Stars of the much-anticipated film ``Good Morning President" grace promotional posters, from left, actor Lee Soon-jae, comedian Im Ha-ryong and actress Go Doo-shim, and hallyu star Jang Dong-kun. The film will open the 14th Pusan (Busan) International Film Festival on Oct. 8 before hitting theaters nationwide Oct. 22. / Courtesy of CJ Entertainment
By Lee Hyo-won
Jang Dong-kun makes a comeback onscreen as a character not unlike himself ― an eligible bachelor ― in ``Good Morning President.''
The film's press event in southern Seoul Tuesday morning buzzed with reporters, particularly since it is slated to open the 13th Pusan (Busan) International Film Festival, Oct. 8. The latest comedy by prolific director Jang Jin is about three fictional South Korean presidents.
Jang returns to the local silver screen four years after ``Typhoon'' as the youngest ever head-of-state who's equipped with not only charismatic diplomatic skills but also handsome looks.
The 37-year-old indeed appeared suave in a clean cut suit and tie. Reporters mischievously asked about his screen persona being dubbed ``pretty-boy president'' like his actual moniker, ``the original pretty-boy actor.''
``I feel sort of guilty to hear that title at this age, but I have to admit it's not a bad feeling,'' he said, chuckling. ``But I do wish I would be remembered with a different adjective,'' he added, probably implying one regarding his acting skills rather than appearance.
Han Chae-young, who plays the role of Jang's love interest, said she initially felt nervous acting opposite someone she had always admired.
``At first he seemed so perfect and hard to approach but he was very down to earth and made others feel at ease, like an older brother,'' said the screen beauty. The two exchanged some jokes about Han calling Jang ``adjeosshi'' or uncle.
``For my role I was more worried with not the role of president but having to do comedy. But I was able to enjoy the filmmaking process thanks to the director. It was also fresh and fun to speak in standard Korean,'' said the actor, who had taken on tough North Korean and Busan dialects, respectively, in ``Typhoon'' and ``Friend.''
Veteran actor Lee Soon-jae, who stars as a well respected elderly president that agonizes over winning the lottery, also said it was not hard to personify a president.
``At first I was very impressed with how times have changed,'' Lee said. ``Before it would have been impossible to parody the president. The movie has just one main issue, which is how heads of state are only human, like you and I. My character is a broad-minded leader but in his personal life he could be goofy and stingy. The movie shows the human side of people who are sometimes placed on a pedestal.''
The director (``Guns and Talks''), who also wrote the script, said he had the story in mind for a while, and said that it would be free of political ideologies, and would instead be a "fun, mainstream film everyone can enjoy."
Meanwhile, the quintessential mother figure Go Doo-shim plays the role of the nation's first female president.
``It was a nice break from at-home wear to play an executive. When director Jang approached me, offering me the role of female president, I accepted without even looking at the script,'' she said. ``I didn't have a particular role model in mind, but just imagined that someone in such a position would require soft power, someone who could be warm but also have a tough side. I believe it's possible and about time that a woman can take leadership,'' she said.
Comedian Im Ha-ryong, who plays Go's spouse as the ``first husband,'' said it was an honor to star opposite someone who is as beautiful as Go.
Meanwhile, tickets to the film's screening at the Pusan Festival soldout in less than two minutes Monday after its online ticket sales opened.
The movie will hit theaters nationwide Oct. 22 after premiering at Pusan. Distributed by CJ Entertainment.