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Park Hae-il back on the big screen as poet

March 27, 2012 - 19:54 By Claire Lee
Film based on Park Bum-shin’s novel ‘Eungyo’ tells of 70-year-old poet who falls in love with teen

It took nearly eight hours of putting on makeup every day, on top of learning the weary gait and gesture of a man in his 70s.

Popular actor Park Hae-il, who swept best actor prizes last year for his role as the heroic archer in period drama “Arrow, the Ultimate Weapon,” is returning to the big screen as a renowned poet in his 70s in director Jung Ji-woo’s upcoming sensual drama “Eungyo.”

A film adaptation of celebrated author Park Bum-shin’s sensational novel of the same title, “Eungyo” tells the story of an old poet who ends up falling for a 17-year-old girl named Eun-gyo. Upon realizing his love for the teenager, the poet goes through emotional turmoil and self-destruction, while willing to give up his fame as one of the nation’s most respected literary figures.

“It was certainly a challenge,” the 35-year-old actor said during a press conference on Tuesday. 
A scene from director Jung Ji-woo’s upcoming film, “Eungyo.” (Lotte Entertainment)

“It would’ve been easier if the character were in his 40s at least. Director Jung and I talked a lot throughout the process. I made visits to Pagoda Park and had random chats with the elderly men in the area. But I didn’t really want to imitate anyone. I did everything I could to play the character. Honestly I’m a little nervous about what the viewers will say about my performance.”

Jung, who is best known for his 1999 crime-of-passion drama “Happy End,” is making a comeback with this film as well. The director said he chose Park for the role, instead of an older actor, for a specific reason.

“This movie deals with what it is like to age, and what it is like to want something when you’ve lost your youth,” he said.

“I thought that the theme would be delivered more effectively when such a role is given to an actor who is much younger.”

Some 20 of Park’s books have been made into films and TV dramas.

“I’ve never been this excited for a film adaptation of my work,” the author reportedly said according to the film’s promotion agency. “I’m thrilled because this novel is based on my own personal thoughts as I grew older. It’s a very special piece of mine, and I trusted director Jung’s caliber of delving into human psychology and desire.”

Park visited the film crew twice during the production of the movie, and presented autographed copies of his novel to the leading actors and actresses, the agency said. The upcoming film is being released following the box-office success of “Howling,” and “Hwacha,” which are adaptations of Japanese best-selling novels.

Meanwhile, actress Kim Go-eun, who is playing the innocent yet sensual Eun-gyo, is making her film debut with the upcoming drama. She was chosen among some 300 actresses who auditioned for the role.

The 21-year-old actress is already being compared to the Cannes-winning actress Jeon Do-yeon, who received highly acclaimed reviews for her performance in director Jung’s earlier work, “Happy End.”

“It took a lot of courage to play this role,” Kim said. “I’d read the novel long before I decided to try out for the movie. I don’t necessarily understand everything that Eun-gyo does, so it was a challenge.”

A Lotte Entertainment release, “Eungyo” opens in theaters on April 26.

By Claire Lee (