Actor Park Hae-il says ‘decision to leave’ was his first in many ways

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SEOUL, June 24 (Yonhap) — South Korean actor Park Hae-il said Friday that when he heard about the cool but atypical detective character in Park Chan-wook’s romance “Decision to Leave” , he was so impressed that he decided to take on the first detective role in his 20-year long career.

The film is about a detective who suspects a mysterious Chinese widow in a murder case and falls in love with her after days of surveillance and interrogation. It won Best Director at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Park Hae-il played the role of the policeman, named Hae-joon, well known for his obsession with cold cases and for his pride in his career and achievements.

The actor said in a media interview that Hae-joon was his first detective role in his more than 20-year career, while many people still remember him as the impressive murder suspect in “Memories of Murder by Bong Joon-ho (2003).

“When the director told me about this project and explained the character to me, I thought he was very different from the typical tough cops in Korean movies,” the actor said. “Hae-joon has his own way of reading murder cases and conducting investigations. He’s a cool guy. He even speaks in a literary style.”

But Hae-joon loses his pride and his career as he gradually becomes seduced by the suspect, Seo-rae (Tan Wei), and feels his professional judgment is clouded.

The actor said he focused on expressing the development and flow of mixed emotions felt by Hae-joon, starting with doubt at the beginning and reaching love at the end.

Director Park said earlier that he wanted to portray a temperate romantic relationship between adults, who refrain from explicitly expressing their sensual feelings until the end.

“A small, tiny emotional interest becomes a huge wave of emotions that he couldn’t resist,” he said. “But because of that, he thinks he fell apart and lost everything. It all starts after meeting Sea-rae.”

“Decision to Leave” is a rare romance film in his long filmography which began with the drama “Waikiki Brothers” (2001).

The actor, who started his career in theatre, said he was thrilled to star in famed director Park Chan-wook’s romance at the age of 45, despite having a handful of romantic dramas under his belt , including “Scent of Flower” (2003) and “Rule of Dating” (2005) over 10 years ago.

“Now I’m married and it makes a big difference when I deal with this genre,” he said. “I think ‘Decision to Leave’ is a perfect movie with emotional variation for an actor my age.”

Meanwhile, “Decision to Leave” is her first theatrical project since the historical drama “The King’s Letter” (2019) amid the protracted COVID-19 pandemic. He has two other films that have been shelved for years.

“I did at least one movie a year. It was my own routine, but it stopped because of the pandemic,” he said. “But now I can get back to my work and feel like I can breathe again.”

“Decision to Leave” hits South Korean screens next Wednesday.

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