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[ENTERTAINMENT]Flashy, Rebellious and Ready for Stardom

Oct 07,2001
Twenty-year-old girls seem to have a lot more problems to mull over besides men and makeup in the upcoming movie "Goyangireul Butakhae" ("Please Take Care of My Cat"). This is the catchy title for a story of three friends just out of high school who do not take the standard roads to success; instead, they are faced with cutthroat competitions for survival. A cat becomes part of their secret password.

This is not a movie that criticizes the culture of young people. It simply tries to depict the world through the eyes of a group of girls facing the world armed only with a diploma from a vocational high school. In a country where education is everything (in part because of the contacts you make while in university), going into the world directly from high school is daunting.

At the center of "Please Take Care of My Cat" is actress Bae Doo-na. A 20-year-old herself, she has become a symbol of the "N Generation," the "net" or Internet generation in Korea, with her gender-neutral looks and rebellious appearance. "Yes, I am a 20-year-old from Gangnam," admits the actress who was discovered on the streets by an agent, eventually leading her to a career as a fashion model and television star. "I came to where I am living a fast, hectic life, but now I am playing Tae-hi, a girl from a provincial city. Being part of this film was an opportunity to learn and understand about friends who live harsh lives."

The film focuses on the majority of youngsters in Korea who cannot buy expensive accessories in fancy department stores or enter the top universities. "It's the way most 20-year-olds live," says the actress.

Bae Doo-na is definitely a peculiar individual. She never reveals her true nature, even becoming famous for her blank, spaced out look. However, this may also mean she is a true blank slate, able to immerse herself completely in new identities.

In "Barking Dogs Never Bite," Bae played a bookkeeper for an apartment building, and in "Youth" she appeared as a nurse. Both characters were flat, though Ms. Bae received positive reviews.

Tae-hi is not an exception. A year after graduation, Tae-hi is still pretty much jobless, working only at the counter of a sauna run by her father. So she gathers a group of friends whose lives are also not going well, helps a young poet suffering from cerebral palsy and dreams of becoming a sailor and exploring the world.

"At first I turned down the role, because it seemed similar to the character in 'Barking Dogs Never Bite.' But after seeing the director's short films 'A Figure Diary' and 'The Night for Two,' I changed my mind. They were full of tension."

The novice female director Chung Chae-eun dragged her cast and crew to to more than 70 locations around Inchon and Seoul to capture the best images. Perhaps following the footsteps of her director, Bae Doo-na roamed Dongdaemun Market looking for kitschy clothes and props that would help build her character. She even practiced smoking cigarettes in front of her parents to make sure that it looked natural during the shooting.

At the end of the movie, Tae-hi and one of her friends Ji-Young decide to depart for a new place. When asked by Ji-Young on where they plan to go, composed Tae-hi simply answers, "Lets think about that on the way."



by Park Jeong-ho




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