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[ENTERTAINMENT]Smoke Gets in Their Eyes - and Roles

July 15,2001
At a recent premiere, a movie's two stars skipped making meaningless comments to the press, such as "It was such a great experience; I learned a lot." Instead, the stars of the Korean thriller "Sorum" proclaimed: "My body and mind alike were ruined while filming. I feel almost maimed."

What bothered the actress Jang Jin-young, 27, and the actor Kim Myung-min, 28, was incessant smoking. They both had to spend about half their screen time lighting up. Even for Jang, who said that she smokes five cigarettes a day on average, the required three- packs-a-day regimen was painful. "I am fed up with smoking and I don't even want to think about it," Jang said. Kim remarked, "I am, or at least used to be, a non-smoker, and smoking nearly killed me. In addition to the constant nausea, I almost fainted several times. It was torture."

Kim and Jang do not exactly portray a picture-perfect couple in the film. Jang plays Seon-young, an abused wife who lives in a miserable run-down apartment. Her alcoholic husband seems to gradually fade out of the film. Kim plays Yong-hyun, a taxi driver who commits murder. Yong-hyun moves into Seon-young's apartment, and they gradually fall in love, but their romance is more frightening than sweet.

The director, Yoon Jong-chan explained, "This film is a psychological thriller, which is a popular new format on the Korean movie scene." It will premiere Friday at the 5th Puchon International Film Festival and serve as the festival's closing film.

Jang and Kim both do a decent job with their first starring roles. Kim has gradually made a name for himself on TV dramas. In his debut film, he looks comfortable in his role as Yong-hyun, a complex figure who is willing to kill someone, but gets hung up on the woman he loves.

Jang, who has been chosen in the past for supporting roles at least partly for her beauty, now appears badly bruised and disheveled, and, of course, chain-smoking. Reportedly, a manager at the cosmetics company for which Jang models urged Jang not to star in "Sorum." But she has gained recognition as a competent actress, more than just a pretty face. Yet she admitted "I'm not sure whether I could ever play a part like Seon-young again. Her tragic reality was too painful."

Jang said that she has received more than 40 offers for leading roles. But she said, "I have not yet decided which one to choose. It seems to me that Korean movies are being made in abundant numbers but now lack the quality they used to have." At this, Kim joked, "Are you sure that it's the scripts and not the actors you work with, like me, that is bothering you?" Kim is to star in a TV drama "Abeojiwa Adeul" ("Father and Son") beginning Friday on Channel 6, Seoul Broadcasting System.

"At least one thing is clear," Jang said. "I will choose a film where I can play a beautiful, enchanting and feminine character!"

And preferably a non-smoker.



by Park Jeong-ho




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