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[Herald Interview] Shin Min-ah says ‘Diva’ is like flesh to her

Actor returns to big screen as a diver in upcoming thriller

Shin Min-ah (Megabox Joongang Plus M)
Shin Min-ah (Megabox Joongang Plus M)
For actor Shin Min-ah, her latest film “Diva,” slated to hit local theaters Wednesday, feels like a part of her flesh.

“I put my whole self from head-to-toe into preparing for the film, and that is not something I can experience often,” Shin told local reporters during a joint media interview conducted through group chat due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 36-year-old actor is returning to the silver screen with her first commercial film since “My Love, My Bride” in 2014. Shin stars as veteran diver named Yi-young, who, following a mysterious accident related to her old friend and rival Su-jin, starts to become obsessed. Su-jin (played by Lee Yoo-young) goes missing after the accident, but memories of Su-jin and rumors about her continue to haunt Yi-young.

Shin said the strong narrative surrounding the two female figures was what fascinated her the most when she first read the script.

“These kinds of scripts telling the stories of women are very rare,” Shin said. “The storyline was strong, and although Yi-young’s emotions seemed complicated and sensitive, I thought it would be interesting if I could portray the character well.” 

A scene from “Diva” (Megabox Joongang Plus M)
A scene from “Diva” (Megabox Joongang Plus M)

Not only are the film‘s lead characters women, director Jo Seul-yeah, who also took part in writing the script, and CEO Kim Yun-mi, of the film’s production studio Oal, are both women as well -- an uncommon sight in South Korea’s male-dominated film industry.

“Working with female staff and crew members is not something (I had never) experienced, but this time the director, producer, the lead cast members and even the shooting director were all women. We did not gather because we were women, but just as talented people with a keen interest in cinema. I feel the times have changed and many talented women in the film industry, not just in Korea but everywhere, are now taking the lead,” Shin said.

Though not afraid of water, Shin said standing on a diving board some 10 meters above the ground was a special experience.

“It felt strange, as I was standing above everyone else, looking down on them on the ground waiting for me, focusing on my breath before jumping. That emotion I felt then seemed strangely in line with Yi-young’s emotion in the film,” she said.

A scene from “Diva” (Megabox Joongang Plus M)
A scene from “Diva” (Megabox Joongang Plus M)

Although her character, who is unable to rid herself of her obsessions over past glory, does not seem normal on the outside, Shin said Yi-young’s emotion and relationship with Su-jin are not so unusual in real life, and she could relate to them.

“Living in this competitive society, I think everyone must have gone through similar experiences. Although the film takes the topic of diving and the emotions involved in it, which may seem too delicate and complex, I feel even those emotions are common,” Shin said. “Although not as deeply affected as Yi-young or Su-jin, but I have also envied others in the past and I think I’ve always had a yearning to be like someone else.”

By Choi Ji-won (