Jeon Do-yeon, Ha Jung-woo as Ex-Lovers
By Lee Hyo-won
South Korea's most in-demand actors Jeon Do-yeon and Ha Jung-woo generated a big media buzz appearing before the press as ``former lovers.'' Jeon, who won the 2007 Cannes Best Actress award for ``Secret Sunshine,'' and Ha, hero of one of this year's highest grossing films ``The Chaser,'' teamed up in ``My Dear Enemy,'' due in theaters Sept. 25.
Popular band Clazziquai's vocalist Horan opened the event, singing mellow tunes that appear in the fall lineup's most anticipated film. Director Lee Yoon-ki, the melodrama craftsman of critically acclaimed works like ``This Charming Girl'' (2006), brings what he calls an unconventional, post-breakup love story.
Jeon appears as Heui-su, an uptight, unemployed single woman in her mid-30s. Broke and desperate, she suddenly recalls that her ex-boyfriend Byeong-u, owes her 3.5 million won (about $3,500). She finds him gambling at a horseracing track and demands reimbursement. Reunited after one year, the two spend ``one fine day'' (the Korean title of the film) together, with Heui-su driving Byeong-u to one lady friend after another to borrow money.
About her post-Cannes appearance, Jeon admitted feeling pressured but denied rumors that she was offered innumerable opportunities here and abroad. ``I was speaking with (``Secret Sunshine'' co-star) Song Kang-ho about how it's hard enough to act in Korean, let alone a foreign language,'' she said. ``I chose the script because it was well written, and I adore love stories. But this is an unconventional romance and gives off a unique color.''
Unlike the dramatic emotional tension that mark both of the stars' previous works, ``My Dear Enemy'' takes place over one rather uneventful day, and subtle emotions and chemistry between the actors propel the narrative.
About working opposite the reputed actress, Ha said Jeon quieted his nervousness with her easy manner. The two had actually appeared together three years ago in the hit drama ``Lovers of Prague,'' where Ha played a supporting role as the heroine's bodyguard.
``I can't believe that I have risen to play opposite Jeon in such a short time frame,'' he said. ``While playing her bodyguard in the drama, there were many scenes where I was chauffeuring for her. I remember one particular scene where she was crying, and I was so moved I almost shed tears. Jeon is a great actress who inspires those around her even before the audience.'' He joked about being rather disappointed there was no love scene.
Jeon said that she was the one who was grateful in the partnership. ``I didn't know we'd be cast together because of our age difference, but Jung-woo was able to come far because he was already a good actor back then,'' she said. Jeon, 35, looked younger than ever in her smoky eye makeup. The film clips showed how she looked even more youthful than Ha, who is five years her junior. Her secret to looking more beautiful by the day? ``It's inborn. Just kidding. It's the make-up,'' she said with a grin.
She continued, ``Jung-woo is a very versatile actor and really supported me.'' Ha, complimented by Martin Scorsese as having as much potential as Leonardo Dicaprio and Matt Damon, has a knack for pulling off colorful characters, from a psychopathic serial killer to a suave bar host in ``The Moonlight of Seoul.'' When asked if the latter character, a playboy who swindles women, might be a repetition for his upcoming film, he said, no.
``While it's true that both characters are very sleazy, `The Moonlight of Seoul' is a bitter, dark night story while my character in `My Dear Enemy,' energized by the sun, is cheerful and optimistic despite his recklessness,'' he said.
``My Dear Enemy'' is slated for release Sept. 25. Distributed by Lotte Entertainment.