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Korea's first Catholic priest, Kim Dae-geon, gets biopic film
  • November 19, 2021 | Other

Korea's first Catholic priest, Kim Dae-geon, gets biopic film

Updated : 2021-11-13 09:09


By Kwak Yeon-soo

Korea's first Catholic priest, Andrew Kim Dae-geon (1821-1846), who was canonized and made a saint during Pope John Paul II's visit to Korea in 1984, will be portrayed in a biopic movie to mark the bicentenary of his birth.

Titled "A Birth," the movie will be directed by Park Heung-sik ("A Day," "A Memory of the Wind") with Yoon Si-yoon ("Professional Mr. Baek") playing the title role, alongside Ahn Sung-ki ("Unbowed," "The Divine Fury"). Filming will start later this month.

Park, who has done extensive research on the priest's legacy in order to chart his life, will focus on the period from when he left to study in Macau, until he was martyred for his faith at the age of 25.

Born and raised a Catholic, Kim traveled to a seminary in Macau and China at the age of 15 and was ordained as a priest at a cathedral in Shanghai in 1845. During the wave of persecution of Catholics under the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), Kim was beheaded in 1846, at what is now the Saenamteo Martyr's Shrine in Ichon-dong in Seoul's Yongsan District.

"I want to tell people about the extraordinary achievements of Kim, not only as a Catholic martyr, but as adventurer who wandered across sea and land during a turbulent era. Kim was one of few Koreans who deliberately accepted Western culture through language and education. In other words, he was a leader of new thoughts," Park said.

The director explained that although the film is a biographical account of a prominent religious leader, he will avoid focusing excessively on religion.

"In the Joseon era, cholera was a public health challenge. Now, we are fighting against COVID-19. The pandemic has reinforced inequality and made people more selfish. This movie will be heart-warming, with a contemporary resonance, as it will give a perspective on what we can learn from Kim to cope with the post-pandemic challenges. The world needs more people like Kim," he added.

Actor Yoon portrays Kim in his youth, while actors Lee Ho-won and Lim Hyun-soo play two seminary students, Choi Yang-eop and Choi Bang-je, who travel with Kim to Macau.

"It is my true honor to be joining this masterful movie. Since Kim's spirits and actions live in the hearts of so many, this movie has a different sort of pressure," Yoon said.

Veteran actor Ahn plays the role of Yoo Jin-gil, an interpreter who teaches Chinese to the three and guides them to Macau.

"I don't play a big role in the film, but I decided to join the project due to my sense of duty and responsibility as a Catholic," Ahn said.

The film will open in theaters in November 2022.