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[Herald Interview] Gong Seung-yeon hopes viewers can understand socially isolated Jin-ah in ‘Aloners’

Gong Seung-yeon (Varo Entertainment)
Gong Seung-yeon (Varo Entertainment)

For actor Gong Seung-yeon, an extrovert who enjoys hanging out with different people, her character Jin-ah in “Aloners,” who tries to avoid any personal interaction with others, was not easy to understand.

“I did not understand why she had to be so extreme,” Gong told local reporters during a joint media interview at the Korean Film Council’s office in Mapo, Seoul. “As the story developed I could understand her gradually. I hope audiences also experience this process and come to understand her by the end of the movie.”

Gong’s new movie, “Aloners,” depicts the story of credit card customer service worker Jin-ah, who chooses to be socially isolated and lives life like a robot. She finds out one day that her next-door neighbor, who tried making conversation with her several times, has died alone at home. At work she is responsible for training newbie Soo-jin (played by Jung Da-eun), who hopes to become close with her. Jin-ah tries to avoid Soo-jin as much as possible, but it is not easy.

The actor added that the key to understanding Jin-ah’s unusual behavior is to take a close look at the scenes that show the character’s past relationships with her family and boss.

“Aloners” being her first feature film, Gong said she tried to pay keen attention to details. For instance, Gong said she picked only a few items of clothing for Jin-ah.

“I thought that Jin-ah would have a limited wardrobe. One of them is a jumper that she wears every day in the winter season,” she said. “Also, I did not wear much makeup and did not do my hair.”

Also, to understand Jin-ah’s job, Gong talked to her sister.

“My sister was similar to Su-jin in the movie. She worked for several service centers when she was 19. To be honest, she did not tell me anything positive about the job,” Gong said. “While playing Jin-ah, I actually felt sorry for my sister, because I used to tell her that all jobs are supposed to be tough.”

Despite her thorough research, there are scenes Gong is not fully happy with.

“I was not satisfied with the smoking scene. I am not a smoker so it was difficult. People who watched the film pointed out that smokers do not throw out long cigarette butts. I did not catch those details,” Gong said.

During the interview, Gong also shared an interesting fact about the shooting location.

“The place where the film was shot was where I lived (when I was young). So this movie felt like destiny,” she said.

Unlike Jin-ah, Gong said she used to interact a lot with her neighbors there.

“I knew everyone on my floor,” she said.

For playing Jin-ah, Gong won the best actor prize at this year’s Jeonju International Film Festival. She said the win was a turning point in her career.

“I have always wanted my parents and people around to recognize my career as an actor. Also, I focused on proving that I can be an actor to people who told me to give up,” she said. “Now it has changed. I think more about how to become a good actor nowadays.”

“Aloners” opens Wednesday.

By Song Seung-hyun (