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MBC sitcom "High Kick 2"


MBC sitcom "High Kick 2" [MBC]

By Cho Ji-young, TV critic

MBC sitcom "High Kick 2" does not hide the fact that it is shares the same roots as "High Kick 1". If you really think about it, it is Min-ho (played by Kim Hye-sung) that calls out Se-gyeong (Sin Se-gyeong) and Shin-ae (Seo Shin-ae) out into the world in the first episode. The structure of the family too is similar. There are slight differences such as there being an unmarried brother-in-law on the wife's side instead of on the husband's, a slightly idiotic son-in-law instead of a son and the scariest woman in the house is the daughter instead of the daughter-in-law. But the power structure amongst the figures are like in "High Kick 1" where they are all interconnected with one character being more, or less powerful than another character. The two sitcoms are similar in that one of the main backgrounds is a school and it manages to draw out humor unexaggeratedly. One thing though, is that "High Kick 2" has taken a step further than its predecessor in portraying its perception of reality. That is why the situation where you will 'laugh but also be crying' will have become more intense. Compared to its prequel which focused more on the relationships and conflicts within a family, "High Kick 2" is more complex in its intentions. Accordingly, its exterior has also broadened. It is all because that high kick is aimed at the roof of 'Korean society, right here, right now'.

The sisters Se-gyeong and Shin-ae are simple observers of Korean society who also represent the problems of poverty and class. The reason they went to hide in the mountains and the reason they came back was because of their father's debt, and the reason Se-gyeong bears through working as a maid is because of Shin-ae's education. Education is a big problem in Hae-ri's household too although it takes on a slightly different appearance. Joon-hyuk (Yoon Si-yoon), the son who is not interested in studying and private tutor Jung-um (Hwang Jung-eum) are like cats-and-dogs and the spiteful little Hae-ri (Jin Ji-hee) cannot solve even the simplest addition and subtraction problems without a calculator. Jang-in (Lee Soon-jae) holds the purse strings in the family so the life of the son-in-law Bo-suk (Chung Bo-suk) living with his wife's family is that much more pitiful. There is a difference to its extent and format but the issues of eating, living and teaching are always inherent within "High Kick 2".

To be more blunt, Hae-ri's greediness to take away the one thing that the Se-gyeong and Shin-ae sisters have to complete the nine other things she already has and how she ignores them is mostly surpressed by little knocks in the head but the stinging words which come from her mouth are frightening quite often. Society's hierarchy, ultimately determined by money, is the reality we live in everyday and that means even this little child is able to easily recognize such a reality.

Hence, the Se-gyeong and Shin-ae sisters who have nowhere to go, are often envious of Hae-ri's household who lack in nothing. It is more so the case for Shin-ae, who is from a world where there is no TV or Coke. But the people in Shin-ae's house themselves are no different, each member living in deficiency of something. It is because 'the grass looks greener on the other side' and the desire of wanting something that you do not have. Soon-jae, who runs a perfectly normal middle-sized company, misses his youth, Hyun-gyung misses her mother who passed away early and Hae-ri wishes she would not have constipation. Ji-hoon (Choi Daniel) who might as well be called a genius, has claustrophobia and Jung-um wishes she graduated from a better school.

"High Kick 2" operates in this incomplete world which is full of contradictions. Jung-um will not be able to resist the new arrivals hung in store windows, Soon-jae will keep farting, Bo-suk will keep acting idiotic and Se-gyeong's poverty will not be resolved. However, it is not easy to stop caring for these people who have shortcomings which cannot be overcome. The love for these characters comes from the fact that they stand on a ground which is highly linked to reality. There is not a single character who has been created to make someone cry or laugh, or sum up someone's life or give a sneak peak into another's. Their harmony (or you may see it as discord) comes from their own personalities and stubbornness in dealing with other people and the world. But from Joon-hyuk's blank expression, Ji-hoon's bad EQ, Se-gyeong's tough life and Jung-um's chaotic life, that a streak of love may pop up at one point by coincidence. So-called 'flashes of rapturing moments' will appear like sudden gleams of light though the shortcomings will not disappear, the accidents will be repeated and the future will seem gloomy. Hence, an pessimistic optimism or an optimistic pessimism will run the world of "High Kick".

By Yoonina, TV critic

"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot". This quote by Charlie Chaplin can be applied directly to MBC sitcom "High Kick 2". Although concealed under the genre's characteristic of being a comedy, what Kim Byung-wook wanted to show through his work was that life is ultimately a tragedy. And "High Kick 2" laid out the source of that tragedy extremely frankly from the very first episode -- by keeping Se-gyeong and Shin-ae away from their father, having these two close-to-beggars being thrown into Seoul which 'is full of everything' and them going through almost 'survival-like battles' to make 'money' in 21st century Seoul.

Compared to "High Kick 1", the sequel contains less scenes of the families gathering at the dining table or living room. There is almost no time that the families get together, other than during the short time they eat, and they all live their lives 'outside' the house. In the prequel, Soon-jae was a character who attempted to maintain his status as a 'father and grandfather with authority' although he had been challenged by his daughter-in-law. But in "High Kick 2", he barely pays attentions to the family other than when he gets mad at the incompetent Bo-suk. Like such, money is the medium which links the characters in the second series, different from the first where they are linked because they are families. And that is why the main occurences revolve around money and power rather than conflicts between family members. While "High Kick 1" expanded on its story with the family at the center, "High Kick 2" is led by the conflicts between individuals who have different economic and social status.

In the process of these individuals meeting and encountering problems, "High Kick 2" expands its setting from houses, schools and hospitals into '21st century Seoul'. The misfortunes that the characters come across, such as Shin-ae being held at a restaurant because she cannot pay for the food or Jung-um lying about her education so she can pay for her credit card bills, very frankly reveals '21st century Seoul' which is about the abundance which in turn creates shortages and discrimination. That is why viewers living 'right here, right now' will feel uncomfortable watching the sitcom. It is because the moment you bring someone else's life, which is a comedy, in front of your own eyes, we cannot help but acknowledge that the lives portrayed in "High Kick 2" are not the only miserable ones but so are ours. You have to admit to the ugly truth that although people talk about the 'middle class', it actually no longer exists, whether young or old, everyone is dominated by money and power and we all have to 'survive somehow' like Se-gyeong and Shin-ae do.

Despite all that, there are moments in the sitcom when such tragic lives are slightly portrayed as beautiful ones. When Se-gyeong and Shin-ae's father lies to them to send them to Seoul, reminding us of film "Life is Beautiful" and the 'magical moment' along the Han river when Julien (Julien Kang) becomes the first person to reach out to the sisters, such moments show us that '21st century Seoul' is not a scary place where all you do is get hurt.

Two facets of '21st century Seoul' coexist in "High Kick 2". The families which live in a two-story high house and a traditional house, and the people who fall asleep under the lights shining from Namsan in the cold and darkness. They are moments where money has created tragedy but those people also endure the tragedy with their hearts. The reason the occurences within the sitcom do not end in a hearty laugh but leave a bitter feeling is because such extreme moments are inherent within the incidents. They love but are shy, are lazy but feel sorry for them, are annoyed but cannot help but wondering and are thankful but also sorry. Hence, it could be called a comedy or tragedy. "High Kick 2", which contains all these elements, is about what is happening 'now' in the present tense. Whether you watch a tragedy from close up or comedy from far away, or are looking for the power structure or love line between the characters, the fact is that there 'is' this sitcom, in the midst of where 'everything is so full that it is the same as being empty'. In the end, what might matter is the fact that we can watch it because it exists.

Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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For whom the Grand Bell tolls?


Jang Na-ra (left) and Ha Ji-won are embroiled in a dispute concerning the nomination

process for the forthcoming Grand Bell Awards.

How many award ceremonies does Korea need to bolster its film industry?

