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Historical Romance Comes Back to Life in New Light

Korea’s oldest history book “Samguksaki,” the history of the three ancient kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Shilla, contains a story about an army general and a princess during the late Goguryeo period. Princess Pyeonggang, a daughter of King Pyeonggang, married Ondal, a timid man from a humble family, whom she helped through unheard-of devotion to become a renowned general.

But people today are not interested in Ondal’s political success but rather curious about three things: how his rise in status through marriage to the royal member affected his life, what made Princess Pyeonggang unconventional, and what could have happened after his death. They wonder how Ondal and Pyeonggang would be if they lived today, some 1,400 years later. And they may be able to satisfy their curiosity in the new KBS2 drama “Taming of the Heir.”


Production Conference

A production press conference was held for the drama at a CGV theater in Apgujeong-dong, Seoul on November 4. Unlike drama press conferences held at a conference room or hotel, a press conference held at a theater can show the preview of a drama on the big screen. KBS presenter Han Suk-joon emceed the conference, which drew a crowd of reporters, raising hopes for the success of the drama. Director Lee Jung-sub and seven leading cast members--Kil Yong-woo. Choi Myung-kil, Nam Sang-mi, Ji Hyun-woo, Seo Do-young, Cha Ye-ryeon, and Kim Heung-soo--were in attendance to talk about their show.

▼ Synopsis and Cast

Some 1,400 years ago, Goguryeo soldiers are blocking the gate of the Shilla fortress amid a hail of fire arrows. But Woo On-dal, the general of the Goguryo army, attempts to flee in vain and is forced to stand against the enemy by his wife Lee Pyeong-gang. Feeling disgruntled, he says, “I will put myself in danger as you wish,” but is killed by fire arrows shot by the enemy.

Time flies to the year 2009. On-dal, an arrogant, rude son of a rich businessman, hears from his girlfriend the news that his father will remarry his secretary. On-dal heads for a resort where the wedding is supposed take place in order to stop it, but confronts a group of gangsters on the way and gets robbed of all his belongings, even his clothes. He sneaks into the resort to find some clothes and is caught by Pyeong-gang, and the news is leaked all over the internet. On-dal’s father decides to make his son a golf player to reform him.

Pyeong-gang, who has lost her dreams, finds one again by meeting On-dal, and On-dal, who has felt no need to have a dream, finds one for the first time in his life by meeting Pyeong-gang. The romantic comedy shows happenings between the past and present, and is directed by Lee Jung-sup, and features Yeon Mi-joo, Park Ki-woong, Oh Wook-chul and Ahn Hye-kyung in addition to the seven stars.

▼ Ji Hyun-woo Playing Woo On-dal


Woo On-dal was a smart and talented child but things changed when his mother died. He has lost interest in life and became estranged from his father, Woo Pyeong-won. This has led him to live a wild life. Although appearing haughty and disdainful, On-dal is a warm and considerate person.

Ji Hyun-woo, who will play On-dal, is known for the decent image he has shown in his previous works such as “Old Miss Diary” and “My Precious You.” In the new drama he will show another side of himself as he performs both as an ancient army general and a modern rebellious boy.

Ji said, “It seems that my personality changes according to the roles I play. So, now I feel and act like On-dal.” He added that he will do his best to successfully portray the unconventional On-dal. He delivers more ad-libs in the drama than in any other his previous works, so he is always thinking over how he can pull them off. He will also perform manyactions scenes, especially in the first few episodes.

When asked about how the drama will beat its rival “The Great Queen Seondeok” of MBC, which is enjoying great popularity with viewer ratings of some 40 percent, Ji said, “Our drama has its own uniqueness, so I think it can appeal to different viewers who like comedy. And anyone who gets bored with the long-airing ‘The Great Queen Seondeok’ can turn the channel to see our drama.”

Nam Sang-mi Playing Lee Pyeong-gang


Lee Pyeong-gang had a dream of becoming a world-renowned golf course designer. But tough reality has made her work as a mere staffer at a golf resort and become the breadwinner for her childlike mother and family. She has to fight between her long-cherished dream and difficult life.

Nam Sang-mi, who has made her name known through the film “Spy Girl” and drama “Gourmet”, has been cast for the role. She will represent the prototype of a woman with unyielding will.

With regard to the rivalry with “The Great Queen Seondeok,” Nam said, “I feel pressure because ‘The Great Queen Seondeok’ is such a huge hit, but I don’t think we are rivals. I’m just really happy to be part of the drama, and hope viewers also feel happy to watch it.” She indicated her great expectations for the drama by saying “100 percent” when asked what ratings she expects it will garner.

Choi Myung-kil Playing Je Hwang-whoo


Je Hwang-whoo is an ambitious woman who works as a secretary of Woo Pyeong-won, the owner of the golf resort and On-dal’s father, and later marries him. She is the reincarnated step-mother of Lee Peyong-gang from 1,400 years ago. She plots with her son Je Yeong-ryu to put On-dal in trouble and obtain the golf resort.

Choi Myung-kil, who has played queens in many historic dramas such as “Empress Myeongseong” and “The Great King Sejong,” said, “The role is quite different from what I used to play, and it’s the reason I decide I took it. I believe it will expand my capabilities as an actress.”

The romance between Choi and Kil Yong-woo playing her opposite will appeal to middle-aged viewers. “It may sound like my role is an evil, but she has a reason-–to protect her son. But she is in nature good person, and she will take care of her husband when he suffers from dementia later in the drama,” Choi said. Hearing this, Kil interrupted with a smile by saying, “No, she is an evil person, but one we can’t hate.”

Kil Yong-woo Playing Woo Pyeong-won


Woo Pyeong-won loved his wife with all his heart, but did not know how to express it. He feels guilty about not being able to show love to his son after his wife died, and his son living a wild life as a result. So he wants to turn his son into a new person and plans to make him a pro golfer.

Kil Yong-woo will play Woo Pyeong-won, the successful businessman who owns a golf resort. “I regret that I don’t get to play golf a lot since my role is someone who owns the resort,” Kil said. But he demonstrated the boxing skills he learned for his character, who used to be a boxer.

Cha Ye-ryeon Playing Kwan Ja-rak


Kwan Ja-rak is a star actress who works as a model for the resort of Woo Peyong-won. She is long-time friend of Woo On-dal and loves him even after On-dal has changed after his mother’s death. Confident and proud, she understands On-dal and does not hide her love for him.

Cha Ye-ryeon will play Ja-rak, who forms a love triangle with Pyeong-gang over On-dal.

Seo Do-young Playing Edward


Edward is an financial investor who comes to like Lee Pyeong-gang for her pure passion for designing a golf course. He helps her to realize her dream.

