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Lee Min Ki 이민기

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Review for MBC Best Theatre "Taerung National Village"

taken from twitchfilm.net, posted by X @ http://www.twitchfilm.net/archives/005636.html :

태릉선수촌 (Taereung National Village)

(TaereungSeonsuChon - lit. Taereung Players Village)

베스트극장 619회 (Best Theater No. 619) - MBC TV 2005

8 Episodes - 30 Minutes p.e.

Aired from October 29 to November 19, 2005 on MBC

Official Website

PD

이윤정 (Lee Yoon-Jung)

WRITER

홍진아 (Hong Jin-Ah), 홍자람 (Hong Ja-Ram)

CAST

이민기 (Lee Min-Gi) as Hong Min-Gi, 최정윤 (Choi Jung-Yoon) as Bang Soo-Ah, 이선균 (Lee Seon-Gyun) as Lee Dong-Kyung, 김별 (Kim Byeol) as Jung Maru, 백일섭 (Baek Il-Seop) as the Coach, 이혁재 (Lee Hyuk-Jae), 정현숙 (Jung Hyun-Sook), 최재환 (Choi Jae-Hwan), 이종수 (Lee Jong-Soo), 김지혜 (Kim Ji-Hye), 김호원 (Kim Ho-Won), 박진아 (Park Jin-Ah), 이풍운 (Lee Poong-Woon), 박수림 (Park Soo-Rim)

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THE SHOW

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NOTE: Minor Spoilers

Just like I always do, that night I was channel surfing around Midnight trying to catch sleep, when something caught my attention. This huge guy, must have been 7 foot tall at least, crying in a corner, still wearing his 씨름 (sshireum, a cross between Wrestling and Sumo) outfit. It was a rerun of one of those documentaries KBS (World) runs weekly, those 인간극장 (Human Theater) I never watch, as I always felt they beautify people's struggles to an almost offensive level, trying to jerk tears off us exploiting other people's problems. That man was one of the most promising athletes in what was a dying art, considered like the Korean equivalent of rodeo competitions by the mainstream audience. Turns out the guy was suffering a kind of stage every sportsman, every musician, writer, director, actor, everyone goes through. The slump. That moment when you lose all your confidence, when you think the world is against you, when giving everything up and choosing the easy way out seems like the most obvious decision to make. Turns out sshireum wasn't this guy's cup of tea, so instead of simply giving up, he found a new path, a new opportunity to become someone. A couple of years later that same man, Choi Hong-Man a.k.a. Techno Goliath, knocked out Sumo legend Akebono in a now very famous K-1 match, becoming a sort of national hero; even though Koreans were already becoming increasingly interested in martial arts competitions like K-1, his big wins led him to become a celebrity. A winner, so to speak. Yet, every time I see him, it all reminds me of that night, when he was crying in the corner, when everything seemed so hard, so distant, so impossible to reach.

Sports Dramas have been one of Korean Cinema and TV Dramas favourite staples ever since the beginning. From the basketball-tinted romantic escapades of 마지막 승부 (The Final Match) to the curious history of Korean baseball in YMCA 야구단 (YMCA Baseball Team), sports is a quick way to create a sense of catharsis. You just need a look at recent major sporting events, like last year's Champions League Final, when the team (AC Milan) up 3-0 at first half ended up losing the match in an incredible u-turn, to underdogs Liverpool. Drama, pathos, winning, losing. Every country has its own stories to tell, its own favourite sports -- like Laagan for cricket in India -- and sometimes something beyond sports to talk about. Yet, we rarely get to see the losers, the also-ran, those who work hard for years to reach that competition, do their thing, and go home with only the satisfaction conquering their own inner demons gives them. Because if you don't get medals, people rarely remember you; if you don't win, you're forgotten. That's why the biggest catharsis in sports dramas is winning, not De Coubertin's motto of 'just participating'. That's why Sports Dramas rarely understand what 'sports' mean to people, focusing instead on the Drama generated by the sporting achievement. At the end of the day, every sportsman, from the winners to those who finish the race as the ending credits are rolling down, is a person. A person who worked hard to get where he or she is, who needed people to help him get there, who were there when that slump came, softening the blow. Because behind the medals, the rankings, disqualifications and records there's people. Not machines built for success, but creatures prone to making mistakes, losing and gaining confidence in a moment, and especially using those experiences to grow, mature. Become someone even when the race is over.

