Korea`s leading filmmaker Hur Jin-ho has built up his reputation with touching love stories including "Christmas in August" (1998), "One Fine Spring Day" (2001), and "Happiness" (2007). In his refined films, exhilarating happiness is often followed by bottomless sadness in a way that mirrors all the complex emotions embedded in romantic relationships.
This time, however, Hur has decided to change his strategy a bit. His much-anticipated fifth film titled "A Good Rain Knows" will not delve into the distressing pit of negative emotions. Rather he said he will focus on the clean, well-lighted aspect of a pure relationship -- between an extremely handsome Korean man and an equally attractive Chinese woman.
Jung Woo-sung, one of Korea`s leading heartthrobs, plays Dong-ha, a businessman who flies to a China on a business trip and comes across May (played by Gao Yuanyuan), a Chinese friend he got to know when he was studying in the United States some years ago. She now works as a tour guide in China but her real interest lies in a great Chinese poet, whose work has inspired the movie`s nuanced title.
The two recall the good, old days -- only with conflicting details that highlight their differences generated by a separation in space and time. Not a concern. They become closer and closer, and Dong-ha extends his stay in China just one more day to grab a chance to have a real date, a long-delayed date with May.
"In my previous films, my characters enjoy happy days, only to get separated later, but this time I present a couple who reunites after a separation and rush together for happiness in a bright tone," Hur said at a news conference held in Seoul on Tuesday.
Jung, however, said he belatedly realized it`s fairly tough to work with director Hur. "It was so difficult to meet Hur`s expectations about my acting in relation to romantic love," he said. "I hesitated when I was given the script, but I decided to try out Hur`s new character who`s in a shining and sparkling relationship."
Gao, a hugely popular Chinese star, said she did not hesitate at all when offered the title role because she has long been a big fan of director Hur and it was an honor to get a chance to join the project.
Director Hur said language was clearly a barrier, at least initially, because the two main characters speak mostly in English, rather than their native languages of Korean and Chinese -- a demanding requirement that makes it fairly difficult to express subtle romantic emotions on the silver screen.
Despite the concerns, Jung and Gao developed chemistry that perfectly reflects the fictional couple in the movie. "It felt so good to shoot them in a single camera frame because they were really hitting it off with each other," Hur said.
Jung said thanks to his latest stint in a romantic film he now understands why people willingly change themselves in the name of pursuing love.
Gao, who has never acted in a Korean film, said it was a refreshing experience to play Jung`s opposite. "In the shooting location, we knew what we had to do together even though we didn`t have enough time to rehearse together for a specific scene. I hope audiences will feel the same when they watch the film," she said.
"A Good Rain Knows," distributed by N.E.W, will hit local theaters on Oct. 8.
By Yang Sung-jin