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Nov.11, 2009

First Lady Meets Bae Yong-joon to Discuss Globalizing Korean Food

First Lady Kim Yoon-ok met with actor Bae Yong-joon at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday to talk about how to expand global awareness of Korean food. Kim, who is an honorary chairperson of a government-led committee on the globalization of Korean cuisine, said that a good menu is needed to make the dishes better known.

Bae, the so-called "Korean Wave" icon and honorary ambassador for the Visit Korea Year campaign, noted that Korean food should be able to take advantage of the global trend of eating healthy.

The Presidential Office says the two also talked about the growing popularity of makgeolli, a traditional Korean rice wine, and the beauty of hanok, or traditional Korean houses.


First lady Kim Yoon-ok talks with actor Bae Yong-joon at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Tuesday. He was invited for talks about promoting Korean food in the global market.

Credits : Arirang News

Source : Chosun Ilbo

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U.S. university partners with Korean film fest

SEOUL, Nov. 11 (Yonhap) -- Chapman University in California is partnering with one of Asia's most renowned film festivals to showcase Korean movies in the United States, the school said Wednesday.

The university's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts will feature 12 contemporary and classic films from South Korea's Pusan International Film Festival, including Cannes hit "Thirst" by Park Chan-wook and Na Hong-jin's "The Chaser."

"The event marks an unprecedented venture to introduce the culture of Asia's largest film festival to an American audience," Dodge College Dean Bob Bassett said on the school's Web site.

"Chapman Pusan West provides a new platform for Korean filmmakers looking to break into the American market and seek true co-production opportunities with Hollywood," he added. "We hope to reach an audience that often gets overlooked and widen the choice of films available to cinephiles and the general public alike."

Kim Jung-yoon, a spokeperson for the film fest -- which is held in Busan but takes its name from the older spelling of the port city -- called the partnership a "joyful step forward" into the world of U.S. cinema.

"Chapman University first requested for the partnership, expressing hopes of better-introducing Korean films at the event," Kim said. "We are happy and honored."

Director Park, who won the third-highest Jury Award at this year's Cannes International Film Festival, will be honored with Chapman Pusan West's first Pusan West Icon Award.

Widely known in the United States for "Joint Security Area" and his so-called "vengeance trilogy," including Cannes-winning "Oldboy," Park will also conduct a masters class where he will discuss writing and directing with Chapman students.

Other filmmakers invited to the event include Kim Jee-woon of "A Bittersweet Life" and Park Jin-sung of "Evil Spirit: VIY." The event will also hold a retrospective of veteran Korean filmmaker Lee Doo-yong, who created "First Son" and "Last Witness."

Dodge College already has developed strong ties in South Korea through its partnership and student exchange programs with the Seoul Institute of the Arts.

The Pusan film festival was established in 1996 and has grown into one of the largest film events in Asia since.

This year's event took place Oct. 8-16, screening some 355 films from 70 countries, the largest event up to date. More than 170,000 people visited the event, according to organizers.

The Chapman Pusan West Filmmaker Showcase will be held every year at Marion Knott Studios on the school's campus, screening this year from Nov. 20-22.

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

Source : Yonhap News

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2009.11.11 12:08

Bae Yong-joon meets with Korea's First Lady


Korea's First Lady Kim Yoon-ok and Hallyu star Bae Yong-joon [Cheongwadae]

Hallyu star Bae Yong-joon visited the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday to meet with Korea's First Lady Kim Yoon-ok, according to a presidential spokesman.

The First Lady had personally invited the actor to hear his thoughts on the globalization of Korean food and how to actively promote tourism via the "Visit Korea 2010" campaign. The First Lady currently serves on the Globalization of Korean Food Committee and the Visit Korea 2010 committee.

The meeting took a little over an hour, during which they talked about Korean culture including Korean food, drinks and traditional houses, spokesman Lee Dong-gwan explained.

Bae is quoted to have said, "Right now, there's a well-being trend and everybody is looking for healthy food for their body. I think that's where the advantage of Korean food lies."

The First Lady shared her thoughts too. "There are so many Korean dishes so I think it may be much better to choose several important ones. Developing a menu for Korean food is the foremost task for the globalization of Korean food," she was quoted as saying.

The two public figures also talked about how they experience ordinary things in life despite their lack of privacy.

Bae currently runs a Korean restaurant in Tokyo and recently released photo essay book "Discovering the Beauty of Korea" which contains photographs of various cultural artisans that the actor met during his travels, as well as introductions to Korean culture and travel locations which Bae compiled over a one-year period.

The 37-year-old actor has been actively promoting Korean culture in Asia since shooting to stardom in the region after starring in 2002 hit TV series "Winter Sonata" alongside actress Choi Ji-woo.


