By Lee Hyo-won
Featuring four fashionistas strutting through the streets of Seoul, "My Black Mini Dress" seems like a Korean spinoff of "Sex and the City". But the makers say it's about growing pains that real women in their 20s can easily relate to.
Yoon Eun-hye, Park Han-byul, Yoo In-na and Cha Ye-ryun play disillusioned 24-year-olds who realize that, though they majored in theater and film at an elite university, life is not like a movie. The four best friends nevertheless persevere through mediocre jobs and failed auditions, but their strong bond is put to the test when one of them, Hye-ji (Park), becomes a celebrity.
Though the "it" actresses may appear to have little in common with their struggling characters, they say their early 20s were far from being rosy.
Yoo, who recently rose to stardom through the sitcom "High Kick Through The Roof" and TV soap "Secret Garden", said she deeply empathized with her character, an aspiring fashion designer: "When I was in college I was training to become an actress and graduating meant I would be continuing the process, so I actually felt nervous about graduating".
But for the actresses, the hardship continued after foraying into the entertainment scene. "I thought I would immediately become a star when I debuted, but I had to play minor roles for a long time", said Park, a familiar face through supporting roles and modeling projects.
"I was 16 when I became a singer, so I sorely felt how there were so many entertainers who were so much more talented and beautiful. I was also always in charge of doing the chores", said Yoon. The former member of the girl band Baby VOX is known for popular TV roles in "Princess Hours" and "Coffee Prince". "My Black Mini Dress" marks her return to the big screen after five years since the 2006 "The Legend of Seven Cutter".
"I always felt insufficient in terms of talent and looks. But this wasn't too bad since there was always room for improvement. My first film was virtually my first try at acting; thenI shot one TV series after another, so I've been hungry to be back on the big screen. But I felt doubtful about whether I could do well in a movie. I chose this film because the script depicted women's sensibilities so well, in such an entertaining way. I also thought I could only make such a movie in my 20s", said Yoon.
"It's a coming-of-age story about being 24, when you're feeling the most energetic yet confused. I wanted to make a story that people would still be able to relate to 10 years down the road", said director Heo In-moo, who is known for portraying delicate emotions in the romantic comedy "Love So Divine" and tearjerker "Herb".
The film is based on the chick lit "My Black Mini Dress" by Kim Min-seo. The director said he interviewed many people in their early 20s for the film adaptation. "I felt a lot of frustration and competition among the interviewees, and was afraid the movie would be too depressing. I aimed for a lighter mood in the film, though not forgetting to include important aspects of the novel that women would empathize with".
Model-turned-actress Cha ("Muoi : The Legend of a Portrait") agreed, saying, "It was a pleasure making the movie with other actresses my age, and we've become really good friends. The film is a great opportunity to communicate messages that only women can".
Most appropriately for a promotional event, the starlets donned little black dresses. Cha and Yoon both appeared in strapless dresses with constructed details while Park opted for one with a colorful motif.
"The little black dress is something I'm sure all women own. It's like a lifesaver ― something that can never go wrong when you're in a hurry or dressing for formal occasions with vague dress codes", said Yoo, who wore a lacy number with black peep-toe platforms.
"My Black Mini Dress" opens in theaters on March 24. Distributed by CJ Entertainment.
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