Netflix rom-com 'Love and Leashes' raises questions about social norms

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Netflix rom-com 'Love and Leashes' raises questions about social norms

From left, actor Lee Jun-young, director Park Hyun-jin and actress Seohyun pose at the press conference for Netflix’s film “Love and Leashes” in Seoul, Tuesday. Courtesy of Netflix

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By Kwak Yeon-soo

Director Park Hyun-jin of romantic comedy film “Love and Leashes” explained that she decided to adapt a Naver webtoon titled “Moral Sense” (also the Korean title of the film) for the screen because it combines elements of humor, romance and gender issues.

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In the upcoming Netflix film, Seohyun plays Ji-woo, a young woman who rejects the traditional roles that society imposes on women. One day, she stumbles upon her co-worker Ji-hoo’s (Lee Jun-young) secret peculiarities after mistakenly opening a package that belongs to him. The two enter a contractual relationship as partners in consensual play to fulfill each other’s sexual fantasies.

“The story deals with the subject of sexual preference, but doesn’t include suggestive language or reference. To me, Ji-woo sounded like a charming romantic lead. In the workplace, she is criticized for being overly candid, blunt and not showcasing ‘aegyo’ (a Korean term often associated with women making cute gestures), but Ji-hoo thinks she’s cool. The film raises questions about normality and stresses the importance of embracing diversity,” she said during a press conference for the film, Tuesday.

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Park is well-known for her earlier works, “Lovers of Six Years” (2008) and “Like for Likes” (2016).

Sharing that Seohyun and Lee were specifically in her mind for the characters, the director said their earnest and thoughtful personalities helped her pull out never-before-seen sides of them.

“It may come as a surprise for many that Seohyun and Jun-young are playing bizarre characters. But I can guarantee that they will show completely different sides of themselves through this film,” Park said.

Netflix rom-com 'Love and Leashes' raises questions about social norms

A scene from Netflix’s film “Love and Leashes” / Courtesy of Netflix

Seohyun said their characters complemented each other on-screen.

“At first, I was worried because I felt like Lee was shy around me. He couldn’t meet my eyes … I thought to myself, ‘Is he scared because I’m his senior?’ Within the first few hours of shooting, however, I realized that my worries were unfounded because he was so passionate and hard-working. He exuded positive energy, which was really helpful for me acting alongside him,” she said.

In choosing to take part in “Love and Leashes,” the singer-turned-actress said, “It was a role that made me want to take up the challenge as an actor. By peeking into the hidden life of Ji-woo’s character, I was able to empathize with the character. I think other people will also be empathetic toward the character.”

Meanwhile, Lee said it was an easy decision for him to sign on for the project. “Normally, I read the script four to five times before deciding if I’ll take part. However, as I read the script, in one sitting, I really enjoyed it,” Lee said.

Lee revealed he gained nine kilograms of weight for the role. “I ate six meals a day with a lot of snacks. Director Park wanted me to look like a giant dog,” he said. “Many, including Park, don’t recognize me in different dramas or films, and I take that as a great compliment. Transforming for the role is always exciting.”

“Love and Leashes” will be unveiled on Netflix on Feb. 11.

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