The actor photographs the First Lady [Cheongwadae]

Editor : Lynn Kim lynn2878@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Actor Kim Ji-hoon to hold fan meeting in Japan


Korean actor Kim Ji-hoon [Hi Star Entertainment]

Korean actor Kim Ji-hoon is set to hold his first fan meeting in Japan on November 13, according a press release by his agency.

The actor will meet with some 800 Japanese fans at Osaka's Sankei Hall Breeze on Friday evening, Hi Star Entertainment announced in the statement.

He last visited the country while promoting hit TV series "Love Marriage" and was invited back this time by KJNET, which plans and organizes Hallyu events in Japan.

"We planned this event because fans have continuously asked us to hold a fan meeting with Kim Ji-hoon," an official at KJNET was quoted as saying. "Kim Ji-hoon is being targeted as the next Hallyu star to carry on the Four Great Kings of Hallyu torch."

The actor is reportedly planning to sing his favorite karaoke song "I Think I Loved You" by Korean pop-rock group Yoon Do-hyun Band and have a Q&A session with the fans. The star is said to have been studying Japanese for the fan meeting.

Kim debuted in 2002 in the KBS TV series "Loving You" and has appeared in numerous dramas including "Golden Apple", "Love Hymn", "How Much Love" and last year's "Love M

Marriage", which co-starred Korean actress Kim Min-hee.

Reporter : Lynn Kim lynn2878@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Rain on His Acting Ambitions

Actor Chung Ji-hoon (also known as Rain) is the first Korean actor to appear in a major Hollywood movie. His second Hollywood production is "Ninja Assassin," which was produced by the Wachowski brothers and Joel Silver. It is a brutal movie in the action genre. Its Japanese-style subject matter--the ninja--is unfamiliar to the Korean public.


In an interview on November 10 at the Hotel Lotte, Chung said that not everyone was going to like "Ninja Assassin." He added that fans of martial arts would definitely like it.

Chung has had three turning points in his career so far: his collaboration with music producer Park Jin-young, his Hollywood debut in the movie "Speed Racer," and his role in "Ninja Assassin." "It's yet another beginning," said Chung, looking very determined.


Following is the interview with Rain.

-- Will there be sequels to "Ninja Assassin"?

▲The terms and conditions of my deal are a secret, but it's already known that I originally signed to appear in two or three productions. If the movie proves to be a success, its sequels will be produced; otherwise, it's going to end here. I will try my best till the very end.

--It's a very brutal movie. Plus, it's subject is very strange to Koreans.

▲If it were not brutal, it would have been like an ordinary martial arts movie. Both the Wachowski brothers and Joel Silver had planned this movie for ten years in order to show the real essence of martial arts. People who like martial arts will like this movie.

I also thought that this movie is too "Japanese," but my opinion changed after I read books about ninjas. Ninjas killed people in order to protect kings or their masters. In that respect, they existed everywhere in the world. This movie deals with the universal subject of good and evil. I play a killer who fights against ninjas.

--You learned a lot from various martial art actors like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan...

▲Ninjas always have to hide. They have to be invisible. That's why they keep a hunched posture when dealing with their enemies. So I practiced creeping and using the horse-riding pose. I took lessons from boxing, karate, kung fu and tumbling champions from various countries as well as from the action teams of Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Bruce Lee makes slow moves but they are also very accurate, while Jackie Chan is fast and decisive. We tried to produce perfect action scenes. Even when filming fistfight scenes, I tried to make it look right.

--It's a moden film about ninjas. How did you portray Raizo?

▲Larry and Andy (the Wachowski brothers) told me that the mental fight mattered most. I wanted to make my character look fresh every time he appeared on screen.

--How did you make your body so perfect?

▲I became healthier by staying away from salt and sugar. I felt like my body was shrinking, like a dried squid. The only liquid that it contained was water. Once a week I ate chicken breasts marinated in wine but I avoided salt and sugar. I lifted light-weight dumbbells to make small muscles.

--You were accompanied by an English tutor all day long...

▲He was a Korean living in the U.S. I felt at ease with him. I just spoke in English even when I made mistakes. I was honest with myself, because I was learning. When I didn't know something, I asked. My director also credited me for that. But my English still sounds like nonsense.

--Actor Lee Byung-hun said that he was lonely in Hollywood...

▲I bonded with everyone on the film set because I'm very young. Despite my poor English skills I chatted with the director and when I didn't understand something, I took notes and looked it up later at home. Not knowing something is not a crime. Plus, I played a leading role. My needs always came first on the set. I was the first one to receive meals. I wasn't lonely at all, because I was number one (laughs).Later, I was even annoyed because people talked too much to me. I also received pocket money every week, aside from my remuneration. It was big money. I even had to open two bank accounts. It was ten times as much as my remuneration in "Speed Racer," for which I was paid 200,000 won a week.

--Do you have any plans to appear in Korean movies?