Seo Do-young expressed his expectations for his role, saying, “I usually play a very serious man, but my role this time is a very cheerful one, and I’m excited about that.” When asked about who is closer to his ideal type, Nam Sang-mi or Cha Ye-ryeon, he tactically avoided giving an answer, saying, “I just met a niece of Choi Myung-kil and she seems intelligent and beautiful.”

Kim Heung-soo Playing Je Yeong-ryu


Je Yeong-ryu is as ambitious as his mother, Je Hwang-whoo. He is naturally good at dealing with people and thus always has a group of followers. He hides his cruelty and cunning behind soft and generous appearance.

Kim Heung-soo is making a comeback after a long absence with an evil role. “Choi Myung-kil is helping me a lot with the role,” he said. “I have continued to work by participating in several films, but as the film market is going through a tough time, the films failed to be released, so I had a hard time.”

Director Lee Jung-sub


Having debuted in 2005 as a co-director of the drama “Sweet Heart, Sweet Darling,” director Lee Jung-sub has since directed “Hong Gil-dong, the Hero,” and “My Precious You.” He said, “I got the idea for the drama when I wondered what would happen if On-dal and Princess Pyeong-gang came back to life in a completely different way." “We are all enjoying the shooting and there is good harmony between the veteran and younger actors. I’m confident we will produce a good work.”

The drama is written by Park Key-ok, whose previous works include TV dramas “Invisible Man” and “Cain and Abel,” and the films “Sword in the Moon” and “Heaven’s Soldiers.”

Most cast members forecast viewer ratings of some 10-20 percent, but said it’s not the number that matters. The drama will not disappoint those who are waiting for it. It begins airing on November 9 at 9:55 p.m. on KBS2.

Production Company: Sinyeong Entertainment & Communications

Writer: Park Jae-hwan

Copyright ⓒ KBS & KBSi

Source : KBS Global

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"Seon-deok" keeps reign on TV ratings chart


Korea's No. 1 drama "Queen Seon-deok" [MBC]

MBC's historical drama "Queen Seon-deok" continued to hold its reigns onto Korea's TV ratings, taking the top spot for the fourth consecutive week.

"Seon-deok" scored an average 42.1 percent viewership rating for the week of November 2 to 8 to remain the most-watched TV show in the country, according to statistics released by TNS Media Korea.

The hit drama, which premiered in May, is showing no signs of going pale in terms of ratings, gaining further from last week's 40.1 percent.

KBS2 TV's "Iris", which stars a handful of Korea's top actors including Lee Byung-hun and Kim Tae-hee, followed in second place with 30.8 percent viewership rating. Daily soap "Jolly Widows" (KBS1) and weekend drama "Three Brothers" (KBS2) trailed behind with ratings of 28.4 and 27.4 percent, respectively.

In the non-drama category, KBS's "Happy Sunday" topped the chart with a 26.1 percent viewership rating. SBS's "Family Outing" and KBS2 TV's "Gag Concert" trailed behind with ratings of 21.8 and 21.5 percent, respectively.


Reporter : Lynn Kim lynn2878@asiae.co.kr

Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Nov. 09, 2009

'Good Morning, President' Draws 2 Million Viewers


"Good Morning, President" starring Jang Dong-gun has attracted 2 million viewers in the 17 days since its release, topping the box office chart.

According to statistics by the Korean Film Council, a total of 2.06 million people had bought tickets for the film as of Saturday.

Korea's cinema industry recorded its greatest sales in history in the third quarter, attracting 46.04 million spectators and sales of W328.7 billion (US$1=W1,169).

Thanks to the success of films like "Haeundae" and "Take Off," Korean films have been maintaining 60 percent market share for the last three months.

Source : Chosun Ilbo

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Kim Severely Hurt Over Comments on Acting


Actress Kim Tae-hee

Actress Kim Tae-hee said Monday that she had been severely hurt by a controversy over her acting ability.

``I admit that there are problems in my acting. But I want to see `Iris' mark a turning point in my acting career,'' said Kim amid cheers in an interview with Yonhap News, referring to the TV drama now being broadcast on KBS TV. ``I have hardly been shaken by groundless rumors but the dispute over my acting is most painful.''

Kim, 29, is said to be one of the most beautiful actresses in the country. She received a bachelor's degree in fashion design at the prestigious Seoul National University.

Kim rose to stardom through her portrayal of an evil stepsister in ``Stairway to Heaven,'' the SBS TV series, in 2003.

``I have a complex about myself. After starting my acting career, I found my future bleak. Still, I feel it very difficult to act,'' said Kim who reportedly achieved perfect scores in every subject during her three years in middle school in Ulsan, the southeastern industrial city.

She is now playing the role of a profiler at the state intelligence agency in ``Iris,'' where she falls in love with a colleague agent played by actor Lee Byung-hun. The drama's viewing rate surpassed 30 percent last week.

Source : The Korea Times

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Rain Fueled by 'Fury' for 'Ninja Assassin'


Rain in a scene from "Ninja Assassin"

For his first Hollywood lead role in ``Ninja Assassin,'' Rain had to forget he was a pop star and trained alongside stuntmen for six hours a day, over six months ― all when he could have been comfortably playing sweet TV roles or dancing onstage for staunch Asian fans.

His secrets to achieving zero percent body fat? Anti-fans and mom, said the 27-year-old in a crowded press conference Monday in Seoul.

``There were many times when I wanted to return to Korea, where I could be busy giving concerts and starring in TV dramas and movies. I seriously contemplated it many times over the eight months (of shooting `Ninja Assassin.'),'' said Rain, who showed off his build in a fitted double-breasted suit.

But he stayed because he had made a promise to fans, and also because of his pride.

His trainers, who are now like family, would provoke him, saying that Matt Damon or Brad Pitt outperformed him in lifting 100-kilogram weights.

``I would also wake up in the morning and flip through the `very nice' newspaper articles that criticized me and read negative comments from anti-fans,'' he said about feeling compelled to prove himself. ``I thought I had to show that I can make a debut in the United States rather than just talk about it.''

The modern martial arts flick is the South Korean superstar's second collaboration with the creators of ``The Matrix'' series. He made his Hollywood debut in ``Speed Racer,'' which was directed by the Wachowski brothers, and assumes his first lead role in the upcoming film, which is produced by the talented brothers and directed by James McTeigue (``V for Vendetta'').

This is also the first time a local star is playing the title role in a major Hollywood franchise.

He said he pulled off 90 percent of the stunt roles, using minimal wire support. He was hurt on many occasions, and though he didn't break any bones he bears ``many scars of honor.''

Thinking about his late mother, however, fueled his ``passion'' for the project.

``My mother used to wake up at 5 a.m. every day and would work all day, come home at midnight and go to sleep at 1 or 2 in the morning. She did this for many years to support me and my sister. I thought if I can't survive this I can't do anything. This is the beginning of a new stage in my life and I cannot afford to be lazy,'' he said.

