Hollywood 'Action!' for Park Jung-hun

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Hollywood 'Action!' for Park Jung-hun

"I have nothing to lose, therefore I have nothing to fear," said Park Jung-hun, 35, as he left for Paris last Monday.

The first Korean actor ever to be given a significant role in a large Hollywood movie production remarked, "I will lay the groundwork for my career in Hollywood by displaying my originality in this film, as the one and only Korean actor in Hollywood."

Mr. Park, celebrated in Korea, may now have a shot at international fame with his appearance in "The Truth About Charlie," directed by Jonathan Demme of "The Silence of the Lambs." Mr. Demme said he was so impressed by Mr. Park in the Korean movie, "Injeong Sajeong Bol Geot Eopda" ("Nowhere to Hide"), that he decided to cast the Korean actor in his new film.

With Mark Wahlberg in the lead role, the $50-million movie will be distributed by Universal Pictures, one of the biggest film studios in the United States. Mr. Park will star as a Korean-American former special agent for an American intelligence agency. The central plot sees the Pentagon hunting for a misplaced diamond worth $10 million.

For a man setting out on a historic first for a Korean, Mr. Park seems remarkably composed. With his trademark sense of humor, he said wryly: "I don't feel this movie role as too much of a burden. Frankly, I don't think my presence in the movie will attract much public attention. However, I guess the director must have had good reason to cast me in his film.

"If I get a good response from this movie, I will stay in the United States for two more years, bettering my English speaking ability. I don't want this opportunity to end up as a one-time experience."

And he seems equally blase about his rather meager $325,000 (400 million won) basic guaranteed fee. "Considering my inexperience in Hollywood, I am not dissatisfied. If the producing company had suggested a lower amount of money ? well, I would have played the role without being paid."

Although he says his English skills are a bit suspect and may have problems working in English, he has a positive attitude.

"I am going to make my weak point ? my command of English ? a strong one. I am going to articulate every English word one by one, with great care. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a good role model for me. At first, his English sounded a bit odd, but now nobody regards his English as strange. Anyway, as I am the one and only Asian appearing in this film, I guess I would stand out in any case."

Mr. Park will begin filming Wednesday in Paris, continuing until mid-June. Coincidentally, on March 28, "Nowhere to Hide" will be released in France in 40 theaters, so he will also have interviews with the local press.

But the tight schedule will be nothing new. Mr. Park had to work until the very day before his departure to finish filming his latest Korean film, "Say Yes," to be released in the latter half of this year.


by Park Jeong-ho

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