Most weekend dramas target forty-fifty something year old viewers, so its success depends on how many housewife viewers it can attract. As a result, there are many makjangs that are veiled as family-friendly dramas. These makjang dramas usually have over-the-top themes of affairs and birth secrets embedded in them. MBC’s weekend drama “Sparkling” is not one of them. Director No Doo Chul, who has directed “Goodbye Francesca” (2005) and “Soulmate” (2006), made the shocking decision to cast Kang Dong Ho and Park Yoo Hwan as male leads for their debut drama. “Sparkling” takes on a fresh perspective by letting Jung Won (Kim Hyun Joo) and Geum Ran (Lee Yu Ri) know early on about their birth secrets. The drama started strong by bringing in 9.6% nationally and 11.2% in the Seoul vicinity (data from AGB Nielsen media research) its first episode and continues to perform well. It’s most recent episode broadcasted last Sunday brought in 14.8% nationally and 17.4% in the Seoul vicinity. MBC hasn’t reached such high ratings for its weekend drama since “A Woman of Endless Beauty Park Jung Geum”(2008).
Q&A with Kim Hyun Joo (Han Jung Won’s role)
Your drunken act is very impressive. How are you like when you’re drunk?
I enjoy drinking, but I’m not too strong. I try to limit myself to three glasses, and I laugh a lot when I’m drunk. It was hard to act drunk because if I overact it’ll seem very awkward. I tried portraying Jung Eun as a lovable drunk, and I’m very happy that the viewers perceive her that way.
We heard you went to the emergency room. How are you feeling now?
I wasn’t as sick as the news made it seem. The emergency room was the only part of the hospital that was open at the time. (laughs) I caught a cold because of the fluctuating temperatures from the change in seasons. It didn’t really affect our shooting schedules either. As an actor, I feel like it’s my duty to take care of my health so I eat wholesome foods like red ginseng and keep in shape.
We also heard that there’ll be a lot more scenes of you dancing. How are you preparing for them?
While Jung Eun is a fun character to act, it’s really hard to express her because she’s such a complex character. Sure she’s bright and lively, but there’s more to her and I feel like I have to show the audience new sides of her every episode. I performed a moonwalk for the first two episodes, but that was unfortunately edited out. Jung Eun isn’t a very good dancer, so I don’t really have to prepare beforehand. I just go with the flow depending on the mood.
The ratings seem to cruise along pretty steadily. Do you have a specific percentage you want to reach in mind?
I think the drama is well-received because it has a certain appeal. It’s been a while since I’ve participated in a drama and I felt pressured, but now I’m just so happy to be part of it. But then again, it’s too early to celebrate; we still have a long way to go. I’m hoping our drama reaches 35% viewership.
Q&A with Lee Yu Ri (Hwang Geum Ran’s role)
Can you feel the drama’s increasing popularity?
Definitely. When I go to the market, people used to ask me what I was up to. Now, they tell me how much they’re enjoying the drama. They cheer more for Geum Ran than me, and I guess that’s how I can get a sense of how well our drama is doing.
There are a lot of overnight shootings, how are you taking care of yourself….
Because most of my scenes take place at a bookstore, we have to start shooting at 10PM when it closes. It’s all shot overnight, so there are times when I’m extremely sleepy during filming. I worry about losing my stamina, but I can’t eat too much cause that’ll just make me more tired. I go out for walks to regain my focus.
Geum Ran will soon move in with her biological parents who are pretty wealthy. What are your thoughts about that?
I’m excited about the wardrobe change. At first Geum Ran was the type who didn’t have the money nor the time to focus on fashion. Now, there will be a lot more changes to her appearance and how she presents herself.
Q&A with Park Yu Hwan (Han Seo Woo’s role)
Do people start recognizing you now that you’ve made your drama debut?
I don’t yet really feel the popularity. I had hoped that people would recognize me and give me more side dishes when I eat out, but it hasn’t happened yet.
What are some of the advices you get from other actors?
There was a time when I made many mistakes while shooting a scene with Kim Hyun Joo and Kim Suk Hoon. I was extremely grateful that they were patient with me. Director No Doo Chul also complimented me on my improvements. However, I still have a lot of awkward moments, and I hope to continue to improve my acting.
There are a lot of memorable scenes where you use banmal (informal speech) to veteran actors.
At first, it was really uncomfortable, but they’ve been very cooperative. They even told me to do whatever I needed to do during filming without feeling self-conscious.
The drama is shot with a very tight schedule, you must be exhausted.
I am exhausted, but I think it’s because my body isn’t accustomed to these kinds of schedules yet. However, when I see the crazy schedules of some of the other actors, I tell myself to toughen up. I try to keep my stamina up by sleeping a lot and taking vitamins. I’m still young so I don’t really need to eat health foods like red ginseng yet. (laughs)
Q&A with Kang Dong Ho (Kang Dae Bum’s role)
Your debut drama is off to a great start. How do you feel?
I feel very lucky. It was a miracle landing this role, and I’m thrilled the ratings are doing so well. However, I don’t think I had any impact with the ratings boost, but I will work harder to pull my end of the deal.
You play a single dad in the drama. Isn’t it hard acting with a baby?
At first, the baby cried whenever it saw me. I tried to get closer to him by feeding him, and now I’m touched because he smiles at me.
Can you rate your acting skills?
I monitor myself by looking at my footages, and I see the differences in my acting with other veteran actors’. There are times where I get frustrated with myself for not being able to express my character fully. The cast and staff have also nicknamed me “one hundred Dae Bum” because it once took me a hundred takes to complete a scene. Everyone encourages me by saying that every rookie has a hard time on his/her first project.
Do you have a target viewership rating in mind?
I heard that if a drama has high ratings they get to party abroad once it ends. I would like to go abroad…to do so, I guess we need to surpass 40%.