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November 28, 2007

Jun Ji Hyun, "If all actors were like Hwang Jung Min"


"Thinking it would be nice if all actors were like Hwang Jung Min, I am currently greatly enjoying filming this movie," says Jun Ji Hyun of 'The man who used to be Superman.'

At the press conference held on the 28th, Jun Ji Hyun also commented, "I feel a lot of burden as I haven't acted in a Korean film for a while, but I feel very good about the movie itself. Hwang Jung Min is a nice person beyond being an actor and I am also learning a lot (about acting)."

Jun Ji Hyun recently finished filming 'Blood: The Last Vampire' in Hollywood making this is her first Korean piece since 'Daisy' which opened early last year.

She changed her style for the movie, changing her trademark long straight hair into a perm and lower bangs. She says, "I am very good at surviving. I don't put on makeup and my wardrobe is careless, but I am not concerning myself with it."

Hwang Jung Min added, "I think her look right now is sexier and nice. At times she can be silly, but she is a very good person overall. Our teamwork is wonderful on set."

In response to a question asking what type of super power she would like, Jun answered, "I want a super power that lets me act well. Working with Director Jung and Hwang Jung Min, I am making that power a reality."

Director Jung commented, "The Korean film industry is suffering right now, but I want to become a Super Director that can save it. This movie is about letting people know that anyone can become a super hero if they want to, and giving them power and hope."

Jun Ji Hyun commented on an episode during filming, "I had to smoke a cigarette for the first time but it was tough as I usually consider health to be the most important," to which Hwang Jung Min quickly replied, "It was a prop cigarette made of sagebrush."

This movie is about human documentary producer Song Soo Jung (played by Jun Ji Hyun), who is sick of filming hypocritical programs that touch on people's sympathy, who starts to change by meeting a man (Hwang Jung Min) believing himself to be a superman who has lost powers but still tries to help everyone around. The movie is scheduled for release early next year.

Source: Broasia.com


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:o Didn't know that HJM is in this movie, too.. wow.. Happiness, Black House.. 11th Mother.

Man.. the man never stops. :D A superman indeed!


November 29, 2007

Actors Keep '11th Mother' Afloat

By Lee Hyo-won

Staff Reporter


Actress Kim Hye-su plays the role of a cynical woman who gets in touch

with her maternal instincts in "My 11th Mother."

When you have a classic storyline and an amazing cast of top-notch actors, what can possibly go wrong? While a movie can go terribly off beam, fine acting can sometimes keep a film from drowning completely.

"My 11th Mother," is a conventional tearjerker. Director Kim Jin-sung ("Surprise Party," 2002) spices up the family genre a bit by throwing in some novel ingredients that work surprisingly well in the beginning. But the rest of the film goes sour ? rather than sweetly heart-wrenching ? and forcibly squeezes out tears.

Jae-su leads a cruel life for an 11-year-old. His father (Ryu Seung-ryong) is an abusive, gambling and jobless wreck of a guy, so the little boy has learned to survive on his own, cooking or carefully spending his food stamps and running a string of part-time jobs.

One day, his father shows up with a woman (Kim Hye-su). Apparently used to the comings and goings of such transient mother figures ? this one being the 11th as the title suggests ? Jae-su says "mom" without a wince.

"Mom? You didn't tell me you had a kid," says the gaudy woman. But her make-up and wig disappear to reveal a hungry, tired and disheveled woman who eats up all the food in the house when she's not in deep hibernation.

Jae-su seems to have dealt with all sorts of women, but this one is the worst by far. War ensues as the two squabble over a bottle of yogurt and such.

But even enemies join forces when a mutual opponent threatens, and Jae-su and the woman bond together against the violent abuse of Jae-su's father.

"Before I met you, I used to think I was the most pitiful person in the world... But no, I'm second and you can take number one," the woman says. She has led a rough life as a bargirl. Ailing and penniless, she was "bought" into a so-called marriage.

But Jae-su opens up her weary heart, and she learns the meaning of family for the first time in her life. The two lonely souls begin to accept each other as kindred spirits, and the deep empathy blooms into familial love.

Just when the two embark on a newfound relationship, unfortunately, time and circumstances separate them forever.

The film actually works pretty well up to the climax, when Jae-su and the woman build their bond. Subtlety reigns tastefully, but then it falls downhill into a contrived mess.

"My 11th Mother" rests too heavily on extremities to force reactions from viewers. It takes it too far as it shows, for example, a lengthy scene of domestic violence, as the father relentlessly hits the boy and woman. The level of violence is a bit too much for a family drama, and the film could have been equally disturbing without showing it all.

And yet, the film doesn't die off completely, as it showcases the stellar performances of some of Korea's finest actors.

Actress Kim Hye-su ("Tazza: The High Rollers," 2006), Korea's ultimate sex symbol, trades in her femme fatale image to play a broken woman. Kim delivers the role most convincingly, with chipped nails and all. And while she demonstrates her ability to handle a role that's far from glamorous, she retains that unwavering sparkle in her eyes that shines through in all her parts.

Kim's young partner, actor Kim Young-chon, is thoroughly impressive. The 13-year-old acts with a natural instinct and innocence that many child actors seem lack these days. Korean cinema has much to expect from the young actor.

Ryu Seung-ryong ("Hwang Jin Yi," 2007) is also unforgettable as a man who, unable to express his affections, tragically falls prey to his own traps as a terrible father. And yet, the cream of the crop would undoubtedly be Hwang Jung-min ("Happiness," 2007), who stars as the pathetic guy next door, who gives the artificial drama a realistic edge.

