By Kim Tae-jong
The man known throughout Asia as Yonsama is back with a new movie, and once again he is standing at the center of the spotlight. Hundreds of reporters from home and abroad as well as his fans flocked yesterday to the world premiere of "April Snow
"It's so nerve-wracking right now. I am even more nervous than when I made my debut", actor Bae Yong-joon
told reporters right before the screening of his film at Mega Box theater in Samsong-dong, Seoul.
Bae is a leading figure in "hallyu", or Korean Wave, in neighboring countries, and in Japan he has been affectionately dubbed "Yonsama".
The premiere screening and the news conference that followed were attended by some 400 domestic and 300 international reporters, and some fans from abroad even wandered about in hope of catching a glimpse of the star, even though the events were for reporters only. Most of the fans were in their 40s and 50s from Japan.
"I just came here alone in hope of just the slightest chance of seeing him", said Japanese Murata Nobuko, 60, who arrived in Seoul Monday. "He is still a phenomenon in Japan, and as there is no chance like this there, I decided to come here".
But all the affections from his fans and interests from news media seemed to provide enormous pressure for the actor.
"I was too nervous to watch the film", Bae said during the news conference. "I am going to see it again with moviegoers later".
Directed by Heo Jin-ho
and co-starring Son Ye-jin
, the film revolves around In-su (played by Bae) and Seo-young (Son), two strangers who find out through a car accident that their respective spouses have been having an affair together. The two characters later become attracted to each other as they try to cope with their pain.
"It was so hard for me to cope with the director's style. He always wanted actors to come up with lines or acting on the spot", Bae said. But the actor added that he thought the improvisations added reality to the film.
Although Bae and Son found the director's unique style difficult to deal with, Hur believes that their great performances made the film satisfying.
"In this movie, I focused on the characters and used many close-up scenes. And I think the two actors did a good job", Hur said.
The director, who previously made melodramas such as "Christmas in August
" and "One Fine Spring Day
", added that he hoped audiences will empathize with the sorrow of the two characters.
Since Bae is popular throughout Asia, the movie will be released simultaneously in 10 different Asian countries for fans as a way to help minimize illegal downloading and pirating of DVDs throughout the nations.
Q & A With Bae
The following are excerpts of Bae Yong-joon
's question-and-answer session with reporters after the screening of his new film "April Snow
" in Seoul yesterday.
Question: You chose to star in this movie even before reading the scenario. What is the reason? And what did you learn through this movie?
Answer: I normally choose a film in which I can portray a character well, but this time I decided to select a film that could be a real challenge. The challenge was to cope with the director's unique working style, who really likes impromptu acting. It was a totally new experience, and of course there were many difficult things but I learned a lot from the director, and I think it will help me with my next movies.
Q: In this movie, In-su's sadness was deeply expressed. How did you feel and how much did you understand his feelings?
A: I felt so deeply sad all the way while shooting the film. Actually, I feel as if I had revealed my own experience in this film. It was so difficult for me to express the character. I normally try hard to create the character right in films but this time I tried to become the character, so I can say In-su and myself are almost the same.
Q: Even before the official release of the movie, many people from many Asian countries have shown their interest in it. Did such high expectation have an influence on your acting?
A: Thanks to the high expectation and a lot of interest, we were able to finish the movie well. I really appreciate that, but it is true that I felt stressed a lot. I know that the movie will open simultaneously in many Asian countries and it has drawn Great Expectations
. I hope that the film will help many Asian countries culturally interact more.
Q: In the film, you seem to have expressed many complicated emotions without speaking, using only gestures and your eyes. How difficult was it?
A: We had to act with limited speech. Sometimes, we were not given any guidelines or even lines. I think director Hur wanted to capture the spontaneous reactions and responses from us. So this was a challenge, and while shooting, I felt like I was trapped in a dark tunnel.
Q: There are some scenes where In-su and Seo-young drank. And I heard you actually drank alcohol in such drinking scenes. How did drinking help you act?
A: That was the first time to actually drink and act. Personally, I like such scenes because I think they look so natural. It added reality to the film.