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Director Park Chan Wook returns with erotic thriller The Handmaiden

  May 26, 2016  
Three years after his English-language directorial debut Stoker, award-winning filmmaker Park Chan Wook returns to Korean cinemas with the highly acclaimed erotic thriller The Handmaiden, which earned him his third Palme d'Or nomination at the Cannes Film Festival following Old Boy and Thirst. Starring Kim Min Hee (Right Now, Wrong Then) as a wealthy Japanese heiress, rookie star Kim Tae Ri as a maid, Ha Jung Woo (Assassination) as a fake count and Jo Jin Woong (A Hard Day) as the heiress's uncle, the film is an adaptation of Welsh author Sarah Waters's notable lesbian crime novel Fingersmith about the love between a rich heiress and her maid.

In 1930s Korea, Lady Hideko (Kim Min Hee), who lives with her uncle (Jo Jin Woong) in a luxurious mansion, becomes the sole heiress to her family fortune. In an attempt to seize the heiress's wealth, a swindler (Ha Jung Woo) pretends to be Count Fujiwara and hires pickpocket Sook Hee (Kim Tae Ri) to become her maid. Though Sook Hee is given the mission to convince Lady Hideko to marry Count Fujiwara, she finds herself sexually attracted to her new mistress.

While retaining the original novel's suspense and plot structure, Park relocates the story from Victoria-era London to Japanese-occupied Korea. Following the style of Park's "Vengeance Trilogy," The Handmaiden features elements of revenge and forbidden sexuality. Apart from the dark side of human nature and difference in social class, Park focuses on issues of sexuality and morality to bring crime and romance together in the film. Through the costumes, set design and depiction of language and lifestyles at the time, the auteur also wants to show Korea's development towards modernization.

Published in 2002, Fingersmith was nominated for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and Booker Prize for Fiction, and won the CWA Historical Dagger award. The novel has been adapted into a 2005 BBC drama starring Sally Hawkins, Elaine Cassidy and Rupert Evans, and a 2015 stage play written by Alexa Junge.

The Handmaiden has been pre-sold to 116 countries and is set to open in Korea on June 1, 2016.

Text / Pisces

Sodagreen leads 27th Golden Melody Awards nominations

  May 25, 2016  
Nominations for Taiwan's 27th Golden Melody Awards were recently unveiled. Sodagreen leads with eight nominations including Best Mandarin Album (Winter Endless), Song of the Year ("Rainy Night"), Best Composer and Best Band.

Frequent winners Tanya Chua (Aphasia) and A-mei Chang (AMIT2), both of whom garnered six nominations, will be competing against Peggy Hsu (Swing Inc.) for Best Mandarin Female Singer and Best Mandarin Album. Julia Peng (Hey Darling) and Xiao Xia (Self-Titled Album) are also nominated for Best Mandarin Female Singer.

Hebe Tien's hit Our Times movie theme song "A Little Happiness" is nominated for Song of the Year and Best Composer. Other Song of the Year nominations include Suming's Golden Horse-winning Wawa no Cidal theme song "Don't Give Up," A-mei Chang's "Matrimonial Society" and JJ Lin's "Twilight." Lin also picked up Best Album Producer and Best Composer nods through his album From M.E. To Myself, and he's shortlisted again for Best Mandarin Male Singer along with Namewee (Asian Killer), Li Jian (Li Jian 6th Album), Matzka (Vu Vu Reggae) and Kowen (Ni Bu Zhen De Xiang Liu Lang).

This year's newcomers make a strong showing. Besides Kowen, Su Yun Ying (Ming Ming) garnered a Best Mandarin Female Singer nomination, and Poetek () and Eli Hsieh (Progress Reports) are in the Best Mandarin Album race. Hello Nico (Familiar Destination), Chang and Lee (Self-Titled Album) and Hong Kong singer Yoyo Sham (Here) round out the Best Newcomer contenders.

Two-time Best Band winner Sodagreen seeks their third trophy against Mixer (Before Being Named), io Band (III), Cosmos People (10,000 Hours), Tolaku (Mr. Hormone) and Won Fu (Papa I Want To Be A Star). Meanwhile, Best Group nominations go to Cozy Diary (Live a Cozy Life), Sibonjie (Na Xie Fei Zhou Ren Jiao Wo De Shi), 911 (Jiu Si Wu Can) and Chang and Lee, who are also nominated for Best Taiwanese Album.

The 27th Golden Melody Awards will be held in Taipei on June 25.

