The poster of "Friends, Our Story.'' Hyun Bin, left, and Kim Min-jun will star in the movie-turned-drama this weekend at 10:50 p.m. / Courtesy of MBC
By Han Sang-hee
Which will it be _ teenage love and friendship, or the real, yet humorous lives of ruthless lawyers? Television fans will now have the chance to explore the two different worlds with the new dramas ``Friends, Our Story'' on MBC and ``The Partner'' on KBS2.
With heartthrobs Hyun Bin and Kim Min-jun as the attractive, yet troubled protagonists, ``Friends, Our Story'' is the drama version of the mega-hit film ``Friend'' (2001). The sequel will offer the same dramatic plots revolving around teenage friends and move on to their love lives and other untold stories that were absent in the movie. In the film, top Korean actor Jang Dong-gun played the part of Hyun Bin, and Yoo Oh-seong appeared as Kim.
The movie-turned-drama was made possible after Kwak Kyung-taek, the director of the film and now the drama, decided to bring the popular plot back, this time to television screens.
``While I was thinking of how to make a drama out of a movie I worked on nine years ago, it dawned on me that I simply needed to re-use the basic structure and just add in new episodes. I started to compete with myself as time went by and so I decided not to try too hard, but to enjoy every minute,'' Kwak said at a press conference last week in southern Seoul.
Reprising a successful big screen act onto the small one is burdensome, a pressure that those playing the main characters Hyun Bin and Kim admitted feeling.
``I knew it would be inevitable to be compared with (Jang). I first thought it would be a bad idea to follow the original actor's style, but I later realized that it would be better to find my own style while still keeping his good points in mind,'' Hyun Bin said, adding that he watched the movie 20 to 30 times.
Another unique feature of ``Friends'' is that viewers see a final product that has been made from start to finish before broadcasting. Unlike in the past, there will be no last minute changes made, leaving actors forced to deal with storyline adjustments right before shooting, which could affect the quality of their performances. According to Kwak, this was an effort to try to offer the best work possible.
The film ``Friend'' garnered a record-high 8.2 million tickets sales in 2001, not only touching young moviegoers, but also older generations who loved and understood the settings of scenic Busan and its ports.
The strong Busan dialect, old-fashioned school uniforms, music and trends captivated fans. Kwak, a Busan native himself, promised that all of the popular features would be brought back to life on TV.
``Friends, Our Story'' will air at 10:50 p.m. June 27 on MBC.
Meanwhile, KBS is offering the edgy, thrilling lives of lawyers in ``The Partner.'' There have been legal dramas such as ``Advocate'' (1998, MBC), ``Law Firm'' (2001, SBS) and ``The Lawyers'' (2005, MBC). But KBS promised yet another one _ with more reality and humanism.
``We wanted to present law as something warm and human, not just cold and difficult. We just got here after shooting the whole night, and I feel a bit sorry for our actors,'' said producer Hwang Ui-gyeong at a press conference in southern Seoul last week.
The drama revolves around two law firms, Leekim and Haeyoon, and the competitive lives of the lawyers fighting for justice and, interestingly enough, one another.
Kim Hyun-joo, 31, (``Pretty Insun,'' 2007) plays the widow-turned-lawyer who gets tangled up in a relationship with the talented and ruthless attorney Lee Tae-jo, played by Lee Dong-wook (``Heartbreak Library,'' 2008).
``I'm worried that my `ajumma' act will feel a bit awkward because I have never been one!'' Kim said laughing, adding that she was drawn to the 30-something role as soon as she read the script.
Former Miss Korea Lee Honey will also appear as one of the lawyers, the first time for the 27-year-old to star in a drama.
``I have been preparing and rehearsing for a long time, now I'm finally ready for acting,'' Lee said excitedly.
In order to bring realism to television viewers, KBS built a life-size set of a Seoul High Court room, and also filmed the court scenes with a relay mobile _ the first time for a television drama to do so _ in a bid to add intensity.
"The Partner'' will greet fans tonight at 10 p.m. on KBS.