Credits: hyowlee@koreatimes.co.kr


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I think this is something about the musical that HJM's currently involved in... wonder if the movie 'A Man Once A Superman' has finished filming..

Anyone with some gist, would appreciate it very much! :blush:

4년만에 뮤지컬컴백 황정민 "카메라 앞보다 3000배 편해요”

'나인' 천재영화감독… 고향 돌아온 느낌

한준호 기자

배우 황정민이 4년만에 공연무대로 돌아왔다.

현재 영화 ‘슈퍼맨이었던 사나이’의 막바지 촬영에 여념이 없는 황정민이 내년 1월22일부터 3월2일까지 LG아트센터에서 상연되는 뮤지컬 ‘나인’에 참여하게 된 것.


페데리코 펠리니 감독의 영화 ‘8½’을 1982년 브로드웨이에서 뮤지컬로 만든 작품인 ‘나인’은 영감이 고갈된 천재 영화감독이 17명의 여배우들과 스캔들을 벌이며 현실과 몽상을 오가며 고뇌하는 내용을 담았다. 황정민은 천재 영화감독 귀도 역을 맡았다.

“‘나인’은 2003년 뉴스를 통해 미국에서 안토니오 반데라스가 귀도로 출연한 모습을 잠깐 봤을뿐인데요. 그때 무척 강렬한 느낌을 받았어요. 그래서 꼭 한번 해봐야겠다고 생각했는데 이번에 기회를 얻게 됐어요. 그런데 무대보다 배우의 비중이 크기 때문에 부담은 돼요.”

황정민은 영화 촬영이 끝나는대로 이달 중순경에 쉴 틈도 없이 공연 연습장으로 직행한다. 연습에 참여하기 전에 자신의 노래는 모두 외워야하지만 황정민은 오히려 여유있는 모습이었다.

“고향에 돌아온 느낌이에요. 무대연기요? 영화 연기와는 또다른 게 무대 연기랍니다. 무대에 서면 어떤 존귀함이 느껴져요. 제가 가장 좋아하는 순간이 무대 위에서 처음 조명을 받는 순간이에요. 편안하고 무척 따뜻해요. 카메라 앞보다 3000배는 편하다고 할 수 있죠.”

황정민은 이번 작품에서 11곡을 부르고 그중 7곡을 솔로로 열창해야 한다. 연기를 위해 성악과 발레 레슨을 꾸준히 받아온 그이기에 노래나 춤은 그다지 부담이 없단다. 더구나 관객과 호흡할 수 있는 무대에 선다는 사실만으로도 황정민은 행복할 따름이다.

이 참에 황정민은 연극 무대에도 다시 설 계획이다. 내년 연말 ‘웃음의 미학’이라는 작품을 통해서다. 연기자로서 황정민의 진정한 매력을 맛보고 싶다면 무대 위의 그를 찾아야 할 것 같다.

2007/12/06 [11:19] ⓒ 이조은뉴스

Source: http://www.e-goodnews.co.kr/sub_read.html?uid=80997


Btw.. I'm such a bad, blurr fan... it's already way past September 1... :sweatingbullets: :blush:

butter10.gifHappy Belated Birthday Hwang JungMin-ssi thumbup.gif rock on!

aWw.. my 2 BEST ACTORS are both 37 years young :lol:.. and still the best they are, going stronger & even better! :wub:

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This is an interesting topic.. translated & highlighted by dramabeans (please refer link). Merci!

note1.gifStars dreaming of being actors vs. Actors dreaming of being stars

The grass is always greener...


Amongst the familiar names in the industry, HJM is being mentioned in the article.. it's a good read.

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Guest huangsy

HJM in the news today for some campaign stressing the importance of English to Korean students, in collaboration with learning channel EBS. Other stars roped in the campaign are pictured.


There shld be campaign advertisements but I cant find the links yet.

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^ Thanks for the update Huangsy.. good to know that HJM is involved in the worthy campaign to encourage students learning English. Appreciate the sharing!


Btw.. look at this awesome new poster of 'A Man Once A Superman'... thanks to yum yum dimsum at the movie thread for the wonderful highlight.

Cool, huh.. just like it should be.. hahaa.. HJM.. he's just so into it, naturally. :lol:

A superman actor indeed.. 4 movies in 2007.. the latest set to open on Jan 31st, 2008. That is really fast! :w00t:


The trailer! :w00t:

z_MMEDIA5.gif mms://mvodm.hscdn.com/movie/EPK/185900/253789-00300-free.wmv



clip from film2.0, thanks to Shirley


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  • 2 weeks later...

^ Thanks Huangsy for sharing the latest update.

Condolences to Han Jae Suk.

Both him & HJM belong to the same management (Yedang) company... right?

Good to see them supporting each other in their time of need and sadness.

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December 24, 2007

[YEAR-END REVIEW (2) THEATER] Foreign musicals rule the roost as dramas wane

Foreign musicals ruled the country's performing arts scene throughout the year, causing a major recession for other theater genres such as drama and dance.

Foreign musicals either adapted into Korean or staged by the original cast have achieved enormous success, as exemplified by "Cats," "Mamma Mia," "Man of La Mancha," "Hair Spray" and "Beautiful Games."

A number of French musicals including "Romeo et Juliette," "Les Dix Commandements" and the Korean rendition of "Notre-dame de Paris" hit the stage with remarkable success despite inflated ticket prices.

To satisfy the heightened expectations of the Korean audience, foreign productions brought new theater genres such as art circus.

"Quidam," presented by world-famous Canadian circus troupe Cirque du Soleil, captivated local audience with breathtaking acrobatics.