Text / Garden
Translation / Sanwei

Warner Bros announces live-action Fullmetal Alchemist starring Yamada Ryosuke

  May 25, 2016  
Warner Brothers has announced production for the live-action adaptation of Arakawa Hiromu's best-selling fantasy action-adventure manga Fullmetal Alchemist. Hey! Say! JUMP's Yamada Ryosuke, who recently headlined the Assassination Classroom live-action movie series, takes the leading role of alchemist Edward Elric. Sori Fumihiko, who has helmed the manga adaptations Tomorrow's Joe and Ping Pong, will direct.

Serialized from 2001 to 2010, Fullmetal Alchemist is set in a Europe-inspired alternate world in which alchemy holds great scientific importance and transmutation is strictly regulated. Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric pay a grave personal cost when they attempt human transmutation to save their mother. The technique, which is forbidden by law, backfires and Edward's limbs and Alphonse's body are destroyed in exchange. To find a way to revive Alphonse, Edward joins the military as a state alchemist outfitted with armored prostheses and embarks on a search for the powerful Philosopher's Stone. Fullmetal Alchemist has previously inspired two anime series, two animated films and multiple video games.

Besides Yamada Ryosuke, Honda Tsubasa co-stars as Edward's childhood friend and mechanic Winry Rockbell and Dean Fujioka as Colonel Roy Mustang, a state alchemist and the leader of Edward's squadron. Other cast members include Kohinata Fumiyo as General Hakuro, Sato Ryuta as Lieutenant Colonel Maes Hughes, Renbutsu Misako as First Lieutenant Risa Hawkeye, Natsuna as Second Lietunant Maria Ross, Harada Natsuki as Maes Hughes's wife Gracia, Kunimura Jun as Dr. Marcoh and Oizumi Yo in a special appearance as Major Shou Tucker. As for the antagonist Homunculi, artificial humans with superpowers created from Philosopher's Stones, Hongo Kanata has been cast as Envy, Matsuyuki Yasuko as Lust and Uchiyama Shinji as Gluttony.

Slated for a winter 2017 release, Fullmetal Alchemist will begin shooting in Italy in early June.

Text / Sanwei

Romantic period K-Drama Hwarang: The Beginning unveils cast

  May 19, 2016  
Park Seo Joon (Kill Me, Heal Me), ZE:A's Park Hyung Sik (High Society), Go Ara (Answer Me 1994) and SHINee's Choi Min Ho (Because It's the First Time) will be playing the lead roles in the KBS romantic period drama Hwarang: The Beginning. Directed by Yoon Sung Shik (Bridal Mask, The King's Face) and written by rising screenwriter Park Eun Young, the star-studded drama focuses on the love triangle among two young elite warriors and a girl from a royal family in the Silla dynasty. It also co-stars Kim Ji Soo (Memory), Do Ji Han (Basketball), Jo Yoon Woo (Dating Agency: Cyrano), BTS member V in his acting debut, and Lee Kwang Soo (It's Okay, That's Love) who makes a cameo appearance in the first half of the drama. Hwarang: The Beginning is production company Oh! Boy Project's first period drama following past "flower boy" themed dramas like Flower Boys Next Door, Shut Up Flower Boy Band and EXO Next Door.

During the Silla dynasty, cold and charismatic Empress Dowager Jiso (Kim Ji Soo) forms the "hwarang," an elite group of young warriors who receive all aspects of education. Though he comes from a low-class family, Moo Myung (Park Seo Joon) enters hwarang and becomes the legendary warrior called Sun Woo Rang thanks to his intelligence. He falls in love with Ah Ro (Go Ara) from the royal family but the huge difference in social status poses an obstacle to their relationship. His love rival Sam Maek Jong (Park Hyung Sik), the prince of Silla, also becomes a warrior in order to conceal his royal identity. Trained to be a warrior, the weak prince grows strong and is finally enthroned as King Jinheung. Other warriors include optimistic Soo Ho (SHINee's Choi Min Ho) who is the leader of the other young aristocrats, clever and friendly Han Sung (BTS member V) whose grandfather is the royal family's antagonist, cool and intelligent Ban Ryu (Do Ji Han) and mysterious Yeo Wool (Jo Yoon Woo).

Hwarang: The Beginning starts airing in December on KBS and on Chinese broadcaster Letv.

