Go to contents

Eom Tae-goo, the star of ‘Night in Paradise’

Posted April. 16, 2021 07:29,   

Updated April. 16, 2021 07:29


The title of Netflix original movie “Night in Paradise” is paradoxical. Paradise is beautiful but cannot be seen at night and one cannot tell even if they are in paradise. In other words, it is beautiful but it is not at the same time. The paradox is reflected in the story of the movie, too. Jeju Island where the movie was filmed is stunning, but it is hiding the poignant pain of Park Tae-goo and Kim Jae-yeon who are on the brink of a cliff. Tae-goo comes to Jeju Island after being revenged on those who killed his sick sister and a little niece in an orchestrated car accident and meets Jae-yeon, a terminally ill patient who lives with her uncle, an arms dealer, after losing her family.

The paradox of this movie extends to Eom Tae-goo who plays Tae-goo. The 37-year-old actor has played so convincingly cold-hearted characters, including Woo-gon in “Coin Locker Girl” and Hashimoto in “The Age of Shadows” as well as Tae-goo in this film. Yet he is incredibly shy in real life, hence the nicknames like “introverted gangster” and “shy villain.” “I guess I am multi-faceted,” he said during the interview on Wednesday.

“I have so many different sides – jumping around with the family as a young boy, playing with friends and so many more,” he said. “I have both good and bad qualities, and the only place where I can bring them all out is on set. I let it happen.”

“Night in Paradise” drew much attention as a comeback film of Park Hoon-jung who also directed “The New World.” Eom felt a lot of pressure taking the first lead role in a commercial movie, but it could not keep him from wanting to be part of Park’s signature noir. Having a rather slim figure, he put on 9 kilograms as Park wanted him to look more like a chubby gangster.

“I still remember the shock I felt when I watched ‘The New World.’ ‘Night in Paradise’ follows the structure of a traditional noir film but with a twist of Jae-yeon,” Eom said. “I wanted to be part of it because it is the first of its kind.”

He said “paradise” for him is when he knows he has become the character even if he stays still during a scene.

“I do not think paradise is a place. Sometimes, I feel that everything is perfect for a moment,” he went on to say. “When I shoot a scene after painstaking efforts, and when I get in the car after finishing a shoot that made all the efforts I put in worthwhile– the brief moment of relief is paradise for me.”

Jae-Hee Kim jetti@donga.com