Last May, "Iris" director Kim Kyoo-tae said at a press conference that he "wanted to make a Korean intelligence action drama that shows in detail the elements of love and friendship that Korean viewers want." That statement set the tone for the show. A showcase was held as part of the 3rd Chungmuro International Film Festival in Seoul(CHIFFS) held on Monday at Chunggye Plaza in Seoul, showing a 10-minute promotional film for the upcoming drama which delivered such intentions of the production staff. It was hard to define the overall structure of the show, but the edited video displayed strong confidence in the adjectives "Korean-style" and "intelligence".
Actor Lee Byung-hun expressed confidence in the quality of the show at the event, saying, “95% of the staff works in film. We are working [on the show] like we’re filming 20 movies.” In fact, “Iris” was shot in Japan and Hungary and will go on location in China in early September. It aims to differentiate its scale from the average Korean drama, where most of shooting happens within one set.
In addition, the promotion film contained plenty of elements seen in Hollywood intelligence movies, such as car chases, car explosions, secretly-armed assassins which attack the star, private jets and cars in confrontation. If half of the show is about fancy and extreme action, the other half remains loyal to “Korean-style” narratives, such as a touching love story, friendship, antagonism and the division on the Korean Peninsula between the North and South. The structure of the characters was predictable as Hyun-joon (played by Lee Byung-hun) and Seung-hee (played by Kim Tae-hee) were set up as lovers who cannot be together due to work obligations. Their relationship was displayed with a couple of kissing scenes, to which Japanese fans in attendance let out a huge sigh.
Ample action is an important factor that increases expectations any drama or movie. However, the most important criteria of the drama is the story. “I decided to do the show because Choi Wan-kyu is a great writer” said actor Kim Young-chul who also appears in "Iris". But if the story does not live up to the actor’s trust, “Iris” will not be freed from the blockbuster drama jinx, where the efforts to tell a huge story failed to capture the audience. And emphasizing that the show is a “movie-like drama” will only be an empty cry unless the power of the show comes from its strength to pull viewers into watching the next episode rather than on the completion of a single episode. Thus, it is meaningful that co-director Yang Yoon-ho said, "We've been shooting for about six months already. But I think the next three months is when we need to work harder." They have come a long way to make a grand drama, but “Iris” has an even longer journey left ahead of it. It is time to do more polishing, more tightening and more oiling to present itself to the public this fall.
Reporter : Yoon Hee-Seong
Photographer : Chae ki-won
Editor : Lynn Kim firstname.lastname@example.org, Lee Ji-Hye
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