Even TV Dramas, entire genres can suffer a slump. The brand image of a genre of shows which became incredibly influential in the early 80s had been suffering a slump which lasted more than half a decade, and risked collapse. What once was an incubator for fresh new talent, new ideas, new technologies constantly changing the TV Drama landscape had become a shell of its former shelf. A victim of the routine, the status quo. Neither good or bad, infuriatingly bad or excitingly good... just there. After 22 years of existence, MBC's once flagship show 베스트극장 (Best Theater) reached what looked to be the fatal end of a long slump. After over 600 shows, Best Theater was relegated to the worst possible time: late Saturday Night, around Midnight. Who would possibly watch a TV Drama without stars at 11:40 pm? Youngsters would be out having fun, older people and children in bed. Best Theater started recording almost embarrassing ratings, in the low single digit, often beat down by reruns of shows like Human Theater, straight to video flicks with Steven Seagal, and Midnight debates about the environmental benefits of placing flower pots on your balcony. And one day they decided to give up, as the station couldn't deal anymore with mediocrity which had lasted for a good 3 to 5 years, depending on when you threw in the towel. It only lasted six months, but before October of last year, the illustrious history of Best Theater experienced a depressing footnote. Fade to black. The end.

Many things which influenced every sector of Korean culture happened between the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s, last but not least the dawn of Korea's Fifth Republic, after Park Jung-Hee's assassination. It was late 1980 when KBS started its first colour broadcasts, Byun Jang-Ho's 미워도 다시 한번 '80 (Love Me Once Again '80) further milked the 'Love Me Once Again' cash cow which started in the late 60s, becoming the biggest hit of the year in Chungmuro, and Jackie Chan films were recording box office results which would make today's HK releases in Korea run away in embarrassment. Always the first to bring forth new innovations in the TV world, MBC set the decade on fire right from the beginning, as 1981 saw the first installment of a group of landmark shows, telling the story of Korea's various troubled Republics. Written by Kim Gi-Pal and produced by the great Go Seok-Man, 제1공화국 (The First Republic) was an instant success, with Choi Buram playing President Lee Seung-Man, Lee Young-Hoo playing national hero Kim Goo, and the megatons of controversy you could expect. Political Dramas started to appear en masse after that show, as MBC continued with the controversial 여간첩 김수임 (Female Spy Kim Soo-Im), which brought writer and producers tons of insults for their portrayal of Communists. If we got the entire scope of 'Republics' show until last year's 제5공화국 (The Fifth Republic), and even Dramas portraying touchy subjects and controversial periods like 여명의 눈동자 (Eyes of Dawn), 모래시계 (The Sandglass) and the like, we can't forget the success of those early trials by MBC.