Thanks to the high demand, both local and foreign production companies rushed into the market. According to Interpark Ent., a total of 1,389 musicals and non-verbal performances hit the stage this year alone, up 46 percent from last year. The dramatic growth of the musical industry has generated about 84.4 billion won ($90 million) in ticket sales, said the local ticket sales promoter.

As the market becomes more stable financially, big name actors came back to the stage. After a three-year hiatus, Park Gun-hyung returned with the Korean rendition of the West End musical "Beautiful Games," while Hwang Jung-min comes back to stage with the musical "Nine" next month. Cho Seung-woo, a golden boy of the country's entertainment industry, proved his drawing power once more with the musical "Man of La Mancha." All tickets for Cho's shows were sold out in 15 minutes.

Pop singers also extended their talents by taking side jobs on the stage.

Bada and Eugene, former members of girl band S.E.S, debuted as musical actresses -- Bada in "Tell me on a Sunday" and Eugene in "Innocent Steps" -- while Lee Hyun-woo and Sohn Ho-young took title roles in the movie-cal "Singles." Ok Joo-hyun, vocalist of female group Fin.k.l, demonstrated her musical talent by taking the role of chorus girl Roxie Hart in the musical "Chicago."

Although only big budget Broadway musicals drew enough viewers, reaping the revenues required to pay license fees and production costs, local producers tried to produce more creative homegrown musicals. A host of blockbuster Korean musicals have made their debut, with some major entertainment powerhouses paying attention to them. Thanks to the success of the blockbuster Korean musical "The Last Empress," which attracted more than 1 million viewers earlier this year, local production companies have been encouraged to invest in original Korean musicals.

The list of homegrown musicals includes PMC's "The Great Jangguem," Seensee's "Dancing Shadow" and "Hae-oh-hwa" produced by TV actor Huh Joon-ho.

MBC and PMC Production, creators of the nonverbal performance "Nanta," poured 6 billion won into "The Great Jangguem," while Seensee Musical Company took seven years to create "Dancing Shadow," a musical adaptation of the Korean realist play "Forest Fire." Although they drew enormous attention from the media, they received cold responses from critics and audiences.

A growing number of Korean performances also gained recognition from markets around the world.

"Jump," a Korean smash hit nonverbal show featuring Oriental martial arts and extraordinary acrobatic feats, made its debut in New York's Off Broadway in September. PMC sold the licenses of two homegrown musicals, "Great Janggeum" and "Dalgona," to production companies in Japan.

While musicals thrived in the country's performing arts scene, theater dramas struggled to attract audiences.

According to Interpark, a total of 855 dramas were staged this year. However, industry insiders say that most dramas were sold out.

"There are more than 100 small theaters in Daehangno staging new theater works every three months. But the problem is that most theater acts in Daehangno are not as good compared to acts of previous years," said Choi Yong-hoon, artistic director of the Arko Arts Center.

In an effort to boost the industry, the country's A-list actors made a series of returns to Daehangno.

Moon Sung-keun, an influential figure in the country's entertainment industry, returned to Daehangno in August with the grotesque comedy "Byun." Choi Min-sik, a veteran actor who garnered international acclaim through the hit movie "Oldboy (2003)," played a horrified fiction writer in the Korean adaptation of the West End play "The Pillowman." Jo Jae-hyun took the role of egocentric "Abe (father)" at "Kyungsook, Kyungsook's Father" while Ko Doo-sim brought tough but warm sensitivity to her latest effort as the mother in "My Mother."

Joining hands with those devoted actors, film director Jang Jin staged his new theater production "Seotun Saramdeul (Clumsy People)." Jang, now one of the most celebrated filmmakers in Korea, also brought his close actors with the theater play, who includes Kang Sung-jin, Ryu Seong-ryong and Han Chae-young.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldm.com)


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December 26, 2007

A Man who was Superman (Supermanyi Eodeon Sanayi)

Posted by EunWook

Movie: A Man who was Superman | Supermanyi Eodeon Sanayi

Release Date : January 31, 2008

Country : South Korea

Director : Yoon-Chul Jeong

Starring : Jeong-min Hwang, Ji-hyun Jun


Editor Rating : Not Yet Rated

Soo-jung Song has made human interest documentaries in a small company for over 3 years. She is sick of making these kind of films so she takes the company’s camera and starts to film a documentary on an African Lion that refuses to eat. Suddenly the shooting for the documentary is canceled, but what is worse is that the company’s camera is stolen right from her hands. Just at the moment to save the day, a man in Hawaiian shirt comes out of the blue and retrieves the stolen camera. He returns the camera to Soo-jung and tells her that is he is Superman, but powerless because of cryptonite place in his head by an evil villain. Even though he is without powers he still claims to do good deeds like retrieving lost dogs, reprimanding naked men standing in public, and doing hand stands to push the sun away from the earth. Obviously, Soo-jung can tell he is a nut, but a nut that would make for interesting subject matter in her next documentary.

She then films her next documentary titled “Protect the Earth, Superman.” As usual, Soo-jung manipulates the story to get maximum effect and as a result, the documentary becomes a hit. After a dinner of celebration, Soo-jung suffers from a supreme hang over. Superman appears in front of her and takes her to a sewage drain where he claims a monster will come out. Soo-jung can only smell the aweful scent of the sewer. She decides to go to the hospital and in the process Superman gets an examination. The doctors discover something unexpected in his brain, which turns everything around.

