The Hermit Kingdom Opens Film Doors

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The Hermit Kingdom Opens Film Doors

The news that Park Jung-hun is to co-star in the upcoming Hollywood movie "The Truth About Charlie," with Tim Robins shocked the Korean movie industry. Mr. Park will fly to Paris next Monday to take part in this $50 million project to be directed by Jonathan Demme ("The Silence of the Lambs" 1991).

But Mr. Park's debut in the international movie scene is not unique. Other Korean actors and actresses have made successful entrances into the world film market. Kim Yun-jin became well-known in Japan with the successful release of "Shiri." "Shiri" then paved the way for Kim to star in the Japanese film "Switch" which she recently finished shooting. Kim Min's international presence got a boost when she starred in Jackie Chan's latest release, "The Accidental Spy" last January. Sul Kyung-gu, known for his roles in Korean movies such as "Peppermint Candy" and "I Wish I Had a Wife, Too," will star in a Japanese drama to be aired on Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK).

Ironically, while Korean stars are busy working outside Korea, foreign stars are filling the empty space. Hong Kong actress Cecilia Cheung will play a Chinese woman who gets married to a troublemaker in the soon-to-be-released Korean movie "Failan," directed by Song Hae-sung. The director remarked, "Cecilia Cheung quickly decided to star in the film just by taking a look at the script. Korean actors and actresses are quite picky when choosing movies, making it hard to begin filming. Working with foreign talent, though, allows us to avoid that kind of difficulty. Moreover, with foreign stars it's much easier to promote films overseas."

The star of this year's Oscar nominated film, "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon," Zhang Ziyi, is eagerly awaited by Koreans in the upcoming film "Musa," to be released in June. She plays a princess of the Ming Dynasty who falls in love with a character played by Jung Woo-sung, one of the most popular actors in Korea.

Leon Lai recently became the talk of the town by starring in the local movie "Cheonsamong." Currently, there are more than 10 foreign actors and actresses who will appear in lead roles in Korean movies, while others like Wu Chien-Lien, in the action thriller "Venus," are already filming.

The new trend is not only limited to actors and actresses. Producers and directors in other Asian countries are also seeking ways to collaborate with their Korean counterparts. "Sunaebo" (titled "Asako in Ruby Shoes" in English) is the first co-produced film by Korean and Japanese filmmakers. Also, Korean, Japanese and Chinese directors and producers are co-working in the upcoming films such as "2009 Lost Memories," featuring a Korean actor Jang Dong-gun and "Venus," featuring a Taiwanese actress Wu Chien-Lien. This new trend of co-working among the Asian filmmakers, is expected to be the cornerstone to unite the whole Asian film market, bringing advantages to all.


by Shin Yong-ho

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