Friday, August 6, 2010

[PREVIEW] SBS TV series "My Girlfriend Is Gumiho"

What to expect from, or worry about, Lee Seung-gi, Shin Min-ah and the Hong sisters 


Korean actors Lee Seung-gi (left) and Shin Min-ah at the press conference for their upcoming TV series "My Girlfriend Is Gumiho" held at SBS headquarters in Seoul, South Korea on August 4, 2010. 


Press conference for SBS TV series "My Girlfriend Is Gumiho" 


'The Hong Sisters' are back. They joined hands with Lee Seung-gi, the so-called 'man of 100 percent viewership rating' while Shin Min-ah, who is 'not just a coffee' [as she is described in her recent TV commercial for coffee] also hopped aboard. SBS TV series "My Girlfriend Is Gumiho," which premieres August 11 at 9:55 p.m. as the follow-up Wednesday / Thursday evening drama to "Bad Boy," is neither a historical epic nor a blockbuster drama with a production budget of over 10 billion won. But it is already stirring up heated attention with the union of the abovementioned people. At the show's press conference held August 4 at SBS headquarters in Seoul's Mok-dong district, director Bu Sung-chul described "Gumiho" as "a drama that is like a total gift set which has everything -- laughter, tears and sad melodrama." Lee Seung-gi, who plays the lead role of Cha Dae-woong, remarked, "A lot of people are talking about the importance of the one-top and personal ability, but I think teamwork is the most important thing. While I was watching the World Cup this year, I realized that what surpasses fancy individual skill is excellent teamwork." If so, then under the possibility that 1+1+1 does not always end up as 3 but can drop to 0 or add up to 10, what should we expect, or worry about, the combination of Lee Seung-gi, Shin Min-ah and the Hong Sisters, who are the real stars of "Gumiho"? 

1. The Hong Sisters: The same old story VS a drama as unpredictable as a rugby ball 
Scenes from dramas written by the Hong Sisters: "Couple or Trouble" (left) and "Minamishineyo"

The sister duo of Hong Jung-eun and Hong Mi-ran, who made their debut with the 2005 KBS TV series "Delightful Girl Choon-hyang," scored consecutive hits with SBS' "My Girl" and MBC's "Couple or Trouble" to join the ranks of writers who guarantee commercial success. KBS' "Hong Gil-dong," which attempted at a new genre by fusing comedy with traditional Korean drama, and SBS' "Minamishineyo," a teen romance drama which maximized the fantasy of idol fandom, were not as commercially successful as their previous works but created a mania fan base and caused a stir, particularly on the web. The sisters' talents are creating unique female leads one has never seen before and new type of characters -- such as a con man who cons for a living, an arrogant and rude conglomerate, and a girl disguising as a man who is so innocent that she is almost a nuisance to people. They are also excellent in their ability to mix just the right amount of sensational comedy, as they were originally writers on a variety show, and elements of romance which get infinitely heartbreaking into the second half of a drama. 

"Gumiho" is about an immature rich boy, who lost his parents at a young age and was raised by his grandfather and aunt, accidentally releasing Gumiho from a scroll painting that is several hundred years old and eventually falling in love with her while spending time with her in a rooftop house. The story came from the lively imagination that is a characteristic unique of the Hong Sisters. The dialogue between Cha Dae-woong (played by Lee Seung-gi) and Gumiho (played by Shin Min-ah) -- best represented by the lines "No cow (beef) today" and "Shut up, before I eat you up!" -- clearly displays the ironic situation of the male lead being frightened of his 'frighteningly pretty' girlfriend. The character Eun Hae-in (played by Park Soo-jin), the first love of Cha Dae-woong who is "hateful and like a human fox," looks to faithfully fulfill the sub-female lead role who will persistently interfere with the two leads, just like the characters Oh Yu-kyung (played by Park Han-byul) in "Couple or Trouble" or Kim Se-hyun (played by Park Si-yeon) in "My Girl." Actor Byun Hee-bong, who was cast as Seol Gong-chan(played by Lee Dong-wook)'s strict grandfather in a conglomerate family in "My Girl," appears in "Gumiho" as a wealthy grandfather with a lot of real estate who wants to raise Cha Dae-woong strictly. 

The middle-aged romance that well served an indispensable role in "My Girl" and "Couple or Trouble" will also be played out in "Gumiho" through the characters Ban Doo-hong (played by Sung Dong-il), who dreams of being the "middle-aged Chow Yun-fat," and Cha Dae-woong's girl-like aunt Cha Min-sook (played by Yoon Yoo-sun). If "Delightful Girl Choon-hyang" had the couple who were friends with the main characters, then in "Gumiho," Dae-woong's friends Kim Byung-soo (played by Kim Ho-chang) and Ban Seon-nyeo (played by Hyo-min) suggest a sub-plot in the story. This indicates that the sisters will play out the best kind of story that they can and tell in the most effective way but, at the same time, it will also bring a certain amount of deja vu to viewers who have been watching their dramas over the years. Hong Mi-ran has said that she wishes "other people would enjoy watching what we find entertaining rather than [us] obsessing about showing viewers that we are improving" while Hong Jung-eun remarked that she wants to "write a drama that is, like a rugby ball, unpredictable in where it will bounce to next." How will their new series "Gumiho" turn out? 

