Korean stars connect with Isle fans at HIFF
By Jeff Chung
By Jeff Chung
Today is the last day of the Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival. This year's festival saw a stronger-than-ever lineup of Asian films, with selections from China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. HIFF's Pacific Rim focus attracted Asian stars such as Ha Ji Won, Shin Hyun Joon and Ken Watanabe.
But the Korean showing may have been strongest of all. "The Host," a blockbuster in South Korea, was one of the first screenings to sell out this year. The South Korean network KBS was in town to cover the festival and will air a five-minute segment on Saturday.
HIFF will continue to build relationships with South Korean film distributors such as Showbox and CJ Entertainment which, combined, distribute more than 80 percent of the country's domestic films.
There is no doubt that the South Korean film industry is now more aware of HIFF, and the festival will continue to see more involvement from Korean companies.
Executives of large entertainment companies view Hawai'i as a strategic location to launch Korean cinema because of the Islands' high percentage of Asians. There were informal discussions of having a future HIFF event — with Korean stars — completely sponsored by Korean entertainment companies.
Actress Ha Ji Won attended HIFF for the first time this year. Hawai'i hallyu fans usually clamor to see male Korean actors, but they apparently are won over by Ha Ji Won — her film "Duelist" was nearly sold out — to a nearly all-female crowd.
Ha Ji Won said she was surprised to see all the non-Koreans in the audience. I explained to her that her TV series "Damo" and "Something Happened in Bali" were shown here. She was impressed by people saying hello in Korean to her and that everyone applauded at the mention of her two TV shows.
Celebrity chef Ming Tsai met and took photos with Ha Ji Won at HIFF's opening reception at the Halekulani.
Ha Ji Won and I did have a talk during her two-day stay in Hawai'i. She had heard about the popularity of hallyu here, but she didn't expect such a welcome by fans — a cadre of them greeted her with lei and aloha at the airport. She wanted to stay longer, but she had to return to South Korea for the filming of a new TV series.
Also in town for the festival was Shin Hyun Joon ("Barefoot Ki-bong," "Marrying the Mafia 3," Stairway to Heaven"). He left on Wednesday after receiving HIFF's Asian Star Award.
There's never a dull moment when Shin Hyun Joon is around; he constantly jokes and tells stories.
Shin Hyun Joon is also highly religious, signing autographs with a "Jesus Loves" and a holy cross. He thanks the Lord before every meal and is the first to pass food around the table, making sure others have the first pick.
There is a magic about Hawai'i that everyone feels when they visit for the first time. Directors, actors, entertainment executives — they all feel a bond with Hawai'i and want to return. The director of "Marrying the Mafia 3," Jeong Young-ki, told me that he feels a lot of "jung" (attraction, love) for the Islands but can't explain why. Ha Ji Won, Shin Hyun Joon and Lee Byung Hun all said similar things.
Jeff Chung is general manager of KBFD, which televises Korean dramas. For K-drama questions or comments, reach him at 521-8066 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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RELATIONSHIP TRIANGLE FORMS ON NEW SERIES 'AGENCY'
'INFAMOUS CHILL SISTERS'
EPISODES 29 AND 30
Tonight at 7: Hanam drags Seolchill out of her blind date, and tells her to go back to Ilhan if she can't accept him. Taeja gets drunk and tells his mother off. Michill finds out Supyo has met her parents.
Tonight at 8: Hanam tells Ilhan he was Seolchill's first love. Hanam decides to leave Seolchill and asks her to their last dinner together.
'KOREA SECRET AGENCY'
EPISODES 3 AND 4
Tomorrow at 7:50 p.m.: Choe Kang comes under the supervision of the legendary agent Kang Un-hyok. Un-hyok has come out of early retirement to pursue Alice Jin, an old nemesis and love interest. Yang Soo-gil, a senior agent, curries Kang's favor.
Tuesday at 7:50 p.m.: Alice Jin and Choe Kang go on a date, but their evening is interrupted by a phone call from Kang Un-hyok. Kong Joo-yon catches a glimpse of Un-hyok doing shooting practice. Yang Soo-gil, Un-hyok's rival at the KSA, is impressed with Choe Kang's progress.
'LOVE & AMBITION'
EPISODES 59 AND 60
Wednesday at 7:50 p.m.: Tae-joon meets his son for the first time. Tae-joon encourages Tae-soo to expand his business. Sun-hee tells Tae-joon she sent Hong-jo to take care of Tae-joon's son. Tae-joon returns to work.
Thursday at 7:50 p.m.: The chairman puts complete faith in Tae-joon at his new post. Tae-joon and Sang-woo grow closer. Soo-kyong becomes more rebellious, and Eun-hwan asks Jung-ja for help.
EPISODES 11 AND 12
Friday at 7:50 p.m.: Si-yeon shoots at the hotel where Kook works. However unhappy, Si-yeon turns to alcohol and Kook. Jae-bok isn't happy that Si-yeon's film is being shot where Kook works, and asks her to stay away from him.
Saturday at 7:50 p.m.: Kook and Joong-ah rush to the hospital when they learn of Jae-bok's accident. Si-yeon goes to the hotel to see Kook. Jae-bok checks into Dong-suk's hospital.