About 70 extras were waiting anxiously in the hall of Catch Light, a posh club in the trendy Hongdae district around 4 p.m. on Monday. While lighting crew worked on ceiling equipment, assistant directors scurried around, throwing orders here and there, and reporters tried to hide their boredom upstairs.
But director Kim Yong-hwa
") wasn't in a hurry. Clad in a white jacket, a white hat, blue jeans, and a pair of sporty sneakers, Kim sat in his chair, watching previous footage again and again. Even actress Kim Ah-joong
and her counterpart Joo Jin-mo
were nowhere to be found.
At 4:20 p.m. Kim showed up at the shooting venue, stealing the spotlight. When she sat behind the mobile screen to review footage with Joo, director Kim began to talk energetically about the scene they were going to shoot. And the shooting got rolling as planned.
The scene was designed for capturing a sense of puzzlement and bewilderment from Kim, who plays a tad heavy girl who whittles herself down to a bombshell figure. The character named "Hanna" initially weighs 95 kg at a height of 169 cm. But this doesn't meet the excruciatingly strict standards of Korean actresses, singers and entertainers. So she changes into a gorgeous 48-kg beauty, and things begin to play out in a way that she least expects. The movie, titled "Minyeo-neun Gyeorowo (200 Pounds Beauty
)", may sound a little bit familiar for those who have watched Gwyneth Paltrow play a 300-pound woman in "Shallow Hal".
The theme - of inner or outer beauty, of beauty being skin deep, something in the eyes of whoever wants to behold - might tread a similar path, but director Kim said he wants audiences to go a step further.
The film, which is set to enter the post-production process this month, is based on a best-selling comics series. In the original cartoon, the female protagonist racks her brain over whether she should come clean to her boyfriend about her miraculous plastic surgery. In the silver screen adaptation, director Kim shifted the focus toward whether she should reveal her former self to her loved one.
Of course, the difference might be paper-thin, especially when compared with "Shallow Hal", but the shooting went on, with Kim stepping down from the stairs and showing a look of surprise and worry. The scene in question shows the 48-kg girl entering a hall where a big party is prepared for her formal debut as a singer.
"When I first looked at my own appearance after the special effect make-up, I was really shocked and cried when nobody was looking", Kim told reporters. She said she does not have such strong reservations about the physically inflated alter ego but the experience was not easy at all.
"I cannot say that it was as tough as what Gwyneth went through, but until the seventh shooting, I couldn't focus on acting", Kim said.
Joo said he couldn't stare at Kim straight because the special effect was so drastic. "I felt sorry for her, and we didn't talk to each other much when she put on the special make-up", he said.
A famous Hollywood special make-up team led by Kris Kobzina and Christopher Burgoyne helped Kim's transformation. The film is scheduled to be released nationwide in mid-December this year, with Showbox in charge of distribution.
By Yang Sung-jin