Uee Reveals Close Relationship Co-Star Ju Won
Who is the best actor in the Korean movie scene today? In terms of pure acting talent, a handful of actors make the list. But when it comes to acting talent that can also pack theaters and guarantee a box office hit, only one name comes to mind.
His name is Song Kang Ho. After making his screen debut with The Day a Pig Fell into the Well in 1996, he has starred in 20 films, mobilizing more than 50 million moviegoers. Among those 20, the number of movies in which he played the lead amounts to 13, which drew a total of 45 million moviegoers. Statistically, this means that every Korean citizen has seen at least one of his movies.
As far as acting talent goes, Song has made the A-list. He is an actor who possesses both artistry and commercial viability, acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. Moviegoers will often choose a movie simply because Song is in it.
After School member Uee, who is currently starring in the KBS2 drama Ojakgyo Brothers, shared her thoughts on working with her costar and onscreen love interest Ju Won.
A press conference for the drama was held on August 2 at the Imperial Palace Hotel in Gangnam. Uee, Baek Il Sup, Kim Ja Ok, Jung Wung In, Jun Mi Sun, Ryu Su Yeong, Choi Jung Yun, and Yeon Woo Jin were among the cast members who gathered for the event.
“It’s really fun working with Ju Won oppa,” said Uee. “Although there are many scenes in the beginning of the drama where we clash, the atmosphere on set is really light. We text each other even after filming ends.”
An actor whose depth knows no bounds
There are many superb actors, but there is a reason Song stands out. On top of his acting skills, he has a certain presence that captures people. When acting, he creates his own signature characters for any role he takes on. He brings his characters to life with his performace: Gangster Jo Pil of No. 3, the first movie which brought him recognition; Dae Ho in The Foul King, a story of an incompetent bank clerk who hides his cowardice behind a tiger mask on the wrestling ring, Oh Kyeong Pil, North Korean sergeant who admires a South Korean singer in Joint Security Area, Park Doo Man, an incompetent countryside detective incapable of breaking free of his old-fashioned methods in Memories of Murder and Kang Doo, a reckless but innocent ordinary guy in The Host.
His ability to grasp character was the driving force behind his impressive acting career. Instead of sticking to his own style, however, he makes sure to recognize his character’s place in the context of the whole story and builds common ground with the director based on his insight about his intentions. This insight helped him faithfully play the characters given to him, while also building his own unique acting career.
Park Chan Wook, director of Joint Security Area, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Thirst, described Song as an actor who has an extraordinary capacity to see into the heart of things in a lucid and simple way, adding “As far as creative acting goes, he is by far the best.”
Ju Won responded by saying, “Those around me are envious of the fact that I am working with Uee.” He continued, “Everyone on set is happy because she’s so cheerful and hardworking.”
Although Uee’s character, Park Ja Eun, and Ju Won’s character, Detective Hwang Tae Hui, butt heads in the beginning of the drama, their relationship soon blossoms into a romance. Many are curious to see how the lovey-dovey scenes between Uee and Ju Won, who are also both students at Sung Kyun Kwan University, will unfold.
He achieved his career through tireless effort. Since his screen debut in 1996, he’s starred in one or two movies every year. His filmography is longer than most other leading actors. Such diligence is what made it possible for him to continue improving.
He is also different from other film stars in that he is not picky about choosing which films he wants to star in and roles he wants to play. One of his friends in the industry said, “There is no role he has declined on the grounds that it doesn’t fit him - he always makes each role his own”, showing Song’s knack for fitting a character to him than fitting himself into a character.
The moment the shooting kicks off, Song becomes busy. Not only is he always playing the leading role, but he also tries to deeply understand the whole movie, monitoring all the shots and taking interest in post-production work as well. However he’s careful not to interfere in the process by being too aggressive. He only tries to gain insight into the movie as a whole. Such effort and sincerity form the foundation of his well-deserved charisma, which in turn is felt by the audience as well.
An official at the film department at CJ E&M, who worked with Song in The Good, the Bad, the Weird said, “Once he gets started on a film, he devotes all his attention to it. Whether he is on camera or not, his every action is related to the movie.” It is this kind of passion that captivates audiences.
“When I entered college, I had heard that there was a good looking upperclassman on campus who looks like Kang Dong Won,” said Uee with a laugh.
“In the drama, Ja Eun is an honest girl with high self-esteem,” continued Uee. “I’ve had to throw my body around in many of the scenes, but I think the role suits me well because I’ve been active in sports from a young age.”
Ojakgyo Brothers is a drama about four brothers with differing values on love and marriage and how they navigate the twists and turns of everyday life. It premieres on August 6 at 7:55 p.m.
Photo credit: Kim Byung Kwan
Broadening Horizons for Korean actors
Song originally began acting on the stage. He made his theatrical debut with the YeonWoo Mudae theater company in the play Dongseung, after which he performed in several other plays with other theater troupes. Having thus honed his acting, Song’s talent was noticed as soon as he entered the film industry.
He played supporting roles in several movies, including Green Fish, No.3, The Quite Family, leaving an indelible impression on audiences before his high-profile appearance in blockbuster movie Shiri in 1999. Having starred in The Foul King, Joint Security Area, he has cemented his position as leading star.
Song Kang Ho belongs to the first generation of stage actor turned film stars. His success turned the eyes of the film industry towards the theater, and vice-versa. Many leading film stars, Sol Kyung Gu, Kim Yun Seok, Jeong Jae Yeong, and Shin Ha Gyun followed suit in their own odysseys from stage to cinema.
Translation credit: Misun Lee