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'Marine Boy' swims against the tide

2009/01/05 | Permalink | Source

"Marine Boy", helmed by Yoon Jong-seok, is bound to stand out in terms of genre in the lineup of Korean films hitting theaters early this year.

Instead of treading the proven path, it dives into the relatively unknown world of the sea. That's why the film is now categorized as a "marine" thriller.

For most Koreans, however, the title of the movie evokes either an old Japanese comic series or Park Tae-hwan, the Olympic gold medalist swimmer dubbed "Marine Boy". The movie, though featuring plenty of under-the-sea scenes, is neither a rehash of the animation nor a biopic of the hugely popular swimmer. It is basically about drug trafficking which takes place, mostly, at sea.

"We went through many trials and errors because there's not much filmmaking know-how due to the lack of movies related to the sea", director Yoon told reporters at a news conference held in Seoul yesterday. "The production crew and actors also suffered severe sea sickness while shooting key scenes, and I deeply appreciate their efforts".

The movie revolves around a former professional swimmer (played by Kim Kang-woo) who falls into a debt trap, leading to a dangerous mission to deliver a package of drugs by sea. Veteran actor Cho Jae-hyun ("Bad Guy") plays the charismatic drug dealer who manipulates the life of the deliveryman, and Park Si-yeon ("The Fox Family") takes up the role of a femme fatale.

"I got some basic training before I joined the shooting but my physical stamina quickly ran out when I was out on the sea", said Kim Kang-woo, who previously starred in "Le Grand Chef".

Kim said he was fearful of the sea, especially swimming in it, but began to overcome his fear through intensive training. He received special training for three months, and acquired the advanced skills needed for the film, including scuba diving.

Kim earned a high regard among the production crew because he did all his stunts himself.

Jo, known for his passionate acting style, said he had plenty of thrilling moments when he played the chief of a drug ring.

"When I play a strong character, I feel some exhilaration, although I also enjoy playing a soft and melancholy character", Cho said.

Park, who recently starred in "Dachimawa Lee", a comic drama filled with tongue-in-cheek parody, said she was impressed by Kim's determination during the shooting.

"Kim cut off the intake of carbohydrates completely to build up his body, and I thought such a strong determination fits in with the character in the film", Park said.

Kim, however, downplayed the efforts he made to keep fit, saying that he just followed a diet routine. What he seemed to be more mindful was his public image, especially on the big screen.

"This movie is about strong characters and pronounced colors of characters, and I think I have achieved a new image here, far stronger than my roles in the previous films", Kim said.

"Marine Boy", distributed by CJ Entertainment, will hit theaters Feb. 5.

By Yang Sung-jin

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