Famed scriptwriter revels in cliche

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Famed scriptwriter revels in cliche

At first glance, you might think SBS’s newest drama, “The Inheritors” (which started airing last night) is incredibly derivative - it features a high school of super-rich boys who all fall for a girl from a simple family. That sounds nearly exactly the same as KBS’s 2009 drama “Boys Over Flowers.” It even stars Lee Min-ho, who also featured in “Flowers.”

But for producer and writer Kim Eun-sook, nothing is ever that simple. The creator of such hits as “Lovers in Prague,” “Lovers in Paris” and “Secret Garden,” Kim said the similarities are not accidental but that she intends on the cliches for her own purposes.

“Inheritors” also features many big-name K-pop stars, including Krystal from f(x), Kang Min-hyuk of CN Blue and Park Hyung-sik of ZE:A.

“I was so surprised and delighted to see so many popular talents joining the drama,” said lead actress Park Shin-hye at a press conference on Monday.

But for Kim, the challenge is in turning something seemingly cliche into something bigger.

Q. You’ve tackled all sorts of grown-up subjects in the past. Why did you decide to make an ordinary teen romance drama?

A. I admit that all types of cliches are included in the drama. But all my previous works used plenty of cliches and were embraced by audiences. The key is making characters that are different, so the audience forgets the cliched setting. That’s what I’m good at, and that is what I find fun. I want people to think, “I’ve seen something like this before, but still this is strangely fun.”

I’m not confident enough to say that it is completely different from the previous works, but it certainly is different. The drama will be a teen romance for grown-ups.

How is this drama different from your previous works?

The biggest difference will be the age of the characters. I’ve gone from people in their 30s and 40s to 18-year-olds. Except the age, which is new, I just tried to do what I have done well in the past. I expected that people would say it’s a Cinderella story again or it’s about a rich, male lead again, but I didn’t care because I wanted to write for new characters, not come up with new background material. So I’ve focused more on writing some not-yet-imagined episodes or lines in the drama. The setting itself may be not so special, but the episodes will be fresh and interesting.

Why do you usually write about love between a man and a woman?

Because all I know is love and that is my life motto. My husband and I love each other as if we are the only two beings in this world. And I get crazed when working with directors. I think I’m getting better at writing love stories as I do love them.

There has been talk that Lee Min-ho is playing a role too similar to the character he played in “Boys over Flowers.” Why did you cast him?

I’m actually not completely comfortable with the fact that Lee has already played a rich high school student in another drama. But I decided to give him a character that might be seen as similar because I’m confident that the story in this drama will be more interesting than the previous one. Once the drama starts, no one will be still talking about “Boys over Flowers “anymore.

How was working with director Kang Shin-hyo?

There are some people who say that lines I wrote are difficult to digest. Kang has been changing some of them to make them sound more natural, cutting lines with words that are rarely used in everyday conversation.

BY WON HO-YEON [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]
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