Before he makes a decision on his offer to potentially star alongside Lee Jung-jae and Jun Ji-hyun in Choi Dong-hoon's 30s-set blockbuster thriller Assassination, Ha Jung-woo will be spending some time both before and behind the camera with his sophomore directing gig Chronicle a of Blood Merchant. Joining him in this adaptation of a 1995 novel by Chinese writer Yu Hua will be Ha Ji-won, the actress known for her spunky action roles in Duelist (2005) and Sector 7 (2011).
Blood Merchant transposes its original Chinese cultural revolution setting to Seoul and tells the story of a young laborer who has his sights set on his village's most beautiful woman. But before he can marry her, according to the town's rules he must sell his own blood to prove that he is in good health.
Ha Jung-woo launched his directing career with Fasten Your Seatbelt last year at the Busan International Film Festival. A fun and tightly plotted comedy set on an airplane mid-flight, the film showed off Ha's knack for comedy and satire, two elements that will feature prominently in his follow-up. Following the weak debut of The Huntresses, his co-star Ha Ji-won hasn't had a hit film in a while yet remains very popular for her TV work. Considering her co-star and director's recent box office clout, he starred in the hits The Berlin File and The Terror Live last year, this should be a return to form for the screen siren.
Chronicle of a Blood Merchant will be produced and distributed by NEW, which has been the most consistently impressive Korean studio of the last few years, with titles such as Cold Eyes, New World and The Attorney under their belt. Given the outfit's track record, their involvement bodes well for Ha's first big directing gig. Shooting will get underway soon and the film should reach theaters by the end of the year.