The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Yoo Yeon-seok attracted to values in canine film ‘My Heart Puppy’

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Feb. 26, 2023 - 13:50

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Yoo Yeon-seok (Kidari Studio) Yoo Yeon-seok (Kidari Studio)

For Yoo Yeon-seok, it was a clear choice for him to appear in canine-themed film “My Heart Puppy,” as a person who has had dogs from a young age and acted as ambassador of Seoul Animal Film Festival. A chance to act with the four-legged friends and tell stories of the companion animals through the screen were his priorities.

“I first grabbed the script with a light-hearted mind because the title was cute. Then after I finished reading it, there was no choice for me (but to appear in the film),” Yoo told The Korea Herald during an interview in Seoul on Feb. 17.

“At that time, I could have been attracted to other megascale projects for my acting career, but I was attracted to values that ‘My Heart Puppy’ wants to portray, especially after meeting with director Jason Kim and learning about his sincerity for dogs,” said Yoo.

Director Jason Kim said in another interview with The Korea Herald that main actors Yoo and Cha Tae-hyun have lowered the amount they would normally get paid for appearing in the film for this low-budget project.

“To be honest, I forgot how much I was paid for this project. The pay was not the point of appearing in this film. Neither was box office success the purpose of this film’s release. What I prioritized was what kind of attitude and mind I can bring to this project, as well as other actors and cameos who wanted to spread the message on respecting dogs and taking responsibility in raising dogs,” Yoo said.

“My Heart Puppy” revolves around the efforts of Min-soo (Yoo) and Jin-guk (Cha) to find a new family for Min-soo’s dog Rooney, after discovering that Min-soo’s fiance is allergic to dogs.

Just as the film hopes to encourage, Yoo adopted an abandoned dog from a shelter after they finished shooting.

“When I worked with director Yim Soon-rye for ‘Whistle Blower’ in 2014, Yim, who also heads the Korea Animal Rights Advocates, told me about the stories of abandoned dogs and also about the ways to adopt them. A year after wrapping up ‘My Heart Puppy,’ I sent the application to the center without revealing my name and put my job as a freelancer because I wanted to show my sincerity,” he said, adding that it was after wrapping up shooting for the second season of “Hospital Playlist” in November 2021 that he brought a relatively less popular large-sized English Setter to his home and named her Rita.

Yoo said he wants the audience to focus on the message and values of the film.

“Min-soo at first tries to look for a new owner, but that is just part of the episode. Once understanding who Min-soo is and his character, a person who is traumatized of letting a family go after his mother passes away, for him making a new family means something different. Then he is faced with a real-life dilemma, but tries his best to look for the best solution for Rooney. That’s why he goes all the way to Jeju Island,” Yoo said.

“Many people imagine bringing a cute puppy home would be a life of happily ever after, but the reality is often different. Min-soo, who has made the not-so-mature choice of deciding to look for a new owner for his dog, learns throughout his life in the film that Rooney is also part of the family that he never wants to let go,” he added.

After portraying his affection and care for dogs in his character Min-soo, he said he will meet the audience in a totally different character soon.

“It’s still really difficult for me to play different characters every time. I’m still curious in playing different roles I haven’t played before,” said the actor with a 20-year career, adding he will appear as a murderer in his next project, “A Very Lucky Day.”

Yoo Yeon-seok and Cha Tae-hyun’s “My Heart Puppy” opens in local cinemas on March 1.

“My Heart Puppy” (Kidari Studio) “My Heart Puppy” (Kidari Studio)