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(LEAD) In drama 'Memory,' tragedy to inspire miracles

All Headlines 18:03 March 10, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with more comments from 9th para)
By Park Sojung

SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- The upcoming TV series "Memory" will explore the irony in which a tragedy gives rise to life's small miracles, its producer said Thursday.

"Memory," which replaces crime thriller "Signal" in the Friday-Saturday night time slot on tvN, tells the story of a high-flying lawyer in his 40s, Park Tae-seok (Lee Sung-min), who is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

"Alzheimer's is a tragedy, and quite many people experience tragedies," producer Park Chan-hong said at a press conference in Seoul. "But what's ironic is that the greater your tragedies and hardships, the greater your happiness and joy becomes. That's a miracle."

As Park's short-term memory declines, the lawyer finds himself visiting his ex-wife Na Eun-seon (Park Jin-hie) with greater frequency.

The two had divorced after losing their only child in a car accident, and Park's failure to remember the child only adds fuel to the fire of Na's frustration.

Meanwhile, Park's current wife Seo Yeong-ju (Kim Ji-soo) turns a blind eye to her husband's "philandering" and tries to protect him from further distress caused by the disease.

Although Alzheimer's may seem like a banal topic, producer Park, who is known for his revenge trilogy -- "Resurrection," "The Devil" and "Shark" -- says "Memory" stands apart because its protagonist is a relatively young patient of the disease which commonly affects those older than 65.

"What also distinguishes this show is the quality of the acting," he said, adding Lee's portrayal has been so convincing that it even affected the direction at which the show is going. "Being the arrogant director that I was, I used to teach people how to act, but this time, I'm learning a lot from the actors."

Producers and cast members agreed that the time-travel saga "Signal," which concludes this weekend, will be a hard act to follow. The series starring actor Lee Je-hoon and actress Kim Hye-soo surpassed the 10-percent-viewership mark on its 11th episode, a remarkable stat for a cable show.

Lee, who played the endearing head of Sales Team 3, Oh Sang-sik, in the tvN office drama "Misaeng," explained just what kind of challenge he and the crew face.

"Back in the 'Misaeng' days, 3-percent viewership was enough to impress people," he recalled fondly. "Hopefully, we get at least half of what 'Signal' achieved. But I think we may be able to top 'Signal' by the end of our series."

Lee even jokingly shared his frustrations at his wife who "loves going home to watch 'Signal.'"

He also revealed his little-heralded specialty: bromance on TV. In "Memory," he will start one with a young lawyer, Jung Jin (Lee Jun-ho), although he will have a female rival, Bong Seon-hwa (Yoon So-hee), the secretary at their law firm.

"I think the chemistry between me and Lee Jun-ho will surpass that between him and Yoon," he said. "Lately, Lee started to misbehave maybe because he feels more comfortable around me. He's been a good acting partner."

Meanwhile, actress Park Jin-hie, for whom "Memory" is her first drama since giving birth in 2014, says the one memory she hopes to keep forever is the face of a just-born child.

"Maybe it's because I'm a mother, but I never want to forget the moment when I first saw my first baby," she said. "It wasn't a pretty face. She was rather wrinkled and crying, but I hope to remember that moment because I was so happy just to have her and wished her nothing more than a healthy life."

Actress Kim Ji-soo says she's always wanted to play an Alzheimer's patient, but has come to appreciate the role of a patient's wife, too.

"I got very curious as to what the wife would feel -- how a woman whose universe has gravitated around her husband would feel when she sees him collapse like that," she said.

"Memory" is also the first drama for Lee Jun-ho, a member of boy band 2PM who unfortunately has to compete against fellow member Changsung, scheduled to appear in a JTBC drama in the same time slot.

"We're cheering for one another. Recently, Chansung came to the set of 'Memory' to provide for the entire staff," he said. "We've told each other to do our best. I don't know what the other members would do for us. Maybe they'll alternate between our shows, not watch either at all or watch re-runs."

"Memory" premieres on March 18 at 8:30 p.m.

sojungpark@yna.co.kr
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