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January 5, 2019


Korean Actors Brush up on English-Language Skills


By Pyo Tae-jun The Chosun Ilbo


In his latest film "Take Point," Ha Jung-woo's lines are mostly in English as he heads a group of mercenaries. Ha admits that playing the part was "quite a challenge."


"It drove me nuts whenever my language coach pointed out an incorrect pronunciation when I said a line while trying to immerse myself into my character," he said.


But as Korean films ride a wave of K-pop enthusiasm overseas, it has to be done. Ha took one-on-one English language lessons for six months before filming began.


He and his teacher, Christine Kim, would go for walks during lessons to make speaking English become more natural. "I made him memorize the words, accent and gestures of his favorite basketball player Kobe Bryant and Tom Cruise after watching YouTube," Kim said. "We never sat down when we met for lessons and I trained him to speak in English while walking or moving. A natural sense of language comes with gestures or movements."


In the movie "Default," which is about the 1997 Asian financial crisis, French actor Vincent Cassel and his co-star Kim Hye-soo speak to each other in English. And in "The Drug King," which opened last month, Bae Doo-na also speaks English. She has employed a dialect coach since the early 2000s as she has appeared in a couple of Hollywood films.


Lee Byung-hun, who played a U.S. Marine in the TV drama, "Mr. Sunshine," took English conversation classes at a crammer in Gangnam. Park Jung-geun, the personal tutor for Lee as well as Yoo Ji-tae and Han Hyo-joo, said, "Learning English while sitting down and focusing primarily on grammar is no help at all when acting in a scene. The secret is using hands and learning other gestures.

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January 21, 2019


Netflix's first original Korean drama 'Kingdom' unveiled to media


By Park Boram


SEOUL, Jan. 21 (Yonhap) -- Netflix on Monday unveiled to media its first original Korean drama series, which has drawn much anticipation for its big budget and acclaimed creative team.


"Kingdom," which premieres globally on the U.S. video streaming service Friday, is a genre-defining six-episode zombie mystery thriller set in the last Korean kingdom of Joseon. It took nearly eight years to produce the series, with its production cost reaching 2 billion won (US$1.7 million) per episode, according to the producers.


Netflix chose famed Korean screenwriter Kim Eun-hee, the author of the popular 2016 TV series "Signal," and director Kim Seong-hun, whose 2016 film "Tunnel" became a solid box office hit, as its first partners for local drama production.


Actor Ryu Seung-ryong, actress Bae Doo-na, actor Ju Ji-hoon, screenwriter Kim Eun-hee and director Kim Seong-hun (from L) pose for photos during a press conference on Jan. 21, 2019, held to announce the release of the first Korean edition of the Netflix Original series "Kingdom." (Yonhap)

Actor Ryu Seung-ryong, actress Bae Doo-na, actor Ju Ji-hoon, screenwriter Kim Eun-hee and director Kim Seong-hun (from L) pose for photos during a press conference on Jan. 21, 2019, held to announce the release of the first Korean edition of the Netflix Original series "Kingdom." (Yonhap)


Screenwriter Kim drew the story from a 19th century royal court document that recorded tens of thousands of deaths in the capital amid the outbreak of an unidentified epidemic.


"I started to design this story in 2011 ... I thought an epidemic would be an interesting subject that could portray the sufferings of that time. In the end, I wanted to talk about hunger ... as the desire of people narrows down to the craving to eat as they turn into zombies," Kim said in a press conference for the television series in Seoul.


She said the details of her zombie story were put into the Netflix show to the greatest extent because the platform has no age limits for content, which local TV channels have.


The series marks the established director Kim Seong-hun's debut on the small screen.

"I filmed the series thinking that I am filming three two-hour movies. They carry very tiny details that a single two-hour film cannot carry."


The first season of "Kingdom" also brings together Ju Ji-hoon, arguably one of the top movie actors of today, and Bae Doo-na, who built a solid filmography in Hollywood.


"If you enjoy the series at once, you can take it as a 300-minute film, or if you want to take it as a TV series, you can watch one episode a day. The joy of choosing is up to you," Bae said.


Ju plays Joseon Dynasty crown prince, Lee Chang, who is accused of treason in a political power game after the king is taken with a deadly epidemic and falls into the zombie state of half death and half life.


Driven out of the royal court amid a rapidly spreading epidemic, the prince races to the very fringe of the country in search of a renowned doctor who holds the key to the mystery of the king's illness and the accusation of treason against the prince.


There, Lee is faced with lower-class epidemic victims who have turned into zombies. Pursued both by the deathly zombies and the royal forces, he goes on the adventurous journey to prove his innocence and find a secret medicinal herb.


The doctor's apprentice, Seo-bi, portrayed by Bae, plays the key aide during the prince's tumultuous journey back to the court.




