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Spy series 'MAN x MAN' promises more comedy than thrills: director

All News 17:36 April 18, 2017

By Chang Dong-woo

SEOUL, April 18 (Yonhap) -- Traditional spy thrillers, whether TV or film, tend to be complex, heavy and dark in tone, themes and plot. Watching one, such as a Jason Bourne film, can be a straining experience to the mind, requiring more than 100 percent of the viewers' laser-focused attention to truly appreciate it.

On the outside, "MAN x MAN" (pronounced "man to man"), a new Friday-Saturday TV series on JTBC, also has all the trappings of a traditional spy TV show: an elite agent who is a master of firearms and martial arts, corporate espionage and a former spy agent who goes rogue. But what's on the inside is a light-hearted love triangle comedy that's "bonkers," according to its showrunner Tuesday.

"It's been mostly promoted as an espionage show, but we wrapped a comic show in a spy package. It's more close to a bonkers drama. You'll enjoy it if you keep that in mind," Lee Chang-min, director of "MAN x MAN," told reporters at a media event at the Times Square mall in western Seoul.

Promotional image for JTBC's new Friday-Saturday drama "MAN x MAN." (Yonhap)

The new television series is about a versatile, mysterious secret agent Kim Seol-woo, played by Park Hae-jin, who is tasked with protecting top celebrity Yeo Un-gwang, played by Park Sung-woong, as part of an undercover mission.

Actress Kim Min-jung plays Yeo's fan-turned-manager Cha Do-ha, who also ends up in a love triangle between the two male lead characters. Yeon Jung-hoon plays Mo Seung-jae, a third-generation business tycoon and the show's main antagonist, and Chae Jung-an is cast as his wife, former Miss Korea Song Mi-eun.

The 16-part series, which has already been produced in its entirety, is penned by Kim Won-suk, co-screenwriter for the hit TV show "Descendants of the Sun."

"We did have a bit of pressure from the huge success of 'Descendants' but I began just by thinking of making a fun and delightful drama," said Kim, whose work is a follow-up to hit series "Strong Woman do Bong-soon," which ended last week.

While the show is mainly a light drama-comedy, the central plot does involve some hard thriller/global espionage elements, sometimes taking the show overseas. Parts of the show were shot in Hungary, according to the cast.

Lead star Park, who's previous works include "My Love from the Star" and "Cheese in the Trap," said his acting this time around was the most natural performance of his career.

"I think it was my first time just playing natural in front of a camera," said Park. While not being written in words, Park saw his meticulous elite agent character lacking a certain "je ne sais quoi."

"It wasn't part of the script but I felt it, or I tried to breath that sensibility into him," said Park.

Park Sung-woong, who is most known for his hard and masculine roles, plays a star actor to whom the secret agent serves as a bodyguard. This time, Park dons a light-hearted comic facade and develops a bickering-yet-endearing "bromance" with his strange new bodyguard.

Female lead Kim Min-jung also said she wanted to try out something new with the show.

"If I just wanted to look pretty, I would have had my hair long and present the image that I was used to. But I felt as if my character shouldn't be like that."

"I tried out a new hairstyle and focused on the fact that my character in this drama allows me to have the most fun in my acting career to-date," Kim said.

"MAN x MAN" will also be aired on the global video streaming site Netflix in some 190 countries at the same time it airs in its home market.

In Korea, it will be available on the site an hour after it runs in its regular time slot of 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. In the United States, the series will be made public on the site in two eight-episode segments.

"MAN x MAN" premiers Friday on JTBC.

This photo provided by JTBC shows Park Sung-woong (L) and Park Hae-jin (R), stars of new TV show "MAN x MAN," posing for the camera at a media event on April 18, 2017, at the Times Square mall in western Seoul. (Yonhap)


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