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Choi Ji-woo returns in legal-romance drama

All Headlines 17:41 September 22, 2016

By Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, Sept. 22 (Yonhap) -- Actress Choi Ji-woo, an icon of the "hallyu" Korean culture craze, has returned to the small screen as a successful careerwoman who bounces back from a life-shattering downfall.

The star of such hit dramas as "Winter Sonata" takes on the role of Cha Geum-joo, a manager at an attorney's office, in the new MBC series "Woman with a Suitcase." She's fearless, competent and better than most investigators, not to mention strong enough to pull around a suitcase stuffed with legal documents.

But an unfortunate turn of events lands her in jail, forcing her to start from scratch to realize her dreams.

"I really wanted to play a character that's bright but also tough," Choi said Thursday during a press conference promoting the series at MBC headquarters, western Seoul. "I liked that there's a combination of romance, mystery and many other genres. Geum-joo, to me, is kind of adorable and silly ... she's not easy to act out but on the script, she was charming."

Scriptwriter Kwon Eum-mi said she wanted to tell the stories of people "without licenses" who do a better job than their qualified counterparts.

"I wanted to raise the question: Are the people with licenses fulfilling their responsibilities as much as they are claiming their rights?" she said.

That question inspired her to write a legal drama from the perspective of a law firm manager, not a lawyer.

Choi Ji-woo (L) and Joo Jin-mo pose for a photo during a press conference for the new drama "Woman with a Suitcase" at MBC headquarters in western Seoul on Sept. 22, 2016. (Yonhap)

Choi's love interest will be played by Joo Jin-mo, who takes on the role of the paparazzi agency chief Ham Bok-geo. Ham partners with Cha to overcome his own personal crisis.

Best known for his roles in dramas such as "Empress Ki," the actor said he expects to show a side of him he hasn't before.

"Because it's a legal drama, people may think it's heavy, chic or dry, but I'm going to try to put a human scent into my scenes and make people feel that it's fun to watch because of the gochujang-like man in it," he said, referring to the traditional Korean pepper paste.

"I think many people will watch it because it deals with issues that interest the public, like what people do and say in entertainment circles and in society as a whole," Joo added.

The new drama, which will premiere on Monday at 10 p.m. on MBC TV, will air in the same time slot as the popular period drama "Love in the Moonlight," a factor that could affect its viewership.

Joo seemed unperturbed, saying, "We didn't adjust to each other as we began shooting, but went into it fully ready, so there's no awkwardness.

"Both Ji-woo and I have been acting for a long time, so we'll show you the power of mature kimchi," he joked.

The rival drama has two young and rising actors in its lead roles -- Park Bo-gum and Kim You-jung.

Asked about her chemistry with Joo, Choi boasted that she thinks it will be her best yet with any actor. Apparently pleased, Joo playfully stuck out his microphone next to hers to turn up the volume of her voice.

Choi Ji-woo poses for a photo during a press conference for the new drama "Woman with a Suitcase" at MBC headquarters in western Seoul on Sept. 22, 2016. (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr
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