Sunday, March 23, 2014

Seoul Braces for Disruptions for Filming of "Avengers" Sequel

Commuters and Seoul residents may experience some inconvenience traveling around the city from March 30 to April 14 due to the filming of the sequel to the Hollywood blockbuster "The Avengers."

Traffic will be blocked in several downtown areas such as Mapo Bridge and Gangnam areas to facilitate the filming of car chase and battle scenes, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said on Tuesday.
It promised to try and minimize the inconvenience to citizens in cooperation with local police.

"Avengers: Age of Ultron" follows the exploits of a team of superheroes as they do battle with a villainous robot. Major battle and chase scenes set in Seoul will take up about 15 to 20 minutes of the two-hour film. About W10 billion (US$1=W1,071) will be spent on shooting in Seoul.
Last month, Marvel Studios, which is producing the movie, said that "key elements" of the superhero film will be filmed in Seoul, and that other locations include Aosta Valley in Italy, Johannesburg in South Africa, London and parts of the U.S.
Seoul will be portrayed as a city featuring cutting-edge technology and ultramodern buildings. The headquarters of a Korean IT institute on a small islet on the Han River will also play a central role as villainous robot Ultron tries to acquire state-of-the-art technology. The superheroes are tasked with protecting the institute and keeping the world safe.

Actress Kim Soo-hyun attends an event on Tuesday to sign a memorandum of understanding between the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Marvel Studios for the filming of the Hollywood blockbuster "Avengers: Age of Ultron." Kim was cast in the film to be released sometime in 2015.
Korean actress Kim Soo-hyun, who drew much attention when she was cast in the movie, will play a scientist at the institute.
The core scene set in Seoul involves Ultron laying parts of the city to waste. It will be shot partly at densely populated areas near Gangnam Subway Station.
"We cannot disclose detailed shooting locations for security reasons, but as some chaotic blast scenes are scheduled to be filmed, safety is our primary concern," said a city official. "We have arranged fire trucks around the areas. A scene in which one of the characters, Iron Man, flies over the Digital Media City in Sangam-dong and Han River Park will show the harmony of nature and the modern beauty of Seoul."
The city government and police are trying to figure out ways to adjust bus routes and create detours to best control traffic during filming.
"We expect that filming the sequel of 'The Avengers' in Seoul will help promote the city,"  said Kang Ki-hong, vice president of the Korea Tourism Organization.
The comic-based film proved a huge hit when the first installment was released in 2012, drawing over 7 million moviegoers here.


Family Reunions Could Be Held Regularly

Family Reunions

Cross-border family reunions could become a regular occurrence if the current event proceeds smoothly, experts speculate.

This would give more families separated by the Korean War the chance to meet relatives from the other side of the border. Experts are encouraged because for the first time North Korean officials refrained from nitpicking over the arrangements.
North Koreas pre-eminent mathematician Cho Ju-kyong meets his mother during family reunions in Seoul in 2000.
North Korea's pre-eminent mathematician Cho Ju-kyong meets his mother during family reunions in Seoul in 2000.

Seoul is likely to resume limited humanitarian aid of rice and fertilizer if Pyongyang is willing to expand the family reunions. Chung Sung-jang at the Sejong Institute said, "The government needs to consider expanding aid to fertilizer and farming equipment if the reunions are broadened or separated families can exchange letters regularly."

Seoul can also expect more cooperation if it agrees to resume package tours to the Mt. Kumgang resort, he added.

The package tours were a significant cash cow for the North before a South Korean tourist was shot dead there in 2008 and they were suspended. Whether the North will apologize for the shooting and pledge to prevent a recurrence remains to be seen.

Pyongyang is keen for Seoul to end a ban on cross-border trade and new investment in the North imposed in 2010 after the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.

"The North could revive the issue of South Korean prisoners of war who are still held there or developing special economic zones to lure investment from the South," said Cho Han-bum of the Korea Institute for National Unification.

But unless palpable economic benefits for the North materialize soon, some pundits worry, the mood could swing back to icy again.


Camellia World: Jangsa Island Proves Perfect Location for Out-of-This-World Date


It was a contemptuous stare from my girlfriend of four years that ultimately prompted me to book a trip to Jangsa Island in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province where the SBS TV drama "My Love from the Star" was shot.

The look in question came after she watched an episode from the hugely popular TV show. I could see she was comparing me to actor Kim Soo-hyun.

Thanks to Kim's character, and especially his supernatural powers, many women are now demanding more from their boyfriends. They used to want to have their own Prince Charming, then the trend was for someone more masculine and macho, but now women want their partners to have the power of a superhero! What more can I do? I can't turn into an alien like Kim's character.

Kim took Jeon Ji-hyun, the lead actress in "My Love from the Star," to Jangsa Island using his extraterrestrial powers. It was a beautiful scene in a stunning natural setting, in which Jeon confesses her love to Kim.

When I arrived at the ferry terminal in Tongyeong it was early morning but the lines were already long. People were taking photos in front of posters of the popular drama, enjoying their escape from reality as they pretended to be either Kim or Jeon. There were a large number of tourists from China, reflecting the explosive popularity of the soap there.

A 40-minute ferry ride south of the port takes you to the island, which looks like a long snake. Tourists have two hours to enjoy the island until the ferry leaves to take them back. As they must depart from a different dock, tours of the island are designed to lead from one dock to the other for maximum convenience.

The famous camellia tunnel path comes into view within five minutes of setting foot on land. This 60-m road boasts over 100,000 naturally grown camellia trees, with the oldest dating back 250 years. It was the first place that Kim and Jeon visited on the island. Now, it is no longer peaceful but bustling with tourists.

However, its untarnished beauty remains intact. Red camellia flowers grow in profusion against a low stone wall along the path to captivate visitors’ attention. Along the way to the departure dock, there are over 1,000 types of plants growing in natural harmony. Although the island is currently uninhabited, the buildings that housed its former tenants until they left some 30 years ago remain in place.

Jangsa Island stands about 100 m above sea level, making it a great spot to take pictures with the sea as a striking backdrop. Rainbow Bridge, which lies at the heart of the island, is perhaps the best place to take photos as you can combine the blue sea and green ridge of the island.

Although Jangsa Island belongs to the administrative boundary of Tongyeong, it is closer to Geoje. You can take a ferry from either place to get there. For detailed schedules, contact Tongyeong ferry service (055-645-2307), Jangsa Island ferry service (055-637-8282), Nambu ferry service (055-632-4500) or Daepo cruise service (055-633-9401). The fare includes entry fee to the island, and ranges from W25,000 to W29,500 (US$1=W1,069) -- not too steep a price to emulate Kim and keep your sweetheart happy.

Credit goes to
 Hwang In-sik, a reporter at Digital Chosun