[ENTERTAINMENT]Film Director Is This Actor's Biggest FanIf asked to identify an actor who played a North Korean soldier in the Korean blockbuster hit, "Joint Security Area (JSA)," most Koreans would come up with the name Song Gang-ho. Few, if any, would instantly recall the name Shin Ha-gyun. Although "JSA" was Mr. Shin's fourth film, he still remains an obscure face to Korean moviegoers.
But this 27-year-old actor deserves more than just a second glance. Appearing in such films as "The Foul King" in 2000 and "Lee Chul-jin, a North Korean Spy" in 1999, Mr. Shin has proved himself to be one of the few actors with an attitude working in the Korean film industry.
Unlike many actors, particularly those who are relatively unknown, he has a loyal film director working in his corner.
"Shin Ha-gyun is a reliable actor to work with. I've never seen him work at less than full effort ever since I met him," said Jang Jin, the 30-year-old director of "Lee Chul-jin, a North Korean Spy."
Mr. Jang is not only a vocal supporter of the actor's potential, but clearly relishes working with Mr. Shin. The duo is becoming well-known as a creative partnership. The director has cast Mr. Shin in all of his films, and the actor has a major role in Mr. Jang's latest movie, "Kil-leo Deul-eui Suda" ("Talkative Killers"), which is scheduled for release in August.
For the new movie, now in production, the director's cast includes such well-known actors as Won Bin and Shin Hyun-jun, two names that assure box office success, but he seems to prefer collaborating with the less popular Mr. Shin.
When asked why he continues to work with Mr. Shin so much, Mr. Jang jokingly replied, "Working with Ha-gyun doesn't costs me too much money. At the moment, he's still reasonable." Mr. Shin laughed at this comment.
But the director turned serious and remarked, "Ha-gyun is so enthusiastic about his acting career. He is always the first to immerse himself in the role in order to make it perfect. He is skilled in his craft and always meets my high expectations."
Upon hearing the director's praise, Mr. Shin rallied back with his own commendation: "Jang Jin was the one who taught me how to be a genuine actor. Without him, I would not be who I am right now."
Although the two men clearly applaud each other's work and talent, their personal characteristics initially seem in odd contrast with each other.
Mr. Jin is like fire, appearing to be filled with burning passion, while Mr. Shin is more like water, calm and serene. Yet the contrast is complementary, and their continued collaboration proves that the pair have a harmonious and productive relationship.
When it comes to filmmaking, the relationship between a director and an actor plays a vital role in the film's production and ultimate success.
In this sense, the creative combination of Mr. Jang and Mr. Shin may prove to be a powerful driving force in the Korean movie industry.
We'll see, this August, when their latest venture is released.
by Park Jeong-ho