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Actor writes about, paints with wine

For many, wine is nothing more than just a drink.

But for actor Kam Wu-seong, it is the only alcoholic beverage he is allowed to drink, the main source of his literary inspiration, and special paint he uses for his art.

Kam’s unique travelogue about Bordeaux, a historical French city famous for its wine and vineyards, has been published this month.

The book, “Kam Wu-seong’s Little Note on Wine,” colorfully features Kam’s trip to the French city as well as 18 winemakers he encounters there.
“La Mondotte” by Kam Wu-seong, featured in his book “Kam Wuseong’s Little Note on Wine.” Kam painted this piece using wine as paint.
“La Mondotte” by Kam Wu-seong, featured in his book “Kam Wuseong’s Little Note on Wine.” Kam painted this piece using wine as paint.

Kam, once a heavy drinker of soju and beer, became ill while shooting his 2004 horror film “R-Point,” suffering from typhoid and Hepatitis A.

His doctor, concerned over Kam’s health, recommended he only drink a few glasses of wine, banning all other alcohol.

“I had never had wine before my doctor advised me to,” said Kam at a press meeting held in promotion of the book on Sunday.

“I had nothing else to drink, so I tried it. And soon after, I wanted to learn more about it.”

So with two other members in his crew ― one wine expert and the other a French-Korean translator ― Kam took off to France in 2009.

He visited a total of 18 wine chateaux in Bordeaux and interviewed the owners. Among them, Jean Claude Berrouet, one of the most prominent winemakers in Bordeaux, gave a very inspiring interview. 
Kam Wu-seong (left) and French winemaker Jean Claude Berrouet talk at Berrouet’s chateau in Bordeaux, France in 2009. (Stagefactory)
Kam Wu-seong (left) and French winemaker Jean Claude Berrouet talk at Berrouet’s chateau in Bordeaux, France in 2009. (Stagefactory)

“I am from Gyeongsang Province,” said Kam. “Which means I am not the most expressive person on earth. And some of the winemakers that I met were very business minded, treating me a little too professionally. But Mr. Berrouet felt more like my own father.”

Kam had originally planned to speak to Berrouet for only about two hours. He ended up staying the night at Berrouet’s chateau.

Berrouet, who visited Seoul to congratulate Kam for his new book, said making wine was very much like being a conductor of an orchestra.

“A good conductor, I think, tries to deliver what the composer initially tried to communicate when he first wrote the piece,” said Berrouet at the press meeting.

“I try to put the gifts of the nature ― grapes, the earth, and the sun ― into my wine bottles without changing their original qualities as much as possible.”

Berrouet also said he sees many similarities between Kam and himself. “While Kam delivers his passion through his films, I spread the message of nature through winemaking,” he said.

Kam, who studied fine art in college, was also inspired to paint as he learned more about the drink.

“I was especially inspired by the color of wine,” Kam said, “and thought of having different shades of its color on a piece of traditional Korean paper.”

Using wine as paint, Kam showcases different shades of pink, red, and peach colors in the19 paintings featured in the book.

“I’d like to use many different kinds of wine for my future paintings,” said Kam.

“I hope to promote Korea’s traditional papers to foreigners this way, and eventually (would) like to help cultural interaction between Korea and other countries.”

And how much of the inspiring drink can the actor drink?

“Three glasses,” Kam said, “then I turn red.”

By Claire Lee (clairelee@heraldcorp.com)
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