Veteran, young star team up in spy film

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Veteran, young star team up in spy film


Song Kang-ho

Until recently, James Cameron’s tale of blue-skinned beauties from space, “Avatar,” had ruled Korea’s theaters for months. But a local film, “Secret Reunion” starring Song Kang-ho and Gang Dong-won, now appears to have toppled Home Tree and displaced its lithe inhabitants at the top of the pile.

Online ticket reservation site Max Movie reported Secret Reunion is No. 1 for three weeks, with no signs of slowing down.

According to production company Showbox Movie, the film has already pulled in over 2.8 million viewers and is set to pass the 3 million mark today, becoming the first Korean movie released in 2010 to do so.

Its title may refer to a “reunion,” but this is the first collaboration for two of Korea’s most sought-after actors, Song and Gang, making it the talk of the town even before its release Feb. 4. The two lived up to expectations as two spies from North and South Korea who end up sharing a room in Seoul.

Critics lauded Song, who most recently played a priest in Park Chan-wook’s “Thirst,” for his experienced turn in the film, dealing with the weighty inter-Korean issue realistically while occasionally injecting pure humor.

In one scene, Song’s character, Han-kyu, sits down to answer nature’s call and is shocked to discover a chicken slaughtered by Ji-won, played by Gang, hanging in the bathroom. Song’s facial expression at making this discovery and his over-hasty flight have been a big hit with local viewers.

“If I can depict my character well by doing that, I don’t mind even if I look stupid or silly in a film,” Song laughed.

Although Han-kyu is an agent for the National Intelligence Service, he’s also a regular guy, going through a divorce, trouble at work and separation from his children.

“Both men are enemies but they live together, hiding their true identities. I like the story because they finally understand each other in the end. I thought this was very similar to Joint Security Area,” Song said. That acclaimed film from 2000 also deals with soldiers from the North and South learning to understand one another, and it also starred Song.

The actor said he found it difficult to understand the vision of the director, Jang Hun, who is a rookie while Song is in his 14th year in Korean cinema - but only at first.

“It’s not an action film, but director Jang spent days to shoot a car chase scene, which I didn’t understand back then. But when I saw the complete film, I got to understand what Jang wanted to express.”

In fact, Song concluded, “I learned a lot from him.”

The veteran said it was a pleasure to team up with Gang, who is 14 years younger than him.

“Gang possesses a seriousness and maturity at age 29 that I didn’t have when I was about his age.”

Song’s next film is tentatively titled “Night Fog,” and it takes him back into the role of a gangster - the third time Song’s played that part.

By Ki Sun-min []
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별명 ‘연기의 신’, 혹은 ‘연기의 달인’. 어떤 역을 맡아도 실망시키는 일이 거의 없는 배우. 거품 많다는 영화판에서 진정한 의미의 ‘티켓 파워’를 가진 배우. 이런 배우를 인터뷰하는 건 솔직히 재미 없는 일일지도 모른다.

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