Shin Jung-soo works the phones in the corridors of MBC Dream Center where "King's Doctor" is filmed.
Actress Kim So-eun stars as Princess Sookwhee in "King's Doctor," which will soon air in Japan as well. / Korea Times file
By Kim Ji-soo
Shin Jung-soo, 25, woke up at 4 a.m. and drove from Seoul to Namyangju, eastern Gyeonggi Province, to pick up actress Kim So-eun, 23, Sunday. After helping her get ready for a shoot for the drama, "King's Doctor," he drove her to the MBC Dream Center in Ilsan by 7 p.m.
Kim plays a princess in the popular network drama, which is garnering ratings of 22 percent and is expected to air on Japanese broadcaster NHKwithin this year. It's a fictionalized tale about the life of a Joseon-era low-class veterinarian who specializes in the treatment of horses, who rises to become the royal physician in charge of the King's health.
At 11 a.m., shooting hadn't yet begun. It was nearly 7 hours since Shin awoke. His lips were blistered from fatigue and his eyes screamed "more sleep."
Yet he remained in the corridor, waiting and working as other actors dressed in traditional Korean attire whizzed by for their scenes while his actress took a brief rest. He is a third-year manager in the fast-growing "hallyu," or Korean wave, industry.
"My job is to protect the actor, who has to think about immersing herself in the role and the scenes that she will film today," Shin said. "When the schedule gets too tight, the actor may become physically tired while the staff may want a more eager actor. When there is that kind of divide, my job is to go between and mediate and smooth things out."
Korean dramas are famous for late scripts and rushed filming. As "King's Doctor" is aired on Mondays and Tuesdays, the burden falls heavily to produce the script and wrap up filming over the weekend.
Shin said he chose his job while serving in the military. "I knew I liked to be on the move, among people, rather than sitting at a desk."
He found that the company Fantagio was recruiting through an online job portal site. He said he was interviewed by six people, but it was the top boss's introduction about the job that made him commit.
The hardest part at the moment is that he has no life for himself and no time to spend with his family. "Also, a lack of sleep is another problem." He has his eyes on the future, and is currently studying Japanese as his stars prepare to make an entry into the Japanese market.