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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, November 5, 2006

Film festival was graced by royal surprise

By Jeff Chung

DVD WINNER!

The winner of our drawing for the DVD set of "Stairway to Heaven," autographed by Shin Hyun Joon, is Danilo Velasco of Waipahu.

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During the 26th Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival, which ended last week, I was surprised to see Julia Mullock at a screening.

Who is Julia Mullock? She is a former princess of Korea. Born in Pennsylvania to a Ukranian-American family, Mullock met Prince Yi Gu the last crown prince of South Korea soon after he graduated from MIT, when both were working at the firm of the venerated architect I.M. Pei in New York.

They married in 1958 in Manhattan. In 1960 and '61, they spent several months in Hawai'i when Prince Gu assisted with the building of the East-West Center. (The prince's parents, Crown Prince Eun and Princess Bangja, visited them here.)

After the fall of Syngman Rhee in 1960, Prince Gu, Mullock and Princess Bangja returned to South Korea with the help of President Park Chung Hee. Childless, Mullock was pressured by the Joseon royal family to divorce the prince in 1982.

Prince Gu died in 2005 of a heart attack at the age of 74. A Hawai'i resident since 1997, Mullock (she reverted to her maiden name when the couple divorced) divides her time between South Korea and Hawai'i.

Focus Features and LJ Films are working on a film based on Mullock's life. The producers are looking at a 2008 release.

Mullock said she enjoyed HIFF's opening-night film "Babel," as well as "Lump of Sugar" and "The Host" which, she said, "shows how far Korean cinema has come."

Busy doing charity work in Hawai'i, Mullock remains fond of South Korea and keeps an apartment in Seoul (in the Kang Buk area).

Before she returned to South Korea on Thursday, she answered a few questions.

Q, How is the film project going?

Lee Seung-jae of LJ Film is in partnership with Focus Features, and a division of Universal Studios in the production of the Julia Lee Project. Lee Seung-jae saw a documentary of me done by a Korean network a few years ago and felt my story should be more than a documentary. When I first met him in Korea, I felt that he was an honest person who was very charming. Lee Seung-jae is known for producing films such as "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring."

Lee Seung-jae felt that this project should have a U.S. partner and found Focus Features. The director is Deepa Mehta, an Indian-born Canadian director. I plan to be in Korea for the next few months and will be meeting Deepa Mehta. The people involved were so impressed with my collection of thousands of photos.

Q, How do you spend your time in Hawai'i and South Korea?

I am 83 years old and had a stroke in 1998, which has left me semi-paralyzed on the right side of my body. Although I love the beach, I can't go because my walker or wheelchair will not let me. ...

I prefer to live in Korea where I have friends who have known me for 40 years. I don't have close friends here in Hawai'i and I am not looking for one as I believe you don't look for friends it just happens. My friends in Korea know me for who I am, not what I am.

I have been painting at the rehab at Kuakini. Louis Vuitton has made a donation for the culture and arts program. I have been painting since 1999. I would say 60 percent of my time in Korea is religious. I am Catholic and like to leave Seoul to visit convents and nunneries in different provinces.

Q, What is your impression of hallyu in Hawai'i?

The last three years have been amazing! I just kind of smile at the whole thing but I think (hallyu) is wonderful for Korea.

I grew up in real Korea when we had no taxis, no hot running water at my home. It was very cold and difficult. I feel Korea is now at its climax, the height of its popularity today because of these dramas. I have heard of women here going to tours to Korea as they have fallen for the good-looking men on TV. ...

The dramas have done a magnificent job representing Korean culture to the world. People now know how to pronounce Korean words correctly, and Korean food is popular.

Jeff Chung is general manager of KBFD, which airs Korean dramas. K-drama questions or comments? Reach him at 521-8066 or jeffchung@kbfd.com.

THIS WEEK'S K-DRAMA SYNOPSES

'INFAMOUS CHILL SISTERS'

EPISODES 33 AND 34

Tonight at 7: Seol-chil announces her wedding plans to her family. Seol-chil tells Ilhan of her wedding, but he tells her not to marry. Yangpal asks Soohan to allow Deok-chil to see her children.

Tonight at 8: Ilhan barely stops Mi-chil from jumping into the river. Seol-chil tells Ilhan to stay true to his love for Mi-chil. Deok-chil prepares food for Seontak's daughters.

'KOREA SECRET AGENCY'

EPISODES 5 AND 6

Tomorrow at 7:50 p.m.: Joo-yon comes by Kang's house. His family is convinced that Kang has not only gotten Joo-yon pregnant, but that he is involved with criminal elements. Kang arranges another date with Alice.

Tuesday at 7:50 p.m.: Sparks fly when Kang interrupts Un-hyok and Yun-hee/Alice as they are having a drink. Un-hyok assigns Joo-yon to look into Kang.

'LOVE & AMBITION'

EPISODES 61 AND 62

Wednesday at 7:50 p.m.: Eun-hwan bids a tearful goodbye to Soo-kyong. Mother can't hold her tears back when she meets Sang-woo, Tae-joon's son.

Thursday at 7:50 p.m.: Sookyong seems to be moved by Eun-hwan's devotion to her. Tae-joon, Mi-ja and Hong-jo's family travel to Jeju. Myong-ja is offered a marriage proposal.

'IRELAND'

EPISODES 13 AND 14

Friday at 7:50 p.m.: Buja overhears Jae-bo's phone conversation with Joong-ah. Kook comes to Si-yeon's rescue when a stalker attacks her.

Saturday at 7:50 p.m.: Jae-bok is overcome with despair over his crippled leg. Joong-ah runs into Buja at the hospital. Jae-bok disappears from the hospital, and cuts all contact.