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Thursday, July 08, 2004

Sol Kyeong-gu does the Robert de Niro!

Sol Kyeong-gu is going to play the legendary Korean-Japanese wrestler Yeokdosan (力道山) (Donga Sports) with a robertdeniroesque fervor. He has added some 20 kilos to go for the wrestler, who wreaked havoc in the Japanese wrestling rings in the 1950s.
Sol Kyeong-gu (설경구)
Normal and fat Sol Kyeong-gu

Yeokdosan was born Kim Sil-lak (金信洛) in 1924 in Hamgyongnam-do, and went to Japan in the late 30s. (A page on him in Korean.) Yeokdosan, or Rikidoosan in Japan, is said to have been the solace of Japan after the lost war - especially when giving a beating to American wrestlers. (Now what kind of a scenes will there be in the movie remains to be seen.) The story says that Sol has learned Japanese for the role, which should add to the authenticity. I remember an article of another legendary Korean wrestler Kim Il (김일, "Kimiri"), the master head-butter, who learned wresting from Yeokdosan in Japan. He said Yeokdosan never spoke a word of Korean except when telling Kim Il the name of a plant (fernbrake?), kosari. Yeokdosan died to stabbing wounds after an argument with a yakuza in 1963.

Yeokdosan/Rikidoosan (力道山) 'Our cast-iron-head Kim Il'

From the left: Yeokdosan; Yeokdosan showing some moves for the whitey; "our cast-iron-head Kim Il"

Comments to note "Sol Kyeong-gu does the Robert de Niro!" (Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated)

<Anonymous Anonymous> said on 10.7.04 : 

Why would anyone take this kind of wrestling seriously? It's obviously always been for entertainment purposes with the outcome determined in advance.

If he was beating Westerners in the ring, that's how it was set up in his business.

He may well have been able to beat them in a serious wrestling match or fight, but we'll never know, will we?

<Anonymous Anonymous> said on 3.2.07 : 

Yeokdosan showing some moves for the whitey

Whitey? Cause he is a gookey?


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