For many disillusioned movie fans, the answer might be "the fewer, the better," particularly when a major award is embroiled in a dispute over fairness and a not-so-major one has been cancelled abruptly.

The 46th Grand Bell Awards, Korea's top movie award ceremony, was originally scheduled to take place in June, but was pushed back to November due to the dearth of entries. Worse, it confronts heated criticism about its selection of nominees.

MBC, a local TV station which organizes the Korea Film Award, said it has decided to cancel the ceremony this year, citing problems in funding. The Korea Film Award had touched off debates about the glut of similar, overlapping film ceremonies in 2002 when MBC went ahead with the project.

But it is not the first time that film awards in Korea suffered criticism. The Grand Bell Awards, known as "Daejong" here, have long been mired in controversy over their selection criteria. The ceremony will be on Nov. 6 this year, but it remains uncertain whether the selection of awardees will convince skeptical movie fans.

Last Wednesday, the Grand Bell Awards organizers unveiled the nominees. It was hardly surprising that "Haeundae," a tsunami blockbuster that smashed the box office record this summer, was nominated in nine categories including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. But "Thirst," directed by Park Chan-wook, is strangely absent from the Best Picture nomination list despite its high-profile credentials; instead, "The Sky and the Sea," a film to be released this Thursday, has made it to the list.

Also in dispute is the Best Actress category. Ha Ji-won starred in two notable films this year - "Haeundae," the highest-grossing film this year, and "Closer to Heaven," a melodrama that received critical acclaim - but she failed to make it to the Best Actress list. Another missing name on the list is Kim Ha-neul, a popular actress who played the title character for the surprise box office hit, "My Girlfriend is an Agent."

In contrast, Jang Na-ra, a singer-turned-actress who has a strong presence in China, came to the unexpected spotlight because of her nomination in the Best Actress category for her role as an autistic musician in "The Sky and the Sea."

The Grand Bell Awards organizers issued a press release last week in response to the growing criticism. "There is no problem in the nomination process because the movies made between May 1, 2008 and Sept. 4, 2009 are eligible for the awards," the organizers said.

The exclusion of Ha Ji-won was also due to split votes among jury members, the organizers said, adding that Ha's roles in the two films lowered her chance to get nominated despite her impressive performances in both.

Online film communities, however, continue to pour critical postings about the awards, particularly with the nomination of "The Sky and the Sea" in four categories, even though the public reaction is yet to be made about the film's artistic and commercial appeal.

Mindful of the controversy, Jang Na-ra expressed her feelings in an interview on Monday. "I feel deeply sorry about the incident," she said. "But there was no problem in the application procedure, and I didn't expect this kind of dispute."

Jang said she is willing to accept any criticism from viewers when the movie gets released in Korea, but there is nothing she can do about the public controversy over the nomination. Jang makes a silver-screen comeback with "The Sky and the Sea" after a six-year hiatus.

Ha Ji-won issued a public statement via her production firm Wellmade Star M on Thursday, expressing her confidence in the Grand Bell Awards' nomination process. "I fully respect the fairness of the Grand Bell Awards," she said. "I believe the nomination has gone through a strict process, and I do not have any doubt about the fairness in that process." In 1999, the Grand Bell Awards was embroiled in a similar case of controversy, giving awards to a film that was yet to hit local theaters. The next year, a bribery scandal hit the ceremony.

Credits : Yang Sung-jin (insight@heraldm.com)

Source : The Korea Herald

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Kim Bum (1)

He is just 21 years old now. So it could be due to his youth, but Kim Bum is a young man with the face of a boy who never takes a break. Last year, he led the beginning of MBC TV series "East of Eden" and after spending the first half of 2009 working on KBS' "Boys Over Flowers", he finished filming "Emergency" and went straight to shooting SBS "Dream", which aired starting July 27. His new name is Lee Jang-seok, a pickpocket-turned-combative sports fighter. In a world where twenty-something actors complain about the lack of good work and producers about the lack of good actors, Kim Bum is a rare young actor who continuously works hard on his career. What has this young man, the one with a shining smile and passionate eyes, been up to lately? 10Asia met for an up close and personal interview with Kim Bum at the press conference for "Dream" in July.


Actor Kim Bum [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

10: Do you feel different after doing "East of Eden" and "Boys Over Flowers", in terms of your popularity, for instance?

Kim Bum (Kim): I actually don't really know because I'm always engrossed in my work. But I'm grateful that fans in Japan and other Asian countries have shown so much support for "Boys Over Flowers". And I feel that Korean fans have also become more active. The senior actors in "East of Eden" taught me a lot of things, and even till now, I call up director Kim Jin-man and the cinematography director to ask about things I want to know about acting. And I've become very close with the F4 brothers in "Boys" and Koo Hye-sun, who played Geum Jan-di, so we all got together for my birthday recently after wrapping up work early. I was disappointed that Kim Jun couldn't join us because he was working in Japan.

10: You must have had a lot of jobs offered to you after "Boys". Can you tell us the reason you chose to do "Dream"?

Kim: I actually had finished shooting "Emergency" in between the two dramas which I think is going to open around the Thanksgiving Chuseok holidays. "Dream" will be the first different role the public will see take on after playing So Yi-jeong in "Boys". I keep getting great parts, and some people might worry that I'm doing too much too fast, but it's not like that. I thought a lot about it before I chose to do it, and I tried to concentrate as hard as possible in a short period of time. First of all, I was attracted by the drama's portrayal of the world of professional athletes and sports agents. In fact, "Dream" is not so much a combative sports drama but a human story about one character meeting good people and how much he changes and grows through that experience.

10: Tell us about your character, Lee Jang-seok.

Kim: He has the nature of a fighter, but he is actually very soft-hearted and lonely. He grew up in poor family surroundings and his pickpocket father taught him how to pickpocket after making him quit middle school. He ended up going to a juvenile reformatory in place of his father, so he has a lot of wounds because of him. He is sick of his father, but he also longs for paternal love and so he acts tough in order to protect himself. He's similar to the character So Yi-jeong in "Boys", who looked dashing, cool and glamorous on the outside but also had complex family issues. Personally, I feel compassion for the two characters and there are aspects of them that I respect as an actor.

10: But this character is completely different from So Yi-jeong on the outside. (laugh)

Kim: Truthfully, I was pressured and worried that the fans who liked So Yi-jeong wouldn't be able to relate to this character. But now I'm so into Lee Jang-seok's character that all I can think of is how to express this guy. An actor has to keep changing and not settle for one image, so I hope the viewers will be able to free themselves of the fantasy of "Boys" and see me as actor Kim Bum. I can't live as So Yi-jeong of F4 forever, so I want to leave it as one of my great memories.


Actor Kim Bum [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

10: What kind of responses have you received about your transformation in "Dream"? (laugh)

Kim: I actually hadn't really been aware of it, but on my birthday, somebody told me that I seemed colder than I was when I did in "Boys". I took it as meaning that I'm that much more into the character, so it was a good thing, but 'colder'? Come on. (laugh)

10: The process of transforming must be interesting -- turning from a pickpocket to nightclub waiter and to a combative sports fighter.

Kim: After he does serves at a reformatory in place of his father, he comes out and looks for a job but he can't find any because of his bad record. So he gets a job at a nightclub, gets caught up in a violent fight, and sports agent Na Jae-il (played by Joo Jin-mo) who was at the scene helps him debut as a combative sports fighter.

10: How did you prepare to play the role of a combative sports fighter?

Kim: I don't have much time to learn these days because we are shooting all the time. I did learn the basics from a real combat sports fighter before going into shoot. But no matter how hard you practice, everything changes once you actually go into shoot so we just go with the flow. I haven't filmed the fighting scene yet.

10: What's the atmosphere like on set?