But of course, political dramas weren't the only thing they revolutionized. Beginning in March 1983, the station started what would become a legendary 8 year long 사극 (sageuk, Historical Drama), that 조선왕조 500년 (500 Years of Joseon Dynasty) which changed Historical Dramas forever, thanks to PD Lee Byung-Hoon and writer Shin Bong-Seung's usual majestic work. If that weren't enough, the early 80s saw the beginning of what would become THE family Drama, that 전원일기 (Lifetime in the Country) which lasted almost 20 years, written by Kim Jung-Soo of 장미와 콩나물 (Roses & Beansprouts) and 한강수 타령 (Ode to the Han River). Yet, while all those Dramas and genres found a new paradigm, it was simply a fresh new approach to old formulas. MBC had one final card to play around the end of 1983, when on November 6 the most revolutionary show in Korean TV history began airing, with a very ambitious catchphrase: "문학과 영상의 만남 (Where Literature and Images Meet)". Starting with 백색인간 (White People), adapted from Kim Sung-Jong's novel, MBC 베스트셀러 극장 (MBC Bestseller Theater) started broadcasting. If the title feels slightly familiar, then that was the intention of its makers: combining original novels (domestic and foreign) as their foundation, mixed with audiovisual techniques usually associated with the film world was what separated these shows from the rest of the Dramas airing on TV. 90 Minutes long and employing new technologies for TV like Eng Cameras, full location shooting (instead of the usual theater-like set), negative film cutting, more focus on lighting and editing. It was like a film, in the comfort of your home.

Although the decline in viewership Korean Cinema faced in the 70s throughout most of the 80s was mostly caused by structural changes and political influence, the advent of shows like Bestseller Theater helped dig Chungmuro's grave. The technology was there, the stars were there (White People starred popular Lee Jung-Gil and Jung Ae-Ri, as an example), and it was free. But those weren't just technical matters, as the themes portrayed, thanks to the sources used, were much more mature, intriguing and thought provoking. It seemed like nothing could go wrong, until 1990. The show format moved from 90 to 70 Minutes, changing the title to 베스트극장 (Best Theater), and even though the format still remained an 'incubator' for new PD, writers and actors, it focused more and more on the 'training' aspects, than its controversial and revolutionary themes. With TV Dramas entering another Golden Age after Eyes of Dawn and movies slowly coming back into the mainstream, the once charming nature of Best Theater inexorably slowed down to a crawl. The show which once attracted movie directors like Park Chul-Soo, Min Byung-Cheon and more had become a lazy display of everything which was wrong with the format. Dropping the 'original novel/bestseller' format to simply focus on one-two episode shows to open the door for young producers and writers was clearly not working anymore. And after declining ratings, with some shows hitting the 1 or 2% share during the busiest periods, MBC took a drastic decision in 2005. After over 20 years of continued broadcast, Best Theater would end its run at 618 Episodes.

October 2005. With very little fanfare, MBC restarts Best Theater after a six month long absence. They took their time to reflect long and hard about their mistakes, and even though they'd still have to contend with the worst possible slot (Saturday Night, 11:40 pm), the show finally experienced its rebirth. I admit 태릉선수촌 (Taereung National Village) didn't sound too exciting at first. And let's be honest, I'm not even that much of a sports fan. I like practicing sports, but the idea of spending a couple of hours looking at primadonnas who get paid the equivalent of a third world country's monthly GDP is not exactly my idea of fun. And Olympic Games and the like are the same, when athletes stop being people and become cardboard cutouts with a flag on their chest. Taereung didn't look too different from other sports Drama, and its cast didn't make much of an impression on me. I had seen Lee Min-Gi in the sitcom 레인보우 로망스 (Rainbow Romance) and the popular Daily Drama 굳세어라 금순아 (Be Strong, Geum-Soon), and he didn't exactly excite me there; as for Choi Jung-Yoon, despite debuting in the late 90s between TV Dramas and films, her only role of note so far was her good performance as the 'bad girl' in 옥탑방 고양이 (Attic Cat). Finally, I knew very little about young Kim Byeol, except that she was cast in Lee Jae-Yong's upcoming 다세포 소녀 (Dasepo Naughty Girls), and while Lee Seon-Gyun did show some talent in films like 알포인트 (R-Point), I still wasn't too fond of his acting style.

