“Do you have a problem?” “Twenty-nine.” When asked what the problem is at the doctor’s office, Song-yi (played by Kang Hye-jung) complains to the doctor that everything became strange when she turned twenty nine-years-old. For example, she is able to eat skate fish which she could not before and starts crying whenever she hears the music of [legendary Korean folk singer] Kim Kwang-seok. That is right. This is another descendant of Kim Sam-soon. After the success of MBC TV series “My Name Is Kim Sam-soon”, many movies, books and television dramas have been written about the survival story of a single woman. Film “Girlfriends” (produced by Aram Films, directed by Kang Seok-beom) has become one of the examples. The character Song-yi undergoes twice the trouble since the plot has been twisted and upgraded from the original “single woman's survival story”. It is bad enough that she has gotten older without having accomplished anything, but she gets fired and has to compete with an adorable younger woman Bora (played by Heo Yi-jae) and sexy older woman Se-jin (played by Han Chae-young) to keep her heartthrob boyfriend Jin-ho (played by Bae Soo-bin). Song-yi’s hard efforts to keep her man away from the two women are heartbreaking but Song-yi finds herself feeling joyful, for some reason, when she gets involved with the these women. Can Song-yi keep her man and survive through the unemployment crisis?
The film “Girlfriends” puts forth a female-friendly title, openly targeting the female audience. Even lead actor Bae Soo-bin promotes that the film is “a good, light movie for women.” But “Girlfriends” seems like it was made to fulfill the fantasies of men rather than women. The female characters -- each armed with cuteness, comfortableness and sexiness -- aggressively show their affection for one man and eventually form a strong friendship among themselves. What better scenario than this? For the female audience, it seems rather odd and sudden that three female characters are able to forgive and make up with one another so easily. But actor Bae Soo-bin, who often played ‘Mr. Tall Guy’ or ‘homme fatale’ parts, shows a new side to him by playing an adorable, loser-type guy. One cannot help agreeing with the wise lesson spoken by Song-yi’s mother in the film, as cliche as it may be: “Brainy women can’t beat pretty women, and pretty women can’t beat women with good fate.” The film “Girlfriends”, which would make many women want to make improvements on their fate, opens in theaters on December 17. Below is an interview with the lead actors and the director at the film’s press conference, which was held at Seoul’s COEX Megabox Multiplex on December 9.
Q: The movie is about three women fighting over one man. That’s a bit intense -- what was the atmosphere on the set like?
Han Chae-young (Han): I felt like I was going to the set to play, not to work, because it was so enjoyable and fun. I feel like I made some good girlfriends. That includes Bae Soo-bin, of course. (laugh)
Bae Soo-bin (Bae): Thank you. (laugh)
|Actress Kang Hye-jeong [Aram Films]|
Han: A movie can express what people dream about but cannot do in real life. Doesn’t everyone fantasize at least once that several people would be in love with them at the same time? Of course, that shouldn’t happen to me. (laugh) It was fun to be able to experience that at least through acting.
Kang Hye-jung (Kang): If something like this were to happen in real life, it would be a kill-or-be-killed situation. (laugh) What’s very generous about art is that such stories can be told in a light, cheerful way through a genre called film. Of course, such things could actually happen because things which happen in real life these days are as dramatic as the occurances in movies, but I hope it doesn’t happen to me. (laugh)
Heo Yi-jae (Heo): The stories in movies are exaggerated and unlikely to happen in reality. But puttng the overall circumstances aside, my character Bora had a tough upbringing and she only has Jin-ho to depend on. Even her feelings toward Jin-ho are a combination of admiration and one-sided love -- it’s not 100 percent love. So when she meets these older women that she can rely on, the three cannot help but click with one another. That’s how I convinced myself and empathized with Bora when I was acting the part. So I don’t think the audience will find it offensive or preposterous when they see it.
Bae: It would be an incredible fortune to have something like this happen to men. (laugh) Honestly, it’s fun just thinking about it. Three attractive women with different qualities like one guy and that guy is me? I don’t think the male viewers would feel bad if they thought about it in that way. Of course, I think I would get a headache if something like this happened in real life and you would have to be a smart person [to handle the situation]. So it would be hard for me because I’m not a very smart person. (laugh)
|Actor Bae Soo-bin [Aram Films]|
Bae: Honestly, when I first read the script, I thought Jin-ho was a character who could get a bad name if I didn't portray him properly. (laugh) If three women simultaneously like Jin-ho, there has to be a valid reason for it but I’m not handsome like Jang Dong-gun or Lee Byung-hun, so I had to take advantage of other qualities as much as possible... like being earnest and easily accessible to women? (laugh) Jin-ho is an adorable character who can deal with angry women, so I tried to maximize those aspects.
Kang: Overall, I focused on expressing the irritable side of my character’s personality. If my previous acting had some calculations in it, I tried to approach it as openly and comfortably as possible this time. And a lot of stuff got changed during the process. I practiced for over a month to shoot the figure skating scene, although I was too afraid to do it after I fell hard on my face. The highly technical stuff was done by a body double but she looked a lot like me in the lower part of the body (laugh), so it was pretty easy, even without the CG. Still, I don’t think I’ll try figure skating again. (laugh)
|Actress Han Chae-young [Aram Films]|
Director Kang Seok-beom: Han Chae-young had the most work, in terms of preparation because she had a singing scene at the jazz bar and a dancing scene at the club. For the club scene, she practiced dancing for a month but on set, Kang Hye-jeong outdanced Han in one take with her crazy, wild dancing. (laugh) Do you really dance like that?
Kang: I really do. (laugh) I used to go clubbing a lot at one point, but now my body is so heavy -- all I could do was wave my arms in the air and nothing else.
Q: You played many different roles this year in movies and dramas. How was this character different from your previous ones?
Bae: “Temptation of an Angel”, which I am currently working on, is a strong drama with a strong character. But Jin-ho is a lot like me so I was very comfortable playing the part. So.. do I sound like I am just bragging? (laugh)
|Actress Heo Yi-jae [Aram Films]|
Bae: I don’t know, really. It’s my character’s personality but maybe I do have that side to me. I just wanted to play a bad guy and expressed my desire to be chic or something. But in reality I was badgered by three women during the shooting of “Girlfriends” and they just treated me like an older brother from the neighborhood. (laugh)
Q: You worked with Han Chae-young, Kang Hye-jeong and Heo Yi-jae. Can you pick one actress who is the closest to your ideal type of woman?
Bae: If I pick one actress here, I’ll have a hard time later backstage. (laugh) I’ll give you my answer in private.
Q: The film opens around the end of the year -- a very competitive time with all the great Korean and Hollywood movies coming out one after another. What is the strength and appeal of “Girlfriends”?
Bae: Our movie is the only romantic comedy film opening in December. So you can come to theater with no pressure and talk about the movie afterwards. There are movies that leave strong impressions afterwards but “Girlfriends” has its advantage in being a light, happy movie that you can watch with friends and family.
Reporter : Lee Ji-Hye firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor : Lynn Kim email@example.com
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