Text / Pisces

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time to be adapted into TV drama

  May 11, 2016  
Japanese writer Tsutsui Yasutaka's oft-adapted 1965 sci-fi novel The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (a.k.a. Toki wo Kakeru Shojo) is set to return to screen again in a new live-action TV drama this summer. The latest version of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time will star up-and-coming teen actress Kuroshima Yuina and Sexy Zone member Kikuchi Fuma in their first leading roles.

Kuroshima Yuina, who has appeared in supporting roles in many productions in the last few years including Ju-on: The Final, Hana Moyu and Samurai Sensei, plays heroine Yoshiyama Mihane, a high school girl who acquires the ability to jump back in time after smelling a lavender scent in the school laboratory one day. With her newfound ability, she encounters various strange experiences, including the feeling of first love, and meets Ken Sogoru, a boy from the future played by Kikuchi. In a departure from previous adaptations, the new drama will approach the story from the perspective of Ken.

Tsuitsui's novel has inspired multiple film, drama and stage adaptations over the years, the most well-known being the 1983 film starring Harada Tomoyo, the 1994 TV drama starring Uchida Yuki, Hosoda Mamoru's award-winning 2006 animated feature and, most recently, the 2010 film starring Naka Riisa.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time TV drama will air on NTV in July.

Text / Sanwei

Jeon Do Yeon returns to the small screen with Korean remake of The Good Wife

  May 11, 2016  
Award-winning film actress Jeon Do Yeon returns to the small screen for the first time in 11 years in tvN's upcoming political/legal drama The Good Wife, a remake of the acclaimed American series starring Julianna Margulies and Matt Czuchry. In her first TV drama since the 2005 SBS hit Lovers in Prague, Jeon will play the leading role of a full-time mother who restarts her career as a lawyer after her husband is sent to prison. Director Lee Jung Hyo (Witch's Romance) and screenwriter Han Sang Woon (Spy) pair up to reinterpret the highly praised CBS drama together with a stellar cast that also includes Yoo Ji Tae (Healer), Yoon Kye Sang (Last), Kim Seo Hyung (Assembly) and After School's Nana.

In The Good Wife, prosecutor Lee Tae Joon (Joo Ji Tae) never shows mercy when dealing with crimes, even if they involve powerful politicians and plutocrats. Due to his indiscreet behavior, he gets involved in a political scandal and is sent to prison. His wife Kim Hye Kyung (Jeon Do Yeon), who stopped working after marrying 13 years ago, then becomes the family's sole breadwinner. Restarting her profession as a lawyer, she joins a law firm managed by her old schoolmate and love interest Seo Joong Won (Yoon Kye Sang) and co-CEO Seo Myung Hee (Kim Seo Hyung), and works with a bunch of rivals and colleagues fresh out of law school, including her assistant (After School's Nana).

Aired for seven seasons from 2009 to 2016, the original The Good Wife garnered myriad awards and received numerous Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Lead actress Julianna Margulies and the supporting cast including Archie Panjabi, Martha Plimpton and Carrie Preston also won various acting prizes for their outstanding performances in the drama.

The Good Wife begins airing on tvN on July 8, 2016.

Text / Pisces

Kamenashi Kazuya and Tsuchiya Tao to star in P to JK adaptation

  May 9, 2016  
KAT-TUN's Kamenashi Kazuya and Tsuchiya Tao (Orange) have been announced as the leads of the live-action adaptation of Miyoshi Maki's shojo manga P to JK. The romantic film marks the first collaboration between the two actors.

Serialized since 2013, P to JK revolves around 23-year old police officer Kota and high school girl Kako who first meet on a group blind date during which Kako pretends to be a college student. Though he initially shows interest in Kako, Kota rejects her after finding out her real age. A series of incidences brings them back together and strengthens their bond, leading Kota to propose.

Set to begin shooting in June, P to JK will be directed by Hiroki Ryuichi who is fresh off two other shojo manga adaptations, Strobe Edge and Wolf Girl and Black Prince.

P to JK is planned for a spring 2017 release.

Text / Sanwei

The 52nd Baeksang Arts Awards nominations

  May 3, 2016  
Nominations for the 52nd Baeksang Arts Awards were recently unveiled. Shin Won Ho's nostalgic drama Answer Me 1988 leads in the Television section while Ryoo Seung Wan's crime thriller Veteran and Choi Dong Hun's period espionage thriller Assassination received the most nominations in the Film section.