▲I would want to, but every time it seems to be bad timing. When filming Hollywood movies, it takes more than half a year to prepare and shoot a movie. Once it's over, I have to prepare my new albums and concerts. In no time, three or four years pass. If I get a chance to appear in a Korean TV drama or movie, I would like it to deal with a light subject, like a melodrama. The role of a cheater also seems to be fun. Since the drama "A Love To Kill," I have played only serious roles.

--Your fans criticized your Hollywood debut...

▲The criticism started when I was performing overseas. But there are ups and downs in life. If you stand still, you will be pushed out. I have made my name in Hollywood and appeared in a real Hollywood production. I am ready for praise and criticism.

--Which is more important to you - singing or acting?

▲As an actor, I would like to try diverse things. To be honest, I enjoy singing on stage. But dance singers hit a limit someday. Presenting something new every time is difficult. I can't even sleep well. Some people ask me why I haven't debuted in the U.S. as an artist. But who would turn down an offer from the Wachowski brothers? In the U.S. market competition is cutthroat. You can't survive unless you destroy your rivals. To release an album in the U.S., you have to work with top-notch music producers and choreographers. Everything must be perfect.


Source : KBS Global

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So Ji-sub to star in war drama "Road Number 1"


Korean actor So Ji-sub at the 14th Pusan International Film Festival in

October 2009 [Asia Economic Daily]

Korean actor So Ji-sub is making a comeback to the small screen in TV series "Road Number One", the drama's production company said on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old actor decided to take on the lead role in "Road" set to go into shoot for five months starting in January next year premiere around June, Logos Film announced in a press release.

"Road", co-produced by Lee Jang-soo of Logos Film and Kim Jin-min at major broadcaster MBC, will be an epic war drama about the Korean War and a sixty-year love and friendship.

The 16-part series was written by Hahn Ji-hoon, who wrote the script for Korean box-office blockbuster film "Taegukki".

Both producers are reportedly satisfied with casting So for the lead role. Lee was quoted as saying, "So was the perfect actor who had the acting skills to portray the main character who experiences soulmate a sixty-year long love."

So, one of the most popular actors in Korea, has appeared in numerous TV dramas and movies since his debut in 1995. He became a household name in Asia with the back-to-back success of "Something Happened in Bali" and "I'm Sorry, I Love You" in 2004.

So recently starred in the film "Sophie's Revenge" alongside Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi.

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

Editor : Lynn Kim lynn2878@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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'Visit Korea' Drive Kicks Off


Momentum for a three-year campaign to attract 10 million tourists to Korea is expected to pick up pace. The Visit Korea Committee (VKC) held the official launch ceremony for the "2010-2012 Visit Korea Year" initiative Wednesday at the Cheonggye Stream in downtown Seoul.

The event is the latest in a series of launch ceremonies the VKC has organized here and internationally. It held a large-scale promotional event in Tokyo last month and will hold another international promotion in Shanghai, China, on Nov. 24.

"We will vigorously pursue overseas marketing and develop incentive programs for foreign visitors," an official with the committee said. "In particular, we will actively engage the Japanese and Chinese markets and send promotional teams there." All of the activities will be conducted in cooperation with the Korea Tourism Organization, a co-organizer of the campaign.

Ultimately, the campaign is aimed at increasing the nation's tourism revenue to $10 billion and having Korea join the list of top-20 countries in surveys of tourism competitiveness.

More than 2,000 participants took part in the event, including first lady Kim Yoon-ok, the honorary chairwoman of the VKC; Yu In-chon, minister of culture, tourism and sports; and Lotte Group's Vice Chairman Shin Dong-byn, who has been serving as the VKC chairman since last month.

The first lady has displayed a keen interest in the campaign aimed at nurturing Korea into a tourism superpower in Asia.

She met with actor and Asian superstar Bae Yong-joon, a goodwill ambassador of the campaign, at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday to discuss how they could disseminate the campaign to foreigners, a Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said.

Along with Bae, she agrees that Korean food could be a catalyst to boost global interest in Korea.

The first lady is currently leading a national committee for the globalization of Korean food. Bae is the owner of an upscale Korean restaurant in Tokyo.

Korea will also promote major international events to take place here in the next three years, such as the 2012 Yeosu Expo and the 2011 Daegu World Championship in Athletics, as some of the compelling reasons to visit Korea. The committee will also focus on attracting visitors to provincial regions.

Officials are hoping that the campaign will be an impetus for advancing the nation's tourism competitiveness. Currently, around 6 million tourists visit Korea every year.

The launch ceremony, held in cooperation with the Seoul City administration, coincides with the five-day Seoul Lantern Festival around the Cheonggye Stream area.

The committee launched its official Web site at www.visitkoreayear.com on Wednesday. Foreign-language versions will be up and running in January 2010.

