Spies, in sleek black suits, plotting revenge and, of course, tangled up in a love triangle — add in some of the hottest actors in the local entertainment industry, and you have yourself the highly anticipated drama “Runaway.”
Singer and actor Rain, commercial princess Lee Na-young and Hollywood blue chip Daniel Henney may be enough to explain why the press and fans have been in a frenzy about this series long before its airing, but wait, spies? Again?
The lovely cast
Indeed, the 20-episode soap has an impressive cast, but will it be able to live up to the hyped expectations?
At first glance, or at least in the first scenes shown during a press event, it seemed a bit familiar, not so unique.
Rain’s character Ji-woo is a detective, working for clients aiming for targets all around the world, but is faced with a dilemma. The attractive Jinny, played by Lee, approaches Ji-woo and asks him to find an unknown man but Ji-woo senses that there is a catch.
Just as he convinces himself that this case should not be carried out, Jinny tells him that if he agrees to work for her, she will reveal the killer who murdered his friend and fellow detective Kevin. Things get complicated when Ji-woo gets framed as Kevin’s murderer and is chased by an unknown group, and the two inevitably join hands to save each other.
“Compared to love stories, it’s true that action dramas require more physical challenges,” said producer Kwak Jeong-hwan, who created the hit drama “Slave Hunters,” at a press conference at Lotte Hotel, central Seoul, Monday. “We are striving to bring something new to the table and this is exactly why our drama will be different,” he said.
Just like the slave chase shown in the series “Slave Hunters,” characters in “Runaway” run. And oh, do they run: they run through the streets of Seoul, Japan, China, Macao and Hong Kong, on rooftops, on bridges and even inside buildings.
“I’ve worked on an action film in the United States, so I didn’t have such a hard time in (the fighting scenes), but the running? I think I ran all the miles I would have run till my death,” Rain said laughing.
Hard as he may have worked on the chase scenes; a slight chuckle was inevitable when Rain, with his white shirt opened to the waist, walked slowly towards the camera, removed his sunglasses with his suave fingers with a car exploding in the backdrop, just like a scene from one of his music videos.
The description of Rain’s character Ji-woo in the press release portrays him as a Korean version of James Bond: a “private investigations administrator,” one night romances, a sweet yet charismatic smile and a keen eye for tracking targets.
Jinny, on the other hand, is a woman of secrets, tracking Ji-woo yet keeping a distance.
“She’s the only character who has a big scar on her heart, yet she’s very active and is willing to fight for what she believes in,” said Lee, adding that she has been dreaming to play such a tough role.
Her one and only lover Kai “represents Korean men,” according to Henney.
“He’s very similar to Korean young businessmen: having to choose between business and love. I respect Kai because while men would choose one of them, he tries to go for both. This may be a bit greedy, but in a good way,” he said with a smile.
Along with the Korean cast, two famous Japanese actors will also make special appearances: Uehara Takako as Keiko, Ji-woo’s secret love interest, and Takenaka Naoto as Hiroki, Keiko’s father.
It has been a few weeks since Rain was scrutinized by minority shareholders and the public for his selling off of his agency’s shares, and also rumors about him leaving for the military, and perhaps fearing any related questions or further speculation, the press conference was held solely by the broadcaster, with only a couple of questions allowed to the singer/actor.
When asked about his plans regarding his military service, Rain nodded firmly, as if he was prepared for such a question.
“I will complete my military service next year,” he said, adding that rumors of him joining the air force probably came from plans for making a movie based on it.
After the drama, Rain is planning to star in the film “Pilot Project” (working title), a remake of the 1964 film “Red Scarves.”
Along with “Runaway,” another spy television series is expected to hit the small screen soon. “ATHENA,” a spin-off of the popular drama “IRIS,” will start airing in December.
“To be completely honest, I have to say it’s been quite a worry. I’m curious about what viewers will say when comparing the two, but I think the two series will be very different. I think (“Runaway”) will be more comical and also be able to satisfy a wider range of viewers,” the producer said.
Following the popular “Bread, Love and Dreams” which got over 40 percent in viewers ratings, “Runaway” may get a head start, but fans will have to wait and see if it will outrun other series and films that have dealt with the spy-love triangle plot before. The new soap starts airing tonight at 9:55 p.m. on KBS.