Male Hallyu Stars Clash on TV

Hallyu stars Park Yong-ha and kwon Sang-woo are moving into the television spotlight where, until recently, pretty boys, shiny sports cars (“Boys over Flowers”) and even a historic hero (“Moon River – Iljimae Returns”) dominated.

The leading men of new dramas “The Slingshot” (KBS) and “Cinderella Man” (MBC), respectively, are expected to heat up the already star-studded drama casts, which include So Ji-sub, Kim Nam-joo and Jeong Ryeo-won.

Written by Song Ji-na as the final piece of her trilogy ― the first two being “Eye of Dawn” (1991) and “Sandglass” (1997) ― “The Slingshot” is expected to capture the reality of today’s money-driven world.

“We focused on the world of men and women who are willing to sacrifice their lives for money, a world where money dictates. But I still tried to make a lighter, enjoyable and somewhat touching series”, Yoon Sung-sik, the producer, said at a press conference last week in northern Seoul.

Park, 31, plays Kim Shin, who chooses jail after realizing he has no way to pay back his debt. Inside, he is resigned to his fate, until he finds out about the stocks scandal that caused the suicide of his brother, which made him borrow the money in the first place. Furious, Kim prepares for revenge and founds a “dream team”, including actress Park Si-yeon who plays his lover. The dark, cold-blooded Chae Do-woo, played by Kim Kang-woo, is his enemy in the drama. The actor was the winner of the Best Actor Award at the Torino Film Festival in 2007.

In a short preview clip, the three characters showed that they were serious in depicting their characters, which departed from their usual images. Park, who only recently revealed his manly side with the hit drama “On Air”, played a tough inmate with eyes blazing with revenge, while Park Si-yeon showed her softer side, far from the usual sexy and sultry characters she’s been known for. Kim successfully transforms himself into the shadowy and cold-blooded villain Chae, perfectly matching his dark suits, sharp expressions and harsh words.

When asked if the choice of the tough guy role was deliberate, Park smiled and admitted it was about time.

“Yes, I felt I needed a change in the characters that I play. I also came to realize that these roles fit me better at my age, compared to the fragile and pretty characters I have been portraying”, he said.

Meanwhile, the also fairly “pretty” kwon Sang-woo returns to television screens for the first time since his marriage with actress Son Tae-yeong and the birth of their son. The 32-year-old actor will not only star in a drama the first time in a year, but also play two different characters simultaneously.

Kwon plays the poor, yet determined Oh Dae-san, an aspiring designer whose priorities in life are money and fame. His life takes a drastic turn when he meets Lee Jun-hee; the son of an apparel company who looks exactly like him. When the latter disappears, Oh is given the task of living the life of the rich fellow during the day. Lee does not return, and when Oh realizes that he is actually good in filling the shoes of his unrelated “twin”, his deepest desires and dreams start to unravel.

“Cinderella Man” also made headlines for the appearance of Yoona, a member of the popular girl group Girls’ Generation, as Oh’s love interest despite the 14 year age gap.

“It’s not a big budget program, nor does it have an overwhelming storyline. It’s real, about us, and personally, something I can relate with and also show myself”, Kwon said during a press conference last week in central Seoul.

The overall drama may have not called for a big budget, but it did require special effects and equipment to get the two characters played by Kwon in the same scene.

The drama crew used the Motion Control Camera (MCC), which costs about 1 billion won and 5 million won for a day’s rental. With the help of advanced technology, viewers will get to watch two Kwons walk past each other.

“I’m not pressured by (ratings). As my previous work, `Bad Love’, was considered a big failure, I think this one will do much better. I’m not happy to compete with my good friend So Ji-sub from the drama `Cain and Abel’, but the good news is that `Cain’ is coming to an end, while we are just starting”, Kwon said, smiling to reporters.

“The Slingshot” airs every Monday and Tuesday at 9:55 on KBS, while “Cinderella Man” airs every Wednesday and Thursday at 9:55 on MBC.

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