Location: The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore Date/Time: 14 December 2005. 14:30pm

When you have one of the hottest star of today Korea's movie industry descent into Singapore, be prepare for a round of media frenzy. Jang Dong Gun, the charismatic brooding actor of the hit "Brotherhood" and one of the main leads of Chen Kaige's latest epic fantasy, "The Promise" is at ease and all smiles when he strolled into Garden Room at Ritz-Carlton for his "The Promise" press conference. The grapevine has it that he was overwhelmed by the turnout of his fans at the airport earlier despite this being his first visit to our Lion City.

Through his interpreter, the lanky actor confessed that the hardest thing he faced during the gruelling six months shoot in the remote areas of China was none other than the lack of “kim-chi”, the unofficial national dish of Korea. Another difficulty was Jang has to memorise his lines in Chinese and the phonetics of the language proved to be quite a tough nut to crack. But he has co-star, Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada for company as both struggle to dub their lines in Mandarin.

Jang who is voted by Korea’s most influential film producers as the most bankable actor in his native land has appeared in productions that involved him in speaking another foreign language. The sci-fi action movie “2009: Lost Memories” has him speaking in Japanese and his upcoming blockbuster “Typhoon” (which will open locally here in 2006) in Thai and now with “The Promise” in the can, mandarin is added to his expanding resume.

When Director Chen Kaige first saw Jang in the 2001 movie, “Friends”, he decided that he's the one to play the role of the mighty general, Guanming in “The Promise”. But Jang’s pair of electrifying eyes changed Chen’s mind when he met Jang personally to discuss about the role. Instead, Chen reverses Jang’s role to the kind-hearted Kunlun, the slave. To cement their good working relationship, the elaborative Jang reveals that he looks forward to work with Director Chen again, hopefully on the sequel to “The Promise”. Mainly because both parties feel that there should be more development to the characters and plot. Jang even breaks the news that “The Promise” is running for Best Picture in the upcoming prestigious Golden Globe awards.

Pressed by the media which scene in the movie is the most memorable, Jang cited carrying Hong Kong actress Cecilia Cheung on his back proved to be the one. He added that the Korean audience’ impression of Cheung is more of a demure quiet girl. However after spending considerable time with her during the filming process of “The Promise”, he found out that Cheung is apparently a frank, down-to-earth person in reality.

With Jang’s chiselled good looks and his polite manners to the media members present, he certainly left a deep positive impression. We have all been taken on a tour to the promise-land by Jang Dong Gun and seriously we look forward to his next visit.

On a side note: As he walked past me while on his way out, he nodded and smile directly at me with his renowned electrifying gaze. For that moment, I finally realised why all the girls in Asia are so smitten by Mr Jang. This guy has proven he’s indeed charming even to the heterosexual males. I kowtow to that.

"The Promise" opens island-wide 15 December and review can be found here

Reported & Layout by Linus Tee | Photos by: Leosen Teo

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