``I heard people get three chances in life, and I've had my three: first when I met (music producer JYP or Park) Jin-young, second when I met the Wachowski brothers through `Speed Racer' and third, when they offered me the part for `Ninja Assassin,''' he said.

``I'd be lying if I didn't wish the movie to be a box office success, because everyone worked so hard. But regardless of the results this has opened a lot of doors for me, and I hope it will also open more opportunities for Asian actors, and particularly Korean actors,'' he said, since Asians still have ``a low success rate'' in Tinseltown.

In addition to Rain, the movie stars Korean-American actors Randall Duk Kim and Rick Yune.

Rain plays the role of Raizo, an orphan who is trained by a secret ninja clan to become a deadly killer. But when Raizo witnesses the murder of his good friend, he turns his back on his clan and plots revenge. When asked if he could relate to his character, he said he hopes he has nothing in common with such an introverted, violent persona but hopes fans will discover a new side to his conventional image.

Rain will continue his promotional tour Nov. 11 to 22 across the U.S., including New York and Los Angeles. He will then visit Hong Kong Nov. 28 and 29, Jakarta, Indonesia on Dec. 3 and finally Shanghai through the following week of December.

Meanwhile, the pop singer will hold concerts in the U.S. for the first time in three years next month, Dec. 24 and 25 at Caesars Palace Hotel in Las Vegas.

The movie, rated 18 and over, will open in theaters Nov. 26. 98 minutes. Distributed by Warner Brothers Korea.

Credits : Lee Hyo-won (hyowlee@koreatimes.co.kr)

Source : The Korea Times

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Entertainment Business Dept. to Train Star Makers


Former entertainment reporter and

now professor Hong Sung-kyu is

opening the Entertainment Busi-

ness Department at the Conser-

vatory of Korea next year to edu-

cate future star makers. / Korea

Times Photo by Shim Hyun-chul

Many say the Korean wave, or hallyu, is dwindling. Some say the fault is on promotion, while others argue about quality. For former entertainment reporter and now professor Hong Sung-kyu, it is the overall mindset that is preventing the wave from moving further.

``The fundamental problem in the Korean entertainment industry is that it is disposable. The reason why it's so difficult to get out of this mess is because the people working within entertainment don't realize this and are not interested in moving forward for a better future,'' he said during an interview last week at The Korea Times.

This has led the professor to start an entertainment business major under the Conservatory of Korea to help producers, agencies and managers learn more about the industry and how to further nurture stars.

``Culture has become an important industry for Korea, and we believe we should start producing star-makers, not just stars, in the long run. Hallyu may have been brought by famous actors and singers, but these stars were made by their producers and agencies. The department is aimed to bring more professional star makers who can broaden their (understudies') boundaries in the international scene,'' he said.

The reality is that the spotlight is only on the actors and singers, while the agents and managers also endure heavy schedules and sleepless nights, plus deal with promotions and other projects for their clients. In order to fulfill these tasks and also promote their clients in other countries, expertise in management, financing and even psychology is necessary.

``When young idol groups come out, they perform for a couple of weeks, mark number one on music programs and then disappear. The lifespan of young singers these days is very short, and this can cause a problem both culturally and financially,'' said Ben Yeo, the head of the school's office of external exchange and cooperation.

In order to offer a more systemized program, professor Hong will bring a psychological coaching program based on the International Coach Federation (ICF).

``Many Korean dailies offer education sections that coaches their readers how to effectively focus on their studies and get good grades. These are all part of the coaching program from the ICF. We are applying this to stars and their managers,'' Hong said.

According to Hong, one of the biggest problems many stars have, yet avoid to confront, is not being able to understand their true identity. Some actors who portray morbid and immoral roles find it hard to return to their real selves.

``Before her death, actress Lee Eun-joo portrayed depressed and sick characters in films, while actor Choi Min-soo played many tough roles, as well as sometimes getting into quarrels in real life as well,'' Hong said.

The most recent case would be Choi Jin-sil, who had to go through difficult times after rumors regarding her and the death of her good friend, fellow actor Ahn Jae-hwan.

``Stars tend to get lonely easily. They look happy in the spotlight with fans cheering them on, but when they return to reality, they feel loneliness. The last person Choi met other than her family members was her manager. If the people she worked with knew the right way to help her escape her misery, things may have been different,'' he added.

``Culture is not about money anymore. We need a professional approach and the new department will hopefully offer the education needed for star makers."

The four-year semester starts next year, and anyone who has a high school diploma can try out. For more information, visit www.sapc.or.kr.

Credits : Han Sang-hee (sanghee@koreatimes.co.kr)

Source : The Korea Times

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Nov. 09, 2009

Star Couple to Marry Vast Assets


A building owned by Ko So-young in

Cheongdam-dong in Seoul's affluent

Gangnam District

Stellar couple Jang Dong-gun and Ko So-young are suffering a massive onslaught of media interest after they admitted their romantic relationship. Among other things, fans are now getting curious about the couple's conspicuous wealth.

Ko has massive real estate assets, including a building in the chic Cheongdam district in southern Seoul worth at least W10 billion. She reigned as the queen of advertising for a decade, modeling for anything from apartments and cosmetics to home electronic appliances and beer. She has been less active in recent years but still remains one of the most sought-after models in Korea.

Jang is believed to be roughly as rich as Ko, being a large shareholder in his management company AM Entertainment. The company is a management agency of a number of top stars like actor Hyun Bin and actress Shin Min-a. They are popular across Asia, and AM Entertainment expects to record over W10 billion in sales this year. Jang also awaits the release of his Hollywood debut "The Warrior's Way" and his popularity and fame are expected to rise even more.


Source : Chosun Ilbo

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November 10, 2009

New flu death of actor's son causes dread for parents


TV actor Lee Gwang-gi.

Confirmation by the nation's health authorities that A(H1N1) influenza killed the 7-year-old son of well-known TV actor Lee Gwang-gi on Sunday has sent a shock wave across the nation.

Parents are starting to fear their otherwise healthy kids could also fall victim to the latest strain of the flu.

Earlier on Sunday, Lee's management agency said the child, named Seok-gyu, died of acute pneumonia and blood poisoning.

In the evening, the 40-year-old actor said he received a text message around 4 p.m., from the hospital that had treated the child a day before, saying that the youngster was suffering from the new flu strain and belatedly advising him to obtain a five-day dose of Tamiflu.


Lee said he received a text mes-

sage around 4 p.m.,from the hos-

pital that had treated the child a

day before, saying that the you-

ngster was suffering from the new

flu strain and belatedly advising

him to obtain a five day dose of

Tamiflu.The child first showed sym-

ptoms last Friday, according to Lee.

Dozens of fellow entertainers have been visiting the hospital in Ilsan, which has a memorial altar for Seok-gyu, and hundreds of Internet users have left messages of condolences on Lee's Internet home page.