"It's a story that can captivate people (worldwide) by combining original Korean beauty and its narration with the original Western subject matter of (zombies)," said Ryu Seung-ryong, who plays the kingdom's power-hungry No. 2 who plots to bring the treason charge against the prince and seeks eventually to take the ill-fated king's throne.


"It's a story that could resonate with people from any place in the world and from any time period with its focus on hunger and the struggle for power," the veteran actor said. "It could be a work that makes Korea's unique beauty known to the world."


"There's a saying that a work will become a hit if its actors and production staff experience hardship," Ju said, adding that he suffered a minor bone fracture in his left ankle, hip neuralgia and a minor burn. "I had to work very hard as the show is very wild and spectacular."




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January 22, 2019

Netflix Unveils Korean Zombie Series


Source: The Chosun Ilbo via HanCinema.net



Ryu Seung-ryong (left), Bae Doona (center) and Joo Ji-hoon pose at a press event for their new Netflix series "Kingdom" in Seoul on Monday.


The first Korean drama series produced by Netflix is due to be released around the world this week. A press event for the series was held in Seoul on Monday before it goes to air on Friday for 139 million subscribers in 190 countries.


Set during the Chosun Dynasty, the six-episode zombie drama revolves around a doomed crown prince who investigates a mysterious epidemic. The series stars Bae Doona, Joo Ji-hoon and Ryu Seung-ryong. It is directed by Kim Seong-hun, who directed the 2016 film "Tunnel", and written by Kim Eun-hee-I, who scripted the hit TV series "Signal". 


Netflix has been increasingly involved in Korean entertainment productions to expand its presence in Asia, where Korean films and TV series and shows are popular. It made a huge investment in director Bong Joon-ho's 2016 film "Okja", and produced the first entertainment show "Busted! I Know Who You Are" last year. It also cooperated with leading management agency YG Entertainment to air a YG-produced sitcom starring Seung-ri of boy band Big Bang.


With "Kingdom", its aim seems to be to lure more Western viewers by incorporating a zombie theme familiar to them.


The cast said they were excited to be starring in a series airing on the world's leading streaming service.


"We are all actually new faces [to global Netflix viewers] except for Bae Doona, who is already recognized for her roles in Netflix's TV series", like "Sense 8", Joo said. "I'm really excited that viewers across the world will watch it".


"Making a six-episode drama was new for me, as I had only worked on two-hour film projects. I tried to keep in mind how people from different cultures would respond to it", the director said.


Photos: The Chosun Ilbo












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March 18, 2019


Actress Bae Doo-na Appears on Cover of American Vogue


By Yoo Seog-jae The Chosun Ilbo


Actress Bae Doo-na has become the first Korean to appear on the cover of U.S. fashion magazine Vogue in its 127-year history. 

She shares the cover of the April issue with film stars Scarlett Johansson of the U.S. and Deepika Padukone of India.


In its cover story "14 Countries, 14 Superstars: The Global Actors Who Know No Limits," Vogue introduces Bae by saying, "The daughter of a stage actress, Bae is a serious performer. She has worked with some of the best directors in Asia -- not just Koreans like Park Chan-wook but also Japanese directors like Hirokazu Koreeda."


It adds, "Bae has to admit that her life is 'basically what all millennials would probably dream about.'" 


The actress made her Hollywood debut with "Cloud Atlas" in 2012 and starred in the Netflix series "Sense 8" and "Kingdom."


Source: Vogue


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May 8, 2019


KIM Yun-seok and BAE Doo-na Catch VIRUS

JUVENILE OFFENDER Director Returns with 1st Commercial Feature


by Pierce Conran KOFIC




Stars KIM Yun-seok and BAE Doo-na will join forces on screen for the first time in the upcoming film Virus (literal title). The project will mark the first commercial feature film of acclaimed indie filmmaker KANG Yi-kwan.


KIM will play a researcher investigating a peculiar virus that causes its hosts to experience feelings of love. BAE is on board to play a virus host under the researcher’s care.


Star of The Chaser (2008), The Thieves (2012) and many other Korean hits, KIM recently made the jump to the director’s chair with the release of his well-received directorial debut


Another Child earlier this year. BAE appeared alongside SONG Kang-ho in the period crime saga The Drug King last year and kicked off 2019 with the Joseon Era zombie series Kingdom, Netflix’s first fully backed original production in Korea. She will join the production of Virus after completing filming on the second season of Kingdom.


Director KANG debuted as a film director with the well-received Sakwa in 2008, which he followed with the equally acclaimed Juvenile Offender, which had its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012. Virus was originally set to go into production almost five years ago, when it was named Love Is Virus and was set to KANG’s Sakwa lead LEE Sun-kyun.


Virus is expected to get underway in the second half of 2019.

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