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Korea’s rising stars

Onscreen and behind the scenes, talent hits the mark

Jang Hun, director

With his hit low-budget 2008 debut, “Rough Cut,” Jang was acclaimed as a talented rookie with both commercial instincts and artistic sensibility. His second feature, “Secret Reunion,” has garnered more than 4 million admissions this year, proving that he could be the next Bong Joon-ho in the Korean film industry. He’s just started his third film, “Highlands War,” a Korean-war themed pic set for a 2011 release by Showbox.

Seo Woo, actress

Seo turned heads and won awards from her star turn in the Park Chan-wook produced comedy “Crush and Blush” (2008). In this year’s Rotterdam opener “Paju,” she once again proved her acting chops as an unstable and conflicted teenager who falls in love with her sister’s husband. Her next film is “The Housemaid,” starring opposite leading light Jeon Do-yeon.

Kim Nam-gil, actor

Kim debuted as the lead in 2006’s low-budget melodrama “No Regret,” but although he got lots of work in supporting roles — “Modern Boy,” “Public Enemy Returns” and “Portrait of a Beauty,” among others — his career as a star had to wait until TV epic “Queen Seon Duk” was a hit last year. He narrated high-rated TV documentary series “Tears of Amazon,” also set to open theatrically in 3D this month, while feature “Lovers Vanished,” with Kim as the lead (true to his new heartthob status) is set for an April release, with M-line Distribution handling international sales.

Jo Sung-hee, director

Korean Academy of Film Arts graduate Jo’s short “Don’t Step Out of the House” was invited to Cannes’ Cinefondation last year. The horror short received a prize at Cannes, and landed other competition berths at the Dubai and Pusan fests. A recent commercial release of “House” has put him on the shortlist of producers. He is now in post-production on his debut feature, “End of Animal,” which is set to be distributed by CJ Entertainment later this year.

J.K. Youn, executive producer

Better known as the director of five films, including last year’s No. 1 hit “Haeundae,” he has successfully settled down as an executive producer. His production house JK Film co-produced “Haeundae” with CJ Entertainment, while presenting a detective thriller “Secret Reunion” in November and a melodrama “Harmony” in January, which recently passed the 3 million admissions mark. He was named producer of the year at the Director’s Cut Awards hosted by and voted on by Directors Guild of Korea in December. He has also produced “My Gangsterish Lover,” set for April, while developing family adventure film “Temple Stay” and preparing his own 3D film, “The Seventh Sector.”

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