Credits : Do Je-hae (jhdo@koreatimes.co.kr)

Source : The Korea Times

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Lee Seung-gi diagnosed with influenza flu


Singer and actor Lee Seung-gi [Asia Economic Daily]

Singer and actor Lee Seung-gi has been diagnosed with influenza flu, according to his agency on Wednesday.

"Lee went to the hospital on Monday after showing symptoms of a cold and was confirmed the next day as having infected the H1N1 influenza virus," said an official at Hook Entertainment, adding that the 22-year-old singer is resting at home after taking Tamiflu.

The official also explained that Lee's illness will not affect any of his shows since he does not have any recordings to attend this week and will probably be back on his feet next week.

Lee currently co-hosts a weekly talk show on SBS and makes regular appearances on KBS variety show "One Night Two Days".

Since his debut in 2004, Lee has been one of the most successful figures in all realms of the entertainment industry -- from singing to acting to hosting.

He was first discovered and trained for two years by Korea's top vocalist Lee Sun-hee to debut at the age of 17, and has since released four studio albums and two remake albums.

He also made his acting debut in 2006 in the KBS TV series "The Infamous Chil Sisters" and became a household name starring in this year's hugely successful drama "The Shining Inheritance".

Lee is set to hold a solo concert for the first time in three years at Seoul's Olympic Park Gymnastics Stadium on December 12 and 13 where he will donate all proceeds to charity.

Reporter : Park Kun-ouc kun1112@asiae.co.kr

Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>



Lee Seung-gi Diagnosed With H1N1


Lee Seung-gi

Popular singer-actor Lee Seung-gi has been diagnosed with the influenza A (H1N1) virus, becoming the latest in a string of entertainers who have come down with the flu.

"He was confirmed on Monday to have been infected with the swine flu. He showed some flu-like symptoms, visited a hospital several times and took Tamiflu on Sunday. The following day he was diagnosed with the flu," his agency said Wednesday.

It said Lee has already finished filming this week's episodes of KBS2 TV's reality show"Happy Sunday ― One Night Two Days," and SBS TV's talk show "Gangsimjang," which means strong heart.

However, he won't be able to participate in a concert in Los Angeles with pop sensation Son Dam-bi planned for Saturday.

"Lee will stay at home to concentrate on treatment, cancelling all other engagements," it said.

A number of entertainers have been infected with the virus, including Jo Kwon, leader of ballad group 2AM, who was diagnosed with the flu at the end of last month.

Source : The Korea Times

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November 12, 2009


Star pulls 'Sky and Ocean'


Singer-turned-actress Jang Na-ra

Singer-turned-actress Jang Na-ra has decided to pull her new movie, "Sky and Ocean," out of theaters just 12 days after its opening on Oct. 28. Her abrupt decision was attributed to the fact that the movie was to be part of a double feature, which would have reduced the number of screenings. The showing of "Sky and Ocean" in China has been postponed as well.

Credits : Hannah Kim, Contributing writer

Source : JoongAng Daily

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Bae Yong-joon promotes Korean tourism in "Smile Campaign"


Hallyu star Bae Yong-joon promotes "Visit Korea 2010-2012" campaign [Korea Tourism Organization]

Official posters of a "Smile Campaign" featuring Hallyu star Bae Yong-joon have been unveiled through the pages of some 40 media outlets, according to his agency on Wednesday.

The actor, who was appointed PR ambassador for the "Visit Korea 2010-2012" campaign last month, will be promoting Korean tourism through the posters released yesterday, BOF Entertainment said in a statement.

In February, a poster featuring the actor smiling in front of traditional Korean palace had been released to Japan's major newspapers including Asahi Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun and SPUR magazine.

"We expect this campaign to receive a positive response from Korean people," an official at Korea Tourism Organization was quoted as saying. "Bae Yong-joon has been promoting Korean culture and tradition through his book and a lot of people are relating to that."

Bae recently released photo essay book "Discovering the Beauty of Korea", which contains photographs of various cultural artisans that the actor met during his year-long travels. He authored the book in order to introduce Korean culture such as food, tradition and travel locations.

The 37-year-old actor has been actively promoting Korean culture in Asia since shooting to stardom in the region after starring in 2002 hit TV series "Winter Sonata" alongside actress Choi Ji-woo.

Reporter : Lynn Kim lynn2878@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Nov.12, 2009

Lee Byung-hun's Acting Fee Dwarfs Industry Guideline


Lee Byung-hun

Controversy is building over news that actor Lee Byung-hun is being paid W100 million per episode for appearing in the KBS drama "Iris" (US$1=W1,158).

A newspaper reported on Wednesday that Lee was guaranteed at least W100 million for each episode of the spy thriller, considering a W25 million per episode performance fee and a W1.5 billion advance. The figure is well above the W15 million per episode guideline set by the Corea Drama Production Association (CODA), and the third highest in the industry history.

