“I was careful not to build a ‘romantic comedy girl character’ while playing So-Ah in TVN’s ‘Bride of the Water God 2017’ (aka ‘Bride of the Water God’, directed by Kim Byung-Su, written by Jeong Yoon-Jeong). This is because So-Ah was not just a character who was cheerful all the time. She was also short-tempered and suddenly yelled at other people too. In the backstory, there are distinct narrations that talk about So-Ah’s past and traumas. So-Ah was already a lovely character, even if I did not deliberately try to portray her to be lovely.” Actress Shin Se-Kyung described the character that she played. On the afternoon of the August 24, the actress was interviewed about the end of ‘Bride of the Water God’ drama at a cafe in Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul.
‘Bride of the Water God’ is a spin-off version of a comic with the same name. It is about a water god named Habaek who descends into the human world in 2017 and meets So-Ah, someone who is fated to serve the water god for generations. Among the characters, So-Ah is a psychiatrist who had an unhappy childhood because of her father who had more love for mankind than his own family. When she was a child she had a traumatic experience when her father left her and her mother to help refugees in Africa and did not return. As an adult, So-Ah suffered from the pain of what happened with her father.
“In the first episode, there was not one word that So-Ah said to portray her as a lovely child. Instead, she was always tired, worried about money, making her feel irritated and sigh a lot. Moreover, this pushed her to be mean to Nurse Yoo (Shin Jae-Hoon) … Usually in a romantic comedy drama, it is cute and adorable when the girl becomes flustered right? But in this drama, the leading female character constantly portrayed anger in the first episode. That’s why the PD and I were both worried. (Laughs)”
However, the worries I felt about the role turned around when I read the script for the second episode. The pedestrian crossing scene from the second episode moved Shin Se-Kyung.
“There’s a scene where So-Ah crosses a pedestrian crossing with a slow-paced elderly person. So-Ah walks with the elderly person while pretending to look at her cell phone. They continue walking even though the signal changes and the cars start honking. While So-Ah was a child who decided to ‘only think of herself instead of helping others’ because of her father, it was a scene that portrayed her true inner self. This made me believe in the character. I realized that So-Ah’s emotions are thoroughly shown throughout this story, and even if she does not pretend to be lovely, the viewers will be able to understand her through compassion…when I told the PD how I felt about the character, he believed in me.”
‘Bride of the Water God’ also received harsh criticism in the beginning. People compared it to the original comic, and it was criticized because people thought the CG was poor and the actors’ makeup was awkward. Shin Se-Kyung said, “I realized that when you are an actress, you cannot perfectly match the taste of all the people.” Moreover, she added, “I was fully adapted to the outlook of this production by reading the script and the shooting before the show was aired. But I am sure there were viewers who were disappointed due to not feeling the same way. I believed that as the relationship between the characters developed over time and a big picture was created, the viewers would like the production.” She explained coolly.
Shin Se-Kyung was right. As ‘Bride of the Water God’ progressed, So-Ah and Habaek became more mature through their relationship and their love for one another was painfully portrayed in the story. Moreover, with the narration of the other characters, the show ultimately gained a lot of fans. The final episode got 3.15% viewership, which was a 0.94% increase from the 15th and also previous episode of 2.21%, making it a great ending for the show.
“The ‘Bride of the Water God’ was able to receive a lot of love by the viewers due to the PD’s directing, the lovely script produced by the writers, and many other factors. I think it will be a production that I will always think of dearly even as time passes.”
Shin Se-Kyung did not hide her affection for the production and the characters throughout the interview. Above all, it was obvious that she was deeply immersed in the feelings of her character, So-Ah. Shin Se-Kyung laughed as she said, “After being with So-Ah for five months, it is difficult to separate her from me.”
“In the drama, when I see So-Ah alone in the living room or the kitchen, it makes me very sad. In the beginning of the show, when So-Ah returns home, the only thing that was waiting for her was a lonely house where the lights were always turned off. I was able to empathize with the lonely So-Ah in all of that. Everyone knows how it is. Sometimes I feel incredibly lonely. It is not the loneliness I feel as an actress. But sometimes it is due to the conflicts you have with your close friends or other problems one may have. That’s why I got pity on my character.”
While So-Ah relieves her loneliness through her love for Habaek, actress Shin Se-Kyung relieves it through her hobbies in real life. The actress works out, meets friends, and sometimes invites people over to her house and makes them food. The recipe she felt most confident about was Sujebi with sesame seeds and she even gave us tips on how to make the dough chewier. It felt like we were talking to a friendly friend from the neighborhood as she laughed and showed her excitement.
Shin Se-Kyung claimed that she often hear people say ‘she has a story to tell’ due to her sorrowful eyes, her low voice, her calm tone, and mature appearance. After her debut as a child actress, she starred in various genres such as sitcoms, historical dramas, and romantic comedies such as MBC’s ‘High Kick Through the Roof’, SBS’s ‘Deep Rooted Tree’ and ‘The Girl Who Sees Smells’. Despite this, she was never able to get rid of her ‘sad image’. But through the ‘Bride of the Water God’ people now say that “She looks like her age” and “She looks more cheerful”. The actress laughed as she explained.
“I am very grateful of how people see me now. However, I was never obliged to look mature. This was because I grew very quickly when I was young. My current height is the same as when I was in fifth grade. I did not intend to look mature, it was just the way I was. (Laughs)”
Shin Se-Kyung was nine years old when she first debuted. She appeared in Seo Taiji’s ‘Take Five’ music video, and although she was young, she became popular due to her unique mystical vibe. Shin Se-Kyung said, “However, I was not featured in any productions in middle and high school. Instead, I spent my days in school. Thanks to that, I was able to have a valuable experience that cannot be exchanged with million dollars. I am still close with my friends from that time.”
“We recently retook Seo Taiji’s 25th anniversary project poster. When I saw the finished product, the old memories of that time felt new. It feels like time flew by. Now I am already heading into my thirties. Although I was once always the youngest at any production, now I have juniors who are younger than me. I do not feel bad right now. (Laughs) I want to continue to be an actress who can empathize with many people.”
Translated by Choi Na Ri