The Health Ministry has yet to confirm that Lee's son carried a specific disease. If the boy is identified as having been healthy before catching the flu, he will be the second child to die of the disease who was not in a high-risk category. So far, nine kids have died of the flu. The first was identified as suffering from cerebral palsy, although health authorities have not put the disease under high-risk classification for the H1N1 influenza.

Analysis of the deaths of the children shows that their conditions rapidly worsened and that they died three to four days after visiting hospitals. Some died while taking Tamiflu.

Parents of younger children say they are shocked to see such a sudden death of a celebrity's child.

Chung Eugene, the mother of a 3-year-old girl, said she and her daughter hardly come out of their house anymore for fear of catching the illness.

"I am panicking about the fact that nobody knows who will contract the flu and die," she said.

That the H1N1 flu vaccination of babies and children aged between six months and 6 years will begin next month is also making parents nervous. The delay came after clinical tests for vaccination of kids of those ages conducted earlier turned out to be unreliable.

A second round of tests has been conducted by the Health Ministry but the results are not slated to come out until the end of December. Babies who are younger than six months are not eligible for the shots.

"We are now looking into various options that could advance the date for vaccinating babies and kids," said a Health Ministry official.

Doctors and medical researchers have yet to identify what causes such fast progression of the disease.

Kim Woo-joo, professor of medicine at Korea University's medical center in Guro, western Seoul, said whereas seasonal flu virus is normally discovered in the upper part of the airway, patients who have died of H1N1 flu or those in serious condition carried the virus in lower parts.

"When the virus fails to be eliminated from the body [due to its location], it could rapidly develop into diseases such as pneumonia, threatening the patient's life," he said. "The number of healthy kids dying of H1N1 influenza is on the rise in the United States, too."

He listed breathing difficulty, blood in phlegm, difficulty in waking and a drop in blood pressure as examples of serious symptoms of this new flu strain. Officials have stressed that the overall mortality rate of the new flu strain is no more than that of seasonal flu.

Credits : Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]

Source : JoongAng Daily


Death of Actor's Child Linked to H1N1 Flu


Lee Kwang-gi weeps after the death of his son.

The seven-year-old son of actor Lee Kwang-gi died on Sunday morning after catching the H1N1 flu virus. The cause of death was provisionally announced as pneumonia.

Inje University Ilsan Paik Hospital, where the child was last treated, reportedly sent a text message to Lee's mobile phone which read, "Confirmed positive of H1N1 virus infection. Tamiflu prescribed for five days."

The boy chatted with Lee as late as early morning on Sunday, just before his condition rapidly deteriorated. He was taken to the intensive care immediately and died just few hours later.

Source : englishnews@chosun.com


Actor in Tears (한글번역)


Actor Lee Gwang-gi

A funeral ceremony for actor Lee Gwang-gi's son who died from influenza A (H1N1) Sunday took place at a hospital in Ilsan, north of Seoul, Tuesday, with families and the father's fellow entertainers weeping.

Lee wailed for his lost child, shouting, ``Seok-kyu,'' his son's name, several times, sending attendees into distress. The son was cremated and was laid to rest at a vault in Byeokje, Goyang.

Among the attending entertainers were actors Kim Bo-sung and Kim Myeong-su, singer Hong Seo-beom, and comedians Kim Yong-man, Kim Goo-ra and Ji Seok-jin.

There was confusion over the sudden death of the seven-year-old. After being initially diagnosed with a cold on Friday afternoon, he didn't take any Tamiflu ― the H1N1 medicine ― and he later died.

Lee received a text message informing him that Seok-kyu had tested positive for the new flu Sunday afternoon. The son had already passed away that morning.

The news of Seok-kyu's sudden death brought sorrow to friends and fans as the elder Lee had been living as a ``goose father'' for the past two years, while his wife took their son to the Philippines to help him learn English. They returned recently, not fulfilling their original plan of a five-year stay, mostly because Lee missed them.

Source : The Korea Times

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Local film pulled from theaters

"Sky and Ocean" starring waning Hallyu-star Jang Nara was pulled from theaters after only two-weeks in theaters nationwide.

In recent weeks, the film had caused controversy after garnering Best Picture and Best Actress nominations for the 46th Daejong Film Awards before it began its theatrical run.

This had sparked a series of accusations hurled at the filmmakers of lobbying to get the nominations.

According to Jang's management company J&D entertainment - that also acted as producers of the film - they wrote on their official website yesterday they had decided to pull the film from theaters.

The father of Jang and president of her management company, Chu Ho-sung said "after considerable debate and discussion with family members, we've decided to pull the film from the cinemas in order to quell all accusations of lobbying and we only made this announcement until the awards had drawn to a close," and added "it is possible for us to consider taking legal action, but we don't want to fight this anymore."

Credits : (kws@heraldm.com)

Source : The Korea Herald

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CJ Entertainment aligns with 1492 Pictures

CJ Entertainment, the country's biggest film distribution firm, has inked a three-year development pact with U.S.-based 1492 Pictures, securing favorable distribution and investment rights for films produced by the Hollywood company.

Under the deal, CJ Entertainment will be allowed to have first rights to co-finance projects with 1492 Pictures, while securing distribution rights in Korea, Japan and China.

The pact marks the first major production partnership a Korean corporation has pulled off with a leading Hollywood firm. 1492 Pictures produced the first three "Harry Potter" films as well as the "Night at the Museum" franchise.

Credits : insight@ heraldm.com

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Song Kang-ho movie "Brothers" to open in Feb


Actor Kang Dong-won in a scene from "Sworn Brothers" [showbox]

Film "Sworn Brothers", starring top Korean actors Song Kang-ho and Kang Dong-won, will be released next February, according to the film's producer Showbox on Tuesday.

The film had received much attention for casting two of Korea's leading actors and for being directed by newcomer Jang Hoon, who received the award for Best New Director at the Young-Pyung Film Festival last year for his directorial debut "Rough Cut".

Song will play a discharged National Intelligence Service agent while Kang an abandoned secret agent from North Korea in "Brothers", about two government secret agents meeting up again, six years after they first met in a downtown shoot-out.

Song Kang-ho is one of Korea's most successful actors who has starred in a handful of hit films including "Memories of Murder", "The Host" and "Thirst", which won the Jury Prize at Cannes earlier this year.

Kang Dong-won is one of the most promising actors of the younger generation, who has appeared in several notable movies including 2006's "Our Happy Time", 2004's "Romance of Their Own" and "Too Beautiful to Lie", which co-starred Hallyu star Kim Ha-neul.


