The new drama “Swallow the Sun” offers first-ever scenes from South Africa. With Ji Sung, front left, starring as the tough Jung-woo aiming for revenge, the program will air starting Thursday at 9:55 p.m. on SBS. / Courtesy of SBS
By Han Sang-hee
A passionate tale of lovers follows in the heels of ``The City Hall,'' the Cinderella story of public officials with a happily ever after, tonight on SBS.
The new drama ``Swallow the Sun'' is about young and headstrong protagonists risking their lives for success and love, and also to make Jeju Island one of the most popular cities in the world along their journey.
``Sun'' made a buzz months before the actual airing due to its cast, which includes Ji Sung (``New Heart,'' 2007), and former member of the now disbanded girl group Fin.K.L., Sung Yu-ri, and also the makers of the program, producer Yoo Chul-yong and writer Choi Wan-kyu.
``We chose actors with potential and spirit. They are not only great in acting, but also considerate to everyone working on the set. We have traveled around to bring the best and viewers will get to see the spectacular scenery of Jeju, Las Vegas and even South Africa. We are ready to receive both compliments and critique,'' Yoo was quoted as saying by SBS.
Indeed, SBS and the drama crew have been stressing the series being filmed in various locations, including Africa, where no other Korean drama has been filmed until now.
The two drama makers proved their star power with the hit drama ``All In'' in 2003, starring heartthrob Lee Byung-hun (``The Good, The Bad, The Weird,'' 2008), and Song Hye-kyo (``Full House,'' 2004), and their collaboration is one reason many are waiting for the first airing.
``Sun'' revolves around three main characters: Jung-woo, Su-hyun and Tae-hyuk. Jung-woo, played by Ji Sung, lives his life as a poor orphan until he saves the rich and powerful Jang Min-ho's life. His life takes a turn when he swears to serve Jang and his son Tae-hyuk as a servant, but when Tae-hyuk, played by Lee Wan, starts to demand more than Jung-woo can handle, he starts to wonder if he can continue. Things get complicated when Jung-woo is suddenly sent to prison instead of Tae-hyuk, and his journey for revenge and love begins from the cold ground of his cell.
``I remember the scene where I had to ride a truck and shoot with my gun the whole day. There was also an underwater shoot where I had to stay in the water for more than eight hours, and my eyes started to swell up,'' Ji Sung was quoted as saying to SBS. The 32-year-old actor trained hard to look the part of the strong and tough Jung-woo, and he said it was all for the best.
``The directors and staff tell me that the harder I train, the easier the viewers will understand my character, and I agree,'' he said.
Another must-see feature is the renowned Canadian circus troupe ``Cirque du Soleil,'' which will offer scenes from behind the set and during the show, the first time in the troupe's history.
Actress Sung Yu-ri was the first actor to ever lay foot on the troupe's stage as part of a drama.
``Sun'' is actually based a novel written by Kang Chul-hwa, a novelist and also the head of drama production company New Port Pictures.
``The book was inspired by a love story I heard during my visit to Jeju Island. I traveled to the island about 120 times, and then Africa, and also casinos to finish the book,'' Kang said in a separate press statement. Kang added that the title also changed many times to match the story.
``The sun represents many things depending on the characters: For Jung-woo it's success and family, while for Su-hyun it's to become a famous show director. Finally for Tae-hyuk, it's his love toward Su-hyun. We added the verb `swallow' to bring the determination of the characters trying to fulfill their dreams,'' said Kang.
Yoo also mentioned that the strong title was one of the reasons why he chose to recreate the book into a drama.
``It was a page-turner and I just had to remake it into a television series. I hope the viewers appreciate my decision throughout the airings,'' he said.
Meanwhile, the press conference for the drama had been scheduled Tuesday, but was canceled due to suspicions of H1N1 flu among the crewmembers.
``The production team arrived in Incheon last Thursday from Las Vegas. There was a staff member who felt sick and tests confirmed that he had swine flu. Thus, we decided to cancel the press conference and further shoots for the time being as we cited the importance of the health of our staff,'' the promotion team of SBS said through a press release.
The drama will air on schedule, July 8 at 9:55 p.m. on SBS.