Byun Yo Han returned to screens in four years with director Lee Joon Ik’s fourteenth work and second black and white film, The Book of Fish. The movie illustrates Jeong Yak Jeon’s story, an exiled scholar who has a growing interest in the ocean. He befriends a younger fisherman, Chang Dae, who hopes to get out of the sea and build a career. Together, they write The Book of Fish.
In a virtual interview held on March 23rd, Byun Yo Han talked about his affection for The Book of Fish and what it’s like to celebrate the 10th anniversary since his debut.
After making his debut with Working on Saturday in 2011, Byun Yo Han has been building his filmography through various works. In this film, he demonstrates a wide range of acting as Chang Dae, a character who faces a turning point after encountering Jeong Yak Jeon.
“I had to portray the scenes using the voice and how I gaze because black and white films have a limited sense of hue. I wanted to pursue acting as genuinely as possible, even if I may not fulfill the expectation. Though I had to use a dialect, touch guts, and clean living creatures, these were not difficult tasks than real acting. While filming, I considered a lot about how to take the high road at work. Also, I was grateful and honored to be able to join a movie like this.”
He also revealed why he choose to join The Book of Fish.
“I loved being around the senior actors and directors whom I respect and admire. My respect and faith for director Lee Joon Ik are indescribable. Working with him made me realize that he’s a great adult before he is a great director. He is a person who anyone can talk to no matter how old you are. I consider it a huge honor to work with such a director. It was such an inspiring experience at the set. I respect him.”
He demonstrated his affection for Sol Kyung Gu, saying that he was growing to “love him more” while working with him.
“I couldn’t be happier. There was a lot to learn from him as a junior actor. No matter how long his line was, he would perfectly become Jeong Yak Jeon in front of the camera. On the other hand, he was very kind in person. He’s a great and loving human being who isn’t bragging nor calculating. I often followed him around and relied upon him.”
His role, Chang Dae, is a fictional character created with quite a lot of imagination. There’s no mention of him apart from a name in the introduction of Jeong Yak Jeon’s The Book of Fish.
“Chang Dae is a symbol of the youth in the past and the present. I thought to myself after reading the scenario, ‘in many ways, I will learn from this.’ Because he is such a symbolic character, I wanted to do my best to depict the character. But I became clueless when I faced him. It felt like I have such a small capacity. I often relate with him as he was like me in that we both always have a lot of worries and confusion. Still, I wondered if I could do well.”
Byun Yo Han marks the 10th anniversary of his debut this year.
“Though I started acting from middle school, this year marks the 10th year since my debut work. When I say it out loud, it makes me think that it’s only been ten years now. I might have gotten more passionate compared to when I began the acting career. But nothing else changed from then. I’d like to appreciate it with gratitude when people congratulate me.”
Released on March 31st, The Book of Fish topped the Korean Box Office with 34,845 moviegoers on the first day.