Netflix’s newest Korean-language release coming later this week is a blood-soaked, action-packed thriller that puts a twist on some of the “professional assassin” tropes we’ve seen in franchises like the Kill Bill and John Wick movies. Even the title of Kill Boksoon, coming to the streaming giant on Friday, evokes the former, as does the deadly female killer at the core of the story.
And that’s no accident, given that director Byun Sung-hyun himself has acknowledged that the 2003 Tarantino classic is one of his all-time favorite movies.
The protagonist of Kill Boksoon is a woman, played by Jeon Do-yeon, who’s both a mother of a teenage daughter as well as a hired killer with a 100% success rate. Gil Boksoon (whose name — again, no accident — even sounds like the order to “Kill Boksoon”) is a seasoned professional killer working at an agency that hires out its assassins for jobs.
Long story short, when it’s time to renew her contract with the agency, she decides to retire and put it all behind her so she can focus on fixing her relationship with her daughter. “Although it’s about killers, I wanted to unravel a story about a family,” Byun said in a Netflix interview. “I consider the emotional aspects of this film to be the core themes. That’s why I hope viewers will closely follow the emotional arc of each character.”
Before notifying the agency of her decision, however, she’s on one last assignment, discovers a secret, and decides to break the agency’s rules because of it.
That leads to, like the title suggests, not only her agency but everyone in the hitman industry angling to do the same thing: Kill Boksoon.
Byun crafted the movie over a series of discussions with Jeon, which helped him learn that — among other things — one of the greatest challenges that this A-list Korean actress has faced over the course of her career is juggling the demands of her profession and parenting. Thus, according to Netflix, “he built the character Gil Boksoon around that idea, swapping an acting career for contract-killing in the story in order to heighten the irony between life-taking and life-nurturing acts.
“The pitfalls that Jeon experienced of crisscrossing between the public life as an actor and the private life as a mother are woven into the character’s personality and life situations to reflect a meaningful parallel between the actor and the character.”