Actor Song Kang-ho in a scene from "Sworn Brothers" [showbox]

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

Editor : Lynn Kim lynn2878@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Nov. 10, 2009

First lady meets Korean wave star Bae






Nov. 10, SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea's first lady Kim Yoon-ok (L) meets Bae Yong-joon, a South Korean actor popular in Japan and other Asian countries, at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Nov. 10. (Yonhap)

Source : Yonhap News

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TVXQ's Hero Debuts as Actor

"Acting was a new experience for me. If I had more time, I would have done better," said Hero from the music group TVXQ at a news conference after the screening of the movie "Postman From Paradise" on November 9.

As the second telecinema production, which is produced both as a movie and TV drama, "Postman From Paradise" was directed by Lee Hyung-min, who also directed "Sorry, I Love You." The script was written by Eriko Kitakawa, who also wrote the Japanese TV drama "Long Vacation," starring Takuya Kimura.


"Postman From Paradise" is about a young entrepreneur who embarks on delivering letters to paradise from people who cannot forget the deceased. One day he meets a woman who joins his cause. Hero plays the postman Jae-jun. "It was difficult for me to portray feelings because it was my first time acting. We were able to complete the shoot without problems thanks to the director and Hyo-joo, who helped a lot," said Hero.

On the question whether the other TVXQ members supported him as an actor, Hero said, "When we were filming the movie, TVXQ was preparing for a comeback. My bandmates were too busy to provide me with advice. But U-Know and Chang-min, who are very interested in acting, encouraged me to do my best."


Actress Han Hyo-joo, who plays opposite Hero and portrays a woman who regains her ability to love after meeting Jae-jun, said that she decided to take this role because she was attracted to the telecinema genre. "In terms of the plot and emotions, this production is reminiscent of a fairy tale, but it strikes a chord in my heart more than a well-written novel or essay," said Han.

On the question whether acting opposite an idol singer was great pressure for her, Han said, "To be honest, it was big pressure but once we started shooting it all disappeared. Hero learns fast. He reacted very promptly to my acting. He has big potential as an actor."

Source : KBS Global

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TVXQ's Hero Jae-jung's Movie Premiers


TVXQ member Hero Jae-jung's new movie held a press premier on Monday afternoon in Seoul. It was his first public appearance since he and two other members of TVXQ – Xiah Jun-su and Micky Yu-cheon - filed a suit against their management agency SM Entertainment about four months ago. Dressed in black and grey, Hero was apparently nervous in front of all the journalists, saying that he's never been in front of so many cameras by himself.

Titled "Heaven's Postman," Hero's first film was shot last year and it's about a mysterious man who delivers letters to heaven for people who can't forget their deceased loved ones. His co-star in the movie is Han Hyo-joo, who rose to fame in the TV drama "Brilliant Legacy" last summer.

The press premier could have been an awkward appearance for Hero, since the court hasn't made its final ruling yet, but he went ahead with the event to fulfill his promise to the fans. A special showing took place after the press premier with about 280 of Hero's fans in attendance. Source : KBS WORLD

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Film "Postman to Heaven"


A scene from film "Postman to Heaven" starring boy band TVXQ member Hero Jaejoong and

actress Han Hyo-joo. [samhwa Networks]

If you are someone who unconsciously has tried calling or text messaging a family member, friend or lover that has already passed away, you may have at least once wondered who links our world down on here on earth with the heavens. That is why Japanese writer Eriko Kitagawa -- who is more interested in the afterworld than Korea as it is now and in her dramas and films often tells stories of the living and dead meeting together -- came to write about a man who delivers letters to heaven. "Postman to Heaven", the second of the telecinema project films composed of a Korean director, Japanese writer and Hallyu stars, was revealed at a the CJ CGV theatre in Seoul on Monday. Director Lee Hyung-min and the stars of the movie, boy band TVXQ member Hero Jaejoong and Han Hyo-joo turned up at the press screening.

Jae-joon, played by Hero, is a postman who delivers letters written by the living to their loved ones in heaven. He meets with Hana, played by Han, who writes a letter full of resentment to the man she loved that passed away one day. Jae-joon proposes that Hana delivers responses which come back from heaven and the two think up various ways to give peace and happiness to those who are alive. But a human being and a postman from heaven cannot spend unlimited time together. As they start to grow feelings for each other, Jae-joon tries to pull himself away from Hana and the two, for the last time, deliver a response to an owner of a teahouse who had been agonizing for a long time over the loss of his son.


TVXQ member Hero Jaejoong (left) and actress Han Hyo-joo. [samhwa Networks]

As can be seen from the title, "Postman" is a fairy tale-like boy-meets-girl comic-type fantasy. The setting of a postman who links the living with the souls in heaven may seem strange and childish and a current idol group member taking on a role which is neither an angel nor ghost may confuse the onlooker. But Gitagawa, who has a decent number of fans in Korea for her numerous hits such as "Long Vacation" and "Beautiful Life", manages to bring out the delicate emotions of the various characters. And director Lee Hyung-min, who displayed beautiful imagery in dramas "Snow Queen" and "Sorry, I Love You", shows his talent yet again to wonderfully portray unrealistic time and space. Han's character will be similar to the one she played in "Shining Inheritance" with a bright and sturdy personality, and Hero's acting, in which he refrained from putting in any unnecessary effort, surpassed expectations. Contents of letters by other people, such as the young sister who sends off magic Chinese character cards for her dead younger brother or the mother who packs a lunch box for her dead child, may seem cliche but touches one's heart directly -- making it impossible for the viewer not to shed a tear if they have been through the experience of losing a loved one.

The telecinema project, composed of a total of eight films, started opening in theatres November 5 starting with "My Love, Ugly Duckling". "Postman" will be released tomorrow, along with "19", starring boy band Big Bang members TOP and Seung-ri, followed later on by "Paradise" starring Kim Ha-neul and Ji Jin-hee. After all eight films are release in Korea, they are set to open in Japan in January next year and air on Asahi TV starting May.

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

Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Press conference for film "Postman to Heaven"


From left, TVXQ member Hero Jaejoong, actress Han Hyo-joo and director Lee Hyung-min

pose during a photo session of the press conference for their film "Postman to Heaven"

on November 9, 2009. [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]

An idol group singer. A joint production between Korea and Japan. Fantasy-romance. The combination of these three elements may make viewers feel unsure about film "Postman to Heaven" at first glance, but it would be too early to make any judgements just yet.

Director Lee Byung-hun, actress Han Hyo-joo and boy band TVXQ member Hero Jaejoong turned up at a press screening on Monday for "Postman", the second of the telecinema projects where a Korean director, Japanese screenwriter and Hallyu stars have gotten together to produce a total of eight films.

In "Postman", Hero plays Jae-joon, the postman from heaven, who delivers letters living people have written to their loved ones in heaven. He comes across Hana, played by Han, who writes a letter full of resentment to the dead man that she used to love, reveals his presence to her, and the two start writing responses to the letters for the saddened people who are left in the real world.

