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Veteran actor Lee Jung-jae to make directorial debut

Lee Jung-jae (Megabox Joongang Plus M)
Lee Jung-jae (Megabox Joongang Plus M)

Veteran actor Lee Jung-jae is set to make his directorial debut in an upcoming spy-action film.

Tentatively titled “Hunt,” the film is expected to kick off production next year, according to the film’s distributor Megabox Joongang Plus M last week. Lee will also play the lead role in the movie.

Taking place in 1980s Korea, the film will revolve around national security agents Park Pyong-ho and Kim Jung-do, who are chasing after the chief of North Korea’s espionage operation in the South. Lee will play Park, a member of the agency’s overseas division.

Lee joined the production of the spy movie in early 2017. He selected the film -- which was then titled “Namsan” -- as his first production piece and stated he would also take part in writing the film’s screenplay.

A few months later, media reported that filmmaker Jung Ji-woo of “Eungyo” (2012) and veteran actor Choi Min-sik would be joining the project as director and lead actor, respectively. However, Jung and Choi ultimately declined to take the part, and star director Han Jae-rim, of “The Face Reader” (2013) and “The King” (2017), was then expected to helm the movie. However, Han also turned down the offer in March 2018.

After almost four years of working on the script, Lee finally confirmed he will himself be taking up the role of producer, director and lead actor.

Meanwhile, the distributor on Monday told The Korea Herald that another headlining actor, Jung Woo-sung -- well known as a longtime close friend of Lee -- is considering starring in the movie. If Jung confirms the casting, the two actors will partner for the first time in 21 years, since action-drama film “City of the Rising Sun” in 1999.

Lee, 47, debuted as a TV actor in 1993 and, in the following year, shot to fame with his first film “The Young Man.” Since then, Lee has had key roles in several hit films, including “The Thieves” (2012), “The New World” (2013) and “Assassination” (2015), which all exceeded the blockbuster milestone of 10 million tickets sold.

By Choi Ji-won (