‘Our Season’ director, veteran actor seek to create relatable mother-daughter story

By Lee Gyu-lee gyulee@koreatimes.co.kr

Veteran actor Kim Hae-sook has quite an experience when it comes to portraying a mother figure, playing a range of mother characters on the big and small screens, including the medical series “Hospital Playlist” (2020) and the drama film “New Trial” (2017).

Despite Kim’s extensive portfolio, her latest role — as the spirit of a deceased woman returning from the afterlife to see her daughter — in the upcoming film “Our Season” offers an especially meaningful exploration of the depths of a mother-daughter relationship.

“I’ve played a lot of mother characters until now, but ‘Our Season’ will remain the most meaningful work among them. I’ve approached the character with the mind that I’m representing every mother in the world,” Kim said during an interview with The Korea Times, at a cafe in Jongno District, Wednesday.

The fantasy drama film, set to premiere on Dec. 6, revolves around single mother, Bok-ja (Kim), who dedicated her life to raising her daughter, Jin-joo (Shin Min-a). Three years after her untimely death, she is granted a special chance to return to Earth for three days.

Bok-ja’s excitement about visiting her daughter, who made her mother proud by becoming a professor at a prestigous U.S. university, soon turns to disappointment when she finds out that Jin-joo has abandoned her academic career to run the small diner Bok-ja once owned.

Unable to communicate with her daughter, Bok-ja silently observes the struggles Jin-joo has been going through from their mother-daughter relationship.

The film is directed by Yuk Sang-hyo, who previously led the 2019 drama film “Inseparable Bros,” and is scripted by writer Yoo Young-ah, who wrote the 2018 romance series “Encounter” and the 2013 drama film “Miracle in Cell No. 7.”

Kim and the director shared that they crafted the story to resonate on a personal level.

Kim highlighted the importance of cherishing and openly expressing love in relationships, particularly in a fast-paced world where meaningful communication is often neglected.

“This character of the mother, who’s on visiting as a spirit, was something that I’ve never done before. I liked the idea. Anyone whose parents have passed away would agree, but I wanted to fulfill the fantasy and immerse myself in the emotions (of the character). We live a busy life and pass the time without saying any kind words to our precious ones. Looking back, not saying those words to the closest people remains as the most painful thing to us,” actor Kim said.

“These days, there is a lot of flashy, stimulating and superficial content. So I chose this film, thinking it’s a film that will make people reflect and remind them about a warmhearted family story in this harsh world … Because I took on this project with this mindset, I dedicated myself to delivering such feelings to viewers.”

The director added he was drawn to the emotional story that touched his heart from the start.

“At first, before reading the script, I thought, ‘It’s just a story about an ordinary mom and daughter.’ But the script was so poignant that I would shed tears on the paper. I was reading it alone in an office and it took me a long time to finish it because I had to calm myself, take a moment to breathe from time to time while reading,” he said.

“I have a daughter — I became a father at a late age. And I came to reflect on my emotions towards my daughter when reading the script, and couldn’t help but think, ‘My daughter will also miss me too someday.’”

The film navigates the complex dynamics of Bok-ja and Jin-joo’s relationship. Bok-ja commits herself to giving a better life than her own to her daughter, sending Jin-joo to live with her brother’s family. Despite her financial support and dedicated love, the two grow apart, especially when Jin-joo takes up a teaching position abroad.

The director said regardless of the two’s unusual circumstances, he was confident that the portrayal of the delicate relationship between mother and daughter would speak to the audience universally through the themes of love, misunderstanding and reconciliation.

“It’s normal for mothers and daughters to have misunderstandings which often accumulate to hurt each other’s emotions, then become disappointed and fall into regret. Even if one doesn’t have such unique circumstances, I believed I could portray these emotions,” he said.

“Although the scenarios are intense, the detailed scenes that demonstrate the two characters’ relationship had to be ordinary enough for people to empathize with. I felt anyone can relate to the scenes like the daughter avoiding her mother’s phone calls or the mother living in her daughter’s house after arguments.”

The film weaves comedy throughout the emotional story, while including tear-jerking scenes that depict the estranged but devoted relationship of the mother and daughter. The director and Kim said they tried to tone down those scenes to avoid making them overly dramatic.

“I felt we needed to get audiences to resonate with the story rather than to be simply sad … It was more important for them to tear up out of empathy so I didn’t want to make it even more tear-jerking on purpose,” the director said.

“The role of Bok-ja required both comical and emotional acting. She came down after three years to see Jin-joo so she had to show strong emotions. Kim exceeded my expectation in making the humorous scenes and portrayed the sad scenes while holding back her emotions.”

Kim’s approach to the character of Bok-ja was to humanize her, striving for realism in her portrayal of a mother’s curiosity and lifelong dedication to her daughter. This balance between humor and seriousness brings a grounded, relatable aspect to the film.

“The mother departed without seeing her daughter going to the U.S. So I thought she would be really curious about how her daughter is doing. Her daughter was her life’s central focus, so I tried to develop the character realistically, imagining how she would feel,” she said.

“I wanted to go against many people’s expectation that there will be a lot of tears in the scenes. Even with the humorous scenes, it was hard to keep the balance so as not to lose the flow of emotions … I recerved those emotions for the most important, last scene.”






The Korea Times Co.