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Ryu: ‘No answer to understanding how women think’

Aug 21,2006
“I thought I would die trying to gain all that weight in such a short time. I almost died trying to learn wrestling and I thought I would be dead by the time I learned to understand women’s sensibilities. Then I really wanted to die because I had to go on a diet again.”
Such was the greeting from the actor Ryu Deok-hwan, 19, on the day his film “Like a Virgin” was shown to reporters last week.
In the film, Ryu plays Lee Dong-gu, a fat amateur wrestler who wants to become a woman. At the preview, however, he had obviously lost a lot of weight and looked thin on stage for the press conference.
“It was hard trying to understand how women think and feel,” the actor said. “I had many discussions with the director prior to shooting about how to express a woman’s sensibility.
“We found out that there is no answer to understanding women, but I did my best to make my character seem natural,” he said. “As for the wrestling, I practiced a lot with the help of Lee Eon, who is a wrestler in real life and who taught me in many ways.”
Although Ryu is a familiar face ― he played a North Korean soldier in the hit film “Welcome to Dongmakgol” ― few viewers are likely to recognize him in his latest role as an overweight high schooler who wears lipstick and skimpy dresses and impersonates Madonna at night.
“We had to give him a role model,”said Lee Hae-yeong, a co-director of the film. “Since Madonna is a pop icon we all know, we thought she was a realistic role model for the character to have. Madonna is like a woman’s woman, someone who justifies womanhood. Madonna also worked hard to present her identity to the public in the same way we wanted to portray Dong-gu’s personal struggle to find his identity.”
The movie’s original title was “Cheonhajangsa,” meaning “a man of Herculean strength,” but it was changed to “The Cheonhajangsa Madonna.” (Its English title is “Like a Virgin.”)


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