First Bae Yong-joon, Now Lee Byung-hun

      April 08, 2005 17:39

      Lee Byung-hun

      Some 450 reporters flocked to a promotional press conference for Lee Byung-hun's film "Bittersweet Life" on Thursday -- evidence that the Korean Wave continues unabated in the island country despite strained relations between the neighbors.

      There were 150 cameramen alone on the roof of the Shinjuku branch of the Isetan department store, in fierce competition to capture Lee's slightest moves for posterity.

      The Japanese press including the Sankei Shimbun and Nikkan Sports ran detailed reports of the press conference in their Friday editions as curiosity about Lee reached fever pitch.

      Lee, dapper in a black suit and tie, said, "'Bittersweet Life' is an important work for me as an actor. I feel very strongly about it." He charmed the Japanese press with his sense of humor as he discussed various episodes that occurred during the shooting of the film.

      "When we shot the scene where I put the sugar in the espresso, the first two takes didn't turn out well," Lee said to polite laughter. "So director Kim Jee-woon tried dropping the sugar in himself, but he still didn't like it, so I ended up trying it once again. In the final cut, however, it's the director's hand that you see. It seemed he really wanted to get into the film." Lee also appeared live on TBS and will return to Korea after an interview with Fuji TV on Sunday.

      "Bittersweet Life" will debut in Japan at the end of the month, and Lee is well on his way to becoming a household name. About 100 bodyguards were mobilized for the actor's arrival at Narita Airport, and tickets to the preview of his film were selling for W400,000 (US$400) on Internet auction sites -- a popularity exceeding that of even Hollywood stars.

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