As the cliche goes, never judge a book by its cover... but I did exactly that, avoiding this 'rebirth' of Best Theater even when I had the chance to, before writing my year end Best Of list. What I expected was the usual 사각관계 (love rectangle), this time taking place at the National Athletes Village in Taereung (which was not only the location where the show was shot, but also the foundation for its title). I guessed maybe they'd thrown in some 'rags to riches' story about a poor girl rising in the ranks to become gold medalist. 대~한민국. (Dae~hanminguk. You know the chorus... Hurray for Korea!) Tah tah tatah tah. But while most of the mainstream audience in Korea did just the same, as the show didn't exactly record good ratings, those who did watch the show were impressed, so much that several Internet cafe wrote petitions to get the DVD release we can enjoy today, and this little 8 Episode Drama ended up on many critics' Year End Top 10. The first thing which started arousing my interest was that this show was produced by Korea's first ever female PD, that Lee Yoon-Jung who not only already worked in shows like 매직 파워 알콜 (Magic Power Alcohol) (another Best Theater), but especially on last year's excellent Omnibus Drama 떨리는 가슴 (Six Love Stories). The show was written by the Hong sisters, Jin-Ah and Ja-Ram, responsible for shows like 반울림 (Banullim), 마이걸 (My Girl) and the 학교 (School) series, so I finally decided to give it a chance. The cliche was right after all, as this little show managed to defy every single expectation I could possibly have, and become one of my favourite of 2005.

The first big change from your usual sports Drama is that Taereung focuses on the meaning of sports for the average person, it doesn't simply focuses on the RPG-style elements of certain Historical Dramas. The growth we experienced in the show is not just the athletes improving in their own disciplines -- Judo for Min-Gi, Gymnastics for Maru, Swimming for Dong-Kyung, Archery for Soo-Ah -- but maturing as a person first. An instead of focusing on the 'team', we get to experienced every single characters' various emotional stages, from the determination shown during training to the depression during their slump, to the will to continue fighting despite failures, injuries, losses. It's not an ode to the Gold Metal, but a bittersweet look at how hard reaching the elite for athletes can be, how stressful it is to maintain that level, how much pressure you go through from peers, coaches, parents, friends to keep making your country proud. The best thing Taereung does is stripping those athletes of their status as some kind of superstar elevated on a pedestal, presenting them as people first, instead.

Soo-Ah showed before she could reach the top, but a simple bad year, a slight injury, a small loss of concentration can destroy everything she built over the years, as confidence is always the first to run away; despite his energy and determination, 'Best Hong' (as he calls himself) Min-Gi can't win a match to save his life, and although young Maru seems poised for success, getting there without burning steps is the key. Even Dong-Kyung, as mature as he can be, has to deal with a slump, and the consequences that come with it. Four people, four different sports, four different stories. But they all feel close to home, it's something you can relate to, because the show focuses on people first. Think of it as a sort of Korean Hoop Dreams, although cultural and social backgrounds obviously change. But at the core is the same sensibility, that medals, that contract, that win is not always what counts.

So thanks to all that, the athletes at Taereung stop becoming a familiar face popping on our TVs once every four years, and become characters we can relate to. Characters that feel like friends you know, people you've met. It's not a simple excuse to develop the usual love story between characters, an axiom where only the background changes, and the modus operandi remains the same. Yes, there's romance in Taereung, but it has none of that anxiety, that sense of impeding doom (if you don't love me, I'm gonna kill myself!) every single decision taken in Trendy Dramas create. By dropping all the false pretenses, by showing even the 'elite' are not machines without feeling, built from their youth for success, able to shake off failure in a couple of weeks. They're prone to making mistakes, being selfish, immature, sometimes even acting like cowards, because that's life. And the fact instead of 'love' as a simple, pure, innocent feeling developing between two people, Taereung shows several shades of gray: Soo-Ah enjoys going out with Dong-Kyung, for his maturity and because she feels comfortable with him, but she doesn't find that nervousness, that unpredictability which comes from Min-Gi. Min-Gi himself feels a strong attraction to Soo-Ah, but can't forget the strong friendship he shares with Maru. When he realizes he's losing Soo-Ah, Dong-Kyung doesn't just act like the usual 'antagonist' on TV Dramas, instead reacting like a mature person would. Yes, sometimes it feels like things you could read in a 순정만화 (romance comic for girls), but thanks to the relaxed way the writers and PD approach the story it all feels fresh, exciting... real?