In the Television section, Answer Me 1988 leads with nine nominations including Best Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Leading Actress (Ra Mi Ran), Best New Actor (Ryu Jun Yeol, Ahn Jae Hong and Lee Dong Hwi) and Best New Actress (Ryu Hye Young and Girls’ Day’s Lee Hye Ri). Descendants of the Sun and Six Flying Dragons are the second most nominated dramas with five nominations each including Best Drama, Best Director and Best Screenplay.

Song Joong Ki (Descendants of the Sun) will be competing against Yoo Ah In (Six Flying Dragons), Nam Gung Min (Remember), Jo Jin Woong (Signal) and Joo Won (Yong Pal) for Best Actor. Song Hye Kyo (Descendants of the Sun) is joined in the Best Actress race by Kim Hyun Ju (I Have a Lover), Critics Choice Awards winner Kim Hye Su (Signal), Ra Mi Ran (Answer Me 1988) and Hwang Jung Eum (She Was Pretty).

Besides the five nominees from Answer Me 1988, Byun Yo Han (Six Flying Dragons) and BTOB’s Yook Sung Jae (Who Are You: School 2015) are nominated for Best New Actor, while Kim Go Eun (Cheese in the Trap), Park So Dam (Because It's The First Time) and Lee Sung Kyung (Queen's Flower) received nods for Best New Actress.

In the Film section, both Veteran and Assassination got five nominations including Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay. The remaining Best Film nominees are Jung Ji Woo's Fourth Place, Woo Min Ho's Inside Men and Lee Joon Ik's Dong Ju: The Portrait of a Poet.

Jeon Ji Hyun, who recently took the honor of Best Actress at the 52nd Grand Bell Awards, is again nominated for Best Actress with one-time winner Kim Hye Su (Coin Locker Girl), Lee Jung Hyun (Alice in Earnestland), two-time winner Jeon Do Yeon (The Shameless) and Han Hyo Ju (The Beauty Inside). Yoo Ah In, who was crowned at the recent Blue Dragon Film Awards, is nominated for Best Actor again with Song Kang Ho for their impressive performances in The Throne. Baek Yoon Shik and Lee Byung Hun from Inside Men and Hwang Jung Min from Veteran are in the competition as well.

Best Supporting Actor nominees are Bae Sung Woo (Office), Um Tae Goo (Coin Locker Girl), Oh Dal Soo (Veteran), Lee Kyung Young (Minority Opinion) and Jo Jin Woong (Assassination), while Best Supporting Actress nods go to Ra Mi Ran (Himalayas), Ryu Hyun Kyung (Office), Uhm Ji Won (The Silenced), Jang Young Nam (The Classified File) and Jeon Hye Jin (The Throne).

For Best New Actor, The Coin Locker Girl earns two nominations for Go Kyung Pyo and Park Bo Gum, together with Park Seo Joon (Chronicles of Evil), Park Jung Min (Dong Ju) and Tae In Ho (Shadow Island). Best New Actress nominations go to Park So Dam (The Priests), Kwon So Hyun (Madonna), Kim Sae Byuk (A Midsummer's Fantasia), Kim Shi Eun (Su Saek) and Jung Ha Dam (Steel Flower).

The real time popularity polls for Most Popular Actor and Actress in both sections are in full swing. EXO's D.O. (Pure Love) and miss A's Bae Suzy (The Sound of a Flower) currently top in the Film section, while Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo from Descendants of the Sun dominate in the Television section.

Text / Pisces

Yoon Shi Yoon and Kim Sae Ron star in fantasy drama Mirror of the Witch

  April 28, 2016  
Yoon Shi Yoon (Prime Minister and I) and teen actress Kim Sae Ron (A Girl at My Door) take the leading roles in JTBC's fantasy romantic period drama Mirror of the Witch, which is Yoon Shi Yoon's first drama since his military discharge. Inspired by the Korean medical book Dongui Bogam compiled by famous imperial physician Heo Joon, the drama directed by Jo Hyun Tak (Maids) combines the life of Heo Joon with witchcraft.

Mirror of the Witch is about the early life and romance of Heo Joon who falls in love with a witch. The drama also features Kwak Shi Yang from Night Flight and Oh My Ghostess, Yeom Jung Ah (Royal Family), Lee Yi Kyung (Maids), Jang Hee Jin (Scholar Who Walks the Night), Moon Ga Young (EXO Next Door) and Jo Dal Hwan (Ugly Love).