“A Man who was Superman” combines the well regarded actor Jeong-min Hwang (Black House/Happiness) and actress/model Ji-hyun Jun, who is more regarded for her attractive appearance. Another recent Koran movie, “Venus and Mars (Ssaum),” had a similiar pairing but it proved not to be so successful. In that movie, Kyung-gu Sol, another well regarded South Korean actor, was paired with Tae-hee Kim (The Restless) who is not so well regarded for her acting. Most of the press harped on Tae-hee Kim’s shaky performance and as a result the movie flopped.

Hopefully “A Man who was Superman” will have better luck than “Venus and Mars (Ssaum).” Ji-hyun Jun has recently adopted the name Gianna Jun for Western markets and in particular for her upcoming role in the U.S. film “Blood: The Last Vampire.” She hasn’t had much luck in the Korean market since her performance in the mega-hit “My Sassy Girl” back in 2001. Since that time, Ji-hyun Jun has been typecast in similar roles usually having the same sweet innocent girl qualities. In “A Man who was Superman” she breaks out of that typecast and plays a much more manipulative type of person (again similar to Tae-Hee Kim’s change in Venus and Mars). It will be interesting to see how audiences reacts to her new role and if “A Man was Superman” has better luck than “Venus and Mars (Ssaum).” The movie opens in Korean theatres on January 31, 2008.

Credits & more captures at lunapark6.com

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Thanks to the highlight by Shirley at Song Kang Ho thread

Gangster Films: The Yin and Yang of Korean Film Culture

written by X

Published 2007/12/10

Gangs have always been one of cinema's favorite arguments, not only in the West where the mafia gave Hollywood decades of stories to tell, but also in Asia, where some of the oldest crime organizations have become the subject of countless films. What would Japanese Cinema be without the yakuza films of Fukasaku Kinji and Kitano Takeshi, or Hong Kong without its triad films? Even Korea has its hoodlums and assorted gangsters populating films and TV dramas for decades. Called "jopok" (short for "jojik poknyeokbae", organized crime society), these gangs have made their mark in Korean history ever since the colonial period, but how can we explain the last ten years' boom, bringing to the forefront a genre that rarely made much of a mark in Korean Cinema history?

Formation Years

By definition organized crime societies, be it to fight off Japanese imperialism in the early 20th century or each other during the brutal and tragic Korean War, have been active in Korea for over a century. But why did Chungmuro suddenly wake up and smell the roses, pumping money and ideas into this new cash cow called jopok films? To understand that, we should go back to the late 90s when, thanks to the IMF crisis, Koreans lost most of the faith they had in the government. With many businesses closing down, harsh economic conditions after decades of continued growth, and dim prospects for the future (expectations which thankfully didn't prove right), it's easy to understand why gangsters suddenly lost much of the negative aura they had in the past. After all, most of Fukasaku Kinji's crime films were based on the fact that with poverty and anger comes crime. Saying gangsters suddenly became the new hottest thing in town would be silly, but they were far from the Public Enemy No.1 they were pictured as for most of Korea's economic growth.

If we consider Kim Doo Han the first true gangster in Korean history, then all the movies made in the 70s representing him as the epitome of machismo kitsch proved the genre is not too young. Legendary director Im Kwon Taek filmed a trilogy of films centered around the figure of Kim Doo Han, who was a gangster, but also a freedom fighter who ruled the streets of JongRo during the Japanese colonial period. The General's Son and its sequels were big successes, not only anticipating the impressive industry growth starting in 1996, but also reviving the country's interest in action films, a genre which had been largely ignored for most of the 80s, at least when it came to mainstream films.

The early to mid 90s were years of transition, when just about everything was changing in Chungmuro, from distribution methods to production values, even film culture itself. During those turbulent years, a few classics of the genre emerged, such as Rules of the Game with a young Park Joong Hoon in splendid form, and The Terrorist which starred Choi Min Soo, fresh off the incredible success of the landmark TV drama The Sandglass and shedding his comic image once again for a role which would change his career forever. Terrorist was also one of the first films to show the talent of master action choreographer Jung Doo Hong, a mainstay on most of Korea's most famous films of the genre.

Also interesting was Kim Sang Jin's Hoodlum Lessons, a strange hybrid of gangster film tropes and Korean style-comedy, urging some critics to hail Kim as the Korean Kitano, even though his move to straightforward comedies in later years would wash off those expectations. Still, the true turnaround came with No. 3, one of the most brilliant black comedies Korea has ever seen. Starring Han Suk Kyu and Choi Min Sik, the film is a brutally honest, hilariously irreverent look behind the scenes of Korean gangs, their delusion of grandeur, and the backstabbing and corruption. No. 3 is not only famous for its near perfect script, but also for the phenomenal display of ad-lib by a certain Song Kang Ho, who back then was just a theater actor trying to make it in the film world. His legendary delivery (all over TV shows for years, with comedians trying to copycat his stuttering gangster wannabe persona) eventually led him to gain exposure, another reason to be thankful to director Song Neung Han.

Another shot in the arm for a genre that needed serious momentum came from the most unlikely of directors. Putting together a bunch of shorts with a budget that would likely not even cover catering for the latest blockbusters, Ryoo Seung Wan made history with Die Bad. A Scorsese meets Chang Cheh with a touch of Chungcheong Province flavor, Ryoo's debut shocked everyone in the industry, bringing to their attention his younger brother Ryoo Seung Bum as well. Ryoo would later go on to become one of the top directors in the country, and some still contend that Die Bad is his greatest achievement. But then 2001 came, and the word jopok became a trend in a way nobody could ever expected.

