With the Olympics coming right up, there is a lot of interest in North and South Korea working together as a joint team. An example of how that has turned out in the past is played out in the 2012 movie, As One. It tells the true story of the World Table Tennis Championships in Japan in 1991, when the two Koreas sent a joint team. Two players, Hyun Jung-Hwa from the South and Ri Bun-Hui from the North, who had previously faced each other as rivals in regional games, overcame their differences and famously became friends.
The Characters and Actors
As One stars several actors many Kdrama fans will know and love, Ha Ji-won (Secret Garden, Hospital Ship) as Hyun Jung-Hwa and Bae Doona ( Forest of Secrets)as Ri Bun-Hui. Han Ye-Ri (Six Flying Dragons, Age of Youth) plays Ri’s roommate, a less experienced player. Since we recently talked about our favorite Kdrama puppies here, I will add that Lee Jong-Suk (While You Were Sleeping, W) plays a character from the North.
Since this event had been so well known in Korea, great care was taken to make the film accurate. Familiar actors played the coaches and announcers, but actual referees and players who had been at the tournament appeared as extras in the film. These players, including Hyun Jung-Hwa, coached the actresses extensively in table tennis. I thought it was pretty funny that the players from China, who show up in the regional as well as the world championships, were nowhere near as cute as the Koreans.
The main story is how the staff and players from the two Koreas deal with each other and the situation. I thought at first that the Chinese team would be the villains, but no, it turns out that role is taken by government officials on both sides who try to throw a spoke in the wheel. I wondered how much of the story is true, and having read up on it a little, decided most of it is. But considering that someone gets a crush on Lee Jong-Suk’s character and that they conveniently fall down on top of each other, I also figure some of it is poetic license.
This was a fun show to watch, the acting was good and I got involved with the characters. I noticed it during a Dramafever promotion and decided to give it a try, and I’m glad I did. There is a box on the title page stating that this movie is free to all users for this weekend only, so it may not be available for too long. In just a few days though, the Olympics will have started and we will have a real-time adventure seeing how North and South get along.
Telzeytalks of Dramas With a Side of Kimchi