Heo Joon (Yoon Shi Yoon) is a young, passionate man who loves helping people in need. Born to a concubine, he is despised by others despite his cleverness and outstanding martial arts skills. Seo Ri (Kim Sae Ron), originally called Yeon Hee, is the daughter of Queen Shim (Jang Hee Jin). Unable to have a child, Queen Shim asks for help from powerful witch Hong Joo (Yeom Jung Ah) and finally gets a boy and a girl, but the twin girl is put under a curse and becomes a white-haired witch. The abandoned little princess is saved by Hong Joo's opponent Choi Hyun Seo (Lee Sung Jae). Harboring a crush on Yeon Hee, Choi Hyun Seo's son Poong Yeon (Kwak Shi Yang) takes care of her throughout the years and helps her communicate with the outside world after she turns into witch Seo Ri and moves to the mountains. Seo Ri and Heo Joon meet in the mountains one day and develop a romantic relationship, thus forming a love triangle.

Mirror of the Witch begins airing on JTBC on May 13.

Text / Pisces

Vicki Zhao reveals cast of second directorial film

  April 27, 2016  
Award-winning actress Vicki Zhao recently unveiled the cast of her second directorial effort No Other Love (Mei You Bie De Ai) through the film's first set of promotional images. The simple black-and-white teasers show close-up shots of the eyes of the eight main cast members: Chinese actresses Joan Chen (The Sun Also Rises), Yolanda Yuan (The Continent), Ning Jing (Lady of the Dynasty), Faye Yu (A Thousand Years of Good Prayers) and Qi Xi (Mystery), singer Han Hong (So Young), Taiwan actor Leon Dai (Parking) and Japanese actress Mizuhara Kiko (Attack on Titan).

In 2013, Zhao made a big splash with her blockbuster directorial debut So Young. The coming-of-age romance earned the actress-turned-director many awards, including Best Director at the 32nd Hundred Flowers Awards, and the distinction of being the first Chinese female director with a film grossing over 100 million yuan at the box office.

Zhao works again with So Young screenwriter and producer Li Qiang for her highly anticipated follow-up, which began shooting in March. Based on German writer Ingrid Noll's 1991 novel Der Hahn ist tot, No Other Love is about a horticulturalist who thought her love life had reached a dead end until she falls head over heels for a middle-aged academic. Her passion ignited, she puts everything on the line for love.

Text / Sanwei

SHINee to make Japan comeback with "copycat" group SHINyan

  April 25, 2016  
SHINee will be releasing the Japanese single Kimi no Sei de ("Because of You") on May 18. The single will be promoted together with the "copycat" group SHINyan, formed by five kitties created based on the K-pop group members' personalities and interests.

"Because of You" is a heartrending medium-tempo dance number about the pain of separation. The song was first revealed in the group's fourth Japan concert tour SHINee World 2016 DxDxD held from March 24 to 26 this year in Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo. The single will also contain the new song Nothing to Lose.

On the day of SHINee's comeback, kitty group SHINyan will debut in Japan with "Because of You for Cat," which is a cat version of "Because of You." The cat version's music video will be unveiled as well.

SHINyan is a group of five little cats that helps promote SHINee's Japanese songs when they are busy with overseas promotion. The group is created based on the SHINee members' personalities and hobbies. Group leader ONEWNyan is a chicken-loving cat with droopy ears. Main vocalist JONGNyan is a cool cat with a slim and flexible body. Fashionista KEYNyan is a smart cat that understands human language. Rapper MINONyan is a large, charismatic and athletic cat with velvety long fur. Dancing machine TAEMINyan is a shy cat with aquamarine eyes.

Text / Pisces

Death Note returns ten years later with new film

  April 25, 2016  
Popular manga Death Note, which inspired a series of blockbuster films in 2006, will return to cinemas this year with a new live-action film titled Death Note Light up the NEW world. Set ten years after the events of the 2006 films, Light up the NEW world stars Higashide Masahiro, Ikematsu Sosuke and Suda Masaki in a new story helmed by Sato Shinsuke, the director of the Gantz and Library Wars adaptations.

Serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from 2003 to 2006, the original Death Note by Ohba Tsugumi and Obata Takeshi revolves around disaffected university student Light who discovers a notebook that allows him to kill individuals by writing their names within. Light uses the "death note" to execute his own brand of justice under the moniker Kira, but he meets his match in quirky genius detective L. Besides the 2006 films starring Fujiwara Tatsuya and Matsumoto Kenichi, Death Note has also been adapted into an anime series and most recently, last year's TV drama starring Kubota Masataka and Yamazaki Kento.