What to expect from, or worry about, Lee Seung-gi, Shin Min-ah and the Hong sisters 


2. Lee Seung-gi: The man of 100 percent viewership rating VS another role as immature rich boy 


Although it has been over a year since he starred in SBS TV series "Shining Inheritance," which recorded a viewership rating of over 40 percent, Lee Seung-gi is still considered a guarantee for high ratings as his regular variety show appearances -- in KBS' "One Night Two Days" and SBS' "Steel Heart" -- continue to score solid figures. However, it is up against some pretty stiff competition; KBS TV series "Bread, Love And Dream" keeps renewing its viewership ratings, which might score as high as "Shining Inheritance"; its follow-up "Domangja s1" also has high expectations with its producers who made "The Slave Hunters" and fancy cast that includes Rain and Lee Na-young; and MBC's "Itazura na Kiss" will go on air in early September with fellow young star Kim Hyun-joong in the lead role. 

But what is important for Lee Seung-gi is not whether the series succeeds but whether he can show viewers his new potential as an actor through "Gumiho." After playing an immature Mama's boy (in KBS TV series "Famous Seven Princesses") and spoiled rich boy ("Shining Inheritance"), Lee has been cast for the role of a rich boy named Cha Dae-woong who dreams of becoming an action star. He explained that he felt no pressure about the transformation, saying his previous roles "could seem similar if you just describe them as 'immature' but so many different things can come out of them. If [Lee's character] Sun Woo Hwan in 'Shining Inheritance' was an incredibly serious person, then my character in 'Gumiho' has a lot of comic, adorable sides to him so they will be completely different characters." Lee has said that he has been studying the character with the writers since receiving the synopsis around the end of last year, and "reflected my own traits because I also like funny stuff and maximized the facial expressions and talking speed in a comical way." He added that it helped that he had learned for three months how to do wire actions and martial arts for a production he had been preparing for in the past. Could Lee Seung-gi's efforts broaden his scope of acting by a notch in "Gumiho," which has "all the elements of comedy, melodrama and action but no eroticism?"


3. Shin Min-ah: Korea's top television commercial star VS actress with no signature work 

Shin Min-ah is a star. She has starred in numerous television dramas, films and mega-scale television commercials. The August 3 episode of SBS' "Steel Heart" also revolved around Shin Min-ah. However, at the press conference for "Gumiho," one reporter remarked that "some people are criticizing that you haven't been faithful to your original job because you haven't done films or dramas for quite a while and just appeared in television commercials." To which Shin answered, "I did two films last year. I have always been making movies but it just seems that way because the commercials outnumber the movies," indicating that Shin Min-ah's presence as an actress is not as strong as her star power. It also goes to show that despite starring in over ten films and six dramas including the notable KBS TV series "The Lucifer" and film "A Bittersweet Life," there is no one film or drama that one can immediately associate with the name 'Shin Min-ah.'

That is why it seems like it is the perfect opportunity for Shin Min-ah to have met a story written by the Hong Sisters, whose specialty lies in emphasizing a unique, adorable female character in their drama. Her character "Gumiho" obstinately whines to Cha Dae-wong, "Buy me some meat! I really really want to eat meat. Buy me a cow, please?" and turns angry when he doesn't comply with her complaints. Shin Min-ah explained, "Unlike the 'gumiho' [a fox with nine tails] in the legend, she has an innocence like a newborn baby. She has big movements, which are so big that I worry they might be too over-the-top. And she expresses her emotions honestly, so I think a lot about the actions of my six-year-old niece when I act. In the second half of the show, she is even placed in a sad situation and I want to play her so that Gumiho, who wants to become a human being, will seem adorable." Could Shin Min-ah be more than the 'pretty woman' inside a commercial and become a female lead who is loved? 

Reporter : Choi Ji-Eun 
Photographer : Chae ki-won 
Editor : Lynn Kim  , Lee Ji-Hye 
<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

What Do You Think?:

4 comments:

  1. Gumiho is about an immature rich boy, who lost his parents at a young age and was raised by his "grandmother" and aunt,

    "GRANDFATHER" edit it ^ ^

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hahaha TQ

    correction done (^^)

    ReplyDelete
  3. im gonna watch it all over again !!!!!!

    ReplyDelete