Needless to say, the co-stars of the film are top stars in their respective fields of the entertainment industry and screenwriter Eriko Kitagawa, nicknamed 'the god of love stories' for her various hit dramas including "Long Vacation" and "Sora Kara Furu Ichioku no Hoshi", turns the fairy tale into a fairy tale-like romance. Director Lee backs up the fantasy even further with his beautiful imagery, as he displayed in dramas "Sorry, I Love You" and "Snow Queen";

Below are excerpts from the press conference held after a screening for the film, set for release on November 11, which waited a year for its showing to the world.

Q: We heard that Erika Kitakawa started writing "Postman to Heaven" with Hero in mind. Why do you think that is? And is there anything the writer or director requested for in particular to you Hero?

Director Lee Hyung-min (Lee): Since the telecinemas are a joint project between Korea and Japan, we thought Hero who is widely known as a member of TVXQ, would be good for the part considering the fact the movie would be shown in Japan too. I actually didn't even know who TVXQ was but I now know the names of all the members. (laugh) And during filming, I realized why the screenwriter wanted Hero to play the part. We were in shoot for over a term of four weeks and during that time, Hero would perform in Asia but come to set right after he got off the plane to practice and shoot his scenes. His acting was good although it was his first time and he would have been done a better job if he had been able to just focus on the movie.


Actress Han Hyo-joo speaks to reporters after a press

screening for her film "Postman to Heaven" on November 9,

2009. [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]

Q: Were you able to feel any differences between Korean scripts and one written by a Japanese writer?

Han Hyo-joo (Han): When I first got the script, there were parts I didn't quite understand or lines that didn't make sense to me. There were also parts I wasn't too sure about so in the beginning, I got the original script in Japanese and looked it over alongside the one in Korean and studied both. I ended up just going with how I felt but it was good because it was a different experience.

Hero Jaejoong (Hero): I got the Korean script first which had been translated from Japanese but I didn't really understand it because it was my first time acting and I didn't know how I should analyze it. But director Lee said he wanted to go with the lines that the writer had originally written rather than change them so he helped me to study and practice many of the lines which had difficult nuances.

Lee: These two are good at Japanese but I don't know the language. So when it became difficult for me to catch the emotions the script was trying to display at certain points, we all studied and worked together on those scenes.

Q: There were some slightly corny lines toward the latter half of the movie. How did it feel and did you make any bloopers doing the scenes?

Hero: In the end of the film, there is a scene where we say things such as 'Haven't we met somewhere before?' and I'll respond, "In my dreams?" I felt a bit weird saying that. It would've felt less awkward if I had been able to do it in Japanese. And in my mind, I made a lot of bloopers. (laugh)

Han: I made a lot of bloopers in my mind too. (laugh) So it didn't seem as awkward when I was actually acting out the lines but there are some parts are a bit corny now that I look back on them. (laugh)

Q: Director Lee, the imagery you had shown us so far in your previous works, shone again in "Postman". Is there anything you payed close attention to in particular?

Lee: Japanese people have dealt a lot with the topics such as life and death and love stories between the living and the dead in their movies. But Korean people aren't used to the genre so I had to change some of the script after consulting with the writer. And I because of those parts which may seem awkward to the Korean audience, I felt that it should be more attractive in terms of imagery compared to any other film and got together the best staff in broadcasting, filming and television commercials. I had the TV commercial team work on the filming and lights, the broadcasting team on the editing and producing and the movie staff on the art while paying a lot of attention to mise-en-scene or images. There are parts where the film may seem Japanese but the younger generation these days seem to take in such props, designs and colors quite naturally. I wanted to bring this out as best as I could.

Q: Was there any pressure in having to act with Hero who is a newcomer?

Han: It's true that I was very pressured but it gradually lessened and had completely disappeared by the time we were done shooting. I actually had fun while in shoot because Hero's staff and fans were very considerate towards me. As his acting partner, I would have to say he very quick. His reactions toward my acting was very good and he adjusted pretty quickly so I think he has much potential for the future.

Q: Are you considering to continue to act? And you're currently in a dispute with your agency SM Entertainment over your contract so we are wondering if you plan to continuing to use the name they gave you -- Hero Jaejoong?

Hero: I'm not the one who put the name "Hero Jaejoong" in the poster so I'm not so sure about that part. (laugh) And I can't tell you as of now, whether I'll continue acting or not but I think it would be most right to say, like I have been saying since my debut, that I will try my best if given the opportunity.

Q: What is a new sort of joy you felt while acting, different from going up on stage to give performances like you have been doing so for the past several years?

Hero: They joy I feel on stage performing versus acting are very different but it took me a long time to catch what it was. The director had actually told me many times to think of acting the same as going up on stage to put on a performance. And he took singer Rain as an example, saying he had become a better performer on stage after taking on acting.


TVXQ member Hero Jaejoong speaks to reporters after

a press screening for her film "Postman to Heaven" on

November 9, 2009. [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]

Q: What advice did you receive from other members of your group, including U-Know Yunho who recently starred in MBC TV series "No Limit"? Or since you had actually filmed your movie before U-Know went into shoot, had you given him any advice?

Hero: They didn't give me any advice. (laugh) We were all extremely busy back when I was filming "Postman" because we were promoting our fourth album. We also had concerts so everyone was exhausted but U-Know and Max Changmin showed a lot of interest in the atmosphere on set and told me to work hard. And U-Know is such a hard-worker that I wasn't in a position to give him advice on acting. He never even tells us when he's having a hard time or he is sick so I just watched how he did, believing he would do well.

Q: Any last words?

Lee: I am really thankful to Han. She had just seemed like a younger sibling who doesn't know anything when she first debuted in "Spring Waltz". I know she must have been worried over having to act opposite a newcomer but she didn't hesitate to take on the role. She cut her hair for the first time ever for his film and I'm glad fans of TV series "Shining Inheritance" liked her for her hair too. (laugh) I also congratulate her for being cast as the heroine for producer Lee Byung-hoon's "Dong Yi". Rearding Hero, I know the reporters will be tough on him but I'm also tough when it comes to acting. I want to say that he worked really hard and did very well despite it being his first try at acting.

Han: I thank director Lee and Hero very much. I was extremely happy having been able to play the role of Hana the whole time we were filming and it was a very special film for me in the sense that I've never become so close with a character that I've played before. The movie will be fun the first time you watch it but even better the second time. (laugh)

10: Would you like to say a word to your fans who are worried over the legal dispute?

Hero: It was actually hard for me even having to show up publicly during such times. But I thought that I really should attend this screening event. I had a very hard time while we were in shoot for this a year ago but I was also very happy during that time and became very close to the director, actors and staff. I myself had been looking forward to its release for the past year so I am in hard times but I thought that I should turn up to congratulate the film. I know a lot of fans must be worried but I hope this movie can be reassurance to their hearts at least a bit.

