BUSAN – Veteran Korean star Choi Min-sik regaled the crowd at the BIFF Village on Saturday with tales of his adventures making Luc Besson’s sci-fi hit “Lucy,” as well as his most recent film, the Kim Han-min period epic “The Admiral: Roaring Currents,” which has done roaring business locally, selling nearly 19 million tickets.
Choi said he initially hesitated to play yet another Asian gangster in a Hollywood film – the drug lord who roughs ups Scarlett Johansson’s title heroine. “I saw a prejudiced attitude toward Koreans (in one of Besson’s earlier films) that I didn’t like,” he said. He signed on, however, when Besson assured him, with a clause in his contract yet, that his character what Choi described as “depictions demeaning to Koreans” would be verboten. “(While we were making the film) I really felt like (Besson) and I were like comrades in arms,” Choi said, though he declined to say whether he would work with the director again.
He also had praise for co-star Johansson. “She thought I was rather cute,” he joked but added that “she became totally serious when the cameras were on. Even when the camera was on me and she was just reacting to my lines, she stayed in character,” he added.
Asked about the differences between working in Hollywood and Korea, Choi said he was surprised how few there actually were. “Korean people tend to lack self confidence in dealing with Westerners, but I found that the communication barriers aren’t that great,” he said. “You can use hand signs and body language to make your point. When I talked to the cameraman or the sound guy, I found we spoke the common language of movies. It’s pretty much the same everywhere.”