In her new film “Love Phobia,” Kang Hye-jung gets to star opposite her real-life boyfriend Cho Seung-woo. The melodrama is the bittersweet romance of a man and a woman who ache for each other for 18 years. “It’s like the love fantasy most high school girls harbor in their mind. It’s like ‘Snow White’ or ‘Cinderella,’” Kang told the Chosun Ilbo. Does she harbor them too? “No matter how terrible love is in real life, every woman is entitled to dream such a dream and to be loved and respected,” she says.
Kang has mostly played either delinquent girls or simpletons, such as Mi-do in the film “Oldboy,” who unwittingly engages in incest with her father, and Yeo-il whose innocent smiles break down the wall between the South Korean and North Korean soldiers in “Welcome to Dongmakgol.” She got noticed in the Korean film industry with her ability to play extreme characters, a remarkable achievement for her age (24). At the same time, it made people curious about what her acting would be like if she played a more ordinary character such as the girl in her new film.
“Love Phobia” has been attracting plenty of hype because it casts a real-life couple. Asked how she evaluates Cho as an actor, Kang is ready with high praise. “I thought that Cho is perfect as an actor. He already knows what to do in his mind before each shot.” In one scene, where their characters kiss, Kang insisted the couple needs to get more emotional but Cho demurred. “When we watched the scene later on, I knew he was right.”
There are plenty of emotions for Kang to express in the movie, most of them having to do with running away from Cho. Audiences will make up their own minds how well Kang absorbs herself in the character, but “Love Phobia” is bound to mark an important milestone in her acting career.