The Way Home's Kim Eul Boon passed away yesterday morning [April 17th] due to old age. She was 95 years old.
Kim Eul Boon was seen farming at a mountain village in Yeongdong County, North Chungcheong Province, South Korea, when she was scouted by director Lee Jeong Hyang to play the lead role of the stoic, heroic speech-impaired grandmother in the 2002 movie "The Way Home." At first, the then 77-year-old grandmother refused, but the film crew managed to convince her to take on the role after the director persuaded her family.
At the time of the casting, villager and non-actress Kim Eul Boon had no training nor acting experience. It was also revealed that she had never before seen a film.
After the film's release, it was reported that director Lee Jeong Hyang visited her every autumn season. The director shared that Kim Eul Boon became more interested in movies. When she would visit, the director would oftentimes bring an actor or staff member who wanted to meet the beloved grandmother, Kim Eul Boon then would jokingly say, "The director changes her boyfriends often!"
Seung Ho: When we were filming THE WAY HOME, I think I was very happy then. Grandma really thought of me as her real grandson. When You see me in the movie, I am like so mean to my grandma and even insulted her. In the last part of the movie she really cried you know and at the time I was really sad too but I didn’t cry though. I didn’t cry because I thought she would become even more sad.
Seung Ho: Grandma, you really miss me right? I really really miss you a lot too grandma. I am taller now too and also I became stronger as well, so, when I visit you at your house then I will give you a piggy back ride and also try my best to make you happy. Until I go visit you, please stay healthy okay? Grandma, I love you! (Oh man, that smile again, even when he was geeky he had that smile that nobody can imitate.)
In 2008, Kim Eul Boon reunited with Yoo Seung Ho again after six years. In MBC's "Never Ending Story" Kim Eul Boon said, "Thank you" towards Yoo Seung Ho, who grew up very well. Yoo Seung Ho also asked, "I'm planning to get married late, but I hope my grandmother will come to me when I get married."
Many critics praised the style of the movie as well as the acting of the inexperienced Kim Eul Boon, who was nominated for the Best New Actress Award at the 2002 Grand Bell Awards, where "The Way Home" won the Best Film and Best Screenplay. The movie was also nominated for Best Asian Film at the 22nd Hong Kong Film Awards, but lost to the 2001 film "My Sassy Girl."
Our deepest condolences go out to Kim Eul Boon's family and friends.