Kim: I was in shooting in Ilsan until dawn and came down here and I'll have to leave for Japan again tomorrow for a press conference. It's a full schedule so everybody is tired, but Mr. Oh Dal-soo, who plays the father of my character, really livens up the set with his ad-libs. One time I was in a scene with my eyes closed and it was so funny just listening to his ad-libs that I started laughing and made a blooper. (laugh)

Reporter : Choi Ji-Eun five@10asia.co.kr

Photographer : Chae ki-won ten@10asia.co.kr

Editor : Jang Kyung-Jin three@10asia.co.kr

Editor : Lynn Kim lynn2878@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Kim Bum (2)


Actor Kim Bum [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

10: You've appeared in a pretty wide range of dramas since your debut. Was there a particular moment that was a turning point for you?

Kim: I appeared in "East of Eden" four times, from episode two to five, but that took over half a year to shoot. There was a jump time-wise between those episodes, but I lived as my character Lee Dong-chul for nearly seven months. My first appearance in episode two and my last in episode five, felt like they were different people, so that was particularly memorable. And especially when I was shooting my last scene, I had a hard time getting out of the character and I was worried about how I should choose my next role. I still have a lot of affection for Lee Dong-chul and I worked with really great senior actors, so I think I learned the most from that drama.

10: You didn't shoot that many scenes in "Eden", but you succeeded in making a lasting impression in the beginning. You got rid of your cute image and played a very desperate-looking character. From your early years, you seem desperate and hard-working in whatever you do.

Kim: I'm enjoying myself quite a bit while working. Do I look too desperate? (laugh)

10: Where do you get such strength?

Kim: I really hate losing -- it's in my nature. And more than anything, when I look at the eyes and actions of people who believe in me and support me -- like my family, fans and staff -- I can never do anything half-heartedly.

10: When one starts acting or enters the entertainment industry at a young age, they get stressed or get lost as time passes. How is it for you?

Kim: I don't have time to get lost. (laugh) And I don't want to get lost. I wouldn't call it getting lost, and I do want to travel and enjoy school like other people my age. But I chose this life, so I think I have to get rid of the desire for freedom. I think it's the only way. So far, I have never regretted it, not once.


Actor Kim Bum [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

10: Then what do you usually worry about?

Kim: Well, mostly about work. Is that too boring? (laugh) Especially for "Dream", I was the last to join among the actors so I had the least time to prepare compared to others, and I had to concentrate as best I could the shortest time possible. So I worried a lot about that. These days I worry about how I should get out of my previous character and into the character of Lee Jang-seok.

10: Last year, you enrolled in the Movie and Theater Department at Joongang University. Is it possible to lead a life as actor and student?

Kim: I think it is difficult to do two things together, so I've taken this semester off for now.

10: Are there any dreams you want to achieve through "Dream"?

Kim: Just like an actor has people working hard for him behind the scenes, such as managers or stylists, an athlete and a sports agent are also dependent on each other and inseparable. I hope the drama is able to show you well about how they overcome many obstacles together and gives the viewers a sense of dream and hope. And I have never won anything at award shows so it's my personal wish that the drama "Dream", not me, wins one. (laugh)

10: You've been working steadily as an actor. Is there anything you are interested in doing and wanted to do more of?

Kim: I want to try directing, if opportunity arises. I don't want to do it just because I think I have the advantage as being an actor. It's my dream to prepare really hard and seriously for it and direct anything, such as an indie or movie or play. All my friends are acting majors, so I think it would be great to do one together.

Reporter : Choi Ji-Eun five@10asia.co.kr

Photographer : Chae ki-won ten@10asia.co.kr

Editor : Jang Kyung-Jin three@10asia.co.kr

Editor : Lynn Kim lynn2878@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Park Shin-hye (1)


Actress Park Shin-hye [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

10: You were in shoot early this morning. What was the scene about?

Park: It's a scene where Mi-nam becomes heartbroken after U Hae-ee and Tae-kyung become officially recognized as a couple at U Hae-ee's film premiere. I know we were in shooting but I sort of felt a bitterness too -- I think I'm really becoming assimilated with my character. (laugh) And Uee is so pretty and beautiful that I really do think 'Wow, all guys must really like pretty girls like her'. Even the staff on set don't see me as a guy anymore. (laugh)

10: But the reaction from female fans are hot. (laugh)

Park: I'm lucky. There can be anti-fans when there is one female actress amongst four actors but I think "Minamishineyo" is getting good response because it's about a story where a girl tries to live amongst guys as a guy. I recently was in Gapyeong for a shoot in front of a high school and I had fallen asleep while waiting for my scene when I heard several hundreds of girls scream at me. And they were shouting "Mi-nam oppa! (a title girls use to refer to older guys)" They weren't calling me "Shin-hye unni! (a title girls use to refer to older girls)" Oh, but that doesn't mean I don't have anymore guy fans. I was once shooting in downtown Seoul when businessmen in suits recognized me and said I was cute which made me feel good. Another man I met while shopping for props for the drama, remembered me from the first episode and called me a nun. I was happy because he said he enjoys watching the show.

10: Your character though, is actually very different from what we had expected her to be like. How did you approach Mi-nam's character who is a girl in man disguise but is actually not even manly or easy going in personality?

Park: I think that's because of the images that were fixed from previous dramas where women disguise as men. There actually are a lot of feminine guys too, even amongst my own friends or stylists and artists that I know. So if I pretend to be a guy, it doesn't mean I have to be manly and my character is originally very ladylike so I thought she would become someone different altogether if she suddenly became really manly. The producer and writers too thought that I need to pretend to be a guy, not actually become one, so they asked that my tone of voice be somewhere in the middle where it would be bright as a girl but not too low or boyish as a guy. That was really hard (laugh). I know the viewers probably also thought my character was weird in the beginning because they've never seen anything like it before but I think they've come to like Mi-nam for who she is and start to understand the character.

10: What's the atmosphere like on set? You're acting with actors your own age in comparison to other dramas these days where the average age of actors is pretty high.

Park: A lot of things which would never happen on other sets happen on ours. (laugh) It probably would've been quieter if our seniors were here but we make a lot of bloopers because we laugh a lot. (laugh) If one person thinks of the prank he played on another person and his lips start quivering, then the other person will go off and start laughing. And each character has his or her own lingo which we keep copying and that really sets us off.


Actress Park Shin-hye [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

10: The scene where you danced a parody version of Girls' Generation's "Genie" in the epilogue became a sensation.

Park: We shot various versions for Girls' Generation, 2NE1, Roo'ra etc all in one day. If you look at it closely, you'll notice that the choreography is wrong in parts. (laugh) Oh, by the way, I did Jung Yong-hwa's make-up for "Genie" as well as mine. I thought the guys wouldn't put on make-up but Jang Keun-suk and Lee Hong-ki were so I told Yong-hwa that I would turn him into Tiffany and used pink eye shadow on him. How everyone looked so pretty!

10: Wasn't it difficult becoming close with your fellow actors as the only actress?

Park: It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I have an older brother at home and my cousins are mostly guys so all my memories from my childhood are of me playing soccer, basketball or tetris with them. I think that's why I have a lot of guy friends at school too. Both Jang and Park are quite friendly and Lee was a little shy at first but everyone soon became surprised at how quickly we became friends. He says he's not even worried about being misunderstood as dating me even if we went on a trip together! It's sort of sad in a way. (laugh)

10: You had shot a TV commercial with Jang before and you're working with him again. It seems that you two seem to hold the drama together.

Park: I think Park is probably doing it better than I am. He's very playful and likes to pull pranks but is also very sweet. You'd think he'd be more individualistic because he's very ambitious about acting but he is good at controlling the atmosphere on set and takes good care of the team. I think I know why so many producers and writers like him so much. And I get goosebumps when I see him concentrate. I guess we do work together pretty well. When he throws lines at me which weren't in the script, I'll throw lines back at him and our acting will keep flowing. I think he knows how I'll respond to what he does.

