‘My Name is Loh Kiwan’: Finding hope in darkest of times

North Korean defector Loh Ki-wan has his back against the wall. Without shelter or means to make a living, he must convince skeptical strangers of his desperate situation. As much as he is in despair, he is so full of the will to live. "The movie is painted as the story about a defector seeking refuge status in Belgium ... but the most prominent image that came to my mind after reading the script was that of an alien," the actor said during a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday. "When he arrives in Belgium, the only information Ki-wan clings to is the address where he can apply for refugee status. He knows nothing about the procedures or laws, not to mention the language," the actor said. "I felt for Ki-wan so much. He can't communicate with others and feels so lonely as a total stranger there, but he tries so hard to do something to survive." The upcoming Netflix original film, "My Name is Loh Kiwan," follows the main protagonist, Loh (Song), as he precariously embarks on a journey to live life on his own terms. He tries to rediscover the meaning of life after encountering Marie (Choi Sung-eun), a woman who, like him, clings on the edge of despair after her mother's death. The two begin to form an unexpected emotional bond with each other and see hope even in their lowest points in life. Based on the novel "I Met Loh Ki-wan" by Cho Hae-jin, the film marks the feature directorial debut of Kim Hee-jin who has demonstrated warmth toward the socially disadvantaged with nuanced sensitivity in her previous short films, including "MJ" (2013) and "Neighbors" (2014). The director said she already had the actor in mind as the main character while writing the script. She described the character as a "man of will who can make a flower blossom even in mud." "I thought of no one but Song (for the role). He has shown many different sides of himself through various roles, but the audience still can see new sides of him in this film," she said. "Song has such a sad face that gives you the urge to hug him, and yet he al so has a cold face that makes you flinch. "I was thrilled when the actor readily accepted the offer," she said. The director initially worked as a screenwriter for the film but was later asked to direct it after revising the script to include more romantic elements. Calling "My Name is Loh Kiwan" "a healing film," the actor said Loh was able to free himself from guilt and heal through the relationships with people close to him. "My conclusion is that we heal in relationships," the actor said. The movie is scheduled for its global premiere on the streaming platform Friday. Source: Yonhap News Agency