Award-winning actress Shim Eun-kyung says she found her latest role in the sci-fi black comedy Psychokinesis challenging.

“My previous roles had unique concepts – in Miss Granny [I] was an old woman who mysteriously regained her youth; in Queen of Walking [I played] a high-schooler who cannot ride any transportation due to motion sickness; and in Sunny I was a high-schooler who swears as if in a state of [being] possessed by spirits. Compared with those [roles], my [latest] role was quite the opposite,” said the actress during an interview with The Korea Times at a cafe in Seoul on Thursday. 

“My role [in Psychokinesis] had none of these peculiar concepts. Although the film itself is sci-fi fantasy, the role I had to play was [that of] an ordinary person one can see in reality documentary TV shows. I really wanted this new character, but at the same time, I was worried,” she added, calling herself a worrywart. 

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Psychokinesis, directed by Yeon Sang-ho, is a supernatural thriller telling the story of a man – played by veteran actor Ryu Seung-ryong – who inadvertently acquires superpowers and uses them to help his daughter and others, but runs into trouble in the process. Shim plays Shin Roo-mi, the estranged daughter of the superhero. After Shin’s mother is killed in a struggle with thugs hired by a building demolition company over a town redevelopment project, father and daughter team up to fight for their home alongside other evictees. 

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“I found the characters – reflections of various people in real life – the director depicts in the film as very interesting. It was intriguing how those involved affected one another,” said Shim. “If the director mainly had shocking endings in his previous animated films, while I was working with him this time I was surprised by how he makes a delicate balancing job of retaining both commercial elements and his unique directing style with some clever sarcastic wit.”

Shim, who debuted in 2004 in the TV series The Woman Who Wants to Marry as a child actress, first worked with Yeon when she acted in zombie thriller Train to Busan; she also did the voice recording for the heroine of Yeon’s Seoul Station, the animated prequel to Train to Busan

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“In my understanding, the film includes the director’s sharp perspectives of modernisation and city development, but focuses more on the catharsis the audience would feel [in] seeing an ordinary person gain a superpower and use it,” added Shin, who said her favourite scene is the one set in the police station, in which nearly half the lines were delivered impromptu during the shooting.


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Although Shim has continued to develop her acting skills over her 14 year career, she says she has always been obsessed with the idea that she should excel in her acting and constantly felt she was selling herself short. Psychokinesis has freed her from this obsession. 

“There were times that I could act [without] feeling stressed. But as time [went by], I [became] gripped by thoughts that I should reveal different characters in each project. Then I came to wonder if acting is really for me,” said Shin. “Thanks to Psychokinesis, I learned to accept acting in a more relaxed way.

“When I worried and asked Yeon about what new acting styles he expects from me, he said I should not worry about it because he likes to use my style so I can focus more on the project stress-free.” 

This article by Park Jin-hai originally appeared in The Korea Times