Reporter : Choi Ji-Eun five@10asia.co.kr

Photographer : Chae ki-won ten@10asia.co.kr

Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@asiae.co.kr, Lee Ji-Hye seven@10asia.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Park Shin-hye (2)


Actress Park Shin-hye [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

10: This is the first drama you're appearing in since "Kimchee Radish Cubes" a year and a half ago. The break was relatively long this time considering the fact that you debuted in middle school and had appeared in several dramas and films throughout your high school years.

Park Shin-hye: I had taken only very short breaks after appearing in "Stairway to Heaven" in 2003 so I wanted to take a rest and go to school after "Kimchee". There were some achievements I made while showing myself to people but I myself had a hard time. I'm still young but I was even younger back then. And if I come to think about it, I was just so happy and was having fun about playing the lead role in a movie when I was in high school but if I think about it now, I think I just went for it without knowing anything. I just had so much fun acting back then, not knowing anything about the reality of the entertainment industry or what TV is about. I sometimes think I must've been very stupid or simple-minded. (laugh)

10: I think you were able to be under relatively less stress and have more freedom compared to other celebrities your age because you debuted and spent your teens under singer Lee Seung-hwan's company, also your former agency Dream Factory.

Park: Lee didn't like making young people do this and that. He was always under the belief that I would make it even if my ratings were bad so I think I too was able not to be pressured about it. I also believed that I needed to experience everything that people my age to in order to express it in my acting and everyone -- my parents, managers and Lee -- all supported me in that aspect. No matter how much I would hang out with my friends, go watch baseball, go to the theatres and amusement park, they all believed in me. And that I wouldn't cause any trouble. I don't think it's good to keep myself trapped up too much before I turn 20. No matter how often people recognize me and point at me, I like it that I can be just myself when I'm with my friends. And I think it's a blessing that I can have people around me who help me to do that.

10: You got into Joongang University's acting major last year and it became a sensation because there are a lot of actors including Ara, Kim Bum and Kim So-eun.

Park: All four of us went to our classes so well during our first semester of our first year that people around us thought it was weird. That's how much we were attached to our school life. Ara was even shooting a drama during that time. And then as Bum and So-eun took leaves to shoot "Boys Over Flowers" and I saw that everyone else was acting, I became a little worried because I was the only one left in school. But I think everyone has a time when they get to do their thing.

10: Then how did you spend your past year in school?

Park: I prepared for exams, wrote reports and was busy in my own way with friends. I also learned to do a bit of swimming, dance ballet and Chinese characters. And I watched a lot of plays at work but also stagework behind the scenes which was a lot of fun. I'm on a leave right now but I'm going to go to my classes well once I return last year.


Actress Park Shin-hye [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

10: You have been called an 'up and coming star' for the past couple of years but I think you must have also worried about having to grow as an actor.

Park: I did a lot. Back then, I used to think it would be advantageous taking on roles older than my age, and I actually still do, but I hit a wall because I was trying to act out some things I had never experienced before. I felt that even more so when shooting "Kimchee Radish Cubes" and on the other hand, I didn't want to play the role of someone who is depressed. I know some people may have thought it would have been better if I had taken on an older role but I thought I would be going around in circles. I really wanted to do "Minamishineyo" because it's about people my age and my actual personality is very similar to my character's. (laugh) So I think it actually may take me a step forward from being an 'up and coming star'.

10: I think you will probably also be able to related better with the romance between Tae-kyung, Mi-nam and Shin-woo than in the sad melodrama roles you played previously in "Stairway to Heaven" or "Goong S".

Park: I had a friend in a similar situation. Two guys liked one of my friends but she was the only one who didn't know about it. Mi-nam's personality is very similar to hers so there actually are parts where I gained ideas from her. Having seen the process myself helps in trying to understand and imagine the emotions.

10: You must have been pressured about the rating though since this is your first drama in a while and you're the main female character.

Park: I would be lying if I said I hadn't been in the beginning but I think we're doing pretty well now. And it's continuing to go up so I'm thinking that we just need to keep trying harder. Thankfully, the evaluations are good and people are talking about it so I think that pressure has gone now. I don't have time to worry about the ratings anymore anyway so if I keep working hard, I believe it will be reflected in the drama.

10: "Minamishineyo" could be set as the start to the second chapter of your acting career. What dreams do you have, now that you're just about to enter your 20s?

Park: I'm going to be an adult soon so I want to try going on a backpacking trip. And I think I've slightly surpassed the point of being called a 'up and coming star' in regards to my work. So it's my goal, for this year and the years to come between the years of 20 and 25, to become an actress who can do a wide range of acting with my own character. I want to show more of my possibilities as actress Park Shin-hye.

Reporter : Choi Ji-Eun <five@10asia.co.kr>

Photographer : Chae ki-won <ten@10asia.co.kr>

Editor : Jessica Kim <jesskim@asiae.co.kr>, Lee Ji-Hye<seven@10asia.co.kr>

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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"President" attracts over 1 million to theaters


A scene from film "Good Morning President". [CJ Entertainment]

"Good Morning President", starring top Korean actor Jang Dong-gun, has surpassed the one million mark on the South Korean box office just seven days into its release.

According to estimates by the Korea Box Office Information System (KOBIS) on Thursday, "President" had accumulated over 1.05 million viewers by 5 a.m. since its release on October 22.

The film had topped the box office over the weekend with 713,114 viewers and a total 823,884 viewers, recording a bigger opening than "Take Off" which became the sixth most-watched Korean film in box office history earlier this year.

"President" is expected to maintain its position atop the box office for the upcoming weekend, with KOBIS statistics showing that the film is currently No. 1 in advance sales with a 33.9 percent reservation rate.

The film, about the life of three different presidents, is Jang's first box office hit in nearly four years, after starring in "Typhoon" in December 2005.

Veteran actors Lee Soon-jae and Goh Doo-shim also star in the movie which opened the 14th Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) in early October this year.

Credits : Jessica Kim jesskim@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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"Iris" ratings continue to climb


A scene from KBS TV series "Iris" [KBS]

The ratings for KBS TV series "Iris" continued to soar three weeks into its showing, according to a survey on Thursday.

According to TNS Media Korea on Thursday, "Iris" topped its TV chart with a viewership rating of 29.6 percent, gaining 3.4 percent from its previous episode. The rating was slightly higher a day ahead the same week, standing at 27.9 percent.

AGB Nielsen Media Research also said the Wednesday and Thursday night drama gained last night, reporting a 26.7 percent rating compared to a rating in the 25 percent-range last week. The series took first place on AGB's daily TV chart also.

Several of South Korea's top actors including Lee Byung-hun, Kim Tae-hee and Jung Jun-ho star in the drama which was in production for over a year in several countries including Korea, Japan and Hungary.

Credits : Jessica Kim jesskim@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Xinhua to launch international TV news service

HONG KONG, Oct. 29 (Yonhap) -- China's state-run Xinhua News Agency will launch an international television news station next month, industry officials here said Thursday.

The new channel, named "China International TV (CITV)," will began broadcasting on Nov. 7, the 78th anniversary of the founding of Xinhua, according to the officials.

The satellite-based CITV, headquartered in Beijing, will cover news in Chinese and in English to attract viewers in Europe and America, they said. The Chinese-language service will begin next month, with the English news service to begin in January.

The 24-hour news network will cover both China-related and international news, the officials said.

Credits : yna.co.kr]brk@yna.co.kr

Source : Yonhap News

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October 29, 2009

Jang generates buzz with return to big screen

Actress stars in new film 'Sky and Ocean' after a long break


singer-turned-actress Jang Na-ra

After a long hiatus, singer-turned-actress Jang Na-ra has returned to the big screen with the film "Sky and Ocean."

It's been six years since she starred in her last movie, "Oh! Happy Day" in 2003.

