Gong Yoo, South Korea's No. 1 actor, on charm offensive in Hong Kong

Gong Yoo at a press conference in Hong Kong.
Gong Yoo at a press conference in Hong Kong.PHOTO: VIU
Gong Yoo at a press conference in Hong Kong.
Gong Yoo at a press conference in Hong Kong.PHOTO: VIU
Gong Yoo at a press conference in Hong Kong.
Gong Yoo at a press conference in Hong Kong.PHOTO: VIU
Gong Yoo at a press conference in Hong Kong.
Gong Yoo at a press conference in Hong Kong.PHOTO: VIU

HONG KONG - Gong Yoo, South Korea's hottest actor at the moment after starring in the top-grossing movie Train To Busan (2016) and the No. 1-rated TV series Goblin (2016-2017), could not seem to stop raving about Hong Kong's movies and actors while he was in the territory for a fan meet.

"Growing up I watched a lot of Hong Kong movies, I watched big stars like Chow Yun Fat, Andy Lau and Tony Leung on the big screens. Hong Kong movies were really popular in my generation," he said through a translator at a press conference at Hong Kong's Kerry Hotel on Friday (May 5), ahead of his fan meet on Saturday.

He is an especially big fan of the Infernal Affairs movie trilogy. Gong, 37, said: "Infernal Affairs is really amazing, and was a really popular movie. I would be fine with playing any character in the movie."

The actor's popularity has surged in the region after the double successes of Train To Busan and Goblin.

The former propelled him to international fame. Train To Busan debuted at last year's Cannes Film Festival with much fanfare and received the thumbs-up from critics around the world. The apocalyptic thriller was also a commercial success. In Singapore, Train To Busan raked in $5.4 million and was crowned the top Asian film last year (2016).

Hence there is a huge demand to see him live at fan meets across East Asia. On April 29, Gong attended a session in Taipei that sold out all 5,500 tickets.

In Hong Kong on Friday, he was still aglow from winning the Best Actor prize at the 53rd Baeksang Art Awards two days earlier, for his role as the titular immortal called Goblin. The annual ceremony celebrates the best in Korean film and television.

But in a self-deprecating fashion typical of South Korean stars, Gong said he was happier that Goblin's screenwriter Kim Eun Sook received the night's top honours, the Grand Prize.

He said: "It was my pleasure to meet such a great crew, and work on such a great script by screenwriter Kim Eun Sook. The best thing was not me winning, but screenwriter Kim getting the grand prize."

His next project, which has not been decided, is likely to be a movie.

Who knows, he may just pull off a daring skin-baring act like Tony Leung Chiu Wai in Taiwanese director Lee Ang's famed espionage thriller Lust, Caution (2007).

He said: "I really respect Tony Leung as an actor. His performance was really bold. He was really brave. For the good of the film, it is important for an actor to respect the script. If it is necessary for the script, I'm okay with showing off my body."

nggwen@sph.com.sg

Gong Yoo's dramas Goblin, Coffee Prince and Big are available for free on viu.com or Viu mobile app.