Korea's Song to star in Woo's '1949'

Actress signs to new Asian talent agency Stellar

HONG KONG -- South Korean actress Song Hye-kyo will lead the cast of director John Woo's upcoming epic about the founding of modern China, "1949," producer Terence Chang said Sunday at a press conference announcing Song's signing with his newly formed talent agency Stellar Entertainment.

Chang and Stellar co-founder David Tang Zai-yang introduced the leading Korean TV and film sensation at a press conference in Hong Kong, Stellar's home city.

The role will be Song's first Chinese-language part since she broke into the Asian entertainment scene after winning a modeling competition in 1996 at the age of 15.

Song told The Hollywood Reporter her move to Stellar could pave the way for her to break into the Chinese-language market and perhaps crossover to Hollywood, where Chang and Woo have put down successful roots.

"I have long intended to work outside of South Korea and Stellar will help me negotiate jobs in other parts of Asia," Song said in her native tongue through an interpreter.

Stellar will represent Song internationally, excluding South Korea and Japan. Her management contract with the South Korean agency Sidus HQ ended in April.

Song has been taking Chinese lessons to tackle the role in "1949". She has also been learning English for some time in order to communicate with non-Koreans she meets in her profession, but said "it is harder to learn a new language now that I've grown up."

Song won over audiences across Asia in her starring turns in the TV dramas "Autumn in My Heart" (2000) and "Full House" (2004).

Woo and Chang noticed her after seeing her in the 2007 film "Hwang Jin Yi," Chang said at the press conference.

Actress Michelle Yeoh, also a Stellar co-founder, was not at the press conference, an absence she explained in a taped announcement. She is currently in Africa.