Korean movie star So Ji-sub has mixed feelings as he awaits his country's international film festival that kicks off next month with a romance that features him as a troubled former boxer in love.
The 34-year-old South Korean actor said Thursday in a news conference that he feels "nervous, honored and still dazed" by the fact that his movie "Always" will open the Busan International Film Festival, set to last from Oct. 6-14.
Considered Asia's top film event, the annual festival in the South Korean port city of Busan will draw internationally acclaimed directors like France's Luc Besson, Shunji Iwai of Japan and Taiwan's Apichatpong Weerasethakul, organizers say.
The actor So will be joined by fellow performers, including Japan's Joe Odagiri and Isabelle Huppert of France, organizers said. The South Korean actor was nominated for a best newcomer prize at the 2009 Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong.
So is considered an icon of the Korean Wave — a reference to the huge popularity of South Korean-made entertainment products around the world. He plays a retired boxer who falls in love with a woman slowly going blind in "Always," a 2011 film directed by Song Il-gon of South Korea.
Lee Yong-kwan, a festival director, wouldn't elaborate on why "Always" was picked as an opening movie, but he said it would help celebrate the opening of a modern $156-million theater in Busan that will host the event.
The festival is expected to draw a number of film investors and distributors from around the world. Lee said that the 16th edition will present more than 300 films from 70 countries and close with Japanese director Masato Harada's "Chronicle of My Mother."
Busan mayor Hur Nam-sik pledged to turn his city into a "sea of movies" during the festival. He said the organizing committee is working to allow fans to buy tickets through smartphones and receive information through digital tablets. South Korea is one of the world's most wired countries, and the use of smartphones and digital tablets has been increasing rapidly in recent years.
Busan International Film Festival: