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Shooting of the film Memoirs of a Geisha comes to a close in Kyoto, Korean Hearthrob "Yong-sama" breaks foreign presale records, "X-file" scandal erupts in Korea and much more in this edition of News From Abroad.
Filming of Memoirs of a Geisha Comes to a Close
This week in Kyoto, shooting of the film rendition of Arthur Golden’s novel Memoirs of a Geisha came to a close. Director Rob Marshall (Chicago) and his dedicated cast members celebrated the conclusion of their hard work in Los Angeles and were given accolades by the producer, Steven Spielberg.
The undertaking sparked controversy early on when the three lead female roles were cast to non-Japanese actresses. Nevertheless, the girls have worked hard to depict an accurate portrayal of geisha life with the help of intensive training in shamisen, dance, and language. Authenticity and credibility have been concerns from the outset, but the cast and crew have dedicated much time and effort into paying homage to the Japanese culture and history.
The film takes the reader on a journey into the life of Nitta Sayuri, played by Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang. Sayuri is sold to a geisha house at the age of nine and thrust into a fiercely competitive underworld where she adapts and eventually becomes one of Kyoto’s most celebrated geishas. Fans of the novel have been eagerly anticipating the release of the film in hopes that it stays true to the internationally bestselling novel. -- Alicia Srinivas
Film: Memoirs of a Geisha (Sayuri in Japan)
When/Where: Winter 2005
Sequel to Popular Bollywood Film Scheduled to Begin Shooting in March
Bollywood director Rakesh Roshan finally met fans’ demands when he agreed to create a sequel to his popular action film Koi…Mil Gaya, starring Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta. The original film is about a mentally challenged boy who, through intervention by some extraterrestrial being, becomes somewhat of an action superhero.
This long-awaited sequel to Koi…Mil Gaya has been officially named Koi…Tumsa Nahin and shooting is scheduled to begin as early as March of 2005. Nevertheless, Hrithik is getting a head-start on the action necessary for the role and is currently training in Hong Kong under martial arts master Tony Ching, who trained the skilled actors in House of Flying Daggers. While Hrithik masters the art of wire training -- a technique in which one can leap up to 30 feet with the help of invisible wires -- Bollywood fans eagerly await the film’s release. -- Alicia Srinivas
Film: Koi…Tumsa Nahin
When: Shooting begins March 2005
Korean Heartthrob Shatters Foreign Presale Record
Bae Yong-joon, the Korean star of the hit television show Winter Sonata, enjoys unprecedented popularity among Japanese viewers. His latest film, Oechul (April Snow), recently broke the record for foreign presales for a Korean film, generating eight million dollars in Japanese presales alone. This figure is estimated to be more than the entire budget for the film!
Oechul is a melodrama written and directed by the critically acclaimed movie-maker Hur Jin-ho. In the film, Bae Yong-joon and actress Son Ye-hin meet at a hospital when their spouses are in a car accident. Upon learning that their spouses are involved in an extramarital affair, the two begin a risky romantic relationship that is sure to solidify Bae’s status as Japan's number one heartthrob. -- Alicia Srinivas
Celebrity "X-File" Scandal Rocks Korea
As a result of one of the largest scandals in the Korean entertainment world in recent days, celebrities have banded together in a boycott of the country’s leading advertising agency, CJ Entertainment. CJ Entertainment had commissioned a research group to collect information on both established and up-and-coming celebrities to assess their marketing potential for the company. However, the report was leaked to the public via the internet, shocking the public with what was essentially 113 pages of salicious gossip, including rumors of violent behavior, homosexuality, and drunkenness on the part of some of Korea’s best known actors, singers, and models. Many of the people mentioned in the report have joined together to bring lawsuits against CJ, and many more, including celebrities not mentioned in the report, are now refusing to work with CJ Entertainment. -- Jennifer Flinn
Controversy Erupts Over Film Portrayal of Korean President
Controversy and now legal injunctions are stalking the release of the movie The President’s Last Bang for its comedic portrayal of Park Chung-hee, the military dictator who was assassinated in 1979. Park’s children, including his daughter, Geun-hye, who leads the conservative GNP political party, and his son, Ji-man, were reportedly offended by the portrayal of their father as a sexual predator who enjoyed Japanese culture, including “trot” music. As a result, Park Ji-man filed an injunction against the filmmakers. The court ordered that the film remove scenes of documentary footage. However, Park’s victory was less than complete, and the film will be allowed to be released after the offending footage is removed, and that since it's a satiric comedy, the film was unlikely to be confused with a realistic portrayal of events by audiences. -- Jennifer Flinn
Korea Debates "Presidential Hanbok"
This year’s APEC summit is being held in the major port city of Busan, South Korea in November. As part of tradition, on the final day of the summit, the politicians who participate dress in the traditional costume of the host country. When the meeting was held in China, Tang dynasty-styled satin coats were worn, sparking a boom in the popularity of the style among consumers in China, as well as tourists. However, the Korean government is having some trouble deciding exactly which form of its native dress will grace the bodies of the 20 foreign leaders, which includes Ichiro Koizumi, George W. Bush, and Hu Jintao. Candidates include several varieties of outerwear and court clothes from the Joseon (Chosun) dynasty, and the country has yet to decide whether to go with a truly traditional form, or a modernized, contemporary hanbok. A final decision will be announced shortly before the summit commences. In the meantime, the city of Busan is encouraging its citizens to wear the national costume in order to show off the beauty of hanbok to foreigners attending the meeting. -- Jennifer Flinn
Date Posted: 2/3/2005