By Shim Sun-ah
SEOUL, April 4 (Yonhap) -- For actress Han Hyo-joo, an icon of pure and innocent girls in Korean films, playing the bad guy in her latest work "Love, Lies" was a new challenge in her career.
"So-yul that I play is not a bad character, but I think uncontrollable situations drove things that way," Han told reporters Monday after a media preview of the upcoming period drama about Korea's last "gisaengs" who dream of becoming top popular singers.
"It was a new challenge in my acting career, and the filming was not easy all the way through."
Han's character So-yul is one of the gisaengs, or professional female entertainers who served famous Confucians and dignitaries during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the last kingdom of Korea.
In the period drama set in 1943 Seoul when Korea was under Japan's colonial rule, So-yul develops a close friendship with classmate Yeon-hi (Chun Woo-hee) as both are talented students at a school for training gisaengs.
So-yul is acknowledged to be a master in "jeongga," a vocal genre in traditional Korean music, despite her young age and has striking good looks, too, while Yeon-hi is born with a beautiful voice that tugs at people's heartstrings.
So-yul comes to harbor a dream of becoming a pop diva after her boyfriend, hotshot composer Yun-woo (Yoo Yeon-seok), asks her to sing a song that he is going to make to soothe the mind of the Korean grassroots suffering undering Japan's brutal colonial rule.
But Yun-woo soon changes his mind, captivated by the beautiful voice of Yeon-hi that he comes to hear by chance. And then a tragedy begins as jealousy drives So-yul to make extreme choices to regain everything that she thinks was stolen by her friend.
Questioned about her makeup as an aged So-yul in the film's last minutes, Han said she was afraid that the makeup would ruin the whole film.
It was the director Park Heung-sik who insisted that she directly read the lines in a makeup as an old woman to help audiences emphasize her feelings.
Park said her makeup didn't look natural at first but tried his best anyway.
"I referred to photos of Han's mother to get a hint," he said with giggles.
As for the film's setting in the 40s' Seoul, the filmmaker said it was an era of misfortunes.
"I bet the unfortunate social atmosphere must have greatly affected people who lived that age."
He also said that the 40s is "when the early-stage K-pop was born and pop songs had their heydays temporarily though. In those early peak years, the life of Yeon-hi and So-yul who wanted to become singers led to ruinous results."
"I chose it because I thought it was a good age setting to describe the life of the two female characters," he explained.
"Love, Lies" is set to open in local theaters on April 13.
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