What helps is not only the writing (great dialogue), but the rhythm and pacing given by PD Lee, which differs considerably from other 단막극 (one-two act specials). Even if we're dealing with 8 really short episodes, she manages to balance character development, the usual training and matches, romance, comedy, some intelligent and mature Drama, all in a very solid package which constantly entertains. Camerawork feels like a well shot independent film more than a TV Drama, and the soundtrack, by Dream Pop band Tearliner, is exceptional. Although I still think 네 멋대로 해라 (Ruler of Your Own World) and its 'who's who' of Hongdae indie rock is still the paradigm here, Taereung uses dozens of different songs, with different genres and moods, fitting pretty much perfectly with the images. We go from Queen to Manhattan Transfer; from Duke Ellington to Stereophonics, from Tearliner to Lee Seung-Hwan. If they could make an OST out of this (it would be quite extensive, and probably hard to put together copyright-wise), it would be a must buy. But of course it's the acting that stands out. One minute Lee Min-Gi looks like a character from a Yaguchi Shinobu film the other he feeels like a mature, real young guy trying to get through all his problems. Choi Jung-Yoon gives what can be easily considered her best performance to date, parts vibrant energy and 'comfortable' sex appeal. And of course Lee Seon-Gyun is a big surprise, essaying what's probably the most mature 'bad guy' of 2005. Yet, if we take out the usual gold by Baek Il-Seop, who could play characters like his 'Coach' here in his sleep, the most impressive performance here is from young Kim Byeol. She really feels like a 16 year old, tiny but full of vigour; cute and silly but never going overboard; showing that transition happening at her age in an almost perfect way.

Nothing incredible happens in Taereung, and you probably have seen it all. But two weeks after finishing the show, I still miss those characters: I miss the quirky and silly charm of Min-Gi, the maturity and calm of Dong-Kyung, the down-to-earth personality of Soo-Ah, and of course Maru's irresistible energy. That's a sign of an incredibly well written show, which deserves a series of its own, like the shows' many fans have been asking for the last few months. This 'rebirth' of Best Theater didn't lead to epochal changes, as the shows keeps recording low ratings, but if anything it has helped its makers. Lee Seon-Gyun, Lee Min-Gi, Kim Byul and Choi Jung-Yoon have gained many hardcore fans, the team behind the show has signed a contract for another two series of four episodes (unrelated to Taereung, but given the quality of this show, there's tons of potential here), and mostly importantly it's very likely we'll see Min-Gi, Soo-Ah and Co. gracing the big screen by late 2006 or early 2007 at worst. For me personally, Taereung had a strong effect, bringing me back to Best Theater in a way I never expected. Because just like Min-Gi changes his name from 'Best Hong' to 'Special Hong', these shows were never about becoming the best. They never cared about medals, ratings, prizes. They just needed to be special...

RATING: 8.5/10

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AVAILABILITY

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DVD - Korean Version (No Subtitles)

It's really a shame this was dumped in the market with no fanfare, no extras, and especially no subtitles. It's just around 4 hours of TV, so it wasn't even that much of a investment in terms of time (subtitling, delaying release) and money. There's always the hope either YesAsia Entertainment or someone else will pick this up and subtitle it, but I doubt it. There's no stars, no 'winning' Korean wave formulas, and no big thrills. But this is one of the best little shows of last year, and it deserves an audience. If I had the time, I'd even do subtitle for this thing, but then again watching Dramas on your PC is not exactly the best way to enjoy it. Still, a really big surprise, and now I wish I had seen it before writing my year end review for TV Dramas. It would certainly have made my Top 10. Hell, it would fight for the Top 5.

