Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • Korean Stars Over China
  • by XU Jia (The Chinese Film Market) / 05.07.2015
  • Ever since Hallyu (Korean Wave) flooded into China in the 1990s, there has been a growing number of Chinese people studying Korean. There are currently over 100 universities that offer the Korean language major in China, besides thousands of different private courses all over the nation. Some Chinese websites featuring Korean study guides have a daily page view of 200,000. Korean drama series and films are the best learning materials and Korean stars are their most exciting inspiration among these students (fans).

    01. LEE Min-ho

    LEE Min-ho is best-known among Chinese youth due to his role in The Heirs, a popular TV series receiving billions of clicks on China’s video sites. Fans call him Chang Tui Oppa (darling long legs). Since September 2012, there has been a post on LEE’s Chinese fan site to summon fans to say “Good Night” to LEE every day, and this post is still active today. LEE is also among the very few foreign stars who have been invited to perform in China’s most important gala: the annual Spring Festival gala.
    02. KIM Soo-hyun
    KIM Soo-hyun is the nation’s new favorite star in the long-lasting Korean Wave in China. They remember his performance clearly in TV dramas Giant, Dream High, The Moon Embracing the Sun as well as his films The Thieves (2012) and Secretly Greatly (2013). They sing odes to his face, eyes, hairstyle, lips and gestures, his persistence, modesty, humor and sincerity. It was reported that China’s first lady PENG Liyuan said to the press that President XI Jinping used to look like the male protagonist acted by KIM Soo-hyun in the TV series, You Who Came from the Stars - whether this was a PR stunt of his talent agency or the truth, it did caused louder buzz for China’s most beloved Korean actor KIM Soo-hyun. You Who Came from the Stars has also received billions of clicks on a Chinese video site: So great was the passion of the fans that the video site decided to offer Chinese subtitle synchronizing to this TV drama’s broadcast in South Korea this February, something unprecedented in China. A Chinese parody of this drama is also now available on China’s video sites.
    03. PARK Hae-jin
    Chinese audiences get to know about Korean stars mostly after seeing their TV series or films that were made in South Korea, but PARK Hae-jin stood out by acting in a drama series made by China’s main entertainment channel Hunan TV in 2011, with a Chinese cast in Qian Duo Duo Jia Ren Ji (How Does Qian Duo Duo Meet Her Husband). This series is considered as a continuation of the Korean series Famous Princesses that features PARK. PARK’s agent has kept posting his news both in Korean and in Chinese on Sina Weibo (China’s twitter) since 2011, together with high-resolution photo updates. His role in You Who Came from the Stars rekindled his popularity in China. PARK has joined Sean ZHANG, one of China’s most celebrated models, in a series called Nan Ren Bang: Friends that is soon to be broadcast in China. The two previously collaborated in the Korean series Doctor Stranger in 2014.
    04. LEE Jong-suk
    TV drama Pinocchio made by SBS has contributed to LEE’s widespread popularity among China’s Korean wave fans, who are attracted by his slim body, lip color, fair skin, sunny smile, funny acts and the small nevus by his right eye. Secret Garden, School 2013 together with his lead role in Doctor Stranger have also paved his way to fans’ heart - some claim it is LEE’s personal charm, rather than his cute looks alone that makes him extraordinary. His expertise in Taekwondo and interest in the game of go are also often talked about.
    05. KIM Woo-bin
    KIM started to get noticed by Chinese audiences via shows like A Gentleman’s Dignity, School 2013 and the film Twenty. By the time the drama series The Heirs was shown on Chinese video sites, KIM was already been quite well-known. After fans realized his glamour, they went on to watch his performance in variety show Running Man. Last year at the Busan Film Market, a successful Chinese producer was so quick to purchase the remake rights of The Con Artists featuring KIM that other Chinese producers could do nothing but sigh.

    06. Gianna Jun

    Gianna JUN has been well liked in China for over a decade. It all started with a film called My Sassy Girl (2001), in which JUN played a naughty girlfriend of a rather dull guy. Their playful love was like a Korean version of Love Me if You Dare (2003). It’s just that the girl is louder, more mischievous and violent. In 2001, it refreshed the traditional Asian vision about how a girl should behave and the film spread in most Asian countries like wildfire. JUN was only 20 that year and instantly became a superstar. In China, years after this charismatic appearance, people still refer to her as the “sassy girl”. But of course, Chinese audiences could not forget her roles in the films like Il Mare (2000), Daisy (2006), The Thieves and The Berlin File (2012), besides the super popular drama series You Who Came from the Stars. It may give you a start, but just think about it: Gianna JUN has remained an A-lister for almost 15 years.
    07. PARK Shin-hye
    When Chinese audiences watched PARK Shin-hye’s performance in Miracle in Cell No.7 (2013), they felt that her face looked familiar – then they realized that PARK was the little girl in the very popular Stairway to Heaven which aired ten years ago. From You are Beautiful to The Heirs and Pinocchio, PARK has established herself as yet another well-known actress in China.
    08. CHU Ja-hyeon
    Known for her role in the series Scent of Love made in Taiwan in 2003, CHU Ja-hyeon went on acting in Chinese TV dramas like The Legend of Chu Liu Xiang (2006), Da Qi Ying Xiong Zhuan (2007), Legend of Southwest Dance and Music (2013) and Three Weird Detectives in Chang’an (2014). This Korean “Snow White” gained most attention and fans via her Chinese TV series Hui Jia de You Hou . In a way, she is the Korean actress who is most familiar with the Chinese way of making TV dramas. She also acted in the Chinese film The Boundary.
    09. SONG Hye-kyo
    Shot in 2000, the influence of the Korean TV drama Endless Love still lingers in China: its leading actress SONG Hye-kyo is still celebrated here, together with her peers SONG Seung-heon and WON Bin. Full House (2004), however, exhibits SONG’s light-hearted side besides melodrama. SONG’s sweet persona crowned her a silver screen goddess from South Korea – she is the one to work with China’s most respected or popular stars, including Tony LEUNG Chiu Wai, ZHANG Ziyi, TAKESHI Kaneshiro and HUANG Xiaoming in The Grandmaster (2013) and The Crossing.
    10. Chae Lim
    Chae Lim was quite well-known in China for her role in Korean drama series All About Eve (2000). However, she seemed to lay low for about a decade before she reappeared in the Chinese TV series like The Yard of the Li’s (Li Jia Da Yuan) and The Story of Sha Er (2015)

