SEOUL, South Korea - Reunited after 17 years, South Korean actor Hyun Bin and Korean-American star Daniel Henney pit their wits and charms against each other in a new action-comedy.
One being as dashing as the other is brooding, their combined appeal was enough to make their co-star Im Yoon-ah go gaga as a mini love triangle develops on-screen.
"I wanted to maintain the love triangle and not take any sides," a blushing Im, 32, said during a media conference held in Seoul on Tuesday.
"I had a great time filming the movie and it felt even more blissful seeing how they were competing over me. There are many heart- fluttering moments."
In Confidential Assignment 2: International, Hyun Bin reprises his role as an elite North Korean detective. He teams up with a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent (Henney) and a South Korean cop (Yoo Hae-jin) to hunt down the leader (Jin Seon-kyu) of a North Korean crime syndicate, who fled from New York to Seoul. It opens in cinemas in Singapore on Sept 15.
Drama, tension and rivalry ensue when the FBI agent suspects his North Korean partner is hiding the truth from them.
The flick is a sequel to the hugely successful Confidential Assignment (2017). Starring Hyun Bin and Yoo as partners in an inter-Korean crime-busting operation, it sold 7.81 million tickets in South Korea alone.
Im, of K-pop group Girls' Generation fame, makes a return as the Korean cop's gutsy sister-in-law, who falls for Hyun Bin's character but is distracted when Henney shows up.
Noting that there were no romantic scenes in the first instalment of the series, Hyun, 39, said it was interesting to portray the emotions that emerged when a rival in love comes into the picture.
"How could she have a change of heart so quickly?" he added with a laugh, glancing at Im.
Henney, 42, joked that he "felt very bad" for stealing attention from Hyun's character, so much that "it was hard for me to watch". In the film, women fawn over his mixed-race character's good looks wherever he goes, outshining Hyun.
Said Henney, whose father is Caucasian: "Honestly, I didn't have to do much because Yoon-ah's reactions were so wonderful. That's why the scenes worked so well, because she's such an amazing actress."
Though new to the set, Henney got comfortable easily, thanks to his friendship with Hyun. The two hunks met on the set of the 2005 hit drama My Lovely Sam Soon, vying for the affections of another woman.
The show catapulted both to stardom, with Michigan-born Henney going on to make his name in Hollywood. He won key roles in films like X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), and television series Criminal Minds (2015 to 2020) and The Wheel Of Time (2021).
Confidential Assignment 2: International marks his return to Korean cinema after the 2013 action-comedy The Spy: Undercover Operation.
Henney confessed he was nervous in the beginning and bumbled while speaking Korean, but got in form with help from Hyun.
He described his Korean co-star as "an amazing leader" and "we have this energy together, so everything turned out well".
"I was worried about joining this team, but they made it very comfortable and fun for me," he said. "I make a lot of mistakes when I speak Korean, but they would help me all the time, so it was really an amazing experience and I'm very grateful for it."
Helmed by director Lee Suk-hoon (The Pirates, 2014), the sequel is Hyun's first movie outing since the period zombie flick Rampant (2018). He was last seen in the hit TV drama Crash Landing On You (2019), where real-life romance blossomed between him and his on-screen lover Son Ye-jin.
Married since March, the couple are expecting their first child.
Confidential Assignment 2: International opens in cinemas on Sept 15.