The record is a whopping W250 million per episode paid to actor Bae Yong-joon for the MBC drama "Taewangsasingi (The Four Guardian Gods of the King)," followed by W100 million per episode promised to Park Shin-yang for four extra episodes of "War of Money."

"In Lee's case the amount includes a combination of things, such as proceeds from sales of domestic and overseas broadcast rights, so it's not clear that his fee exceeds the guideline," said CODA head Shin Hyun-taik.

Lee's co-stars in "Iris," Kim Seung-woo and Jung Jun-ho, are reportedly paid W15 million per episode.

Source : englishnews@chosun.com

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"Iris" ratings continue to soar


Actress Kim Tae-hee [Taewon Entertainment]

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

According to TNS Media Korea, the spy drama topped TNS' TV chart with a viewership rating of 32.7 percent, gaining two percent from its previous episode to land comfortably above the 30 percent mark.

A poll by AGB Nielsen Media Research showed that the Wednesday and Thursday night drama did not top the 30 percent mark but gained 1.1 percent from last week to report a 28.2 percent viewership rating.

"Iris" ranked behind "Jolly Widows" which currently stands at No.1 on AGB's chart but closed on in its gap with the KBS drama by less than half of a percent.

Several of South Korea's top actors including Lee Byung-hun, Kim Tae-hee and Jung Jun-ho star in "Iris" which has been on air since mid-October.

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

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Ryu Si-won to start Japan tour this weekend


Cover of Korean singer and actor Ryu Si-won's single released in Japan [R's Company]

Hallyu star Ryu Si-won is set to kick off his sold-out concert tour in Japan this weekend, according to a press release by his agency on Thursday.

Ryu is currently in at a studio in Japan, rehearsing for his first performance at Tokyo's Super Arena on Saturday, R's Company said of the singer and actor who will carry his tour into Nagoya, Yokohama and wrap up in Osaka.

R's added that all 80,000 tickets for eight shows of the tour titled "Ryu Siwon 5th Anniversary Live 2009", celebrating the fifth anniversary of his debut in Japan, have sold out.

Ryu has released 17 albums and held five concert tours in Japan since 2005. Last year, he toured 18 cities, giving 30 performances including two Christmas concerts at the Tokyo Dome which was attended by 80,000 fans.

This year's tour will feature songs from his tenth single album "MEMU", released in October, and tracks from his sixth full-length album "Manhwagyung", which reached No. 4 on Oricon's daily singles chart and No. 5 on its weekly chart.

The 37-year-old star has appeared in numerous hit TV dramas since his debut in 1994. Some of his best-known dramas include "Wedding"(2005, KBS), "Beautiful Days"(2001, SBS), "Secret" and "Truth" (both 2000, MBC).

Reporter : Ko Jae-wan star@asiae.co.kr

Editor : Lynn Kim lynn2878@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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November 11, 2009.

First Lady and Hallyu star chew fat over Korean food


First Lady Kim Yoon-ok (left) and actor

Bae Yong-joon (Photo: Chosunonline.com)

First Lady Kim Yoon-ok invited actor Bae Yong-joon, Korea's major heartthrob to the presidential residence Cheong Wa Dae to exchange opinions on the promotion of Korean food abroad on Tuesday (Nov. 10).

This was the second meeting between Kim and Bae, after he attended the launching ceremony for the government's steering committee for the globalization of Hansik (Korean traditional food) last May. The First Lady was named as the honorary chairwoman of the committee.

Actor Bae became one of the most well known “Hallyu” (Korean Wave) stars across Asia after starring in the hit drama “Winter Sonata” in 2002. Recently he published a book entitled "Journey in Search of Korea's Beauty" in Korean and Japanese. He is also a goodwill ambassador for the Korea Tourism Organization's “2010-2012 Visit Korea Years.”

“I was a homemaker for 38 years, so although I may not know much about complex, traditional food I'm well acquainted with regular meals,” she said. “I'm interested in how to promote these dishes abroad.”

“Deciding on which foods to promote is very important,” Kim said as she retold her episodes on serving Korean dishes to leaders from overseas. “The guests all liked sinseollo (hot pot with vegetables and meat). The president of Bulgaria, for one, had sinseollo with rice and kimchi, too. I heard that U.S. President Obama had japchae (stir-fried glass noodles) and bulgogi (marinated beef) when he was in Hawaii and I'm thinking hard about what to serve him.”

Kim expounded more on her ideas about Hansik, such as developing a set menu, since most people take side dishes for granted.

When the conversation turned to Hanok, a Korean traditional building, she recalled her own experience living in a Hanok after President Lee Myung-bak retired from his former post as Seoul's Mayor. “We lived in a Hanok in Gahoe-dong, Seoul. The place was not too well soundproof but graceful in beauty and mood,” she said. She added that she had lately received a pamphlet advertising an exhibition of dishes in that building.

