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아시아경제 최신 기획이슈

When Super Junior meets Hong Gil-dong

최종수정 2010.01.21 10:16 기사입력 2010.01.21 10:11

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From left, boy band Super Junior members Yesung and Sungmin pose during a photo session of a press conference for musical "Hong Gil-dong" held at the Press Center in Seoul, South Korea on January 19, 2010. [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]

Just like the fictional character WOOCHI who came to life from a scroll, the novel and TV series character Hong Gil-dong will come to life on stage in February 2010. The musical "Hong Gil-dong" is based on "The Legend of Hong Kil-dong" which is Korea's first novel written by Heo Gyun. The musical has been creating much buzz for its cast composed of popular boy band Super Junior members Yesung and Sungmin.

A total of 50 musical actors including Yesung and Sungmin were cast for "Hong Gil-dong" through auditions which began in August 2009. A variety of dancers and martial arts experts are also part of the cast, so viewers can expect to see many aspects of traditional Korean dance as well as stunts based on taekwondo. It is hard to assess the musical based on a simple stage sketch and a single musical number but the historial musical shows promise with its use of calligraphy for the visuals and the exquisite combination of traditional Korean music with an orchestra that will attract the audiences' attention. The musical created by the county of Jangseong in the South Jeolla Province and the Seoul Symphony Orchestra will run for two months starting February 18 at the Woori Art Hall located in Olympic Park. Below are excerpts from their press conference held at the Press Center in Seoul on Tuesday.

Boy band Super Junior member Yesung [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
Q: This is the second time you're both doing musicals. How does it feel to be taking part in "Hong Gil-dong" together after each having debuted in the musical scene last year through "Namhansansung" and "Akilla"?
Yesung: "Namhansansung" was a traditional story just like "Hong Gil-dong" so I feel less of a burden playing my role. I had rather been under even more pressure playing "Namhansansung" because I had to play Jeong Myeong-su, a 37-year-old villain who was sad from being betrayed by his country. My character in the musical "Hong Gil-dong" on the other hand is similar to who I am in person in many ways so I've been rehearsing without much difficulty. My acting has to improve but I am hoping to get to show the audience another side to me. There are a lot of action sequences so I'm practicing various types of martial arts using the pole and sword.
Sungmin: My lines for "Akilla" were hard but easy at the same time. But the lines for "Hong Gil-dong" are more diverse compared to "Akilla" so I think I'm having a harder time than Yesung. As already mentioned, there are a lot of action scenes in this musical.

Q: You will probably continue doing musicals. Are there any ones in particular that you want to take part in?
Yesung: For me personally, there are many musicals I want to try. I would have loved to do "Notre Dame de Paris", but unfortunately the rehearsing schedule overlapped with the schedule for "Namhansansung." The musical I wanted to do the most was "Mozart!" but because of year-end award ceremonies, I wasn't able to be a part of that either. In the future, I also hope to do musicals that are not traditional but a licensed pieces.
Sungmin: I feel that I still have much to learn about musicals, so with my role in "Hong Gil-dong" I hope to gain experience in this field. If I get a chance I would like to be a part of a great play but I don't want to rush into anything since I feel that I still lack the skills.

Question: Despite the numerous forms of content on Hong Gil-dong, his older brother Il-dong had not been covered much. However, this time, he has an important role as the villain.
Lim Jae-chung : I'm the oldest member of the cast (laugh) and I also play the villain. There are a lot of difficulties because there are four actors playing the role of Hong Gil-dong. Everyday we have the engage in martial arts with a different actor which is physically straining but when I see how everyone is working hard it gives me the strength to keep going. When we first received our scripts, the cast expected Hong Gil-dong to be a heroic character as everyone knows him, but in the musical, more of the humane sides to him will be shown. You will be able to feel his attractiveness from the heart he has for the people.
Boy band Super Junior member Sungmin [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
Q: You play Bae Soo-jin, Hong Gil-dong's lover. Did you feel uncomfortable playing that role with Sungmin and Yesung as your partners?
An Yoo-jin: I've somehow worked with a lot of celebrities, partnering with Joo Ji-hoon for the musical "Don Juan" and now with Sungmin and Yesung for "Hong Gil-dong." I'm a little worried that I might be hated from fans because Sungmin and Yesung are Hallyu stars and a lot younger than I am. I'm just thankful that there are no kissing scenes (laugh). I think fans will rather like my character since she dies for Gil-dong.

Q: It was mentioned before that there are a lot of action scenes. Are there any other distinct features to this musical other than that?
Cho Gun-bae: Before reading the script, I felt that the musical would appeal to the younger audience since it is about a hero, but I realized this musical will be able to appeal to a wider age range.
An Yoo-jin: Nevertheless, this is a traditional story so I think many people will be curious about how it's different compared to other musicals of the same genre. "Hong Gil-dong" is similar to "Notre Dame de Paris" in that there are separate singers and dancers. And as much as there are a lot of action scenes, a lot of martial arts professionals are part of the cast. That is why the musical will be very dynamic. "Hong Gil-dong" has adapted a format different from past Korean musicals so I feel that it'll be more youthful.

Reporter : Jang Kyung-Jin three@10asia.co.kr
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk eleven@10asia.co.kr
Editor : Lucia Hong luciahong@asiae.co.kr
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