Asked why she chose this particular film to make her comeback, Jang said she has a lot in common with Sky and Ocean's protagonist and that she was drawn to the movie's heartwarming story.

"It is a movie that will comfort you when you are exhausted, like warm soup helps soothe your burning tongue after eating spicy food," the actress said.

Sky and Ocean is a drama that follows the life of Haneul (played by Jang), who lives a detached life due to a disability. Haneul meets Bada (played by actress Juni) and Jingu (played by Yu A-in), and the three grow up emotionally while building tight bonds with each other.

The film's director, Oh Dal-kyun, is well known for this type of human story, particularly through his 2006 film "Heart Is."

Jang's character is a prodigy who has a gift for music, but she has the mental capacity of a 6 year old.

"It wasn't easy for me to perform as a virtuoso violinist," Jang said, adding that she underwent four months of intensive training to play the instrument adequately for her role.

Furthermore, she shed nearly eight kilograms (17.6 pounds) from her already light 45-kilogram frame for the part.

"I stopped eating meat, which I like, and opted for milk instead of rice to lose weight," Jang added.

The character in Sky and Ocean represents a huge departure for Jang, who has developed a "cheerful girl" image through her roles in numerous TV dramas.

And that's fine by her.

"I think the characters I play will change naturally as time goes by and I grow older," the 28 year old said. "I plan to remain an actress for the rest of my life, so my current image doesn't bother me.

"What I think is important is doing my best each and every time I do my work."

Although the film hit local cinemas just yesterday, there has already been a fuss over Jang's nomination for Best Actress at the 46th Daejong Film Awards, which opened Tuesday and is the oldest and most prestigious film contest in the country.

When her nomination was announced last week, a number of movie fans and some critics questioned the selection.

Jang's movie, they emphasized, was not yet playing in theaters when she was nominated for the award, while actress Ha Ji-won - who starred in the box-office hits "Haeundae" and "Closer to Heaven" -was excluded from the list entirely.

Some bloggers even speculated that there seems to have been some backdoor dealings between the event organizer and people associated with Sky and Ocean.

Ju Ho-sung, Jang's father and manager and the producer of the film, vigorously denies those accusations.

"It is a groundless rumor damaging our film, for which we have worked so hard," Ju Ho-sung said in a recent posting on Jang's official Web site.

"We submitted the film to the Daejong Awards in accordance with the event's rules and passed the preliminaries through an impartial screening as far as I know."

The Daejong event organizers also refuted the criticism, saying in a recent press release that "Sky and Ocean was completed within the designated time period to be considered for the awards."

Final winners in 19 categories of the Daejong Film Awards, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor, will be chosen by a jury consisting of 10 film professionals and about 50 moviegoers.

The award ceremony will be held on Nov. 6, which is the final day of the event.

Credits : Shim Su-mi, Park Sun-young [spark0320@joongang.co.kr]

Source : JoongAng Daily

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A.N.JELL Hwang Tae-kyung is 7 at heart

A look into Jang Keun-suk's character from TV series "Minamishineyo"


A scene from "Minamishineyo" [sBS]

Leader and vocalist of Korea's most popular group A.N.JELL. A natural-born idol with good looks, fancy showmanship and genius songwriting skills. He's a narcissist and perfectionist but often ruins his glamorous image with his innate cleanliness, nyctalopia, compulsion, lack of direction, and crustacean allergies. Growing up, he was unable to call his famous singer mother "Mother" and complains, "Don't act like you know me. When I was young, I couldn't act like I knew you because you were famous. Now I'm pretty famous so this is a problem." But, at heart, he is a seven-year-old boy who longs for his mother's attention and affection.

In one of the episodes, a completely dishevelled Hwang suspiciously asks resident troublemaker Go Mi-nam, "Is this 'Hidden Camera'?" (Korean version of Ashton Kutcher's Punk'd) after having chased her to save her from getting stuck on top of a truck on the move. And with his mouth covered he starts timidly mumbling, "Lee Kyung.. Mr. Lee Kyung-kyu, Mr. Lee Kyung-kyu.. " hoping the host will appear. When he does not, he then goes through a mental breakdown, pointing to his own glamorous advertisement on a billboard on the street and shouts out "I... I! That's right, that's who I am!". His mental breakdown reaches its climax when Go asks him to create an autograph for her. After he belts out to her, "Why should I?" he then makes one and leaves it in her room. Then he says to himself, "Go Mi-nam is dull that she might not find it. And even if she does, she'll think it's one of her own." And then he gets anxious the next second saying, "No, it's too fantastic! She'll notice it!"

Therefore, Hwang's comments should be interpreted as follows: "Whatever, I don't care about your taste" actually means "Your taste is my taste"; "I didn't change it because of you. It's a new concept for the album" means "This is all because of you, you, you"; and "It's better that you take advantage of the situation and smile than to cling on and cry" means "Little ladies looks prettier when smiling."

Reporter : Choi Ji-Eun <five@10asia.co.kr>

Editor : Lynn Kim <lynn2878@asiae.co.kr>, Jang Kyung-Jin <three@10asia.co.kr>

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Han Ga-in signs with Kim Ha-neul's agency


Actress Han Ga-in [J.One+ Entertainment]

Top South Korean actress Han Ga-in has signed with Kim Ha-neul's agency J.One+ Entertainment, according to the talenthouse on Thursday.

"She has a strong will to do a wide range of work while receiving organized management under a stable agency such as ours," said J.One+ CEO Kim Hyo-jin in a press release.

"It is a matter of time before she returns to the screen with a new role," Kim added of the actress who had only been appearing in several television commercials since marrying actor Yeon Jung-hoon in 2005.

The 27-year-old actress, who debuted in TV series "Sunshine Hunting" in 2000, has appeared in several dramas including "Yellow Handkerchief", where she met her spouse and "Super Rookie" co-starring Eric from boy band Shinhwa. She is also one of the most sought-after faces in the TV commercial industry.

Credits : Jessica Kim <jesskim@asiae.co.kr>

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Rain Talks Hallyu, Song, and Movie


Singer Rain says 'Ninja Assassin'

is the first step toward his long-

term dream of cracking the

American movie and music market

during his interview with CNN's

Talk Asia program.

Singer and actor Rain, one of the top Korean wave or hallyu stars, said the term ``Korean wave'' would be better not used as it is too self-centered and could cause anti-hallyu sentiment among Asian fans.

Asked about the reason behind its recent waning on CNN's Talk Asia interview program, Rain said, ``The biggest problem is the term Korean wave. It doesn't sound right. It's a bit too self-centered.''

Rain said it shouldn't just be about exporting Korea's own culture but about using each other's cultures and exchanging ideas.

``I think the word hallyu can actually create anti-hallyu sentiment because it sounds so unilateral, which could be why some of the dramas and other things are losing popularity compared to before.''

He also said a lot of people have jumped on it for the money, and introduced works with low quality, causing a loss of face to some extent.

Asked about the strong points about Korean pop culture, he pointed to a lot of talent compared to other countries.

``The ingredients, as I like to call it, are good. A lot of very skilled writers, directors and singers have been around for a long time,'' he said. ``With the Internet, it's now possible to access all of this content within a matter of seconds, which is why compared to before things have spread quickly and become popular among the public.''

On questions about how does it feel becoming the biggest pop sensation in Asia, he said, ``There are times when I wonder: Is this a dream? Or is this real? I don't know how long it will last, but I guess the most important part is to keep on doing my best and maintaining what I have done so far.''

He said trying his best is what's most important. ``You also need to have one thing that you are better at than everyone else, which means you need to be irreplaceable.''

Rain said that since childhood, Michael Jackson was his idol. ``I followed his moves and dances every day as a child. So as a child, I guess I spent a lot more time dancing than with my books.''

Asked about the memories with his mother who died when he was 18 years old, he said, ``Of course, I do have a lot of regrets. There were times when I think I didn't do well enough for her. But, as I said, my mother was the greatest motivation for me to try to do my best.''