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aww.. i really like him although he looks a bit weird to me.. like a monkey but im still a fan of him before i started watching really really like you. hes so funny.. i liked him when he was on xman and drama city and his role on soulstars m/v made me like him even more.

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would it be possible for someone to translate this article concerning Min Ki?

“더디 가더라도 연기학원 대신 독학 할래요”

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[한겨레] 문화방송 주말 연속극 <진짜진짜 좋아해>(작가 배유미, 연출 김진만 토·일 밤 7시55분)에서 데뷔 뒤 처음으로 주연을 맡은 이민기를 지난 2일 강남의 한 카페에서 만났다. 그는 지난 2004년 <드라마 시티>로 데뷔한 뒤 이듬해 <굳세어라 금순아>의 시동생 역으로 문화방송 연기대상 신인상을 수상했다. <베스트 극장> 등에 출연했지만 단막극을 제외하곤 <굳세어라…>와 <레인보우…>가 전부다. 그런 그가 데뷔 1년 만에 주인공을 꿰찼다. 한창 들떠 있을 그에게 소감을 묻자 의외의 답이 돌아왔다. “처음엔 안한다고 했습니다. 아직은 제 연기가 함량미달이라고 생각하기에 욕심을 내고 싶지 않았습니다.” 그러나 10회가 방영된 지금은 <굳세어라…> 땐 꿈도 못 꿨던 애드리브를 할 여유가 생겼다.

그는 이 드라마를 하면서는 처음으로 진실한 감정을 표현해야 할 때가 가장 어려웠다고 했다. “극중 봉순 (유진)이가 돌아가신 할머니를 생각하며 눈물을 흘리는 장면이 있습니다. 그 모습을 보고 봉기가 어머니가 돌아가셨을 때의 자신을 떠올리며 위로해야 하는데 진심이 나오지 않아 고생했습니다. 여러 번 다시 찍었지만 감정은 제대로 잡히지 않았고, 결국 감독님께 더 이상 찍어도 소용없을 것 같다고 말씀드렸습니다.” 얼마나 진정성 있는 연기를 보여주느냐가 그의 최종적인 연기 목표라고 한다.

그래서 그는 연기학원을 다니지 않는다고 했다. 스스로 모든 걸 터득해 제 색깔을 찾고 싶기 때문이라고 했다. “연습을 할수록 연기할 때 진심이 사라지는 것 같습니다. <굳세어라…> 때는 대본을 끼고 살았지만 오히려 그게 나를 가둔 것 같습니다.” 하루에도 수십명씩 신인이 나오는 ‘이 바닥’에서 그의 생각은 무모하게까지 보인다. 하지만 스스로 터득해 데뷔 1년도 안되어 주인공을 맡은 걸 보면 그가 어떤 노력을 했을지 짐작된다. “학원에서 1주일이면 배울 것을 2달, 3달이 걸려 알게 되니 남들보다 한 템포 늦을 수도 있습니다. 그러나 걱정되진 않습니다. 마음이 가는대로 자연스럽게 연기를 하고 싶습니다.” <베스트 극장-태능선수촌>은 그에게 그런 가르침을 준 작품이라고 한다. 예전에 비해 자신을 믿게 됐다는 그는 단막극을 많이 해 다양한 연기를 해 보고 싶다고 했다.

연예인이 아닌 배우가 되고 싶다는 그는 하루에도 수십번 자신이 있다가 없다가를 반복하지만 그래도 배우라는 직업이 좋다고 말한다. “잘하고 있는건지는 모르겠습니다. 시청률이 오르고 반응이 좋다고 잘하는건 아니니까요. 하지만 내 스스로가 100% 나를 믿는 연기를 할때까지 최선을 다해 연기하겠습니다.”

