South Korea's Kwon Sang-woo Eyes Chinese Film Career


SHENZHEN, China -- After building a name for himself in the South Korean film and TV industries, Kwon Sang-woo is setting his sights on another booming Asian entertainment market -- China.

The 34-year-old actor is shooting a Chinese-language romance alongside Hong Kong actress Cecilia Cheung and will next join the Jackie Chan project Chinese Zodiac.

Kwon, who shot to fame with the 2003 TV drama Stairway to Heaven, on Friday took a break from shooting in the southern Chinese city Shenzhen to promote Repeat, I Love You.

"This movie marks my first foray into international markets, so I take this movie very seriously," Kwon told reporters.

The South Korean entertainer said he has been a fan of Hong Kong and Chinese film since his student days.

"My childhood memories are filled with fondness and worship for Chinese entertainers, so I am very happy for this opportunity. Even though there is the language barrier, we share the same emotions," he said.

Kwon, whose recent film credits include Destiny, More than Blue and 71: Into the Fire, praised Cheung, who plays two characters in the movie -- both of whom Kwon's character falls for.

"One role is a very feminine, sophisticated woman. The other is very tough. She was able to draw a clear distinction between the two," Kwon said, adding that he was already familiar with Cheung from her starring role in the 2001 South Korean drama Failan.

Casting South Korean talent revives a trend in Chinese film. Veteran Ahn Sung-kee costarred with Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau in the 2006 costume drama Battle of Wits. Ji Jin-hee was one of the leading men in Peter Chan's 2005 musical Perhaps Love. And Cheung worked with Jang Dong-gun on Chen Kaige's 2005 fantasy epic The Promise.

Dan Mintz, chief executive of DMG Entertainment, the Chinese studio behind Repeat, I Love You, said he was looking to breed creativity through cultural exchange -- and wasn't necessarily thinking about South Korean box office numbers.

Directed by Hong Kong pop lyricist Calvin Poon, "Repeat, I Love You" also features Taiwan singer Angela Chang and Taiwan-based model Sphinx Ting, as well as Chinese entertainers Jing Tian and Jing Boran.

"What we look for is very different points of view. And what helps different points of view is by having different people from different places come together," Mintz said, noting that instead of having Kwon master Chinese, he speaks Korean in the movie.

Kwon said after Friday's news conference that after finishing Repeat, I Love You, he will go to Paris to join the cast of Chan's Chinese Zodiac. He is also in talks to co-star with a Chinese actress in a TV series next year.

Chan hasn't announced details for Chinese Zodiac and Kwon didn't elaborate on his role, but the South Korean star said he felt the offer was "a big honor for an Asian artist."

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