He said he is still working hard because of the guilt he feels about her.

``That guilt, a lot of it, I think comes from the time seeing my mother in bed 10 days before she died. I asked myself, Is the pain I am going through greater than what she is experiencing? Whatever it is, the pain will never be greater than the physical pain she went through. So no matter what happens I have to give it my best; this is what I thought.''

He said what motivates him is his hatred of losing. ``The more criticism I get the more it gives me a stronger urge to win. So I tried harder. The more times I was turned down, the more I believed I was getting closer to making it.''

Rain said his ultimate goal is to crack the American market and is making efforts to gain recognition bit by bit.

``I think it's finally slowly happening. All the hard work that went into the Hollywood film (Ninja Assassin) which is about to premier is a starting point. I think I will be doing a lot of other pieces and songs in the future. So I'm very happy that I'm slowly making progress and realizing my dream.''

Rain said he put his heart and soul into the movie, which will be premiered around the world next month. ``There are a lot of action sequences that I think take things to a different level from other movies like The Matrix and Kill Bill.''

He said he also sees the possibility of penetrating the American music market in the future.

``In the past, America was the hub of culture. Things are now changing a bit,'' he said.

``The music in American has all been of the same kind, but I think we need to combine music, from India, a bit from Asia, a bit from Europe altogether to create a new genre. I think the center of the market may slowly be shifting to Asia.''

He said he is preparing his English album. ``I'm looking for the best timing to do that but I'm not sure exactly when that will be. Because it will be successful only if I'm fully prepared.''

Asked how he has been able to be free from scandals, the 27-year-old said, ``I grew up poor and lived in a poor environment. In the past, I made a promise to my family that I wouldn't get distracted by anything. That's why I was able to focus on what I was doing without any scandal or rumors going around.''

Asked whether he has girlfriends, he said, ``I don't have a girlfriend. But I would like to meet someone. I don't know; maybe I might meet someone soon.''

Credits : chojh@koreatimes.co.kr

Source : The Korea Times

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SBS TV series "Wife Returns"


The cast of "Wife Returns" at the press conference [sBS]

“Nobody here has come up with the right answer.” Actor Park Jung-chul, who will appear in the new SBS daily TV series “Wife Returns”, said about journalists’ predictions about how the mystery will unfold for actress Kang Sung-yun, who plays twins in the drama. “Wife Returns” is a melodrama and mystery material, despite the title which makes one think of TV dramas “Temptation of a Wife” and “Two Wives” which previously aired in the same time slot. The press conference, held October 27 at SBS headquarters, was attended by producer Lee Hyun-seok, director Lee Yong-seok, actors Jo Min-ki, Kang Sung-yun, Yoon Se-ah, Park Jung-chul, Kim Moo-yul, Lee Chae-young and Jun Min-seo.

The actors, including Jo Min-ki, asked not to compare the drama to “Temptation of a Wife” and “Two Wives” just based on the title. But the plot of “Wife Returns”, about a tortured wife returning for revenge, cannot help but remind us of “Temptation”. Of course, how they return is completely different; in “Temptation”, a real wife pretends to be a different person whereas in “Returns” the wife’s younger twin pretends to be the older one. But the biggest difference between the two dramas is the information given to the viewers. In “Temptation”, Kyo-bin’s family are not aware of Min So-hee’s identity, but viewers have the advantage of watching the revenge because they know everything. But “Returns” does not show all its cards to the viewers. It can be assumed that Yoo-kyung pretends to be Yoo-hee (played by Kang Sung-yun), the older twin sister who has disappeared, but all other information is hidden in the plot so the viewers too have to keep searching for answers amidst the confusion. With its sensational and interesting plot, can “Returns” really be the drama that “will drop viewers into a deep hole”, as actress Kang Sung-yun described it?


Born from one mother and living two different lives, twins Jung Yoo-hee and Jung Yoo-kyung (played by Kang Sung-yun)

One person gives, the other receives. That is how twin sisters Yoo-hee and Yoo-kyung have lived their lives. Growing up in an orphanage, they get a chance to be adopted by an American family. Yoo-hee yields the opportunity to Yoo-kyung who was born with a heart disease. Afterwards, Yoo-kyung grows up loved by her wealthy adopted parents and receives good education, while Yoo-hee is abused by her stepmother and her marriage to her true love (played by Jo Min-ki) falls apart because of her mother-in-law. Yoo-kyung, who has received everything all her life, steps forward to help the sister who has lost everything. “Yoo-hee sacrifices herself for her sister, husband and child, but Yoo-kyung is very cool-headed and thorough. Their backgrounds are so different that that alone will create two different performances.”


The innocent yet unreliable husband Yoon Sang-woo (played by Jo Min-ki)

Jo Min-ki defined his character Sang-woo as someone who “comes from a rich family, is intelligent, indecisive and innocent -- the sum of all the characters I’ve played in melodramas.” The key word here is “indecisive”. Sang-woo truly loves Yoo-kyung and is a pure, kind-hearted romanticist who married her against his parent’s wishes. But he is also a helpless husband, who is both unaware and unable to stop Yoo-kyung from leaving him because of her daughter Da-eun’s heart surgery fees. It is neither an affair nor a betrayal when he marries new love Min Seo-hyun (played by Yoon Se-ah), but it is seen as something hateful from Yoo-kyung’s perspective. “I’m a little embarrassed to do melodramas now because of my age. I apologized to my two co-stars during the first rehearsal,” he said.


The wife who gradually breaks down to protect what she has, Min Seo-hyun (played by Yoon Se-ah)

What is interesting about “Returns” is that even though the main plots deals with revenge, the revenge is actually aimed at good people. Like Sang-woo, Seo-hyun also comes from a rich family and is a devoted wife and mother. It is easy to presume her good background knowing that she first met Sang-woo when she was returning from a medical volunteer program. But to Yoo-kyung, she is just someone who stole her sister’s happiness and became Sang-woo’s second wife. So Yoo-kyung tries to take everything from Sang-woo and Seo-hyun, who, in order to protect what she has, goes through changes and slowly goes through a breakdown. “They say actors are not supposed to feel compassion for their characters, but I was heartbroken and sad to see Seo-hyun. She could be considered a villain but there is a reason for it.”


The god of revenge who is blinded by love, Han Gang-soo (played by Kim Moo-yul)

Kim Moo-yul takes on the bad guy role of Han Gang-soo after previously having playing the villain Si-wan in “Iljimae” at the request of director Lee Yong-seok. The difference between Han Gang-soo and other villain characters in the so-called “trashy dramas” is that he was a good man who turns bad after a failed love. In other words, the reason he approaches Min Seo-hyun’s half-sister Min Yi-hyun (played by Lee Chae-young), tries to get his hands on the Min family’s wealth and destroy Sang-woo is because his devoted love for Yoo-hee was rejected. He loved her enough to risk prison and embezzle company funds and give it to her. That is why the revenge of Gang-soo, along with Yoo-kyung’s, feels almost justifiable. “I feel like I’ve become the professional villain-role actor in my early twenties. But it’s a role that is worth taking on.”

What to watch

There were six different shots of pairs taken at the press conference. That is how complicated the relationships between characters are. Sang-woo marries two women, Yoo-hee and Seo-hyun. Yoo-hee leaves Sang-woo and moves in with Gang-soo. Yoo-kyung, who lives Yoo-hee’s life, falls in love with Seo-hyun’s brother Min Young-hoon (played by Park Jung-chul) who appears after twenty episodes. Gang-soo marries Seo-hyun’s half-sister Yi-hyun for revenge. The relationships are so closely related that we don’t even need to play the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon Game, where everyone knows everyone by the sixth relationship. Viewers will need to remember this complicated family tree to not get lost in the drama’s storyline.

