By Kim Tae-jong
One of the country's most popular actors, Song Gang-ho, who played an ordinary barber in the latest film "Hyoja-dong Ibalsa (The President's Barber
)", has now decided to become a captain of a South Korean expedition team in Antarctica in his next movie. The new role might sound strange, but if that's the case for Song, then nothing seems impossible.
In the movie "Namguk Ilgi (Antarctic Journal
)", directed by Yim Phil-sung and co-starring Yoo Ji-tae
, Song has to go through extremely risky situations with his team as a captain, which will largely be shot in New Zealand.
"Different from other roles I have played before, my character in this movie `Antarctic Journal
' is a very strong and brave man who has high ambition and passion for his goal as a leader of an expedition team", Song said in an interview with The Korea Times, while attending a reception for the film held at the New Zealand ambassador's residence in Seoul last Thursday.
First starting as a theater actor and making his film debut in 1996 with a supporting role in the movie "Toejiga Umule Ppajin-nal (The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well
)", Song has played roles in 13 feature films, ranging from a detective in the 2003's movie "Salinui Chuok (Memories of Murder
) to a government's secret agent in the 2000's blockbuster "JSA (Joint Security Area)".
Although he became popular for his quirky and comic character in the 1997 movie "No. 3"
, the 37-year-old also successfully showed his potential for serious acting in films such as "Poksunun Nauigot (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
)" in 2001.
Song has always tried to learn new things to portray his roles. He had to learn all the wrestling skills for the movie "Panchikwang (The Foul King
)" in 1999, and recently practiced cutting hair for "The President's Barber
This time, to become the captain of an exploring team, he has had to undergo special training to prepare for the role and the unfamiliar environment.
"Cold weather can be OK in New Zealand", said Song, "But we first had to learn how to ski professionally and slide over the snow in a sleigh. Actually, that was really tough".
The film will begin shooting on location on July 5 in New Zealand and is expected to last for five to seven weeks. The rest of the movie will be made later at domestic studios and on various locations in South Korea, and will be released locally in theaters early next year.
The movie is a fictional account of an exploration group of six South Koreans led by Choi Do-hyung, played by Song, who set to achieve the daunting task of reaching the Pole of Inaccessibility in Antarctica without foreign aid.
During their journey to the remote destination, which was only reached once by a Soviet expedition in 1958, they are faced with the harshness of nature, which is intertwined with conflicts brought by the teammates.
Scheduled to leave for New Zealand for shooting this week, he was concerned that he would be unable to express his opposition to the government's plan to curtail the screen quota, which currently mandates theaters to screen domestic films 40 percent of the time to protect the domestic film industry.
"Although the latest local movies are doing well in the local and international markets, that does not mean local movies are now strong enough to protect themselves from Hollywood films", Song said.
During the reception, New Zealand ambassador to Seoul David Taylor welcomed the Korean movie "Antarctic Journal
" on behalf of his country and also as a big fan of local movies.
"I think good actors like Song and interesting stories make Korean movies so popular and successful in local and international markets", the ambassador said.