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Buddhist monks-turned-exorcists save the day in ‘The 8th Night’

From left, actors Lee Sung-min, Nam Da-reum, Kim Yoo-jung, director Kim Tae-hyung, actors Park Hye-joon and Kim Dong-young pose for a photo after an online press conference held ahead of the release of Korean mystery thriller “The 8th Night.” (Netflix)
From left, actors Lee Sung-min, Nam Da-reum, Kim Yoo-jung, director Kim Tae-hyung, actors Park Hye-joon and Kim Dong-young pose for a photo after an online press conference held ahead of the release of Korean mystery thriller “The 8th Night.” (Netflix)

The director of the highly anticipated Korean mystery thriller “The 8th Night” Kim Tae-hyung said his new movie is unique because it features Buddhist monks in a way moviegoers have never seen them before.

“Our movie shows that Buddist monks can also appear as exorcists,” the director said during an online press conference held on Monday, ahead of the film’s Netflix release on Friday.

“I agree with the director. I am a Christian but I have wondered why only church priests get to be exorcists in both Korean and foreign mystery horror films,” said actor Lee Sung-min, who played former Buddhist monk Jin-soo in the film. “Also, most mystery horror films like this end when the evil spirit disappears. But this movie is different.”

Lee explained that audiences will have an epiphany when they finish watching the film.

“There are hidden messages in our movie,” the director added.

The new film begins by introducing a Buddhist legend, which is read in ancient Indian Sanskrit by an actor from India.

“The introduction part of the film was made based on the Sakyamuni’s Geumgang sutra. It is a legend created based on the idea that there could have been a goblin among the people when Sakyamuni was spreading the sutra 2,500 years ago,” the director said.

The movie depicts the struggle of an exorcist named Jin-soo who tries hard to stop the goblin‘s two mysterious eyes -- one black and one red -- from being released to the world again. The eyes, which can torment humans, were locked up in two caskets 2,500 years ago.

“Jin-soo is a character that can feel and see a world that is different from the world that we are living in. That is something that I never experienced so I had to rely on my imagination when performing,” Lee said. “Also Jin-soo used to be a Buddhist monk in the film. So I discussed the character with real monks to make him look realistic.”

He also added that he had to practice some Sanskrit for the movie.

“There were few lines, so I had to practice that,” Lee said.

During the conference, actor Nam Da-reum, who plays a Buddhist monk that works closely with Jin-soo, showed how excited he was to perform with Lee again in the new film.

“We played father and son in the drama ‘Memory.’ Even after the shooting the drama, I kept on calling him dad because to me, he really was like my father,” Nam said. “When I heard that he was playing Jin-soo, I knew I wanted to play Chang-seok even before reading the script.”


By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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