Reporter : Wee Geun-woo <eight@10asia.co.kr>

Editor : Lee Ji-Hye <seven@10asia.co.kr>

Editor : Lynn Kim <lynn2878@asiae.co.kr>

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Lee Min-ki (1)


Actor Lee Min-ki [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]

10: We heard that your schedule had been packed with interviews but this will be the last. Aren't you tired?

Lee Min-ki: My agency always tells me it's the last one. But it was supposed to be the last one two days ago. (laugh) I hadn't been that tired but I do feel a bit weird today. I was home the whole day yesterday and I was too lazy to go out so I ate all these health foodstuff like Chitosan and Omega 3 capsules which I think is the problem. I was wondering whether I should eat ramen but I felt too lazy having to do the dishes afterwards. (laugh)

10: Shouldn't you eat and rest better during the moments you can?

Lee: I actually had a harder time yesterday. I practiced playing the keyboard for about three and a half hours but my fingers hurt because I hadn't done it in a while, so I then started reading but that was tiring too. Before, reading used to be a very peaceful time. But my breaks are always like that these days. When I'm taking time off, say for about three days, I actually have nothing to do so I end up just drinking which ends up making me even more tired. And it gets boring when I have time on my hands. I think I'm actually better off being busy working. Then I'll eat all three meals a day while staying up all night shooting or at least get three or four hours of really good sleep. I think it's healthier for me.

10: It's quite surprising because you seemed like the type who would know how to enjoy himself while resting.

Lee: I used to be able to but I think I changed starting this year. Two years ago, I was casted for a film so I had been preparing for it for about three months, when the whole movie got cancelled and I ended up taking a break. But back then, I was enjoying myself and didn't feel any emptiness. Now that I think about it, I think I wasn't bored because I had something to do. During summer vacations when I was younger, I used to wake up at noon and just sit listening to the kids playing outside until it got dark, but I can't do it for the life of me anymore.

10: Why is that, do you think? Is it because there is a certain level of popularity you have to maintain or simply because a lot of time has passed since then?

Lee: I think it's proportionate to the time that has passed. I didn't care about time passing in my teens. I rather wanted time to pass quickly so I would reach the age where I'd be allowed to drink legally. (laugh) When you're in school, the time you spend there isn't your own time, but right now, I'm doing something that is my own. So as more time passes, I think I want to keep doing something that will leave a mark.

10: You really did work very hard this year -- on films "Haeundeae" "A Million" and your album. To an extent that it seemed you were overdoing it.

Lee: I don't feel like I'm having a hard time when I'm working but rather have a harder time when I'm not. It doesn't matter when I'm in a shoot or working on an album, but the time after that... For example, if I spend a whole week doing interviews, I'm okay during that time because I meet different people and talk about different things. But when I look back on it, I feel a bit worn out because that time flew by and all I did was talk about myself which leaves me with nothing.


Actor Lee Min-ki [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]

10: Is that what you meant about wanting to leave a mark?

Lee: That's right. But interviews afterwards help me think a lot. I'll be asked questions which will help me think about things I hadn't thought of. I think it's a time which helps me organize my thoughts so in that sense, I think it's a time that I do need.

10: So you don't really have much fun outside the time you work. Does that mean you enjoy working?

Lee: Rather than calling it fun, I think it's... I'm completely into it. I do worry a lot my acting but that's just how much I'm into it. Basically, I'm in a crazy state. And then when I have to leave behind something that thing I'm crazy about, I feel empty and as if I should keep pouring out something.

10: I think you have sort of an uneasiness.

Lee: I am able to act right now but I can't live my whole life thinking that it's a talent heaven bestowed upon me. And it's not like I'm smart. I feel like I don't have any talent when I'm not doing anything. Is this what uneasiness is?

10: Earlier this year you said, "There is nothing I can do if I give up on acting". Do you still feel uncertain about the job of being an actor?

Lee: I've come to think in more depth about being an actor since doing that interview but I'm still not sure what I should do. That self-awareness of being an actor is not something I create for myself but something that people make of me. For now, I want to take this on as more of a challenge. The interesting thing is that I've done a couple of films up till now, and I've managed somehow. I've somehow managed to get here in somewhat passing colors but I'm always doubting myself when I take on new roles.

10: It was past passable -- the character Hyung-shik that you played in film "Haeundae" which attracted over 10 million viewers was the most talked about.

Lee: I did hear about that too. That some people only took notice of me in the film... stuff like that. But I know my share of contribution. My acting didn't improve suddenly, I just put in as much effort as I usually do, worried like I always do, had as much fun as I possibly could -- it's just that the film itself was great. Of course, I do think my acting worked well with the film overall but that's because the director did a good job. I'm being praised for more than I did.

10: Are you trying to be modest?

Lee: Because there were times that I thought I did pretty well but people said I didn't, so my acting became undervalued. And I liked film "Oishi Man" but not too many people watched it which I felt was also a shame. You will get overvalued and undervalued but you can't get swayed by it.

Reporter : Wee Geun-woo eight@10asia.co.kr

Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk eleven@10asia.co.kr

Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@asiae.co.kr, Lee Ji-Hye seven@10asia.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Lee Min-ki (2)


Actor Lee Min-ki [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]

10: But you must also think that this time, you found a role that suits you.

Lee: Of course my acting will seem more natural if my character talks, moves and laughs like I do. I do still believe that I need time to live my life like the character to become closer to the guy in the script. But the character in "Haeundae" was a very normal guy. In other words, it was easier for me to express him because I my life had been very much like his for the past 26 years.

10: Then do you think Hyung-shik and you are alike?

Lee: I think the director did a good job of making us alike. I wanted to make him seem like a man from Busan in the beginning. The typical guy from the Gyeongsang Province who is blunt and also expresses his embarrassment using very crude expressions. But the director wanted me to act as if I were a boy from Busan. Someone who is very cheerful yet shy. So we talked about it a lot in the beginning and he'd tell me if I was making the character seem too much of a man. That's how we created Hyung-shik's character. So there's nothing that I did well in particular.

10: But I think it worked because you were the one who played it. For example, when you played Chul-hee in "A Million", who suddenly turns into someone very dangerous, the emotions you displayed seemed a bit incoherent.

Lee: When I hear comments like that, I wonder if I have to act in the typical way people take evil people to be. From the beginning, I actually didn't think Chul-hee was a bad person. He's not tough nor rough. He can't be called evil because of a choice he makes in order to live at the very last and most desperate moment after being chased for days and not being able to sleep. In other words, I didn't think of him as someone with character but actually the most humane person. The problem is convincing the viewers that and if the emotions seemed incoherent, then I didn't do enough of it. During another interview, I once said I would become an actor with ups and downs. I can't be good every time. This work isn't about me alone doing a good job or everything else failing because I do bad.

10: Having ups and downs -- it's part of the process of figuring out which films suit you.

Lee: There most definitely are roles that suit you better. I don't think one person alone can be good at ten roles. But I don't know what I'm good at yet and I think I'd hate finding out.

10: Why would you hate it?

Lee: I believe in the power of time. I know people who seem evil just at a glance would be good at playing evil roles but I don't think I'd do a bad job if I was given enough time. That's why I want to try a variety of roles.


Actor Lee Min-ki [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]

10: It means you will open up all possibilities for new challenges.

Lee: Everything has always been a challenge for me. Some people tell me I always take on similar roles but they haven't been for me. I think taking on similar roles is the tougher challenge. It doesn't matter hearing from other people that I seem the same but I don't want myself to see my acting and think that I played a similar role. For example, when I act a scene where I'm supposed to be confused and realize that I had done the same confused acting before, I'll think to myself, 'I guess I always express this emotion naturally with these type of characters', and then start worrying more.

10: In that sense, your first album "No kidding" was another one of your challenges.

Lee: I made the album because I somehow had the opportunity and the time to. And I really wanted to too.

10: It was your first album. Do you have plans to continue your activities as a musician and release more albums?