In Death Note Light up the NEW world, six death notes continue to wreak havoc and claim lives around the world ten years after the battle between Kira and L. Higashide Masahiro stars as Mishima, an investigator on Japan's special death note task force, while Ikematsu plays L's successor, detective Ryuzaki, and Suda Masaki plays a cyber terrorist following in the footsteps of Kira.

Death Note Light up the NEW world opens in Japan on October 29, 2016.

Text / Sanwei

IU, Lee Jun Ki & Kang Ha Neul star in Korean remake of Startling By Each Step

  April 14, 2016  
IU, Lee Jun Ki and Kang Ha Neul take on the leading roles in SBS's time-travel period drama Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (formerly titled Moon Lovers), the Korean television adaptation of Chinese writer Tong Hua's hit novel Startling By Each Step (a.k.a. Bu Bu Jing Xin). The original novel is about a modern woman who wakes up in the Qing Dynasty after an accident and becomes involved in the princes' vigorous competition for the throne. Director Kim Kyu Tae, who helmed popular dramas such as IRIS, The Winter, The Wind Blows and It's Okay, That's Love, and screenwriter Jo Yoon Young (Cinderella Man) team up to create a new version of the historical fantasy story in the context of Korean history.

The Korean adaptation features myriad popular stars in the cast. Singer IU plays the female lead Ko Ha Jin, a 34-year-old cosmetics salesperson in modern Korea who through a blip of time becomes a16-year-old teenage girl called Hae Soo in the Goryeo Dynasty. Lee Jun Ki plays the role of the ruthless 4th Prince Wang So nicknamed "Dog Wolf" because of his cold-bloodedness. Prince Wang So falls in love with Hae Soo and is eventually crowned King Gwangjong (the 4th king of Goryeo). Kang Ha Neul takes the role of the aggressive 8th Prince Wang Uk who is Wang So's biggest rival for the throne.

The other princes are played by musical star Kim San Ho as Crown Prince Wang Mu or King Hyejong (the 2nd king of Goryeo), Hong Jong Hyun as the arrogant 3rd Prince Wang Yo who becomes King Jeongjong (the 3rd king of Goryeo), Yoon Sun Woo as the 9th Prince Wang Won who wants to win over Hae Soo to show his superiority over his brothers, EXO's Byun Baek Hyun as the playful 10th Prince Wang Eui, model-actor Nam Joo Hyuk as the free-spirited 13th Prince Wang Uk who is Hae Soo's soulmate, and Ji Soo as the charming 14th Prince Wang Jeong.

Other key members of the royal family include Kang Han Na as Princess Hwangbo Yeon Hwa who eventually becomes King Gwangjong's wife Queen Daemok, and Jo Min Ki as King Taejo, the founding father of the Goryeo Dynasty. In addition, Kim Sung Kyun plays an astrologist/fortuneteller who helps Hae Soo, singer Z.Hera plays Hae Soo's maid, and Girls' Generation member Seo Hyun plays Woo Hee, the last princess of the Later Baekje kingdom who becomes a gisaeng in the imperial palace to conceal her royal identity.

Invested by NBC Universal and YG Entertainment, Scarlet Heart: Ryeo is the first Korean drama adapted from a Chinese novel. Tong Hua's novel has previously been adapted twice, the most famous being producer/director Lee Kwok Lap's 2011 Chinese TV drama which won " Most Popular Foreign Drama of the Year" at the 7th Seoul International Drama Awards and earned stars Nicky Wu and Cecilia Liu prizes at the 18th Shanghai TV Festival's Magnolia Awards.

Scarlet Heart: Ryeo is set to air on SBS in the coming autumn.

Text / Pisces

New K-pop girl group from Produce 101 to debut as IOI

  April 8, 2016  
The top 11 contestants of Mnet's survival show Produce 101 were announced on April 1 during the final episode. The program, which began airing on January 22, is a project to create a limited-time K-pop girl group with members selected through online voting from a pool of 101 trainee contestants. The winning members will make their official debut in May as a group called IOI managed by YMC Entertainment.

First place went to Jeon Somi (JYP Entertainment), who automatically becomes the center of the group, followed by Kim Se Jeong (Jellyfish Entertainment) and Choi Yoo Jung (Fantagio Entertainment). The remaining spots are taken by (in order of ranking) Kim Chung Ha (M&H Entertainment), Kim So Hye (Redline Entertainment), Pinky Zhou Jieqiong (Pledis Entertainment) from Shanghai, Jung Chae Yeon (MBK Entertainment), Kim Do Yeon (Fantagio Entertainment), Kang Mi Na (Jellyfish Entertainment), group leader Lim Na Young (Pledis Entertainment) and Yoo Yeon Jung (Starship Entertainment).

