Homeless football players, star athlete and unenthusiastic producer come together in 'Dream'

Actors IU and Park Seo-joon [CHO YONG-JUN]
Director Lee Byeong-heon’s “Dream” (2023), starring actor Park Seo-joon as football player who involuntarily becomes the coach of a homeless football team, working with IU, an unenthusiastic documentary producer to take the team to the Homeless Footb

What do you get when you put together a football team with homeless players, a foul-mouthed athlete as the coach and choose a passionless producer to shoot a documentary film about them? The answer is "Dream," the upcoming sports comedy directed by Lee Byeong-heon featuring actors Park Seo-joon and IU as the lead.

However, unlike recent sports-based movies, “Dream” is not as full on.

“One key difference is that the characters in the film are not aiming for the highest; they are starting from behind, aiming for average,” said director Lee in Monday’s press conference at Megabox Coex, southern Seoul.

Directed by Lee, who was also behind the 2019 hit film “Extreme Job” which surpassed 10 million in ticket sales — a threshold at which a film is deemed a commercial success and a dream come true for all film directors — “Dream” revolves around star football player Yoon Hong-dae, played by Park, who involuntarily starts coaching a football team with homeless players before meeting Lee So-min, played by IU, an unenthusiastic producer shooting a documentary about the team.

Shooting for “Dream” started three years ago and continued throughout Covid-19, but the ideas for the film came almost a decade ago, shortly after a story about eight homeless Korean football players broke. The players joined the Homeless World Cup, a football tournament consisting of only players that are homeless. While the Korean team came last, with only one win, director Lee said he wanted to share the story with as many people as possible.

“When I first read about the story, I thought, ‘Why have we not heard about this?’ and I hoped to introduce the story to more people,” said Lee.

“That’s why I decided to make it into a movie, an easy format for the public to watch and enjoy.”

“If we shot the movie back then, I would’ve had to pretend to get tired. But now, I didn’t even have to act [laughs]. I was just being myself being tired, and I think that made it more natural,” said actor Ko Chang-seok, who first received scripts for the film almost eight years ago.

During the press conference, director Lee remained humble and described the film not as one that could benefit the Korean film industry, but one that could comfort people.

“I believe there are a lot of exhausted people, not just in the Korean film industry but also in general. I hope the film can offer some consolation and provide support to everyone,” said director Lee.

Despite it not being a full-on sports film, the actors received intensive football lessons and training, including lessons from the coaches who led the Korean Homeless Football team.

“I found out that balls can't be controlled. We prepared as much as we could, but there was always something we didn’t expect,” said director Lee.

“I tried to pull it all off. Were there any scenes where I seemed awkward? I really tried my best for the role,” said Park.

Director Lee Byeong-heon and the cast of "Dream" at a press conference for the film on Monday at Megabox Coex, southern Seoul. From Left, singer and actor IU, actor Park Seo-joon and director Lee Byeong-heon [YONHAP]

IU, on the other hand, said she saw some of herself in her character.

“I was first attracted to the role because I never tried such role before,” said IU. Having played many roles where her characters had deep backstories and hidden narratives, such as in “My Mister” (2018) and “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” (2016), IU said she wanted to play someone who did not have a dark past or secret agenda.

“I found Lee [character] both similar and different to me. As someone who made an early debut, started my career early, saw society and experienced a low period of life, the role was not something completely new to me.“

“Dream” will premiere in theaters on April 26.