My Film Needs a Gangster

Hi, Dharma, My Boss, My Hero, Kick The Moon, My Wife is a Gangster, and of course Friend. If you're a Korean cinema fan you should know more or less all of these films, but the fact that all of them were tremendously successful gangster films released in 2001 is quite remarkable. Even within a genre that had just started as a mainstream trend, diversity was above the norm. Hi, Dharma was about a group of gangsters finding refuge in a Buddhist temple, mixing with the completely opposite customs of the local monks in what's still one of the most enjoyable Korean comedies of recent memory. My Boss, My Hero brought gang boss Jung Jun Ho back to high school, with all the salad dressing that comes with it. Directed by one of the most successful comedy directors in the country, Yoon Je Gyun of Sex is Zero, the film led to two sequels (My Boss, My Teacher and The Mafia, The Salesman) and even a Japanese TV drama of the same title.

My Wife is a Gangster, if anything, was another chance to see how underrated actress Shin Eun Kyung was. Playing a hard character for most actresses, Shin not only excelled, but also rebuilt her image around the tough woman leading a gang of pathetic losers. Kick The Moon, another success for director Kim Sang Jin of Attack the Gas Station, paired two old schoolmates in a strange situation, with the outcast becoming gang boss and the tough guy ending up as teacher. But of course the biggest sensation were the eight million tickets sold by Kwak Kyung Taek with Friend. A touch of Scorsese and that incomparable smell of the streets of Busan made the film one of the first Korean works to crack the international market, and of course made its stars Jang Dong Gun and Yoo Oh Sung even more popular.

The years between 2001 and 2003 saw a lot of interesting gangster films, perhaps the most underrated being Cha Seung Won and Kim Seung Woo's Break Out. But the other side of the coin also emerged, with countless comedies bringing back the same old characters: country bumpkins with little brain and quick tempers throwing themselves around with the help of their pungent dialect. Add a few sex scenes, the customary action piece here and there, and you're served. First it was critics doing their job and bringing up the issue, but then the public also followed through: gangster comedies not only were all too similar, the image Korean Cinema created around gangsters was a little outside the realm of reality. It was time for a little change.

The Not So Sweet Life of Gangsters

Take any of the major gangster franchises in Korean Cinema and you'll come up with a certain idea of what their life might be. The My Wife is a Gangster (now at three films), Marrying the Mafia (three as well), My Boss My Hero (three again), and Hi, Dharma (only two) series all present the gangster as the stupid big brother you never had. He fights well, he's even a little cute, and most importantly, deep down inside is not such a bad person. He's after all a sort of Robin Hood in designer clothes. Only he swears a lot more. A lot.

Thankfully Friend's director Kwak Kyung Taek wasn't the only one thinking the world of gangster was just the perfect opportunity to make silly comedy, as shown in his follow-up Mutt Boy, much smarter than its title might suggest. With jopok comedies outside of the major franchises almost always failing, some directors started exploring the dark side of the crime world, with not surprisingly excellent results. Most impressive of them all might just be Kim Ji Woon's masterpiece A Bittersweet Life, part Melville but also with Kim's unmistakable wit and his usual visual splendor. The film showed Lee Byung Hun had all the cards to succeed as a serious actor, when he didn't worry about Korean Wave TV dramas pumping up his name value and wasting his talents.

Also notable is Yoo Ha's A Dirty Carnival, brutally violent but also with a strange, quiet power emerging throughout the film. Choi Ho's magnificent Bloody Tie, starring a stunning Hwang Jung Min, showed the drug underworld and gangs controlling the Busan of the post IMF with admirable panache. Han Jae Rim's recent The Show Must Go On sees Song Kang Ho as a middle-aged gangster struggling to balance family and work.

It seems gangster films are finally starting to mature a little, escape the easy trappings that brought the genre to the limelight. It's a sign that the industry has understood the traps hidden under such a tempting theme. The fact current films are exploring the underworld with a little more intelligence shows Chungmuro has finally cracked the surface, and is now ready to bring the genre to new heights.

Source: global.yesasia.com

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December 26, 2007

Happiness (Hengbok)

Posted by luna6

Jin-ho Hur’s name has become almost synonymous with bittersweet Korean romantic dramas. By now it’s hard to talk about that genre without mentioning his 1998 classic movie “Christmas in August.” Personally, its been over 5 years since I last saw that movie, but I can still vividly remember the angst I that felt from the wait for an encounter that never occurred. Hur then went on to make two more films, “One Fine Spring Day” (2001) and “April Snow” (2005), that were similar in style, but lacked the freshness and punch of his debut film. Give the man credit at least for his resiliency, because his latest film “Happiness” covers similar ground.

Even though “Happiness” in its barest form is a romantic drama on the same level as Hur’s earlier films, the movie stands out for its captivating lensing, emotive soundtrack, and just plain darker theme. What you take out of “Happiness” I would guess depends largely on what you are looking for in “Happiness.”

After hitting rock bottom, night club manager Young-Su (Jeong-min Hwang) prepares to make an exit. He tells his friends and family that he’s traveling abroad and won’t be back for a couple of years. Where Young-Su actually goes is a small rural town, to check himself into “Hotel Hope” a sanitarium for alternative medicine. After years of heavy drinking Young-su now suffers from cirrhosis of the liver.

At the sanitarium he meets a bashful girl named Eun-Hee (Su-jeong Lim). Like Young-Su she also suffers from a debilitating disease (weakness of the lungs), but unlike Young-Su, she thinks of “Hotel Hope” as home. She doesn’t have family and has stayed at the sanitarium for over 8 years. Eventually the charming Young-Su sweeps Eun-Hee off her feet and they become a couple. At Eun-Hee’s insistence, they decide to leave the sanitarium and live together as a couple. Eun-Hee tells Young-Su that if he’s not happy he can leave.

