Death’s Game stars open up on early career struggles, life lessons

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Death�s Game stars open up on early career struggles, life lessons
In the Prime Video K-drama Death’s Game, based on a webtoon of the same title, Seo In Guk plays Yee Jae, a man who finds himself on the brink of going to hell and faces the consequences of playing with life and death. He must undergo 12 lives and deaths as punishment from Death herself, played by Park So Dam. Part 1 is currently streaming on Prime Video, with Part 2 premiering on Jan. 5.

MANILA, Philippines — Seo In Guk and Park So Dam headline the South Korean reincarnation-themed drama Death’s Game, now streaming on Prime Video.

In the series based on the same-titled webtoon, In Guk portrays Yee Jae, a man struggling in his career, finances, and love life, and contemplating on ending his life. Instead, he finds himself on the brink of hell, facing consequences for playing with life and death. He must undergo 12 lives and deaths as punishment by Death herself, played by Park So Dam.

Part 1 is currently streaming on Prime Video, with Part 2 premiering on Jan. 5. The series also boasts of a star-studded support cast serving as the various reincarnations of Yee Jae.

As the series continues to gain global traction on Prime Video, the stars shared their thoughts about global stardom in a virtual roundtable with press people from all over Asia, including The Philippine STAR.

Prior to Death’s Game, both stars have found fandoms overseas through their works. In Guk, a singer-songwriter who visited the country last year for a fan meet, is best-known for the K-dramas Reply 1997, The Master’s Sun, Doom At Your Service, while So Dam starred in the 2019 Oscar-winning film Parasite, as well as the hit series Cinderella with Four Knights and Record of Youth.

In Guk, 36, expressed, “I feel very happy and grateful that the music I put out and the stories I tell through acting are loved both in Korea and worldwide. It gives me a sense of determination, motivation, and responsibility to meet my fans’ expectations.”

So Dam, on the other hand, said, “I feel a bit embarrassed to answer your question, but I heard that Death’s Game will be available to global audiences, which makes me very happy. We tell a story with universal themes and messages that will resonate with a lot of different people around the world.”

The 32-year-old, who told The STAR that the script came at a time when she was thinking a lot about life and death (it wasn’t raised during the roundtable but it’s no secret that the actress battled papillary thyroid cancer), added, “We also have a universally resonant message about yourself, about life, how you should look back on it and think about how precious we all are and our day-to-day lives are.

Below are more excerpts from the interview with the lead stars.

On their decision to star in the series:

In Guk: “I was already a fan of the original webtoon, so when I learned that it was going to be made into a live-action series and to be able to portray the main character, I was extremely excited. Even the people around me, my friends, would tell me they all loved the webtoon and congratulated me on getting the role, some would even joke and say ‘You better feel the responsibility on your shoulders.’

“It really touched a lot of people’s hearts, so I was very honored to portray Yee Jae. The drama carries a very important message, and it’s one that makes me look back at my own life, too. That’s what I was drawn to the most.”

So Dam: “The script actually came to me during a time in my life when I was thinking a lot about the concepts of life and death. When I was reading the script, I deeply related to the story and it gave me a lot of food for thought. And I found myself closely following the emotional arc of the main character, it was also just such a quick read, and brought me to tears. I wanted other people to watch it.

“And I thought that if I could play the role that teaches a lesson to Yee Jae…if I was given the honor to do that, I felt like this powerful message could be shared with a wider range of people. I felt like it’d be a great honor for me so I really wanted the role.

“I think our show is going to make people learn and think about just how precious we all are… how our day-to-day life is precious to us, and also be a show that will make you want to have these conversations with your loved ones. I truly hope that through watching our show, many audiences will be able to feel the emotional intensity and be moved as much as I was when I first read the script.”

In Guk (left) and So Dam look back on their early career struggles and how they were shaped by them during an international virtual roundtable interview.
Photos courtesy of Prime Video

On working with each other for the first time:

In Guk: “While this is the first time we’re working on a project together, we have met before in a casual non-working setting. We also have many mutual actor friends, so I had heard a lot about her, about how great she is and how much fun she is to work with.

“I think I came in thinking that we were close friends already, so we didn’t have an awkward initial phase or anything like that. I felt at ease. And having worked with her now I feel like everything that’s said about her is true — it was so much fun working with her. We talked so much on set, discussed a lot about our characters and the circumstances our characters were put in. I really enjoyed working with her.”

So Dam: “The same for me — I had heard so much about him before we met, and I was actually surprised at how soon we got to work together. When we first met, it was at the table read, and I remember when In-guk was reading, he was already just Choi Yee Jae himself. So I remember thinking to myself, ‘I’m not there yet, I’m not as prepared. What am I going to do?’ I think at the time, I was thinking a lot about death personally and also as the character.

“All of those things, I was just very open with him and shared my thoughts a lot — he’s just someone very easy to talk to. And since we had heard about each other a lot and felt like we were friends already, it made us feel so much more at ease when we started acting.

“Also In Guk is just so considerate of others and such a great listener so I found myself opening up to him with so much ease. It was a lot of fun working with him because he’s just someone who’s so much fun to be around.”

On early career challenges and their impact:

In Guk: “I think the time I spent before my debut was the most challenging. Back then I was dreaming of becoming a singer, so I went through multiple auditions thinking that one day, someone will notice me for who I am. Those times were filled with excitement and provided motivation to really pursue my dream.

“But of course, there were moments when I’d feel rejected and despair, and think about if I should continue to pursue my dream while not being able to let go of the dream either. It’s not to say that my experience was as tough as what Yee Jae goes through, but looking back on my life, that’s when I struggled the most.”

So Dam: “For me, after graduating from college, there was a time when I went in to do 17 auditions in one month and didn’t get any of them. I remember back then thinking, who am I? What am I doing? And what does all my training mean? What am I going to do from now on? But I quickly thought that the fact I was able to participate in 17 auditions looking for a new actress itself was a valuable experience.

“So I transitioned very quickly from thinking negatively to positively. And I continued to think to myself, I will be given an opportunity, and if I don’t give up and stick it out, I will be given my moment one day.

“Obviously I went through many moments of despair and disappointment, and self-doubt, but I think looking back on it, those were very precious moments that made me who I am today. We all go through those moments — feeling rejected and lost. I hope if there’s anyone out there who’s going through that moment, you can make it out of the tunnel well.”

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