidence in me."
Kim makes a special appearance at the end of the film as the older sister to Shin's character.
Newly entering into "The Witch" universe is actor Park Eun-bin in the role of Kyung-hee, a normal human without any superpowers who takes care of the girl who she encounters on the road.
Acting since she was five years old, Park has become more recognized as an actor through recent dramas "Do You Like Brahms?" (2020) "Hot Stove League" (2019-20) and "The King's Affection" (2021).
While Park said that she didn't take on the role of Kyung-hee to necessarily challenge herself or try something new, she said she decided to join the cast because she wanted to experience and be part of "The Witch" series.
"Director Park has such a vast universe planned out, and hearing him talk about these details and the behind-story of this universe, I was fascinated.
"But there was one thing in Kyung-hee's character that was new," Park continued, "It's the use of expletives."
Kyung-hee, though an incredibly kind and warmhearted character, likes to use colorful language.
"Kyung-hee was swearing, literally all her life, because it was all that she could do," said Park. "I have sworn before on camera but they were bleeped out. So for the audience, it will be the first time that they hear me actually swear."
Apart from her relationship with the girl, Kyung-hee's own story isn't explored in-depth. Yet the character is critical in holding the balance between good and evil, wedged between the very qualities that make up a person, amid the superhumans.
"Kyung-hee is a good person, but there are moments when her virtue is tested," she said. "And these are the scenes that make her character very human and relatable. She also helps the film stay grounded in reality amid all the superhumans."
"I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to have any superpowers though," Park joked.
Shin, on the other hand, had her hands full with all sorts of supernatural stunts.
"After being notified that I was cast for the role, I only had three weeks to practice before going into shooting," said Shin. Although she attended action classes and worked out during that time, to Shin's relief, her action scenes didn’t include many physically difficult sequences but rather required her to make simple movements, like a flick of a finger or a slight nod of the head with a sense of gravity.
"My character is already too powerful, so she doesn't need to move around a lot," Shin said with a smile. "So, I focused on making simple movements seem intense. But I'd certainly like to try more action sequences if I have a chance in the future."
When Shin saw the finished product during the preview screening earlier this month, she said that she was amazed at the CGI.
"It was ten times more awesome than what I had imagined while filming the scenes," said Shin.
Park said that she wasn't able to watch the movie during the preview screening due to her schedule, but she watched it a few days later when the film opened in theaters.
"I hadn't been to a theater in nearly three years, so I was excited to go," she said. "It was late at night on Thursday, but there were still a lot of people at the theater. I felt very thankful."
BY LEE JIAN [email@example.com]