Lee: I do. But I'm not in a rush to. I think I can only get better results with both movies and music as I learn to understand more about them.

10: Then I think you would be able to try going for other genres as well. I heard you like the music of bands like Coldplay too.

Lee: I do but I don't know if I'd be good at it. I don't know how much appeal I would have singing such songs. If I was working alone, I would try writing a song myself, record it and then go with something else if it didn't seem to work, but I think I should be more considerate in the fact that there are others I work with. That's even more so why I'm not in a rush. It'll be good trying this and that. (laugh)

10: It all suits you -- taking on challenges in your 20s. But I can't picture you in your 30s and 40s.

Lee: I can't picture it either. (laugh) But I do have this thought -- that I have to get something done now to have fun with it in my 30s. I should read a lot of books now to at least be able to write one book when I'm in my 30s. So I have to work even harder right now.

Reporter : Wee Geun-woo eight@10asia.co.kr

Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk eleven@10asia.co.kr

Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@asiae.co.kr, Lee Ji-Hye seven@10asia.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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(Movie Review) Aimless and clueless, 'x-rated' film a bore

SEOUL, Oct. 30 (Yonhap) -- One should always be suspicious about a movie that describes itself as "triple x-rated." Since the summer, "Searching for the Elephant (Penthouse Elephant)" has been boasting that it will be the sexiest movie of the year. After about 10 minutes, you'll realize you've been had.

The story is pretty simple.

Three male friends -- a freelance photographer, a plastic surgeon and a financier -- spend their nights surrounded by women and alcohol, all of them hollow inside despite their success and wealth.


Obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, photographer Hyeon-wu (Jang Hyuk) struggles with schizophrenia and insomnia. The happily married Min-seok (Jo Dong-hyuk) has endless affairs with patients thirsty for superficial beauty. Jin-hyeok (Lee Sang-woo) is having an affair with his best friend's wife and holds other secrets he refuses to share with his buddies.

While trying to overcome their problems, the three find solace in each other's company. But even their friendship begins to stumble as dirty secrets are slowly revealed.

With all the right ingredients for a so-called "generation movie" aimed at Seoul's affluent thirty-something urban professionals, "…Elephant" appears lost in how to serve up a proper dish.

It's near impossible to associate with the characters' seemingly endless anxiety and greed, while the film's gratuitous sex scenes are anything but sexy as they fail to blend in with the plot.


Director Jeong Seung-ku, who worked on the production of the local box office hit "The Chaser," says he wanted to create a "bold and sensual movie by featuring the depression, decadence and desire of Korea's most affluent generation."

Frankly speaking, Jeong's debut appears to have failed pitifully in that attempt, with only small glimpses of potential in the movie's camerawork and soundtrack.

One major draw that could attract local moviegoers, however, is the fact that "…Elephant" features the last performance by the late actress Jang Ja-yeon, who committed suicide in March.

Playing the role of Hye-mi, a girlfriend of the libertine high-flying plastic surgeon, Jang's character also commits suicide in the film. There is, in many ways, a tragic resemblance between Jang and her final on-screen persona.

The movie's producer Vintage Holdings delayed release of the film and made new edits out of respect for the late actress and her family, but said most sex and suicide scenes involving Jang have not been deleted due to their importance to the story.


Jang, 30, killed herself on March 7, making headlines for months as she left a lengthy note claiming she was under immense emotional distress after being forced to perform sexual favors for powerful entertainment figures.

Despite its flaws, the movie's attempt to capture the plight of affluent young Seoulites has won it invitations from several international film fests including Poland's Warsaw International Film Festival and Sweden's Stockholm International Film Festival.

"…Elephant" will hit local theaters beginning Nov. 5.

Credits : Shin Hae-in (hayney@yna.co.kr)

Source : Yonhap News

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Actor Jang Honored on Savings Day


photo from mydaily


Actor Jang Dong-gun and actress Kim A-jung received awards on the 46th Savings Day, which fell on Tuesday.

Jang received the presidential award and Kim the prime minister prize at a ceremony held in the building of the federation of banks in Seoul.

``I'm honored. I've developed a habit of saving since my childhood,'' Jang told reporters. ``As I'm not married yet, my parents are still taking care of my revenue. They may have to receive this award.''

Jang said his parents believe that saving money in banks is the safest and best way to manage financial assets. ``I have been making investments in safe banking products recommended by experts,'' Jang said.

Jang said he is all the more pleased to have received the presidential award at the same time as the opening of the movie, ``Good Morning President,'' in which he starred in as a president.

Kim, who starred in ``200 Pound Beauty,'' said she has more than 10 savings accounts.

``This is my second savings award after the first one I received at my elementary school,'' Kim said. ``I'm studying wealth management hard, seeking advice from bank experts.''

Credits : chojh@koreatimes.co.kr

Source : The Korea Times

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Agency confirms Jo Han-sun to marry in Jan


Actor Jo Han-sun [Asia Economic Daily]

Actor Jo Han-sun will get married in January of next year and enter the military afterwards, his agency confirmed on Friday.

A media report earlier in the day said the 28-year-old actor had recently decided to wed his girlfriend on January 9 and has also received approval to do so by parents on both sides.

"We're surprised too because we just heard about the news, " an official at the actor's agency MyNameIs Entertainment told Asia Economic Daily over the phone. "We are currently discussing the matter and will soon announce the details."

Another source close to Jo explained that the decision had been made quite suddenly, in consideration of the actor having to enter the military next year to complete the nation's two-year mandatory service.

The source added that Jo had kept mum about his relationship, even to his close friends.

Jo has appeared in several dramas and movies since rising to stardom through debut sitcom Nonstop 3. His new film "Attack the Gas Station 2" is awaiting release.

Senior Reporter : Moon Yong-sung lococo@asiae.co.kr

Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>



Jo Han-sun Will Wed in January


Actor Jo Han-sun

Actor Jo Han-sun, 27, will tie the knot with a graduate school student on Jan. 9.

In an interview with a local daily, he said he met her about two years ago and plans to start mandatory military service after the marriage.

``I'm not a type who talks around about my girlfriend. I've dated her for about two years and recently decided to marry her," he said.

Jo said the bride is majoring in painting at an undisclosed graduate school. ``She is an ordinary student. Thanks to her understanding and consideration, I came to decide to wed before joining the army.''

Jo will hold a press conference next week to announce the marriage.

The model-turned-actor made his debut in 2002 on MBC TV drama ``Nonstop 3''and since then has appeared in a number of movies including ``City of Damnation,'' ``Now and Forever,'' and ``My New Partner.''

Credits : chojh@koreatimes.co.kr

Source : The Korea Times

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Han Chae-young to advertise Chinese electronics brand


Korean actress Han Chae-young [bOF Entertainment]

Korean actress Han Chae-young has been chosen to advertise for a Chinese electronics brand, according to her agency on Friday.

Han has signed with China's major electronics company BBK to promote its products, BH Entertainment said in a press release.

BBK, one of the biggest companies in China's electronics industry, has hired numerous celebrities to promote their products including Chinese actors Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Steven Chow and Hallyu star Song Hye-kyo.

"She hasn't worked much in China but her popularity in China is higher than expected," an official at BH Entertainment was quoted as saying. "The hit drama 'Delightful Girl Choon-Hyang' scored high ratings when it aired in the country so she is getting a lot of attention as a new Hallyu star."

Han, one of the most popular actresses in South Korea, has appeared in several TV dramas including the smash hit "Boys Over Flower" earlier this year.

She also co-stars with Hallyu star Jang Dong-gun in the film "Good Morning President", the current No. 1 movie in Korea, and will appear in another new movie "Girlfriends", set for release around Christmas.

Reporter : Lim Hye-seon <lhsro@asiae.co.kr>

Editor : Lynn Kim <lynn2878@asiae.co.kr>

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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