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Choi Min-sik returns with “Exhuma,” his first-ever occult flick

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Jan. 17, 2024 - 13:59

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From left: Actors Choi Min-sik, Kim Go-eun, Yoo Hae-jin and director Jang Jae-hyun pose for a photo during a press conference for “Exhuma” held at Plaza Hotel Seoul in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap) From left: Actors Choi Min-sik, Kim Go-eun, Yoo Hae-jin and director Jang Jae-hyun pose for a photo during a press conference for “Exhuma” held at Plaza Hotel Seoul in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Veteran actor Choi Min-sik of “Old Boy” who gained huge popularity last year with Disney+ series “Big Bet” stars in his first-ever occult flick, “Exhuma,” directed by "K-occult master" Jang Jae-hyun.

“I personally don’t watch scary films. I suffer after watching them. But I not only had curiosity in the occult genre, I wanted to know more about how the director would delve into this superstitious, abstract concept in a cinematic way,” Choi told reporters during a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday, adding that he wants the audience to overcome their aversion to occult genre films.

Jang said he saw Choi becoming united with the character and the screenplay.

“I thought that the way his character Sang-deok treats his job as a feng shui master and the soil was identical to Choi treating his job as an actor,” Jang told reporters.

Choi Min-shik stars in “Exhuma.” (Showbox) Choi Min-shik stars in “Exhuma.” (Showbox)

“Exhuma” centers on Sang-deok (Choi), who is tasked with relocating a tomb with Young-geun (Yoo Hae-jin), an undertaker, after young exorcists Hwa-rim (Kim Go-eun) and Bong-gil (Lee Do-hyun) receive a hefty sum of money and discover through a supernatural phenomenon a dark omen related to a wealthy Los Angeles family.

The film drew attention even from the early production stage as it boasts a cast of renowned actors. Lee was absent at Wednesday’s press conference as he is currently serving mandatory military service.

“Exhuma” is director Jang’s first film in five years. He is credited with popularizing the occult genre in Korea.

The actors said the highlight of the film was the exorcism scene where Kim and Lee lead "gut," a shaman ritual that is also a comprehensive art form merging traditional music, dance and singing.

“I was obsessed with the thought that I shouldn’t look clumsy. Hwa-rim is a young shaman recognized for her professionalism. So I tried my best to look like a pro,” Kim told reporters, adding that it was Park Jung-min who connected her to director Jang. Park starred in Jang’s previous film “Svaha: The Sixth Finger.”

Yoo, who appears as a highly competent undertaker who conducts the funeral of a president, said he learned how to gather remains from Korea’s most renowned undertaker while researching his character.

“My priority was to look natural. Whether it’s collecting remains or even building a relationship with feng shui master Sang-deok, I wanted to look like a person who has done it for many years,” Yoo said.

As Jang’s two previous films attracted 5.4 million and 2.4 million admissions, respectively, “Exhuma” is anticipated to pull in millions of moviegoers.

“Exhuma” will be released in February, according to its distributor Showbox.

Kim Go-eun, right, stars in “Exhuma.” (Showbox) Kim Go-eun, right, stars in “Exhuma.” (Showbox)