Reporter : Choi Ji-Eun <five@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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Jang Dong-gun IQ reported at 143 during school years


Hallyu star and top Korean actor Jang Dong-gun [Asia Economic Daily]

Top Hallyu star Jang Dong-gun's IQ was reportedly143 during his school years, according to a press release by a cable channel.

MBC every1 said in the statement on Tuesday that its documentary program "Star: The Secret" will report on the actor's childhood life during his elementary, middle and high school years.

The actor reportedly had an IQ of 143 despite failing the college entrance exam three times. Sources closes to the star have said that he was smart enough to go to [Korea's top colleges] Yonsei or Korea University, but had to take the college exam three times because he was suffering from a lung disease at the time.

Former school teachers and classmates described the actor as "a little gentleman" who was often voted class president and served on the student council.

The show will also feature pictures from his school days, an anecdote about his group blind date in college and his old childhood home.

Jang, one of Korea's top actors who starred in box office hits including "Friend and "Taegukgi", made headlines last week after admitting to his two-year romantic relationship with Korean actress Ko So-young. The two stars have long sparked dating rumors since they appeared together in 1999 film "Love Wind, Love Song" but it was not until last week that they officially announced their status as a couple.

The episode of "Star" featuring Jang will be aired at midnight on Thursday.

Reporter : Lynn Kim lynn2878@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Ko Hyun-jung exits "Seon-deok" with head held high


Actress Ko Hyun-jung [MBC]

Actress Ko Hyun-jung was applauded and bestowed with flowers as she finished shooting her last scene in hit TV series "Queen Seon-deok" early on Tuesday.

Some 50 members of the crew of "Seon-deok" threw a wrap-up party where a red carpet was laid out and confetti was thrown to congratulate and thank Ko who had been part of the cast for the past six months, broadcaster MBC said in a press release.

The 39-year-old actress had played Mi-shil, a royal concubine of King Jinji during the Silla Kingdom, in the historical drama which has topped TV charts almost every week to reach ratings of over 40 percent.

Ko, who had become one of the most sought-after actresses since the 1990s, was undoubtedly considered the main force behind her recent drama's success.

"Seon-deok" had originally been set as a 50-episode series but was extended by another 12 due to its popularity. The broadcaster is said to be considering adding several more episodes which would mean the drama may continue on into early next year.

The drama is also set to show in several countries throughout Asia including Japan and Taiwan.


Actress Ko Hyun-jung (second from right on bottom row) and staff of MBC TV series

"Queen Seon-deok". [MBC]

Credits : Jessica Kim jesskim@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Rain at the "Ninja Assassin" Asia Junket Press Conference


Rain at the "Ninja Assassin" press conference held at Seoul's Lotte Hotel on November 9, 2009

[Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

Rain's position as an Asian superstar was re-confirmed by the slew of Asian journalists from Hong Kong, Malaysia, India and Philippines who attended the Asia Junket Press Conference for his film "Ninja Assassin", held at Seoul's Lotte Hotel on November 9. In the movie, shown to the media two days prior to the press conference, Rain plays a "chop-up murdering machine" -- a character who endlessly cuts, slashes and slices up his enemies -- but also manages to keep a warm heart. Rain's action scenes as Raizo, the world's best assassin who plots revenge against the Ninja organization which trained him to become a killing machine, turned out to be far more intense than seen in the teaser video. The amount of blood, meat and bone marrow splashing from the cruel chopping in the movie was worthy of a slasher movie and earned the film a no-teenagers-allowed, R-rating.


Scenes from the movie "Ninja Assassin" [Warner Brothers]

"Ninja" revolves so strictly around the lead actor Rain that even the producers -- the famous Larry Wachowski and Andy Wachowski brothers who directed the "Matrix" trilogy -- said that they "could not have made this movie without Rain". Even Rain himself, who filmed his first leading role in Hollywood with industry heavyweights such as the Wachowski brothers and Joel Silver, expressed his confidence in "Ninja", stating that "this is the real deal". Below is the Q&A session at the press conference for the movie, which opens on November 26.

Q: You showed Before & After pictures of your muscle training in the making-the-film footage released today. We thought you had a great body before you did "Ninja Assassin", but looking at the pictures, it doesn't even compare to the body you have now. (laugh) The training process and the filming must have been exhausting.

Rain: First of all, I have lost all the muscle that I had gained while shooting the movie. (laugh) But I really tried very hard during the training. I had always worked hard in the past too, but shooting this film was like life and death for me. Even for the wire actions, I only got enough help to balance my body and I did about 90 percent of the stunts as long as it wasn't too dangerous. So I tried to make my body very light and, as a result, I got rid of all the fat in my body.

Q: If you did all the intense actions scenes, you must have suffered a lot of injuries.

Rain: I did get hurt a lot but it the effort was worth it and I worked hard. Luckily, nothing got broken but I still have a lot of cuts left on my body. They are like my badges of honor. (laugh)


Singer and actor Rain [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

Q: With such demanding physical workouts, there must have been moments when you felt like you had reached your limit mentally. How did you overcome such moments?

Rain: Honestly, I wanted to go back to Korea every time things got hard. I wanted to go back to Asia, do a lot of concerts and shoot dramas and films in Korea. Every time I asked myself, why in the world am I living like this? But I couldn't give up because of my pride. The crew had really teased me a lot. (laugh) When I would lift a 100-kilo dumbbell, they would say it's too light. They would say things like, "I taught Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and you are the worst" and that really got to me. Afterwards, I would watch Hollywood action movies, like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan's, countless times and study my action moves. Raizo needed to have a uniqueness in his action moves. And every morning, I would read newspapers clips and think to myself that I need to show them what I can do, not just tell them. I actually got more strength from misleading articles about my U.S. debut and negative fan reviews. (laugh) Even if this attempt fails, it was my responsibility to show them the outcome.

Q: Are there any similarities between your character Raizo, the perfect Ninja Assassin, and yourself?

Rain: I'm not as introverted or as cool as Raizo. (laugh) I like to talk and hang out with people, so I don't think I could live a secluded life like Raizo did. I don't have much in common with Raizo and I don't think I should. Well, maybe just the fact that when we set a goal, we both work hard to achieve it. (laugh)

Q: Compared to your Hollywood debut film "Speed Racer", you have so much more lines in this movie. Were there any difficulties in delivering your lines in English?

Rain: I went from playing a supporting role to a leading role so it's only natural that I had more lines and I'm grateful for that. I always had a coach beside me to help with the English lines. Actually, what director James McTeigue and the Wachowski Brothers wanted was acting coming from within me more than me just delivering the lines. We used a lot of close-up shots to catch the movements of my eyebrows or facial expression in detail. It was harder to express my inner emotions through subtle facial expressions.

Q: What was it like working with the Wachowski Brothers for the second time after "Speed Racer"?

