SOUTH KOREAN’S TOP CELEBRITIES PARK SHIN-HYE AND HYUN BIN REVEAL WHY THEY CHOSE TO STAR IN TVN’S NEW DRAMA, AND TALK ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCE OF WORKING TOGETHER
Korean stars Park Shin-Hye, Hyun Bin team up for TV
South Korean series remains a powerful vehicle of the K-drama wave that shows no sign of waning across Asia — and Southeast Asia. And fans have a new reason to be thrilled as one of the year’s most anticipated television series aired its first episode on Dec 1.
Memories Of The Alhambra, on the Korean cable network tvN, has been made available to international audience on the same day as in South Korea via Netflix.
The show has garnered a lot of media attention since before its premiere due to the casting of two of today’s hottest South Korean superstars, Hyun Bin and Park Shinhye, who make their onscreen appearance together for the first time. Memories Of The Alhambra, a genre-bending mix of romance and sci-fi and action, marked Hyun Bin’s return to television after three years, following his turn in Hyde Jekyll, Me in 2015. Hyun Bin’s best-known work among Thai audience is My Name Is Kim Sam soon, a romantic series that spearheaded the Korean wave in the mid-2000s.
The two actors, along with director Ahn Gil-ho, met Asian press in South Korea one freezing afternoon last week.
“Normally when I’m choosing my next role whether it’s TV series or films, I’m always looking for new ideas and new topics — something I hadn’t done before in the past so I can give myself another challenge,” said Hyun Bin.
“And in this case, I was intrigued to be working with director Ahn and writer Song who are very talented, and also thrilled to find out how sci-fi and the technology like AR [Augmented Reality] can be incorporated in a domestic drama, and how the audience find it as interesting and refreshing as I did.”
Memories Of The Alhambra is a joint effort between Stranger director Ahn Gil-ho and screenwriter Song Jae-jung from hit series such as W and Queen And I, all hit series among devoted K-drama fans.
In Memories Of The Alhambra, the story takes place in the near future world where Hyun Bin plays the role of Yoo Jin-woo, a CEO of an investment company who travels on a business trip to Granada, Spain, in search of the mysterious creator of an innovative AR game. It’s a game in which players wearing smart contact lenses, a fictional AR gaming device, are able to see the city around them turning into a fantasy action world.
In Granada, things become complicated as Jin-woo’s life gets entangled in a strange incident after staying in an old hostel run by former classical musician Jung Hee-joo, a character played by Park Shin-hye.
“Although my character has less to do with the other part of the show, which revolves around AR gaming and action aspects, I believe Jung Hee-joo is also one of the key characters that moves the story,” said Park.
“I enjoyed this character because I can relate to her a lot, a warm-hearted and artistic person. She’s got a positive energy. She likes meeting people and is very optimistic, and yet she is shy at the same time. So she’s a very real person.”
Most of the story including the first few episodes were entirely shot in the beautiful scenery of Granada where both actors described the backdrop of the city as a perfect location to capture a magical experience of the show, which has a good balance between two different worlds, magic and science, modern and medieval times.
“Because we’re shooting this overseas, there are a lot of time limitations for filming, and different environments we had to adjust to,” said Park. “But overall we had great time working together, sitting around discussing the characters and rehearsing between all of the actors. So the time we spent together in Granada really helped us immerse more into our roles.”
Apart from the romantic storyline between the two main characters, Memories Of The Alhambra also has Hyun Bin perform a number of action stunts, from the Jedi-ish sword fighting to shooting two guns from both hands like a pro. The story’s virtual reality set-up is a limitless opportunity for the series to turn into a fantasy.
“Because all the fighting was only taking place in the game, I had to use a lot of my imagination while filming those scenes pretend fighting someone in front of me,” the actor said.
“In the story, when I’m fighting a certain virtual character with certain weapons that can only be seen through the lens I was wearing at the time, people who aren’t accessing it via the lens won’t see what’s going on in the game. Although it was quite challenging while filming the scenes, I couldn’t wait to see how it would actually come out after all the post production and CGI had gone into it.”
Hyun has become hot property from his time in feature films, the latest being the period zombie flick Rampant (which opened in Thailand last month). He also starred in the thriller The Negotiation, while his turn in Late Autumn, back in 2010, sent Southeast Asian fans into a fit of reverie.
Park Shin-hye, too, has appeared in film, TV series and released music albums.
“We have never worked together before and I actually met him for the first time in Spain,” said Park Shin-hye. “But after spending time hanging out together, we have become good friends and the filming became more comfortable than I expected. Hyun Bin was a great senior to me and helped me get through all the scenes.”
Hyun Bin also has nothing but good things to say about his co-star.
“I think because Park Shin-hye has been acting since she was very young, she’s already had a lot of experience in the business. I also think she is a bright and kind person in general, and I received such positive energy from her, and that really brightened up the mood of the set for me and others in the crew.”
In Thailand, Memories Of the Alhambra can be watched via Netflix. The show will continue airing two new episodes every Saturday and Sunday around 11.30pm local time.
OVERALL WE HAD GREAT TIME WORKING TOGETHER
Park Shin-hye in a scene from Memories Of The Alhambra.