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Director hopes viewers see ‘Melancholia’ as beautiful story about math

Amid concerns about teacher-student relationship, director Kim Sang-hyub says it is not a romance drama

From left: Actor Lee Do-hyun, director Kim Sang-hyub and actor Lim Soo-jung pose for photos after an online press conference Tuesday (tvN)
From left: Actor Lee Do-hyun, director Kim Sang-hyub and actor Lim Soo-jung pose for photos after an online press conference Tuesday (tvN)
The upcoming tvN romance drama “Melancholia,” directed by Kim Sang-hyub, revolves around a math teacher and a gifted pupil at a private school, where corruption and favoritism runs rampant.

“A drama involving mathematical formulas may sound odd and strange at first, but I am certain that the viewers will be drawn by how the two characters communicate through math,” Kim said in an online press conference Tuesday.

The director, who is known for the hit series “True Beauty” and “Extraordinary You,” is surprised by how he is continuously producing school-related dramas.

“I did not intend to choose a school drama, but ‘Melancholia’ has an entirely different texture from the previous projects. Though the drama is strongly related to math, it does not involve any problem solving or mathematical proofs. The viewers can relax and enjoy how the actors present math as a form of art and tool to share their feelings with each other,” the director added.

Though the drama begins with the potentially controversial relationship between the teacher and her pupil, conspiracy and slander seep in, which the director said would make all the characters in the series exciting to watch.

“Instead of watching the series as a romance between a teacher and a student, I hope the viewers are more interested in seeing how two individuals communicate and overcome their struggles with a common factor called ‘math,’” Kim said.

Actor Lim Soo-jung plays high school math teacher Ji Yoon-soo in “Melancholia.” (tvN)
Actor Lim Soo-jung plays high school math teacher Ji Yoon-soo in “Melancholia.” (tvN)
For veteran actor Lim Soo-jung, taking the role of a high school math teacher Ji Yoon-soo felt like a destiny.

“After debuting in the KBS drama ‘School 4’ as a teenage student in 2001, returning with a school drama as a math teacher gave me mixed emotions. I felt my heart racing really fast as I read the script. The way math is presented in the drama electrified me. I don’t believe in destiny, but meeting Yoon-soo was definitely my destiny. I think this is why ‘Melancholia’ is special to me,” Lim said.

The actor is making her small screen return in two years, following her role in the tvN drama “Search WWW” in 2019.

Actor Lim Soo-jung plays high school math teacher Ji Yoon-soo in “Melancholia.” (tvN)
Actor Lim Soo-jung plays high school math teacher Ji Yoon-soo in “Melancholia.” (tvN)
Lim did not forget to praise her partner for the deep understanding of his character.

“I thought Do-hyun was a young actor with a lot of talent after watching his previous work. But I got a lot of help in acting my role as a passionate math teacher because of Do-hyun’s outstanding performance and ability to concentrate, which created a huge synergy in performing our characters,” the actor said.

Actor Lee Do-hyun plays math prodigy Baek Seung-yoo in “Melancholia.” (tvN)
Actor Lee Do-hyun plays math prodigy Baek Seung-yoo in “Melancholia.” (tvN)
Actor Lee replied that if he pulled off such performances, it was all thanks to his partner Lim.

Lee also shared his personal story concerning math, saying that he actually had a math tutor who told his parents that their son does not seem to have any interest in studying math.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that my tutor got me my mom’s permission to work in the entertainment business. I would like to send my gratitude to my math tutor at today’s press conference,” Lee added.

The 26-year-old actor said that he tried his best to understand his character, the math prodigy Baek Seung-yoo.

“I spent many hours studying math, which has been out of my hand for a while. It was not easy, but I benefited from my efforts in some scenes, where I had to solve difficult math problems,” Lee said. “Because Seung-yoo is also an outcast at school, I tried to express his lack of enthusiasm by talking less and avoiding crowded places.”

Actors Lee Do-hyun (left) and Lim Soo-jung show teacher-student chemistry in “Melancholia.” (tvN)
Actors Lee Do-hyun (left) and Lim Soo-jung show teacher-student chemistry in “Melancholia.” (tvN)
The upcoming tvN’s Wednesday-Thursday drama is scheduled to kick off at 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 10.

By Lee Si-jin (sj_lee@heraldcorp.com)
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