Busan: 80-Year-Old Thesp Lee Eun-sim Returns to Korea

“The only reason that I came to Busan after so many years is to meet my audience and express my gratitude as sincerely as I can,” said actress Lee Eun-sim, the heroine of the late Kim Ki-young’s “The Housemaid.”  The beloved thesp returned to Korea Friday night for the film’s screening. It was her first time back in the country in 33 years since she retired and moved to Brazil. “It is truly an honor to be standing here at my age of 80,” Lee said. “I’ve always wanted to come back, but things just didn’t work out and so many years have passed.”

Recalling her memories about 1960’s “The Housemaid,” which is ranked 10th on BIFF’s 100 Asian Cinema list, Lee confessed that she did not think she was talented as an actress and that was why she give up acting to pursue a normal life after “The Housemaid.”

About the director, she mentioned Kim Ki-young directed her acting in a different way from other directors. “He would show me what exactly he wanted me to do first and let me do what I saw, while other directors wanted me to create my own acting after reading the script,” said the Japan-born actress.

At the Korean Cinema Retrospective Night after the screening, Lee received the festival’s Director’s Chair award on behalf of her late husband, director Lee Seong-gu. “My husband was a true artist — he would always study cinema, write new scenarios and think about making films even when we were settled in Brazil, unlike me who does not know much about cinema or art,” said the actress humbly. Lee also attended the Saturday screening of her husband’s feature “The General’s Moustache.”

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