Exclusive Interview with Actress Moon So-ri

Article By Joy Chiang Ling
Photo by Xue Liang

Acclaimed Korean actress Moon So-ri made her film debut in 2000 with Peppermint Candy. Now, with 14 years of experience under her belt, she graces the New York Asian Film Festival with the documentary Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits. The film recounts the life of a famous Korean shaman named Kim Geum-Hwa, who Moon So-ri represents in staged flashbacks. AsianInNY had the opportunity to interview Ms. Moon at the Asia Society in Manhattan.

AsianInNY: “What inspired you to become an actor?”

Moon So-ri: “I loved theater. The college that I attended was located in the ‘Broadway of Korea’ in Seoul. As a college student, I kept visiting the theaters there and watched them. I actually never thought that I would become an actress – I just had my love for theater. Now that I think about it, maybe it was just fate.”

AsianInNY: “So how did you first become acquainted with the film industry?”

Moon So-ri: “When I auditioned for my first film, Peppermint Candy, I did not expect to be accepted. I only went to gain experience. I was surprised to be selected for the main role of the film. It was a very large, publicly open audition.”

AsianInNY: “How did you feel when you were contacted to attend NYAFF and that Manshin would be selected as the final film?”

Moon So-ri: “As you know this film is a documentary, and the director took a very long time – about 3 years – to get it ready. I only participated for only a short time throughout the whole filming process, so it feels like a bonus for me to come here for the film. I think it is very meaningful that this film can be shown to foreign audiences.”

AsianInNY: “How do you relate personally to Manshin?”

Moon So-ri: “As a Manshin I had to learn how to dance and sing… learning how to do that was a difficult process. Reenacting a living person was also hard. Although it was difficult, it was also very fun and exciting.”

AsianInNY: “Did you ever meet Kim Geum-hwa in real life and how did you prepare for your role as her?”

Moon So-ri: “I met Kim Geum-hwa once before the shooting. I had more chances to meet her after the film was finished for PR purposes. She is old now, and her health is not perfect, so rather than go and consult her about acting, I watched a bunch of video clips about manshins and also talked to the director about how I should go about portraying the character. I wanted to show the audience the pain and hurt that Kim had to go through.”

AsianInNY: “What do you admire most about Kim Geum-hwa?”

Moon So-ri: “When you first meet her, you automatically feel huge respect for her. It feels like you met an artist who walked on one straight path for a very long time. Because that one path that she walked was filled with hardships, I sympathized with her. Personally, I think that life of a manshin is similar to life as an actress. Having that thought made me able to relate to her.”

AsianInNY: “Are there any upcoming films that you plan on working on?”

Moon So-ri: “There is nothing that I am working on right now or planning to, but I worked on Hill of Freedom, a film that will premiere in September.”

AsianInNY: “Is this your first time in New York? What are your plans here besides attending NYAFF?”

Moon So-ri: “It is my second time in New York. I will meet a friend here. In Korea I live with my parents and a baby, a big family. So while I am here in New York I want to spend more time with my husband.”

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