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Independent thriller movie ‘Drown’ to compete with big budget films this summer

Aug. 11, 2022 - 15:26 By Song Seung-hyun
From left: Actors Kim Dae-gun, Kim Yeon-kyo, Kang Mal-geum and Lee Jong-ok pose after a press conference held on Tuesday at CGV Yongsan, Seoul. (KAFA)

While local theaters are packed with big-budget Korean films like “Hansan: Rising Dragon,” “Emergency Declaration” and “Alienoid,” director Lim Sang-su hopes his independent film “Drown” will attract moviegoers with its own charm.

“There are many good movies in theaters now. But I would like to emphasize the importance of the diversity of movies. We have a unique mysterious story and I think audiences will enjoy this,” actor Lee Jong-ok, who played protagonist Do-woo in the film, said during a press conference held Tuesday at CGV Yongsan, Seoul.

Director Lim’s “Drown” tells a story of motel owner Do-woo, who has to take care of his mother who lives with Alzheimer’s. Do-woo is having a hard time as his mother’s situation gets worse day by day. While Do-woo is sleeping, his mother suddenly disappears. Soon after, a young man named Ho-seung (Kim Dae-gun), visits the motel. Do-woo becomes suspicious of him but at the same time can’t help but grow closer to him.

The director also hoped that the audience would have fun guessing whether Ho-seung is an imaginary person that Do-woo created.

“If Ho-seung does not exist, Do-woo is the villain and if he exits, then Do-woo becomes the victim. This is an import plot of our movie,” the director said.

Before writing the script four years ago, Lim recalled being worried that he wouldn’t be able to debut as a director of a feature film after working in the industry for 10 years. 

“Drown” directed by Lim Sang-su (KAFA)

Lim, who was in his late 30s at the time, took a trip to Taebaek in Gangwon Province to get his mind off the negative thoughts. It was there he stumbled across a small motel similar to the one in the film and was inspired by the lonely owner.

The cast said they all had a strong impression of the script during the press conference.

“It has a dramatic twist and also had parts that are cruel,” actor Lee said.

Co-lead Kim Dae-gun added that the script was so detailed he could visualize the entire motel’s structure just by reading it.

Kim Yeon-kyo, who played cafe server Mi-ri, said she especially loved how the characters were so down to earth.

Lim, albeit impressed by Lee’s portrayal of villain characters in previous works, was also worried about whether it was right to cast him for the role of Do-woo.

“I was sure that he would do great when performing Do-woo’s strong character during the second half of the movie, but at the beginning, Do-woo had to show a shy and kind side,” the director said.

But all his worries disappeared after their first meeting.

“Maybe he knew that I was watching. But I saw him opening the door for his manager. That is the moment when I thought, ‘I have to work with him,’” Lim said.

Although ‘Drown’ is a dark and mysterious film, the actors said the filming process could not be more different.

“We filmed the movie at a motel in Gokseong (South Jeolla Province). When we were not shooting the film, we went to ride rail bikes together. We even went to a zoo and had so much fun there,” actor Lee said.

“Drown” will hit local theaters on Aug. 18.