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Actor Oh Dal-su returns to big screen two years after sexual assault allegations

From left: Kim Byung-chul, Oh Dal-su, Lee Yoo-bi, director Lee Hwan-kyung, Jung Woo and Kim Hee-won pose after a press conference at CGV Yongsan in Seoul on Wednesday (Yonhap)
From left: Kim Byung-chul, Oh Dal-su, Lee Yoo-bi, director Lee Hwan-kyung, Jung Woo and Kim Hee-won pose after a press conference at CGV Yongsan in Seoul on Wednesday (Yonhap)
Oh Dal-su, who dropped out of acting in 2018 following allegations of sexual assault, is returning to the big screen in “Good Neighbor.”

The sexual assault claims surfaced in February 2018 amid the spread of the #MeToo movement in Korea, and scenes featuring Oh were subsequently removed from tvN series “My Mister” and hit film “Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days” in the same year. Filming for “Good Neighbor” was likewise completed in February 2018.

In early 2019, police they were closing the investigation into allegations after being unable to discover sufficient evidence against Oh.

“I came here with a heavy heart. I want to thank all the staff and actors for their hard work two to three years ago,” Oh said at a press conference held ahead of the release of “Good Neighbor” at CGV Yongsan in Seoul on Wednesday.

In the upcoming film, agent Dae-kwon (Jung Woo) is tasked with watching over influential opposition party politician Lee Eui-sik (Oh Dal-su), who seems to have plans to run in the next presidential election, and his family 24/7. Dae-kwon moves into a house next door and slowly becomes a neighbor close to the politician and his family.

“I am relieved that this movie could be released. Like Lee in the movie, I have learned the importance of family. I have been farming on Geojedo and my family was there with me the whole time to prevent me from thinking too much (of the scandal),” Oh said. “I have been living routinely while waiting for this release.”

The director and other actors tried to show their support for Oh’s return.

“It has been seven years since my last movie ‘Miracle in Cell No. 7’ came out. I should have returned earlier and feel sorry to the audience and also excited as well,” director Lee Hwan-kyung said, adding that he asked Oh to be at the press conference with him for moral support.

Released in 2013, “Miracle in Cell No. 7” sold more than 12.81 million cinema tickets in Korea.

“I think Oh is like ramen. You never get tired of him,” Lee said. “And if you don’t have ramen for a while, out of worries that it might make you put on weight, you soon crave it. He is like that and I love and respect him.”

“I see that Oh played a crucial role in the Korean movie industry, and also, as a member of the audience I was glad and grateful to see him again on the big screen,” Jung said.

During the conference, the director explained that although the new movie’s setting -- in 1985 with the main character under detention at home -- might be reminiscent of certain historical and political figures, this is not a movie with a strong political or social message.

“It is like how ‘Miracle in Cell No. 7’ was not a movie that depicts problems of our correctional facilities and the criminal justice system. It is rather a movie about a daughter and a father,” the director said. “I wanted to show how two men become good neighbors in an ironic situation.” He also added that the storyline is far from what really happened in Korean history.

“I also tried to show an ordinary dad character. He is detained at home, so ends up spending a lot of time with his family,” Oh added.

The director also praised Jung, who plays the only character in the film that goes through some political-ideological changes in the film.

“When I was auditioning actors for my debut film, he came in. I thought he has charms like Simba from ‘Lion King.’ I watched him grow up to become a lion king and was fascinated,” Lee said.

The movie hits local theaters on Nov. 25.

By Song Seung-hyun  (