With the Netflix release of Kill Boksoon this Friday, Dorkaholics had the opportunity to speak with Jeon Do-yeon about her leading role in the film alongside other journalists. During this special event, a variety of topics were covered including the mother-daughter dynamic, catharsis, the demanding action sequences, delivering lines in another language, and her process of selecting roles all came up in discussion.
Freelance writer Kaitlin Stevens kicked off the roundtable by asking about the closeness and distance of the mother-daughter relationship in the film.
“I know there’s a lot of secrets between mother and daughter, and in the end, when it seems that everything is on the table, there’s a closeness between mother and daughter again,” Stevens said. “Do you think that that’s because secrets were revealed, or because mother and daughter both realized that they just wanted to protect each other?”
While Jeon Do-yeon agreed when it came to the characters in the film, she believes there is a healthy balance in secrets when it comes to real life.
“Instead of I guess revealing the secrets for Boksoon and Jae-young, I think they kind of shared their thoughts on those secrets and that’s how they got to grow together as people. And I think it’s a very open end for the movie,” Jeon Do-yeon said. “I personally don’t think that you have to expose all of your secrets in order to have a good relationship. Sometimes I think secrets are needed to have a healthier relationship.”
She went on to discuss her real-life relationship with her own daughter.
“I have a daughter myself and I’m looking at my mother-daughter relationship. I think there is a place where people do need secrets, so I don’t think it was necessarily because they shared their secrets, but after sharing their secrets, they could have talks,” Jeon Do-yeon said. “That’s what was more important.”
Bina Lee, the features writer and editor at Soompi, noted the difference in characters for Jeon Do-yeon when comparing this current role to a previous one, and asked if there was any catharsis in playing a distinctly new role.
“I recently watched your Korean drama Crash Course in Romance, and I was a huge fan. Your character in the Kill Boksoon is very different from Crash Course,” Lee said. “Did you feel a bit of catharsis playing this particular role because it’s very different from some of the other roles you’ve done?”
Jeon Do-yeon responded by sharing that the catharsis she felt from this role was more about challenging low expectations for female-led action films by delivering a quality performance, more so than playing an unfamiliar role.
“I would say that I didn’t really feel a sense of catharsis when I was shooting for Kill Boksoon. But the fact that director Byun came to me with this movie and asked me to do Kill Boksoon did give me a sense of catharsis because this is what I have to work on as well,” Jeon Do-yeon said. “I think people just basically have very low expectations for female killers or you know, female action movies. And I want to make sure that I go beyond that and make sure that people are interested in female killers and action. So that was the part that I felt a lot of catharsis.”
She went on to point out the common thread between herself and these two characters, specifically all three of them being mothers.
“And also, I just want to add that my character Haeng-seon in Crash Course in Romance and Bok-soon in Kill Boksoon, are two polar opposites as you said,” Jeon Do-yeon said. “But you know me, myself as an actress, so Jeon Do-yeon, Bok-soon and Haeng-seon – these three have something in common and that is that we are very hard-working moms that try really hard to look after their kids.”
A key part of the film and its action sequences is how the characters imagine the fights playing out with the potential moves being shown on screen, and so I asked about the experience of filming the same scene in different positions with different results.
“I felt like I was caught up in an endless cycle of action scenes going on and on again. So, I would film one position and then I would think about it, and then I would go shoot another sequence of the same action scene,” Jeon Do-yeon said. “So, I think it was, five times or 10 times more action than I would expect from an action scene. It was a struggle for me.”
Nobuhiro Hosoki, editor-in-chief of Cinema Daily US, recalled the film’s opening scene where Bok-soon is fighting a yakuza member and communicates in Japanese and asked Jeon Do-yeon about her practice with the Japanese language in order to deliver those lines.
“I think it’s always difficult to act in a different language, not your mother tongue, whether it be English or Japanese. But I really tried hard to understand what I was saying in Japanese. I could just memorize the line, but I wanted to make sure that I know what I’m saying so that I could put feelings of Bok-soon into the lines,” Jeon Do-yeon said. “Thank God that I didn’t have really long lines. I just want to say that I really try to understand what I’m saying so that I could add those emotions in the lines when I was speaking Japanese.”
Aayush Sharma, entertainment editor of MEA WorldWide, asked what is important to Jeon Do-yeon when it comes to her selection of roles through her career.
“From the very beginning of my career up until now, it was always the scenario that came first. I wanted the scenario to be something that I could relate to, and it had to be a story that I want to tell the audience. But this time it was quite different because I chose to do the film without even looking at the scenario in the very beginning stages,” Jeon Do-yeon said. “So actually, director Byun and I would talk, and we would make the story together. It was a very new type of challenge for me at first because I didn’t look at the scenario when I chose to do it, I didn’t know if I could pull this off well or not.”
She went on to discuss the significance of Kill Boksoon as a film in a genre that many would not expect from her.
“Over the past years, directors have come to me with different genres and I’m very thankful for director Byun for coming to me with such a genre that nobody would expect me to do,” Jeon Do-yeon said. “Because he chose me, I wanted to show people that I could actually be a very versatile actor who could pull off unexpected genres as well.”
In a way this film is dedicated to actors such as Jeon Do-yeon, as she explains how the director of the film, Byun Sung-hyun, even included a line in Kill Boksoon that recognizes veteran actors, their versatility, and their potential.
“And in the movie there’s this phrase that says something about a dull and old knife, and they say it actually gives a bigger wound to you when you use a dull knife. It hurts even more. And director Byun said that it was kind of a tribute to seasoned actors like me and Sol Kyung-gu,” Jeon Do-yeon said. “So, I think this was proof to me that people with longer experience, they could be versatile, they could be really good. So, I really wanted to make sure that I pulled this off really well.”
To wrap up the interview, she was asked if she believes she could be a good hitwoman in real life. And her response sums up the work ethic she demonstrates in the film as discussed during this roundtable.
“If I were a killer, I would try my very best. Yeah, I have to pull it off.”
Get to know Jeon Do-yeon’s latest character Gil Bok-soon in Kill Boksoon, out on Netflix this Friday, March 31, 2023!
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