Film ingenue Kim Tae-ri cast opposite Lee Byung-heon for Mr. Sunshine
Interesting choice! The lead actress for star writer Kim Eun-sook’s (The Lonely Shining Goblin, Descended From the Sun) much-anticipated upcoming drama, Mr. Sunshine, has been cast, and it’s a rising film actress making her drama debut, Kim Tae-ri. She’ll be joining longtime industry veteran Lee Byung-heon (Inside Men), giving this TV drama a boost of Chungmuro starpower.
Kim Tae-ri’s acting debut came in the 2015 film Moon Young so she’s very much still a rookie, but she put in an impressive performance in Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden last year, for which she won new actress awards at both the Blue Dragons and the Buil Film Awards. It was very much a star-making turn—I thought she was remarkable as the handmaiden, who provided the eyes through which we entered the bizarre and mysterious world of that movie. And upon further thought, the casting makes sense in that it seems to echo the dynamic that made Goblin such a success, pairing a promising film rookie opposite a familiar leading man with oodles of screen presence.
Mr. Sunshine is set in the late years of the Joseon dynasty in the early 1900s, during the time when Japan was aggressively asserting dominance over its neighbors, particularly Korea (which it annexed in 1910). The human melodrama tells the story of “the righteous army that went unrecorded in history but which must be remembered.” Lee Byung-heon plays one such soldier, who as a child was taken to the United States following the Shinmiyangyo incident of 1871, in which an American expedition turned into armed conflict, resulting in over 200 Korean deaths. He returns as an American soldier to “the country that abandoned him” when he’s stationed in Joseon, and there he meets a young aristocratic lady.
Kim Tae-ri will play the last in the lineage of the prominent aristocratic Go family, which was one of the pillars of the Joseon nation. Kim played a lowly servant who fell in love with the aristocrat’s daughter in The Handmaiden, so it’s fitting that she’ll get to turn the tables and be the aristocrat’s daughter for Mr. Sunshine. (Ironically, her character in this drama is called simply “Aegisshi,” a term referring to a noble young lady that’s a variant of “agasshi,” which is The Handmaiden’s Korean title.)
Sounds ambitious and potentially epic. I have to say I have my reservations about Lee Byung-heon (I think he’s a powerhouse actor but his personal stuff icks me out), but I don’t know if I can stay away from this fighting-for-freedom-against-colonial-overlords storyline, especially since Kim Eun-sook is probably going to rip our hearts out, reduce us to sobs, and make us like it. Mr. Sunshine is being planned for an early 2018 launch.
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