Updated May. 22, 2014 06:53
Popular Korean actor Song Seung-heon had never played soft tennis but practiced it for nearly two months. This was because playing tennis was included in the movie "Obsessed" that he starred in. He was cast as colonel Kim Jin-pyeong who is military officer and hero in Vietnam war. Set in 1969 at the end of Vietnam War, the movie portrays him playing tennis, which was then a social lavish sports game. Its popularity matches that of golf in current days. Kim Sung-jae, vice chairman of Korea Soft Tennis Association who was dispatched to Vietnam War as a Marine soldier, said, "Soft tennis was a trend until the 1960s in military, public offices and banks.
Song`s soft tennis coach was Kwon Ran-hee, former athlete of a national soft tennis team who won gold medal at the World Championships in 2011. Before movie shooting in late summer last year, Song was trained soft tennis once every week for two hours each. Song, who said he played tennis when he was young, said, "Soft tennis ball is softer than a tennis ball. Soft tennis is a very active sports and I enjoyed learning it. I enjoyed move filming. It was good for easing stress."
The movie topped box office last weekend. Cumulative viewers surpassed 700,000 in less than a week since the movie was released. Coach Kwon who visited the theater to watch the movie said, "Song is quick in his movements. He looked so natural in the movie. I hope the movie serves as a momentum to spread soft tennis." Kim Tae-joo, secretary general of Korea Soft Tennis Association, said, "The movie hit will help publicizing soft tennis. We are examining appointing him as honorary ambassador."
The association delivered rackets and balls during filming and gave advice. Soft tennis is a representative trusty sports for Korea since it won gold medals in all seven games at the Busan Asian Games in 2002. Asian Games Incheon will be held in September and the "Song Seung-heon effect" is spreading new momentum in soft tennis.