When Bae jokingly asked whether she felt “trapped” inside the presidential residence, Kim admitted that she sneaks out sometimes to see musicals or enjoy her time at her daughter's place.

The First Lady then went on to mention her Japanese counterpart, Miyuki Hatoyama, the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. “I met her in Thailand and she talked about you.” Bae had met the First Lady of Japan during his Japanese tour in late September.

Meanwhile, Bae recalled an article relating an encounter between Kim and Hatoyama. “I read that when Ms. Hatoyama came to Korea, she asked for a bowl of rice after trying some kimchi – in Korean,” he said, complimenting the First Lady on her efforts to promote Korean food and culture.

Bae also told her about his Korean restaurant “Goshirae” operating in Tokyo, Japan. “Although I wanted to introduce young Korean chefs there, the existing law limits the visa issuance to only those with at least 10 years of experience,” Bae said. “Those young and with quick sense can prepare many stylish dishes, yet it is so hard to invite them overseas.” On hearing this, the First Lady promised to seek ways to improve the regulations.

Kim has long shown an interest in Bae's individual promotion of Korean culture overseas, including the promotion of Korean dishes. She even considered visiting Bae's Korean restaurant in Tokyo while she was accompanying her husband to Korea-Japan summit talks in June, but gave up due to an escort problem.

Credits : Kim Hee-sung (Korea.net Staff Writer)

Source : Korea.net

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November 12, 2009

Newsweek notes Hallyu's advance into Hollywood


Jeong Ji-hoon's new film Ninja

Assassin (2009)

The U.S. magazine Newsweek gave coverage to Korea's rising presence in Hollywood in its Nov. 6 edition. "..[E]thnic Korean actors have started to gain traction in American film and TV," wrote the article entitled "Korea Takes Hollywood."

This includes Kim Yun-jin, a star actress in the recent TV series "Lost;" Lee Byung-hun, who played the role of Storm Shadow in the film "G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" this year; and Jeong Ji-hoon (aka Rain), also a top singer in Asia who plays the main character in the Wachowski Brothers' new movie "Ninja Assassin" that will premiere in late November this year.

Korean-American actors were also named in the list of rising actors: Daniel Dae Kim, who also starred in "Lost," Sandra Oh of "Grey's Anatomy," James Kyson Lee of "Heroes" for starters. Also mentioned were Daniel Henney, whose mother is Korean and who appeared in the film "X-Men: Origins" and is now starring in the new CBS medical drama "Three Rivers," and John Cho, who plays the role of Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek, and is also an FBI agent in the ABC drama "FlashForward."

"The casting of Korean stars in prominent Hollywood roles reflects the new business realities," the article pointed out, for these Korean celebrities "have a huge following in Asia, one of the few regions where movie audiences are growing." The earnings for the G. I. Joe film this past summer from the Korean market alone have surpassed those from the United Kingdom, the article said.


Lee Byung-hun as Storm Shadow in

G.I.Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

The article also mentioned Hollywood's growing interest in Korean film directors, quoting Korean-American film producer Roy Lee of Vertigo Entertainment as saying that "every studio executive here has seen "Old Boy" (2003) by Park Chan-wook."

Park's film won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, received high praise from filmmaker Quentin Tarantino and was selected as one of the 10 best Asian films by CNN. Another of his films "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" (2005) was listed in the 100 Best Films of the Decade (2000-2009) covered by The Times of London in its November 7th edition this year.

Some hurdles still remain, like the language barrier and risk of those actors losing what have they built up back home while taking on Hollywood. Furthermore, Korean film directors may not have as much control over the film as they did in their own country.

However the article concluded that things are definitely changing, what with "continuous references to Korean culture in American films and TV and more people of Korean descent working in Hollywood than any other Asian ethnicity."

Credits : Kim Hee-sung (Korea.net Staff Writer)

Source : Korea.net

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Han Ji-hye selected to promote "Design Korea 2009"


Korean actress Han Ji-hye [PRist Communications]

Korean actress Han Ji-hye has been selected as the PR ambassador for "Design Korea 2009", according to a press release on Thursday.

The actress will promote the international design business exhibition, which will be held at Incheon Songdo Conventia from December 2 thru December 9, PR agency PRist Communication announced in the statement.

The week-long event, hosted by Korea's Ministry of Knowledge Economy and organized by local government institutions, will be attended by numerous design companies and experts from around the world.

"We regard fashionista Han Ji-hye very highly for her passion and taste in design," a government official at the design organization was quoted as saying. "That is why we selected her as the PR ambassador for this event."

The 25-year-old actress recently collaborated with designer shoe brand JINNY KIM and launched her own line "H by JINNY KIM". She will be setting up her own booth at the exhibition and introduce her self-designed shoes to visitors.