Initially the couple live like newlyweds but problems arise when Young-Su’s friends arrive for a surprise visit. One of his friends happens to be his ex-girlfriend and she still has strong feelings for him. Before they leave, they ask Young-Su when will he return to Seoul. After some time, Young-Su gets increasingly frustrated with small town life and is tempted to return to the fast life of Seoul. Where exactly can happiness be found?

The first half of the film recalled stylistically classic Korean dramas like Hur’s very own “Christmas in August.” While Young-Su and Eun-Hee encountered their initial courtship the backdrop had the simplistic look of those earlier Korean classics. Even though the visual style was almost reactionary in style, it did vividly express the feel of a small rural Korean community. You could literally feel the breeze from the mountainside while Young-Su and Eun-Hee walked along a path or smelled the aroma of the instant noodles that cooked over a propane gas mini-stove. The warmth between Young-Su and Eun-Hee was also tangible and it was a pleasure to watch Jeong-min Hwang and Su-jeong Lim perform together.

Once the couple moved out of “Hotel Hope” and into their own apartment, problems then arose. It’s easy at this point to think of Young-Su as just a despicable jerk and for the most part he was. But, what made it fascinating to watch was the manner in which the movie revealed small clues, not to justify his actions, but to give better understanding into the reasons why he did the things he did. For me, one of the more impressive scenes occurred when Young-Su confronted Eun-Hee after drinking way too many bottles of Soju. Partially because of his weakness and partially because of kindness, he couldn’t leave Eun-Hee. Yet he was conniving enough to drink enough alcohol to muster up the courage to demand that she break up with him and if not…reveal enough secrets to push her into demanding for the breakup. Devious, clever, calculating and utterly fascinating to watch.

If you watch “Happiness” for a meaning or a message than you will be likely disappointed. The film offers a basic message that many other movies have, which is to cherish to what you have. What drew me into the film was the character study on the flawed character of Young-Su, played by Jeong-min Hwang. He was a tortured soul and, quite frankly, an bubble gum, but there were enough redeeming qualities laid out to want to understand his mindset. Having Su-jeong Lim play alongside Jeong-min Hwang certainly did not hurt. Visually the film was fantastic, juxtaposing between simplistic shots of the countryside and edgier compositions in the city. The soundtrack was a throwback to classic Korean songs that sounded wonderful as well. As stated earlier, what you take out of “Happiness” largely depends on what you are looking for in “Happiness.” There’s enough ingredients stirring in the pot to make many different meals.

Credits to http://lunapark6.com/happiness.html

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December 30, 2007

Hwang Jung-min shows off musical talent

Not many people know that Hwang Jung-min, now a famous movie star, was once an under-the-radar actor in a number of musical productions. Debuted in a long-running hit musical "Subway Line 1" (1994), Hwang performed in musicals such as "Broadway 42nd" (2004), "Jesus Christ Superstar" (1997) and "Cats" (1999) before he gained popularity with the film "A Good Lawyer's Wife" (2003). Now regarded as one of Korea's A-list film actors, Hwang has earned many awards for his versatility.

Inviting the audience to appreciate his unknown musical talent, the 37-year-old is making a surprise return to the stage with the Korean rendition of the Broadway musical "Nine."

After a four-year hiatus on the stage, Hwang takes the role of Guido Contini, a film director facing a midlife crisis. Based on an Italian play by Mario Fratti, which was inspired by Federico Fellini's autobiographical film "8 1/2," the musical tells a story of a 40-year-old man entangled in a web of romantic difficulties in early-1960s Venice.

The Broadway production, directed by Tommy Tune and choreographed by Tommie Walsh, opened in May 1982. It eventually won five Tony Awards, including for best musical of the year. In 2003, the remake of the musical, which starred Antonio Banderas as Guido, hit the stage. The performance earned him a Tony Award nomination.


Hwang was confident and attractive enough on the stage when he sang two songs for critics and reporters last week. But he said he still feels pressure. "I am under great pressure because I am playing the only male character which leads the rest of the cast on the stage," said Hwang. "And I also feel pressure because there are a lot of people watching me over the show, who don't initially recognize me as a stage actor but as a movie star."

David Swan, the producer of the musical, encouraged Hwang, saying that he is the right one for the role.

"The role of Guido requires an actor a great range and he's just a perfect actor for the show, like the rest of the cast," said Swan.

Hwang is to lead a cast of 15 women in the Korean production of "Nine." In this story, the women in the Italian director's life include his wife, mistress, leading lady, mother, first sexual encounter and producer. The cast of women characters draws attention as the show features the award-winning musical actress Kim Sun-young who takes the role of Guido's wife Luisa, Yang So-min as protege Claudia and Chung Sun-ah as mistress Carla.

Feeling lucky to play with a group of attractive and talented actresses, Hwang said: "I heard a lot of people saying that I am very fortunate to work with so many beautiful actresses like Jeon Do-yeon and Jun Ji-hyun. But I guess this musical is the best."

It seems like the musical is offering a moment of reflection for Hwang who wanted to stimulate his acting career.

"A child grows up but an adult also transforms himself or herself by looking back upon the past. I think the musical is good for me because it allows me to take a backward glance at my life," said he.

