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Story of land that made a king to unfold on screen

By Yoon Min-sik

  • Published : Aug 13, 2018 - 15:40
  • Updated : Aug 13, 2018 - 15:40

“Feng Shui,” starring Cho Seung-woo, Ji Sung, a political drama based in late Joseon era

In his last film “Inside Men,” Cho Seung-woo played a stubborn prosecutor out to take down a corrupt network among media, politics and business.

Now, he will suit up in hanbok to play a fictional land appraiser -- not by monetary value, but by East Asian art of geomancy “pungsujiri“ -- Park Jae-sang, who is to determine the fate of the turbulent Joseon era in “Feng Shui.”

“With all the awesome actors in the film, from Ji Sung and Baek Yun-sik to Moon Chae-won, there was no reason for me not to participate. There was also an infinite amount of trust toward director Park Hee-gon, whom I worked with in the ‘Perfect Game,’” said Cho at a press conference for the upcoming film in Seoul on Monday.

“Feng Shui” (Megabox)

“Feng Shui” mixes history with fiction, with the pivotal plot surrounding among the most storied royalty in Korean history, Heungseon Daewongun.

Tales of Heungseon, a distant relative of King Heonjong, claim he pretended to be a fool -- to the extent of public mockery -- in order to escape persecution by the powerful aristocrats of the time, the Kim family of Andong. This was when the power of the noble family was at its peak and the rights of the royal family -- including the king -- dwarfed in comparison.

Heungseon moved the grave of his father Prince Namyeon to a location thought to bring him good fortune, which came to pass as his son later went on to become Heonjong’s successor, King Gojong.

Portraying the multidimensional figure is Ji, whom Cho praised for his diligence. Having a 41-year-old actor play Heungseon is something new, as most period pieces depict his later days after his son became the king and he ruled as the regent.

“This is not Heungseon Daewongun that most of us know, but Heungseon before that. I had to trace his steps to guess what kind of life that he might have lived. He had the leadership of tolerance, which was what I focused on,” said Ji. “I thought the essence of the character was in his relationship with the people around him.”

Playing King Heongjong is Lee Won-keun, who described his character as “powerless, physically weak and constantly infuriated.”

“I never really get angry and can’t really scream. I asked the director how to express the character,” he said.

Director Park said Lee tenaciously asked for his opinion on how to play the character every day, which gave him confidence in the young actor.

The puppet master behind the young king was Kim Jae-geun, a real-life powerful nobleman who orders Park Jae-sang to find the plot of land that will help ensure the everlasting power and wealth of his family. He is expected to add depth and complexity through his noted acting skills, as he did in hit period piece “The Face Reader” in 2013.

Actor Kim Sung-kyun is a rare actor with an enormous range, from goofy, kindhearted, easy-going and hard-nosed to pure evil, and he plays Kim’s son Byeong-gi. He is a man of ambition out to keep power by whatever means necessary.

Producers of the flick said to watch for the clothing and homes of the characters, the designs of which indicate their characteristics.

As much as the movie is about the land, however, director Park stressed it is ultimately about people’s lives, a timeless topic.

Cho said that although it is set in the Joseon era, the messages are just as relevant today.

By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)