Further details about the exhibition are available on the official website (www.designkorea.or.kr).

Han, a former model, made her acting debut in 2003 in the hit KBS TV series "Summer Scent". She has since appeared in many notable dramas including "Sweet 19" in 2003 and "East of Eden" earlier this year.

She is currently shooting a new movie by director and producer Lee Joon-ik, who made the box-office hit "The King and the Clown" in 2005.

Reporter : Lynn Kim lynn2878@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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Nov. 12, 2009

Lee Seung-gi Recovering from H1N1 Flu


Lee Seung-gi

Actor and singer Lee Seung-gi is reportedly recovering after testing positive for the H1N1 virus.

Lee's management agency Hook Entertainment on Wednesday said that he came down with a high fever after finishing shooting the KBS 2TV entertainment program "1 Night 2 Days" last Saturday.

He was taken to the emergency room of a hospital in Seoul on Monday, where doctors confirmed the following day that he has H1N1 flu.

Lee has canceled his working schedule and is resting at home. An antiviral medication helped to bring his fever down and his health is improving. The management agency expects him to be fully recovered by next week.

Source : Cosun Ilbo

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S. Korea's 'Paju' to open Dutch film fest

SEOUL, Nov. 13 (Yonhap) -- "Paju," the second feature film by South Korean director Park Chan-ok, will open the upcoming International Film Festival Rotterdam, the first Korean movie ever chosen to open the Dutch film fest, the event's Web site said Friday.

"Paju," which premiered at Korea's Pusan International Film Festival, has been praised as one of the most outstanding local creations of the year, drawing a realistic portrait of modern Korean society through the eyes of a young woman.

Director Park was the winner of the Tiger Award in the 2003 Rotterdam fest for her internationally-appraised debut "Jealousy is My Middle Name."

Rutger Wolfson, director of the Dutch film event, called "Paju" a "triumph of resilience and a powerful female voice from Asia, ambitious and intimate at the same time."

The 39th Rotterdam festival will run Jan. 27-Feb. 7 next year in the Netherlands' port city.

The South Korean delegation that will introduce the film to Rotterdam's opening night audience will include director Park as well as lead actors Lee Sun-kyun and Seo Woo.

"Paju," set in the grim city where the film takes its name -- a longtime military garrison and now developing urban hub located close to the inter-Korean border -- was released locally on Oct. 29.

The movie drew some impressive reviews from overseas critics during the Pusan film fest with Screen International predicting the movie will "cement Park's reputation as one of Korea's most talented art-house directors," while Variety compared the film's handling of melodrama, action and mystery to a Bergmanesque thriller.

"Paju" won the NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Award at the Pusan fest with jury members describing it as a "fine example of passionate, high-quality filmmaking."

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

Source : Yonhap News



Korean pic "Paju" chosen to open Rotterdam film fest


Poster for Korean film "Paju" [Myung Films]

Korean movie "Paju" has been selected as the opening film for the 39th International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), according to a press release on Friday.

The film, which stars Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun and actress Seo Woo, will kick off the festival on January 27, the film's producer TPS Company said in the statement.

It is the first time that a Korean film was chosen to open Rotterdam, which is considered one of the biggest film festivals in Europe, alongside Cannes, Venice and Berlin, and nicknamed the "Sundance of Europe."

Director Park Chan-ok, whose debut film "Jealousy Is My Middle Name" won Rotterdam's Tiger Award in 2003, is scheduled to attend the festival with actors Lee and Seo.

The festival will be held from January 27 through February 7 in Rotterdam.

Reporter : Ko Kyoung-seok kave@asiae.co.kr

Editor : Lynn Kim lynn2878@asiae.co.kr

<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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November 13, 2009

Rain's new film kicks it into high gear

Korean singer and Wachowski brothers team up a 2nd time


Rain says he hopes "Ninja Assassin," his second Holly-

wood project, will be a box office success, which he

believes will open more opportunities for Asian actors

in Hollywood. Provided by Warner Bros.Korea

Blood splatters across the screen as chains, single and double swords and throwing stars appear one after the other in a series of breathtaking action scenes from "Ninja Assassin," the new martial arts flick directed by James McTeigue, who directed the 2005 film "V for Vendetta," and produced by Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers, famous for the "Matrix" trilogy.

Martial arts movie lovers and Wachowski brothers fans are sure to be drawn to the film.

Koreans fans are likely to be interested in the film for another reason. The film stars Rain, the Korean pop singer who is playing his first leading role in a Hollywood movie.

The film is Rain's second collaboration with the Wachowski brothers after "Speed Racer," where he made his Hollywood debut. One of the differences here is that the brothers are now the producers, not the directors, and Rain is not in a supporting role, but the lead.


In the film, Rain plays Raizo, an orphan who is trained

by a secret ninja clan to become a deadly killer.