The rookie girl group will officially debut in May and release a mini-album in a unique concept. The title song of their album has not yet been decided but the girls first released the spirited dance single Crush on April 5 to greet their fans. In the following ten months, IOI will release four albums including two group albums and two subunit albums. They have been invited to model for cosmetics brand Etude House, alcohol brand Hite-Jinro's Isul Tok Tok and energy drink brand Haneul Bori. They will also participate in the variety shows Weekly Idol and Cool Kiz on the Block.

Among those eliminated from the show, some will also debut very soon. Star Empire Entertainment's Han Hye Ri, Kang Shi Hyeon and Kim Yoon Ji will debut in a group named OMZM. Cube Entertainment's Kwon Eun Bin has already joined CLC and will begin activities with the group for their Japan debut. Music K's Kim Ju Na, who participated in the soundtrack of SBS drama High Society, will release her first solo album in June. Show Works Entertainment's Hwang In Sun, a former member of Smile. G, will debut in April with her first solo album.

After the success of Produce 101, Mnet is preparing for a second season titled Boys 24. Male trainees from major entertainment agencies including YG Entertainment, SM Entertainment, Woollim Entertainment and Jellyfish Entertainment, as well as applicants with musical, theater and film backgrounds are welcome to join the competition. After vigorous vocal and dance training and foreign language classes, the final 24 contestants will hold performances in Myeongdong for 365 days to promote the Korean Wave and attract tourists. Boys 24 is slated to air at the end of 2016 or in early 2017.

Text / Pisces

Port of Call and Ten Years win at 35th Hong Kong Film Awards

  April 5, 2016  
The 35th Hong Kong Film Awards were held on April 3, 2016. Philip Yung's crime thriller Port of Call, which had led with 13 nominations, swept seven awards including Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography (Christopher Doyle) and all five acting prizes: Best Actor for Aaron Kwok, Best Actress for Jessie Li, Best Supporting Actress for Elaine Jin and both Best Supporting Actor and Best New Performer for Michael Ning. Indie hit Ten Years, a dystopian omnibus that imagines the state of Hong Kong a decade later, won Best Film amid much controversy.

Following wins at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards and the Golden Rooster Awards, Tsui Hark was named Best Director again for his period action-adventure The Taking of Tiger Mountain, which also garnered a technical prize for Best Sound Design. Fantasy blockbuster Monster Hunt won Best New Director for Raman Hui, as well as Best Visual Effects and Best Costume & Make Up Design (Yee Chung Man).

Johnny To's workplace musical Office won Best Art Direction (William Chang, Yau Wai Ming) and Best Original Film Score (Lo Dayu, Chan Fai Young), while Best Original Film Song went to "We Almost Fly" performed by Feanna Wong from the film She Remembers, He Forgets. SPL 2: A Time for Consequences's Li Chung Chi was recognized for Best Action Choreography and Ip Man 3 picked up a technical prize in Editing. Hou Hsiao Hsien's The Assassin was named the Best Film From Mainland and Taiwan.

Voice actor Chow Wing Kong was recognized with the Professional Achievement Award. Actress and singer Li Li Hua, who was also honored at last year's Golden Horse Awards, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Text / Sanwei

NMB48's Yamamoto Sayaka & Yagura Fuko at Hong Kong International Film Festival

  April 5, 2016  
NMB48 members Yamamoto Sayaka and Yagura Fuko visited Hong Kong on April 3, 2016 to promote the film Raise Your Arms and Twist - Documentary of NMB48, which had its international premiere at the 40th Hong Kong International Film Festival. During the film's press conference, the two J-pop idols as well as director Funahashi Atsushi shared their thoughts on the documentary which chronicles the daily lives and behind-the-scenes stories of the Japanese girl group.

For Funahashi Atsushi, who is best known for the Nuclear Nation documentary series about people displaced by the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Raise Your Arms and Twist represents a significant change in topic from his previous works. The director, who hails from Osaka, admitted that he too had never thought about making an idol movie before, but in the process of shooting the documentary, he found the idol industry with its "structure and hierarchy" to be very interesting and Osaka girls to be very funny. "I really wanted to depict the dynamics inside of this idol community," he stated. By focusing on members of different rankings and showing what occurs behind the scenes, he hopes to let outsiders see the "light and shadow" of the idol industry and the difficult process of becoming an idol.