The musical "Nine" hits the stage on Jan. 22 for a seven-week run at the LG Arts Center in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldm.com)


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December 29, 2007

LP6’s Top 10 Movies of 2007

Posted by luna6

01. “Secret Sunshine” - The movie is bleak, dark, and depressing. Yet there’s still hope at the end, however fleeting it may feel. I did think “Secret Sunshine” shared a kindred spirit of sorts with Albert Camus’ novel “The Stranger.” Well deserved best actress award was also given to Jeon Do-Yeon at this year’s Cannes. Her performance was just electrifying.

02. “Ploy” - Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s “Ploy” takes the dreamy feel of his prior film “Invisible Waves” but wraps it around a far more tangible storyline. On its most basic level the movie deals impressively with the insecurities in a relationship, but from there, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang weaves his own idiosyncratic cinematic magic.

03. “Exodus” - Wacky story that draws you in from the beginning with its surreal “A Clockword Orange” like opening scene, then goes further down an unpredictable satire path. Stanley Kubrick would have loved this film.

04. “Epitaph” - An unexpected surprise for myself. The movie is set during the Japanese occupation of South Korea (how often do you see that?), with three loosely related stories wrapped together in a horror movie veneer. Visuals are second to none.

05. “Black House” - Might not have the most original story, but for sheer thrills “Black House” throws it down wave after wave. I’ve never had as much fun in a cinema than watching “Black House” at a packed theatre in downtown Daegu, South Korea. The audience shrieked and screamed in unison like they were riding a roller coaster.

06. “Happiness” - Jin Jo Hur’s fourth movie dealing with bittersweet relationships, but “Happiness” rightfully stands on its own. Everything from the visuals to the pairing of Jeong-min Hwang and Su-jeong Lim made me feel a bit in awe.

07. “A Gentle Breeze In The Village” - What this movie lacks in plot development is made up in spades by scene after scene of the most charming vignettes on small town life and the coming of age of two precious teenagers.

08a. “Boys of Tomorrow” - Korean indie flick centered around two brothers that grew up on the wrong side of town. Gripping drama, with some harrowing scenes. This could have easily ranked anywhere from #3 - #8.

08b. “A Good Day To Have An Affair” - The topic of illicit affairs is covered in many South Korean films but not many can equal the fun found in “A Good To Have an Affair.” Goofy comedy, that features strong performances all around, highlighted by Hye-Su Kim’s nutty housewife character. There’s a poignant message left in the film as well.

09. “Lost In Beijing” - Strong film centered around an affair, adoption, and money. The movie also brings to light the problems of a burgeoning capitalist system in Beijing.

10. “Sakuran” - This one is all about style and visuals. The movie itself is about as deep as the fish tanks often shown in the film, but so what? Lots of fun to be had in Sakuran, none more so than seeing traditional ideals twisted inside and out.

For complete write-up, please refer source at http://lunapark6.com/lp6s-top-movies-of-2007.html

ps: HJM has his 2 movies included thumbup.gif

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January 1, 2008

Lots of notable theater coming in new year

Theater productions in the country will be aiming for variety and creativity throughout the year, as is clear in a sampling of performances scheduled for 2008.

Hoping to cash in on the huge popularity of some movies and TV dramas, a number of musical versions will be staged.

Hit movies like "Radio Star" (Jan. 26 -- March 2 at the Towol Theater within the Seoul Arts Center), "My Love, My Bride" (July to September at the PMC Ja-u Theater in Daehangno) and "The Harmonium in My Memory" (July to September at the Hoam Art Hall) will be remade into musicals.

The musical version of the film "200-Pound Beauty," which starred Kim A-jung and Joo Jin-mo, is also scheduled to hit the stage in November, while some other romance movies such as "My Scary Girl" and "Gold Digger Miss Shin" will be transformed into stage works.

The upgraded version of the musical "Daejanggeum" -- a remake of a drama series about a royal chef-turned-physician -- will hit the stage at the outdoor theater of Gyeonghui Palace in September.

Other creative homegrown musicals are set to be staged at various small theaters in Daehangno. The list includes "Sori Doduk" (April 5 -- May 25 at the Hoam Art Hall), which stars the musical stars Nam Kyung-joo and Choi Jung-won, along with "Brave Brothers" (April -- June at the PMC Ja-u Theater) and "Porno Family."

Again this year, a series of boldface film and television actors are scheduled to test their stage legs.

Hwang Jung-min, the award-winning actor who exhibited his versatility in his recent film, "Happiness," returns to musical stage this month with the Korean rendition of the Broadway musical "Nine."

After a four-year hiatus on the stage, Hwang takes the role of Guido Contini, a film director facing a midlife crisis. Based on an Italian play by Mario Fratti, which was inspired by Federico Fellini's autobiographical film "8 1/2," the musical tells the story of a 40-year-old man entangled in a web of romantic difficulties in early-1960s Venice. The musical will begin on Jan. 22, and have a seven-week run at the LG Arts Center in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul.

Son Ho-young, a former member of the boy band g.o.d., makes his debut on the musical stage with "Singles" this month. The award-winning musical, based on the popular movie of the same title, vividly describes the younger generation's thoughts on love and marriage. In the musical, Son will play the role of Park Soo-heon, a not-so-sophisticated but warm-hearted 30-something man working in the finance industry.

Foreign musicals, although reduced in numbers compared to the previous year, are also getting in on the act here.

"We Will Rock You," a jukebox musical based on the songs of Queen, will greet local fans at the Seongnam Arts Center in February for a three-week run. The musical, written by Ben Elton, in collaboration with members of the defunct 70s rock group, deals with a kind of futuristic rock 'n roll world.

