Moon So-ri (문소리)




Moon So-ri: An auteur’s muse

As the new wave of Korean auteurs have made their mark on film, so too has one of their frequent leading ladies. Since her first feature roles in Lee Chang-dong’s Peppermint Candy and Oasis, Moon So-ri has become a favoured female presence, amplified by her appearance in many of the works of Korean directors. Indeed, over twelve short years, the acclaimed actress has worked with the many of the most influential filmmakers in her local industry. In particular, parts in prominent Im Sang-soo and Hong Sang-soo productions have seen Moon rise to the ranks of Korea’s highly sought after performers.

Under Lee’s initial guidance, Moon’s talents blossomed, however the star’s versatile gifts proved worthy of their own accolades. The Blue Dragon Awards, as well as the Seattle and Venice film festivals certainly thought so, bestowing the actress with a plethora of trophies for portrayal of a woman with cerebral palsy in Oasis. At the latter event, the prestigious Marcello Mastroianni Award – established as a tribute to the famous Italian performer – rewarded her emerging status. Such esteemed recognition was just the beginning of a career filled with similarly lauded performances, with gongs again ensuing for her very next effort.

As well as garnering best actress honours at the Grand Bell Awards and Stockholm Film Festival, A Good Lawyer’s Wife sparked her shift from Lee’s features to the works of Im Sang-soo. Although just one further collaboration –2010’s The Housemaid – would occur to date, again Moon proved invaluable in shaping the helmer’s efforts. Dalliances with directors Lim Chang-san (The President’s Barber), Kang Yi-kwan (Sa-kwa), Park Heung-sik (Bravo, My Life!), Lee Ha (Bewitching Attraction) and Kim Tae-Yong (Family Ties) would follow, affording the actress a diverse range of roles. From historical dramas to erotic thrillers, and including family comedies as well as television offerings (The Legend and All About My Family), she proved willing to attempt any content or character.

In recent years, Moon’s career has been aligned with Yim Soonrye and Hong Sang-soo, starring in two films apiece for the helmers. With the former, she had fun with sporting drama Forever the Moment and took a serious turn in human rights-themed Fly, Penguin; with the latter, she featured among the ensemble cast of Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard winner Ha Ha Ha, and returns in his forthcoming In Another Country. In between, she earned praise for voice acting in Leafie, A Hen into the Wild – the most successful Korean animated film in recent times – and taught film studies at Konkuk University. Whilst her work with many of the medium’s great Korean directors may remain her cinematic calling card, in her own right, Moon So-ri has proven a titan of the industry.

By Sarah Ward

About the Author

Sarah Ward, Film Critic and Festival Organiser
Twitter: @swardplay