남지은 기자 myviollet@hani.co.kr

<< 온라인미디어의 새로운 시작. 인터넷한겨레가 바꿔갑니다. >>

ⓒ 한겨레(http://www.hani.co.kr), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지

<한겨레는 한국온라인신문협회(www.kona.or.kr)의 디지털뉴스이용규칙에 따른 저작권을 행사합니다.>

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Litmus Fashion is in the process of updating their site for their summer fashion!

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Now I just have to wait a bit more so they can provide pics of Min Ki and Okbin in their catalogue page...currently the Spring Fashion of w/ Song Hye Kyo and Min Ki are still there

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I very much think he represents the "new generation" of men and womoen in Korea who are separating themselves from old traditional views on beauty, society, gender, etc..and making themselves a new era. He seems like a free spriit. Most of the former models (Joo Jihoon, Gong Hyojin) seem very independent and liberal minded.

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some pics I managed to stumble on at some online korean clothing malls...let's just call these teasers for what we'll will eventually see on Litmus Fashion's pages soon:

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18ni1.jpg

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YAY!

A thread for LEE MINKI!

When he came out on XMEN I was like WHO IS THAT?

I'm glad that he is on RR b/c he's cahracter suits him well!

I haven't started to watch IRRLY but I hear that is good so I'm thinking of starting!

He's also in the same company as JOO JI HOON + JUNG EUICHUL!

Jina

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I very much think he represents the "new generation" of men and womoen in Korea who are separating themselves from old traditional views on beauty, society, gender, etc..and making themselves a new era. He seems like a free spriit. Most of the former models (Joo Jihoon, Gong Hyojin) seem very independent and liberal minded.

Well for Gong Hyo Jin, one of my favorite actresses, and people like JJH and Lee Min Ki, i personally think they represent a blend and perhaps the best of the old and new. Despite all the talk about 'forward, western' thinking in Korea, it is still very much immersed in the old school ways and traditions.

Even in America, the glass ceiling still exists and its still very much connected to the old school of thought run by 'old money' class. Even with new millionaires popping up everyday, its still very rare to find that in korean entertainment business ive noticed because their agencies/management still take a very large chunk of that fat paycheck.

I think that he is very talented though and has a very bright future ahead of him in the business if put in the right roles and such. And that flower that he has on his car and its symbolic meaning is so soulful. Im loving it all. :w00t:

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yay...the Fashion Litmus site is constantly updating...yesterday the wallpaper & catalogue & movie sections w/ Song Hye Kyo and Lee Min Ki were still there, and now they're completely gone! They're getting ready for the Summer w/ Lee Min Ki and Kim Ok Bin!

They've updated their Model section w/ the following:

imgmodel8ny.jpg

and this I found at a korean online shopping mall:

brimage11514nf.jpg

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reposting from the RRLY thread, credits to Telly:

Eugene-Lee Min Ki's "Tender-Hearted Cyworld Ilchon" Gains Popularity Amongst Minihompy Fans

** ilchon [일촌] means buddy relationships, often found/formed in online community sites, like cyworld.

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They bicker like cats and dogs in the drama, but can they be tender-hearted ilchons?

MBC Weekend Drama "Really Really Like You" is amusing its viewers with the dynamic duo of Bong Soon [Eugene] and Bong Ki [Min Ki]. However, their off-screen friendship has become a hot topic after they left messages in each other's minihompy. Especially when they were interesting messages that attracted the public's attention.

Min Ki leaves Eugene this exact message: "Rustic Village Chicken". Eugene, in turn, replies: "Lee Min Ki, I like Coldplay songs, too ~ ^^", admiring the background music playing in Min Ki's minihompy. Min Ki then replies to Eugene's message with such affection: "Yeo ~~~ Bo Bo Bo Bo Bo Bo Bo Bong Soon Woo Woo Woo Oon Oon!!!!" These messages show the kind of special friendship they both share.

This type of happy atmosphere encouraged fans to leave messages in each other's minihompy. The couple's exchange of messages even brought laughter to a lot of people, who are all looking forward to read many more messages between the two.