The French musical "Little Prince" is also coming to town, and will be staged at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul in June. "My Fair Lady," based on the movie of the same title which featured the legendary Audrey Hepburn, will be performed here for the first time, at the same venue.

"Fiddler on the Roof" will be adapted into Korean and performed by a local cast at the National Theater of Korea in November.

The original production of "Cats," which was hugely popular last year, is once again coming to Korea in May. Also performed by a local cast, it will be staged at the Charlotte Theater in Jamsil in September for an eight-month run.

The world-famous Canadian circus troupe Cirque du Soleil will make its second trip here, and put on its acclaimed show "Alegria." The troupe brought "Quidam" here last year; it was a major and enchanting draw.

Blue Man Group, a trio of mute performers, will make its debut in Seoul and other cities in Korea for a three-week run in June.

In an effort to boost the struggling drama theaters, some A-list actors will make a return to Daehangno.

Choo Sang-mi takes part in "Black Bird," while her husband Lee Suk-joon will stage "Life in the Theater." Other big-name movie actors such as Moon Sung-keun and Yoo Ji-tae will join the effort to revive the country's cultural mecca.

A number of foreign drama productions are set to be staged in Seoul.

"Dollhouse," an adaptation of Ibsen's classic which will be produced by Lee Breuer, and staged in April; it portrays female subjugation in a male-dominated society. Iceland's acclaimed Vesturport Theatre brings a theater version of Franz Kafka's "Metamorphosis" in May to the LG Arts Center.

Internationally acclaimed dancers will also visit the country throughout the year.

Pina Bausch, one of the most influential choreographers in the world, will play "Nefes" in March at the LG Arts Center in southern Seoul. The prestigious American Ballet Theater is coming to Seoul in July with its version of "Don Quixote." The show will be staged at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. The National Ballet of China is also bringing its latest work, "Raise the Red Lantern," a ballet production based on the award-winning 1991 Chinese-Hong Kongese-Taiwanese film directed by Zhang Yimou. The show will be staged at the Aram Nuri Arts Complex in Goyang and the Seongnam Arts Center in Seongnam in October.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldm.com)


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January 1, 2008

Hwang Grows Into Mature Role in Musical

By Chung Ah-young

Staff Reporter


A scene from musical "Nine" featuring actor Hwang Jung-min.

The musical will be staged at LG Arts Center in southern Seoul

Jan. 22 and will run through March 2. / Courtesy of OD Musical Company

Actor Hwang Jung-min has become one of the most sought-after actors among Korean film directors since his successful performances in "You Are My Sunshine," (2005) "Black House," (2007) and "Happiness" (2007).

But many musical fans might remember his stage performances as much as his on-screen ones. So his return to the musical, "Nine" is causing many musical buffs to have high expectations.

His comeback work is based on an Italian play by Mario Fratti inspired by Federico Fellini's autobiographical film "8 1/2," focusing on the film director Guido Contini, which will be played by Hwang.

Hwang said that the musical has a special meaning for him as the piece is about an "adult coming-of-age" in which the film director in his 40s wrestles with burnout in creativity and looks back on his career and life.

The musical deals with the famous director approaching his 40th birthday, which thrusts him into an emotional tailspin that threatens to destroy his personal and professional life.

"I can sympathize with the role, which is about growing up as an artist. Through Guido, the musical gives me the opportunity to look back at my acting career and my life," Hwang told reporters in the press conference.

Hwang said that he finds something in common between his role and his life in which he sometimes worries about how much he can do in his next work and how at times he is not honest with his feelings when he takes on a new role.

"My fans who liked my earlier performance as a musical actor might have waited for my return for a long time, and also, my movie fans might want to see my musical performance on stage as well. So I feel responsibility in satisfying both audiences with my comeback piece," said Hwang.

Hwang returns to the stage four years after his last musical, "42nd Street." The actor debuted in the musical, "Line 1" (1995) and then starred in various musicals such as "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Cats."

Starring in various musicals and plays in Daehangno, Hwang's debut film was "The Waikiki Brothers," in 2001. Then he appeared in prominent films like "A Good Lawyer's Wife," "You Are My Sunshine," and "Bloody Tie," in which he portrayed many diverse characters.

The role of Guido is the only male cast member among 15 women. Hollywood star Antonio Banderas took the role of Guido in 2003's Broadway revival of "Nine." Much of its reputation attributed to Banderas, whose acting and singing talent along with his good looks made for an ideal Guido.

Shin Chun-soo, producer and president of the OD Musical Company, said that it took three years to cast Hwang as the leading role because he has found the right actor to rival Banderas' performance.


"The musical doesn't have much of a reputation compared to other Broadway musicals. But it scored big success both in commercial and critical aspects. I think Hwang is an actor who can surpass Banderas' reputation," said Shin.

The Korean production will be directed by veteran director David Swan who worked in several Korean hit productions such as "Man of La Mancha" and "All Shook Up."

Swan said that the musical focuses on the artistic life of Guido, who started exploring his career and discovers emptiness.

"The musical mixes reality and fantasy memory. But it is both entertaining and moving," said Swan.

"Nine" premiered in 1982 on Broadway and was nominated in 10 categories of Tony Awards and won five of them, including the best revival award.

In the Korean production of the musical, award-winning actress Kim Sun-young will play the part of Luisa, Guido's wife. Kang Pil-suk will alternate playing the role of Guido with Hwang.

The musical will be staged at LG Arts Center in southern Seoul Jan. 22 and will run through March 2.

Tickets cost from 30,000 won to 120,000 won. For more information, call 1588-5212.

Credits: chungay@koreatimes.co.kr


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