    11. LEE Joon-gi

    Thanks to the film King and His Men (King and the Clown, 2005), LEE became known by his Chinese fans, who were fascinated by his seductive cross-dressing look. Several years later, he went to serve in the army, but audiences did not forget him. LEE is the leading actor in a new Chinese romance film Begin Again (Under the Sicily Sun), directed by LIN Yu-Hsien (Jump! Boys, 2008) and produced by Stanley KWAN, in which China’s box-office-winning actress ZHOU Dongyu (Breakup Buddies, My Old Classmate, Under the Hawthorn Tree [2010]) plays his romantic love.
    12. CHOI Si-won
    Fans are very happy that this Super Junior member spoke in fluent Chinese at the press conference of Dragon Blade, a film directed by Daniel LEE and featuring Jackie CHAN, Adrien Brody and John Cusack. CHOI also acts in Dante LAM’s new film To the Fore, soon to be released in China. Speaking the local language gives CHOI great advantage in getting roles and winning fans. Fall in Love with You Again is a TV drama he acted in with pop actress WANG Luodan.
    13. YUN Eun-hye
    Fans still remember her grace in Baby V.O.X. and she succeeded in transforming herself into an actress. From Princess Hours in 2006 to the recent Chronicle of a Blood Merchant, Yun Eun-hye is famous as an optimistic, uplifting and innocent persona, especially for her sunny role in TV drama, Coffee Prince 1st Shop. She also has a Sina Weibo account and now updates in Chinese.
    14. Victoria
    Born in 1987 in China, Victoria is another great example of how the Korean star system can forge young Chinese talents into superstars (other examples include LU Han and Kris, Who previously belonged to the K-pop group EXO). At the age of 20, Victoria was signed by S. M. Entertainment and received training in South Korea before rising to fame as the leader of pop band f(x) in 2009. During her two years of training, she learned Korean, hip hop, singing and dancing. She is the leading actress in the film My New Sassy Girl, after acting in two Chinese TV series. Fans call her “Sunshine Song” in China.
    15. KIM Ha-neul
    KIM’s best-received TV dramas include A Gentleman’s Dignity, On Air, Sunlight and 90 Days, Time to Love ; and films like My Tutor Friend (2003), Too Beautiful to Lie (2004), Blind (2011) and Lovers of 6 Years (2008). She is the leading actress opposite Chinese actor Aarif LEE in the Golden Horse Film Project Making Family, a much-anticipated comedy that is soon to be released in China and South Korea, and a film that can renew people’s perception on how to do China-Korea coproductions. Of course, it is produced by the mighty Jonathan KIM.

    16. KIM So-eun

    Korean TV series Boys Over Flowers made KIM So-eun famous in China. She presented at the press conference when Fantagio Entertainment announced they would build an office in Beijing and expressed that she is sure to come to China to take roles in films and that she wants to work with John WOO and Jay CHOU.
    17. YOO In-na
    Known for her roles in Queen In-hyun’s Man, High Kick and especially You Who Came from the Stars, YOO In-na stars opposite Korean actor AHN Jae-hyun in the new China- Korea co-produced rom-com Wedding Diary directed by Korean director HUH In-moo (Love, So Divine, 2004).
    18. CHA Ye-ryun
    CHA Ye-ryun is known for acting in Do Re mi Fa So La Si Do (2008), Little Black Dress (2011) and the TV series My Lovely Girl. Her photos and trivia are circulated among Chinese fans, but in order to make it in China or in co-productions, she probably needs more exposure, or more specifically, more roles.
    19. HONG Soo-ah
    Haunted Road, a Chinese horror film HONG has acted in, was very poorly reviewed in China. Her agent might need to think twice or just read more scripts before helping to sign her next contract.
    20. YEON Jung-hoon
    It will take time to prove whether YEON will become the next superstar after acting in the big-budget Skiptrace directed by Sam Fell and Renny Harlin (The Legend of Hercules, Die Hard 2: Die Harder [1990]) and led by Jackie CHAN and FAN Bingbing, but being cast in the film is already a big step forward. So far, the Chinese entertainment media are more interested in his relationship with wife and actress HAN Ga-in.
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