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'Gangnam Blues' Director Yoo Ha Admits Not Wanting Lee Min Ho In Cast, Thought Actor Was 'A Bit Cheesy' In 'Boys Over Flowers'

By Jesse Lent | December 12, 2014 08:19 PM EST

Fans of actor Lee Min Ho, looking to forward to his new film "Gangnam Blues," (literal translation "Gangnam 1970"), apparently have director Yoo Ha's wife to thank.

At a press conference on Friday at a movie theater in Seoul's Apgujeong neighborhood to promote "Gangnam Blues," Yoo casually quipped about his wife's fondness for the international star.

"I had a very hard time at home being brainwashed and pressured to use Lee Min Ho as the main lead," the 51-year-old filmmaker told the Korean news publication eNEWS.

"My wife is a huge fan of Lee Min Ho. After two years, I just accepted that working with Lee Min Ho is fate."

"The director said he didn't like me before," joked Lee, also onstage at the press event.

Yet, initially, Yoo's doubts about Lee's acting style were no laughing matter.

The director confessed that his lack of confidence in the star, best known for his leading roles on the South Korean dramas "Boys Over Flower," led him to doubt the actor had anywhere near the kind of range the role required.

"Honestly, I thought Lee Min Ho was a bit cheesy after watching 'Boys Over Flowers,'" Yoo said.

"He's so handsome that he needed to have a empty space, but he was like a comic book character. Our movie starts out with a junk dealer. I wondered if a comic book character could pull off being a junk dealer."

The director remembers reconsidering Lee for the role, once he realized the potential to exploit Lee's persona.

"When flower boy actors change their image completely, there's quite a huge effect," Yoo said. "I thought it would be good to [burn] Lee Min Ho's [rich man's son image from 'The Heirs'] to the ground. So that's how I thought of using Lee Min Ho."  

Lee admitted that playing so clearly against type in a role has taken its toll.

"They're airing reruns of 'The Heirs' on TV, but that's already from a year ago," said the actor.  "When I see it, I look younger."

It's a transformation that even Lee's friends have noticed.

"While I was filming 'Gangnam Blues' I met with friends after six months and they all asked why I aged so much," he said with a laugh.

"I'm currently in the recovery period. I'm working hard to get young again."

"Gangnam Blues" opens in South Korea on Jan. 21. The film depicts two childhood friends' rise into crime and politics in Seoul during the 1970s.

Tagged :  Lee Min Ho, Gagnam 1970, Gangnam Blues

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