Two leading South Korean television stars Song Hye-kyo and Park Bo-gum make their much-anticipated returns on Wednesday in tvN’s new romantic drama Encounter.
Actress Song, who had a leading role in the 2016 pan-Asian smash-hit drama Descendents of the Sun, and heart-throb actor Park, star of another 2016 television hit, the period drama Love in the Moonlight, will portray a couple who meet and slowly fall in love.
“You need courage – both big or small – when you meet someone and start to develop the encounter into something special,” Park Sin-woo, who directed the series, said in Seoul last week.
“The drama is about the beautiful process.”
The new 16-part romance, which will be shown on Wednesdays and Thursdays – tells the story of Cha Soo-hyun, played by Song – a politician’s daughter and conglomerate-heir divorcee, who has never lived her own life – and Kim Jin-hyuk (Park), a free-spirited young man who lives a simple life.
The two, who are from very different socio-economic backgrounds, meet in Cuba while on their travels and start a whirlwind romance.
The series – written by Yoo Young-ah, whose previous work includes the films Miracle in Cell No 7 (2013) and Take Off 2 (2016) – is the first K-drama to have been filmed in Cuban cities.
Song, who married her Descendents of the Sun co-star Song Joong-ki in 2017, said she expected “something beyond one’s imagination” when she heard that the writer-director duo were working together.
“Compared with Descendents, my forthcoming drama is smaller in scale, but more focused on detailed descriptions of emotions and personal relationships.
“Also, another interesting point will be my character’s transformation, from someone who is shown as gloomy in the beginning of the series, but grows brighter as she returns to her old self.”
Park Sin-woo said Yoo’s strength as a writer lay in her ability to create scenes conveying subtle expressions.
“With no stirring elements, Yoo knows how to tell stories with which viewers can empathise,” Park said.
“I like her way of telling a subtle narrative, instead of telling it explicitly.”
Regarding the choice of Cuba as the place where the romance blossoms, Park said he thought the country’s stunning locations and unique ambience matched the writer’s intentions of showing that “special something” when a new relationship developed.
“I understood that ‘something’ as being a slow-burn romance and came up with the idea of it taking place in Cuban cities.”
Park Bo-gum said: “Many people describe the country as a place where time has stopped.
“With the distinctively fresh and exotic images of Cuba, drama fans will be able to appreciate the cinematography.”
The 25-year-old actor said his character, Kim, was a “positive-thinking, warm-hearted man.
“He is always grateful for who he is and what he's got, regardless of material wealth.”
Park Sin-woo said he hoped the slow-paced, finely woven and lyrical melodrama would give fans the time to reflect on their own romantic memories.
“For those who have missed watching slow-developing romantic stories, Encounter is sure to give some happy moments,” he said.
This article was originally written by Park Jin-hai for The Korea Times .