Provided by Warner Bros. Korea"

It is always enjoyable to work with the Wachowski brothers, who both have active imaginations and the ability to create whatever they are imagining," the 28 year old said at a packed press conference on Monday in Seoul.

Rain also spoke about how it felt to be working with a Hollywood crew for the second time as well as about the challenges of dealing with learning longer lines in English.

"In the beginning I was a little bit nervous about working in the Hollywood system, but later I found it very efficient and well-organized. It was more enjoyable than it was hard to follow," he said. "I've moved up from a supporting role [in Speed Racer] to a leading role [in Ninja Assassin] and my lines have increased accordingly, which I think is natural, and it's something I appreciate."

In Ninja Assassin, Rain plays "Raizo," an orphan who is raised and trained by a secret ninja clan to become a deadly assassin. But after witnessing the merciless execution of his friend, Raizo breaks with his clan and plots revenge.

"The thing the directors wanted from me the most while we were shooting was that I put my emotions into my acting rather than focusing on speaking perfect English," the actor said.

Rain's English-speaking ability is better than expected in this film, which could give him a better chance of success in Hollywood, and that's seems to be where he's headed.

"I do hope that Ninja will be a box office success because everyone involved in this movie worked so hard. But regardless of whether it succeeds or not, Ninja will always remain as a very important movie for me for the rest of my career as an actor."

Rain's first movie in Hollywood, Speed Racer, was not a box office hit. Still, the singer-turned-actor said he was okay with how things turned out.

"Speed Racer was not a box office hit, but I still believe that it was a milestone for me," he said. "It was my first exposure to Hollywood, and the directors and movie people there got to know me because of the film. It opened up a lot of opportunities for me, including Ninja Assassin, so I'm quite satisfied with that."

Whether this film will be a hit or not remains to be seen. However, as seen at a recent press screening, the film lacks a well-organized plot, which may fail to convince audiences of its appeal as a gripping story.

Still, there is enough in the film to keep audiences engaged. Rain fans in particular are likely to be taken with his scenes, where his well-sculpted physique, the result of a rigorous six-month training regimen, is on full display.

Though Rain denied that he and his character have anything in common, seeing Raizo go through intensive training to become a ninja may resonate with Rain fans, who have watched the object of their affection strive to become the best in his field.

"We felt that the pure martial arts film is a kind of a sub-genre that hasn't really had its due in the U.S. We were always talking about doing something like taking the legend of the ninja, which dates back to the 14th century, and dropping this silent killer into a truly modern world," producer Joel Silver said in an earlier interview, when speaking about how his team had come up with the idea for Ninja Assassin.

"I've always loved the genre, but it seemed like no one had made a serious ninja movie in a long time, at least not in the West," J. Michael Straczynski, one of screenwriters, noted.

"Is it nature that makes you the person you are, or is it nurture? That is a central theme of Ninja Assassin," director James McTeigue said. "I feel as though we did what we set out to do and made a modern-day ninja film that has incredible action but is also grounded in great characterization."

Ninja Assassin will open in South Korea on Nov. 26, a day after its U.S. release.

Credits : Park Sun-young [spark0320@joongang.co.kr]

Source : JoongAng Daiily

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Actress Kim Hye-soo Volunteers in Nepal


Actress Kim Hye-soo talks with a

child during a volunteer program helping Nepalese

children. / Courtesy of MBC

Actress Kim Hye-soo took part in a volunteer program helping Nepalese children, MBC said Tuesday. Her experience will be broadcast on the MBC TV program ``W'' tonight at 11:50 p.m.

The 39-year-old sex symbol visited Kailali, a small town located 10 hours by car from the country's capital, Kathmandu, from Oct. 26 to 30. The area is seriously impoverished; harvesting is difficult because it was formerly a jungle, and a recent flood has left much damage.

The actress set out to work hands-on, and was seen lifting 30-kilogram sacks of rice by herself. ``To tell you the truth I never had to sweat much unless it was for acting. But I really felt I should break a sweat for something like this, even if it is just for myself,'' she said about her first overseas volunteer experience.

Kim also visited a family that was struck by AIDS and felt devastated that all she could do was provide basic first-aid. ``Being here, I realize that there is not much I can actually do. The gap between reality and my desire to help is too big,'' she said.

The ``Style'' (SBS) star also helped four orphaned sisters by buying clothes for them at the local market and giving them haircuts. ``This is my first time volunteering overseas, and I feel that I lack a lot of qualities as a person. I'm afraid that my brief visit will end up hurting these children. I think what we can do is to help them live the life they want,'' she said.

Meanwhile, the screen siren, who often steals the limelight with her sexy styles on the red carpet, received the Icon of the Year award at the 2009 Style Icon Awards, Wednesday, in Seoul.

Credits : Lee Hyo-won [hyowlee@koreatimes.co.kr]

Source : The Korea Times

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