The grass is always greener…
Star or Serious Actor? Go So Young and Song Kang Ho
Just as a sidebar, this article is horribly written but interesting in content if not execution. I tried to preserve the wording (which often smacks of juvenile rhetoric) but I did gloss over some redundant word repetition, and such as, for readability’s sake.
Also, on a more relevant note, the word “actor” used throughout the article doesn’t just refer to the general profession — it’s used in the context of serious acting, acting as an art form. Kind of like what we’d call a “character actor” in Western cinema terms.
Stars dreaming of being actors vs. Actors dreaming of being stars
Kim Tae Hee, Jeon Ji Hyun, Go So Young… They’re the top stars enjoying the most popularity these days. They have nothing to envy in terms of looks or wealth. They’re Korea’s top stars, but it’s not quite easy to call them actors. And that’s because of their fatal weakness: acting ability. And they aren’t the only ones, either. Most of the young top stars these days succeed based on their looks, but have been unable so far to receive recognition for their acting. …
Pretty stars Jeon Ji Hyun, Kim Tae Hee
Sol Kyung Gu, Song Kang Ho, Hwang Jung Min… By no means are they pretty boys. The reason they earn affection from fans is because of their acting. As a result of their superior acting talents, they earn money and popularity. Of course, they weren’t stars from the outset; they underwent periods of being cold and hungry as theater actors, without the money or popularity they enjoy now. They had to take parts in films that made them easily approachable by the mainstream in order to advance from actors to stars.
Stars and actors. There’s a definite difference between the two.
First off, let’s consider stars. All one needs is popularity in order to be called a star. However, if one proves to be lacking in acting skill, the title “actor” will never be applied in front of one’s name.
Then there are serious actors. A person can be called an actor as long as the acting is good. But without popularity, that’s all you are.
Stars and actors are different, but share some common points: They often long to be on the other side. Stars dream of being actors, and actors dream of being stars. It’s no surprise, since stars may earn money and popularity but have no glory. By the same token, an actor may earn praise for his performance, but lacks money and popular favor.
And so, stars yearn for acceptance as actors, and actors exert themselves to become stars. That’s why countless stars seek out Daehakro [theater district], and countless actors seek out Chungmuro [Korean Hollywood]. Actors seeking to become stars, and vice versa. Something both share are their ceaseless efforts in search of their goals.
Han Chae Young rehearsing for her theater debut
Stars dreaming of becoming actors! “Go, Daehakro”
Recently, glamorous star Han Chae Young knocked on the gates of Daehakro. She’d decided to perform in director Jang Jin’s play Awkward People, for one sole reason: to quench her acting thirst. Recently, she gave an interview with Sports Chosun, saying, “The pay is nothing compared to a movie or a drama series. But what I need isn’t money… I want to upgrade my acting skills by learning properly on the theater stage.”
In truth, stars heading to Daehakro are not such a strange sight. Bae Doona, Yang Dong Geun, Kim Hye Soo and others sharpened their acting skills on the theater stage. There are many instances in which stars like Ha Heera and Chae Shira chose theater as their comeback project after maternity leave. Ha Heera said recently in an interview with this paper, “When acting in a play, you realize what true acting is. It was the most difficult but also most valuable experience I’ve had.” She explained that it was through acting in theater that she felt she’d been reborn as a genuine actor.
Compared to the salaries stars earn normally, the performance fees for theater work are practically nothing. It’s as though one momentarily forgoes thoughts of money for the sake of becoming a true actor. One theater source explained, “Theater is an actor’s home ground, a foundation for acting. … A certain type of star will seek theater without care for money. What they seek is more valuable than money — it’s the title of actor.”
On one hand, there are some top stars who may not head to the stages of Daehakro but still give up something to improve their craft. Jang Dong Gun and Lee Junki are two such examples. In their respective films, Nowhere to Hide and May 18, they learned by taking supporting roles under more seasoned and skilled actors such as Park Joong Hun and Ahn Seon Ki. They contrast with the majority of young top stars, who are reluctant to step back from leading roles. But it’s because these stars want to become serious actors.
“Nowhere to Hide,” “May 18”
Actors who dream of being stars! “Go, Chungmuro”
There are many actors who gain the fundamentals from Daehakro, then approach Chungmuro. Sol Kyung Gu [Voice of a Murder, Silmido, Fight], Song Kang Ho [Secret Sunshine, The Host], and Hwang Jung Min [Bittersweet Life, Charming Girl, The Man Who Was Superman] are some such examples. They’re actors who rose to the position of stars on the basis of their excellent acting abilities. Of course, they didn’t have everything from the start. They had the skills for theater acting work, but no money and no popularity. They earned the rest by performing in films that would be easily accepted by the masses.
These days, there are more and more of these kinds of actors, who gain distinction on the theater or musical stages, then advance to television or film and become stars. Oh Man Seok [Vineyard Man, King and I] and Park Haemi [The Unstoppable High Kick] were stars in the world of musicals, but became even more famous by their television work. Oh Man Seok made the jump to TV and film belatedy and now shines.
By transitioning to TV or movie actors, they can bring in ten times or more money than they did on the stage, and enjoy popular favor on top of that. For this reason, many theater actors continue to knock on Chungmuro and Yoido doors. Of course, the money and celebrity don’t come merely because they choose to pursue it — their skills make that possible.
The crossover of theater actors into the Chungmuro scene is also a cause for rejoicing for audiences. The audiences, broadcast world, and the film industry also benefit, with the chance to see the skills these actors have accrued from their extensive stage work. Park Haemi gave viewers lots of big laughs in Unstoppable High Kick, and the absence of Sol Kyung Gu, Song Kang Ho, and Hwang Jung Min into the film world has left a void [in theater].
Actors wanting to become stars, and stars wanting to become actors. Both groups deserve praise just for attempting to make up for their weaknesses, because their tireless efforts will help them somehow. So, one thing must be kept in mind: These are actors who must put forth ceaseless efforts before becoming stars. Stars are forgotten but true actors last forever.
Character actors Sol Kyung Gu, Hwang Jung Min