Another "sassy" girl is to meet TV audiences every Wednesday and Thursday nights beginning this week, as director Jun Ki-sang unfolds his jovial imagination in a new SBS drama "My Girl." As a "professional" trickster, this new heroine is promised to be cheekier and sassier than the last.
Through the KBS drama "Sassy Girl Chun-hyang," which ended with overwhelming success in March, director Jun has already proven his talent in producing romantic comedies with a "different" type of heroine.
Director Jun`s motto is to produce a drama that he himself can "laugh his head off" while watching.
"It`s not like I have an exceptional philosophy about drama-making. I just want people to have a good laugh, and realize in between the laughs that life is actually quite joyful," Jun told reporters in a news conference last week.
<**1>In the previous drama, Jun recreated the loyal woman Seong Chun-hyang from a well-known Korean classic "Chung-hyang jeon (Chun-hyang`s story), into a headstrong sassy girl, receiving an enthusiastic response from females in their teens and early 20s.
This time, the heroine Ju Yu-rin, played by actress Lee Da-hae, is a cheeky con-artist who learns from her troublesome father that ripping people off is the easiest way to make a living.
But meaning no harm by her "little" lies, Yu-rin is an irresistible character who never loses the sense of humor and optimism despite the bitterness of life.
"It seems that all female characters are standardized in TV dramas, and thus, I try to create a new character that viewers have never come across before," said Jun.
As the story unfolds, the lovable con-girl will meet Seol Gong-chan (Lee Dong-wook), a cool-headed businessman who asks her to act as his long-lost sister in order to fulfill his grandfather`s last wishes. And Yu-rin slowly finds herself falling for this irritable and annoying man.
Director Jun`s talent in romantic comedies has also been recognized overseas.
"Sassy Girl Chun-hyang" became the first drama to sell the remake copyright abroad. Buying the copyright to remake the drama in its own language, China also offered Jun the opportunity to direct the new version.
Aiming for fame throughout Asia, Jun has a solid view toward the current Korean Wave led by the popularity of Korean TV dramas.
"The Korean Wave is an opportunity for us to spread our culture throughout the world, which is actually far more important than selling 1 million cars," Jun said. "But it concerns me that Korea is causing anti-Korea sentiments in the neighboring countries by approaching the phenomenon too commercially."
Jun added that it is a must for Korea to map out solid policies to keep up the wave.
"We are actually getting paid to promote our culture, how good a chance is that? But if we are not careful, the wave will end up as a temporary phenomenon," he said.
Jun also made remarks on the current trend of more dramas being produced under the planning of producing companies. Unlike the past production systems, in which a drama was produced under the influence of three major broadcasters - MBC, KBS and SBS - more dramas are now produced by production companies.
With many companies investing large amounts of money in these production companies, more time and budget is spared for the drama-makers, allowing them to improve the drama`s quality to a great extent.
Currently, about 60 percent of dramas are made this way, and "My Girl" is also produced by a major producing company Kallista.
Some experts warn of unexpected risks the new method may cause if the new phenomenon is dominated by only the largest production companies, ruining the diversity of the drama-making market.
But director Jun said that despite the shortcomings, it was a must for more Korean dramas to be made in the new method.
"Due to the tight budget and shooting-schedules, the quality of Korean dramas has not been improving," he said. "It is only a matter of course that more dramas should be produced under better circumstances."
Jun is also known for the ability to find new faces with potential, helping them become known to TV fans through his dramas.
"Yonsama" Bae Yong-joon, who made his debut through Jun`s 1994 campus romance series "Greetings of Love," is just one example of talent found by Jun.
"Under the current situation, it is difficult and also wrong to cast only the most popular actors and actresses. I feel some sort of a responsibility to find new faces who will later lead the Korean TV screens, and hope that `My Girl` will become another opportunity," said Jun.
By Shin Hae-in