Korean stars take turns playing president

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Korean stars take turns playing president

Korean director Jang Jin’s new film “Good Morning President” has already generated a buzz.

As the opening film of the 14th Pusan International Film Festival, one of the most influential film events in Asia, there is a clear reason for all the anticipation from local and foreign audiences.

But there is plenty of reason for excitement even if you can’t make the trek to the festival. The film marks the return of Korean movie star Jang Dong-gun, who has been laying low since his last movie, “The Promise,” which premiered about four years ago.

The movie tells the story of three fictional Korean presidents: a respectable senior president (Lee Soon-jae) who works for a noble cause, but agonizes over his future after winning the lottery; the nation’s youngest head of state (Jang Dong-gun), who is known for his diplomatic skill despite his inner uncertainty; and the nation’s first female president (Ko Doo-shim).

“Though it may sound like a film dealing with political issues, it’s not supposed to be a political film. Instead, it’s a feel-good movie for audiences to enjoy,” Jang Jin, who wrote and directed the film, told the press Tuesday.

“In Korea, we don’t have much access to our presidents,” said the director, who is more widely-known for using his unique sense of humor in his films. “I believe the movie will provide audiences with a chance to see the human side of politics.”

Seasoned actor Lee, who returns to the big screen after 20 years in television, echoed the sentiment. “I was impressed with how much times have changed so that it’s possible to make a film that shows the lighter side of the president,” he said. “The film tries to show presidents as people just like you and me, which I think makes the movie distinctive, as well as fresh and fun for viewers.”

“While I didn’t have a particular role model for my character, because Korea has never had a female president, I focused on expressing her human side, rather than on her status as president,” said Ko, a symbolic mother figure here for her numerous TV and film roles. “Through I was playing a president, I realized how difficult yet special the job is. I also believe that it’s about time for Korea to have a woman leader.”

The actor Jang, who is an eligible bachelor in the movie and in real life, revealed that he’s had enough of the single life and is now looking for someone who is “on the same wavelength” as he is.

When asked what kinds of policies he would make for single people if he were president, he had a witty comeback. “To keep the nation competitive, I wouldn’t encourage people to live the single life,” he said.

Tickets for the PIFF premiere sold out in less than two minutes on Monday, when online ticketing for the festival’s opening and closing films began. Tickets for screenings of other films are currently on sale and can be booked at www.piff.org.

Good Morning President will be released nationwide on Oct. 22.

By Park Sun-young [spark0320@joongang.co.kr]

Actors Lee Soon-jae, Jang Dong-gun and Ko Doo-shim, from left, attend a press event for the upcoming film “Good Morning President” at CGV Apgujeong on Tuesday. Provided by the organizer
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