[ENTERTAINMENT]Next stop, the Cannes Film FestivalSeol Gyeong-gu, 34, has quickly become one of the most respected young actors on the peninsula, largely thanks to films that combined arthouse sensibilities and box office success, most notably "Bagha Saltang" (Peppermint Candy, 1999).
Choi Min-shik, 39, broke into acting via the theater, but in the last few years has found huge success in film, including "Shiri" in 1999 and "Failan" in 2001.
Choi is starring in the new release "Chihwaseon" as Jang Seung-eup, the famous drunken painter of the 19th century. He and Seol got together recently to talk about their work.
"I hope 'Chihwaseon' achieves something at Cannes," Seol said, "spreading the potential of the Korean movie scene."
But Choi wasn't taking it very seriously: "Yeah, you want a commemorative T-shirt?"
"Peppermint Candy" was screened at the Cannes Film Festival two years ago, but in a noncompetitive category. "Chihwaseon," however, is in competition, along with 20 other films. It's heady stuff, being considered alongside works such as David Cronenberg's latest, "Spider," and Roman Polanski's "The Pianist."
"You should win something at Cannes, autograph it, and give it to me," Seol joked.
Choi this time responded seriously: "I'm just happy to see the dream of movie industry people coming true. If we get a good result, it would boost the local film scene."
The festival kicked off Thursday, and the cast and crew of "Chi-hwaseon" headed to Cannes on Sunday.
The two actors were talking at the groundbreaking ceremony for a studio in Gyeonggi province. The studio, named Art Service Cinema Studio, is about 15,000 square meters, and cost about 1.2 billion won ($1 million).
"Your strongest point is your unlimited energy toward acting," said Seol. "After seeing 'Chihwaseon,' I just could not close my mouth from amazement."
Choi looked abashed at the compliment, saying, "Don't play it too big. It's not me but those like the director Im Kwon-taek and producer Lee Tae-won who should get credit. To be frank, I still cannot believe that I'm going to Cannes."
Seol starred earlier this year as a crooked police detective in "Gonggongui Jeok" (Public Enemy), and his next project is "Oasis," where he plays a maladjusted former convict who falls in love with a woman who has cerebral palsy. "I think I was too picky, which I now regret," he said of his film choices. "From now on, I will train myself harder and star in more films."
It was time for Choi to give a compliment, saying "I just cannot let go of your role in 'Peppermint Candy.' You played the role right, intensely and impressively."
The two talked for a while about that state of acting in Korea, leading Choi to say, "Nowadays, I get the impression that actors are more like entertainers. I think the exact opposite. Actors should be the same as artists, on a perpetual search."
by Park Jeong-ho