Rain: The Wachowski Brothers have incredible imagination. And they are the kind of people who can turn their imagination into reality. Of all the things that they said to me, there is nothing that hasn't come true. They have the ability to bring out their imagination onto film, and I found it amazing that they were kind to everyone. They were producer for this film, unlike in "Speed Racer", but to me they are the best directors.


Rain in front of the movie poster [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

Q: "Speed Racer" wasn't a commercial success. How much commercial success are you expecting for "Ninja Assassin"?

Rain: "Speed Racer" hit No. 2 on the box office in its opening week, but I was disappointed that it didn't create as huge a sensation as I had expected. But I wasn't as ambitious back then. I was happy just getting my name on a Hollywood movie as part of the main cast. And with that one movie, people in Hollywood got to know me and I was given more opportunities and that's how I got to do "Ninja Assassin". I am hoping that it's a commercial success, but you don't always make it on the first try, do you? I think I gained a lot of things from this movie, no matter how it fares commercially. It's an R-rated movie and a genre film, so I think it could be a massive hit among action manias. If I keep knocking on this door ten or twenty times, there will come a time someday when I'm No. 1 on the box office, right? (laugh)

Q: Like you said, the movie has so many cruel, violent scenes that it got an R-rating. The existing fans of Rain and the movie audience could collide.

Rain: From the beginning, what the Wachowski Brothers requested was, "Forget about the pop star Rain. Forget about the person Jung Ji-hoon. From now on, you are a martial arts fighter and a killer." I lived like that for eight months. I was confident about myself whomever I met, I even felt like I should enter a martial arts competition after the movie finished. (laugh) First of all, I'm relieved that young female fans can't watch the film and I think I'll gain a lot of male fans. Of course, the existing female fans can watch "Ninja Assassin" and unload their stress. Rather than imagining a certain image they have of me, I think they'll find a different appeal about me after seeing this movie. Even I couldn't find a single scene, from beginning to end, where I was the singer Rain or the person Jung Ji-hoon. So I was satisfied.

Q: The last scene of the movie hints at a sequel, somewhat. Do you have any plans for doing sequels?

Rain: The last scene is where Raizo is looking down at the world from on top of a wall, and you can see from the look in his eyes that he is silently crying out something on the inside. But I actually don't know anything for sure. I have signed a couple more contracts but I think it'll depend on how this movie does. I have a good feeling about it though.

Q: Producer Joel Silver complimented that you are going to be "an actor who is enormously adored" and many of the staff members talked about your passion. What kind of expectation did you have for the film before you started shooting, and what made you work so passionately on it?

Rain: My motivation during the movie was my mother, actually. She used to work from early morning till late at night for years, and I thought it would be disrespectful if I couldn't bear through this. When I first came to the U.S. and met people, they said that Asians had less than a 10 percent chance to succeed in Hollywood. But when I had the Wachowski Brothers on my side, people started paying attention to me, and with Joel Silver backing me as the producer, other producers started noticing me. There were three flashing turning points in my life and the first was when I met Park Jin-young, the second time when I met the Wachowski Brothers and the third was when I got to do "Ninja Assassin". Right now, I have the best teams lined up beside me and it's the become a game that is worth playing. Whether this movie succeeds or not, I think I can really make my name known in Hollywood. Finally, I am in for the real deal.

Reporter : Lee Ji-Hye seven@10asia.co.kr

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

Editor : Lynn Kim lynn2878@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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(Movie Review)

Film adaptation of literary masterpiece brings unique colors

SEOUL, Nov. 11 (Yonhap) -- Film adaptations of popular literary works can be a double-edged sword for any skilled filmmaker. While success of the original is helpful, making a movie version work requires a bit more magic.

Based on Japanese novelist Keigo Higashino's thriller, the South Korean adaptation "White Night (Baegyahaeng)" opens with shocking scenes contrasting the lives of the film's hero and heroine and onetime lovers.


Tracing the faraway expression on the heroine Mi-ho's (Son Ye-jin) face, the camera takes the audience back 14 years to when a pawnbroker is found murdered on an abandoned ship in a provincial Korean city.

The case goes cold and is finally closed after the key suspect commits suicide, only to be reopened by a washed out detective (Han Seok-gyu) after three people involved in the original case are found dead or missing.

Days before the statute on the case expires, the detective resumes the investigation, reuniting with Yo-han (Goh Soo), the son of the pawnbroker who has been living like a "shadow" of Mi-ho, driven by love and guilt for a shared childhood tragedy.

Director Park Shin-woo's feature debut makes almost no alterations to the original storyline, focusing instead on giving more personality to each of the three main characters.


The story of Mi-ho and Yo-han -- who share a dark past that deepens their relationship -- will thus fail to trigger any suspense for people who are already familiar with the Japanese novel, which was also adapted into a TV drama series in Japan in 2006.

The movie does manage to add some color of its own despite the familiar plot, largely due to the director's cinematography and well-balanced performances.

Son Ye-jin, who chose "White Night" as her 10th film, gives a flawless performance as the femme fatale Mi-ho. With just a small quiver of the lips, the 27-year-old actress manages to express a range of emotions, from anger or sadness, proving that eight years of experience has made her into one of South Korea's best actresses.

The stalwart Han Seok-gyu, who has numerous hits under his belt including "Swiri (1998)," adds a sense of weight to the movie, with a solid performance in his role as detective Dong-su who holds the key to ending the brutal crimes.

Heartthrob Goh Soo, making a comeback after completing compulsory military service, proves that he's ready to take on some real acting with a strong showing as the tragic killer.

Kang Woo-suk, the king of South Korean filmmaking who directed "Silmido (2003)" and produced "King and the Clown (2005)" -- two of five local films that drew more than 10 million viewers at home -- produced "White Night," adding another notch to the belt of Japanese-Korean cinematic exchanges.


"The original work was great and the scenario seemed even better," he said in an earlier interview. "People know who the culprit is, but will still be drawn to the movie as they wonder 'why' he committed those crimes."

The selection of feature film-first timer Park as the director of the movie was perhaps proof of Kang's confidence in the screen play, completed by TV writer Park Yeon-seon.

Despite his lack of experience, however, the director stretches his potential to an extent that makes audiences wonder if the movie is really a product of a 30-something novice filmmaker.

An art major in college, director Park's refined use of color and light is especially striking.

"When I make a movie, I first think about scenes rather than the text," he said after the movie's preview Tuesday. "Because I have a clear picture in my head before shooting, I rarely have second thoughts on the spot."

Park received the Sunjae Fund Award at the 2004 Pusan International Film Festival and attracted media attention in 2005 when his short film titled "About a Bad Boy" won the jury's award at the Mis-en-scene Short Film Festival.

The movie, with a running time of 135 minutes, will hit local theaters on Nov. 19.

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

Source : Yonhap News

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