On the other hand, not one day passes by wherein the Bong Soon-Bong Ki pairing do not argue or go upon doing their monkey business. Just like in last week's episode, the bath-shower scene that involved Bong Soon and Bong Ki was considered strange. But it surely stirred the imagination of eager viewers who expect a romance to spark between the couple really soon.

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reposting from the RRLY thread, credits to Telly

Lee Min Ki's Ridiculous Yet Comical Expressions Are Improvised While Filming Scenes

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Actor Lee Min Ki hides his real talent, and only flaunts it through his comedic 'gagman' demeanor. He is known in the MBC weekend drama, "Really Really Like You" for making those ridiculous facial experssions.

Because of his animated and lively spirit, he lightens up the mood in the set, which helps rid of others' nervousness. People on the set do not hesitate in accepting this bubbly personality of his, especially his co-star, the country bumpkin, Yeo Bong Soon [who is played by Eugene].

Lee Min Ki's performance is funny to say the least, as he seems to always have some kind of mischievous act planned at the back of his head while shooting a scene. During filming, his bizarre improvisations never fail to fill the filming location with laughter.

His acting skills are displayed through different topics and situations, first when he sings a song from the 1976 animated cartoon called "Paul's Miraculous Adventures" [이상한 나라의 폴]. He also dances, and is said to do very good improvisations during production. He also has a peculiar sleeping habit, wherein he is positioned in a way that his buttocks are lifted up in the air--which is apparently good training for carrying a gun.

The drama producer says: "Lee Min Ki is endearing because he is witty, and is great at improvising when filming a scene. He is a very mischievous actor, which is quite bad, especially when we shoot something serious. However, incorporating his lively spirit with work has definitely brightened up the filming atmosphere."

No Need To Go To Drama School In Order To Become A Good Actor

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Lee Min Ki makes his debut as a leading actor in MBC's weekend drama, "Really Really Like You". After his first appearance in 2004's "Drama City", he appears in 2005's "Be Strong, Geum-Soon!", wherein he won an MBC new actor award. Now, a year after, he makes his debut as a leading protagonist in a drama. When asked about his sudden success, he says: "Initially, I could not believe it. I still think that my acting skills are subpar, and my experience is very little, compared to other actors."

He considers his performance in "Really Really Like You" as a challenge, mostly because strong emotions must be expressed at any given moment. He says that it is difficult, because there is that pressure to do good, and bringing out the proper sentimentality. "There is this one particular scene with Bong Soon [Eugene], where she cries really hard because she misses her grandmother. As Bong Ki, I was supposed to give her comfort, and tell her everything will be alright, but because my mother had also passed away, it was hard to show both sincere emotions of sadness and sympathy in front of the camera. Most of the time, it is hard to capture real and sincere emotions." This goes to show how concentrated an actor must be, before being able to induce believable emotions to the viewers.

He also said that you don't need to attend acting/drama school in order to acquire the proper acting skills. "When one keeps on practicing his performance, all the sincerity within his acting disappears. New actors come out each day, and they will each try their best until they succeed and get discovered. But being a new actor doesn't automatically guarantee you an acting debut after one year. The key to getting discovered is to struggle, and work hard. Maybe then, you will be discovered. It may take from 1 week, to 2 months, or 3 months for one to attend acting school, and in the end, it would not matter much if one's mind is not passionate about acting."

Lee Min Ki also adds: "On a stage or on-screen, talent is all that matters. It won't matter if you went to acting school or not, because what matters is how you present yourself to others, and how your self-confidence shines through. Without these values, you could just be like tens and thousands of other struggling actors out there."

When asked about the success of his recent drama, "Really Really Like You", he says: "It is doing well, and will pick up its pace soon. The show ratings are rising, which is a good thing, but does not matter as much as the performances. Rest assured that the cast and crew will give the show their best, until the show is finished."

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