Yamamoto Sayaka, the leader of NMB48 and one of the most popular members out of AKB48 and its sister groups, expressed that she's happy that their real selves could be portrayed on film. Yagura Fuko said that watching the film also allowed her to learn about other members' feelings and experiences. As the girls' family members appear in the film, Yagura happily noted that her little brother was excited about making his movie debut while her mother felt a bit embarrassed.

Based in Namba, Osaka, NMB48 was launched in 2011 as the first sister group to the top-selling idol act AKB48 produced by Akimoto Yasushi. In the five years since debut, NMB48 has released two #1 albums and 13 singles to date, and sold over six million records. The group's newest single Amagami Hime will be released later this month on April 27.

See photos from the press conference on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

f(x) leader Victoria stars as the New Sassy Girl

  March 31, 2016  
f(x)'s Victoria Song will make her silver-screen debut as the sassy girlfriend in Jo Geun Sik's romantic comedy My New Sassy Girl, a Korean-Chinese sequel to the 2001 box-office smash My Sassy Girl. Cha Tae Hyun remains in the role of the hapless Kyun Woo. The funny love story is about the married life of Kyun Woo and his new sassy girl. The film also co-stars Mina Fujii as Yuko, the third wheel to the newlywed couple.

Heartbroken after breaking up with his former lover, Kyun Woo (Cha Tae Hyun) meets his first love Xing Xing (Victoria Song), a Chinese girl who was teased by her elementary school classmates due to her broken Korean. They fall in love again and tie the knot despite the opposition from both families. However, their married life is beyond Kyun Woo's imagination.

Jeff Chang again sings the film's classic theme song I Believe in Chinese, with new arrangement and lyrics. The sub-theme song I Believe 2 is performed by singer-songwriter Silence Wong.

New Sassy Girl is slated for simultaneous release in Korea and China on April 22.

Text / Pisces

Hey! Say! JUMP's Inoo Kei to make film debut in Peach Girl adaptation

  March 30, 2016  
Hey! Say! JUMP member Inoo Kei and up-and-coming actress Yamamoto Mizuki have been cast in the live-action film adaptation of Ueda Miwa's shojo manga Peach Girl. The film will mark Inoo's silver-screen debut and the first leading role in a romantic feature for Yamamoto, following appearances in films like The Kirishima Thing, Black Butler and Sadako vs. Kayako.

Serialized from 1997 to 2004, Peach Girl revolves around high school student Adachi Momo who is often misunderstood because of her tan skin and dyed red hair. She has only one friend, Sae, who turns out to be the very person spreading unsavory rumors about her around school. Momo has a crush on classmate Toji, but their relationship hits rough waters due to Sae's sabotage and the appearance of easygoing playboy Kairi who also likes Momo. Inoo will play the role of Kairi in the film.

Peach Girl was previously adapted into a Taiwan idol drama starring Vanness Wu, Annie Wu and Kenji Wu in 2002, and an anime series in 2005. The film will be directed by One Hitoshi, who adapted Bakuman to great success last year, and scripted by Yamaoka Junpei (Kamen Teacher).

Peach Girl begins shooting in late March/early April and is slated for a 2017 release.

Text / Sanwei

Ji Sung and Girls' Day Hye Ri to star in SBS drama Entertainer

  March 22, 2016  
Ji Sung and Girls' Day's Hye Ri have been cast in the lead roles of SBS's upcoming TV drama Entertainer. Director Hong Sung Chang (You're Beautiful) and screenwriter Yoo Young A (Miracle in Cell No. 7) will team up to tell the underdog success story of a small entertainment company CEO in light-hearted manner.

After the success of Kill Me, Heal Me, Ji Sung takes on the challenge of playing entertainment agency CEO Shin Suk Ho, who is determined to form a successful idol band. Having shown her acting talent in the hit tvN drama Reply 1988, Girls' Day member Hye Ri turns into 22-year-old orphan Jung Geu Rin who sells fish for a living before becoming the manager of Suk Ho's new idol band. She gradually develops a romantic relationship with Suk Ho.

CNBLUE's Kang Min Hyuk (The Heirs) takes the role of the band leader Cho Ha Neul, a music genius with a wonderful voice. Chae Jung Ahn (Yong Pal) co-stars as an entertainment company CEO and Teen Top's L. Joe plays a band member.

Entertainer is scheduled to start broadcast on April 20.

Text / Pisces

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