Idol stars struggle with acting debuts
Yoon-ah, Park Su-jin
The following article looks at pop singers who make the jump to acting and kind of falls into the “No duh” category with its statement of the obvious. But I think the topic is interesting, even if the article is overly simplistic. (It could have been a more persuasive piece if it had looked at more examples, for instance.) As a jumping-off point, it does the job, given how many idol stars are trying to make the leap into acting careers these days, some with more success than others.
Idol stars: “Breaking into acting isn’t easy”
Singing, dancing, those idol pop stars who seemingly can do everything do have one thing that’s difficult to accomplish: capturing the hearts of drama fans. Young stars who frequent variety and music programs freely are finding their attempts at acting met with a bitter cup mixing both joy and sorrow.
Girls’ Generation’s Yoon-ah built on her sizable popularity from the drama You’re My Destiny to secure a lead role of the miniseries Cinderella Man. However, this 21st-century retelling of the “Prince and the Pauper” tale is facing complete defeat in the Wednesday-Thursday battle.
The broadcast is heading toward its finish, but the viewership ratings is stuck at 8%. It features Hallyu star Kwon Sang-woo and Yoon-ah, but it’s earning a score that’s even worse than documentaries.
Yoon-ah has somewhat reduced the level of acting criticism from her earlier days as “Sae-byuk” [in You’re My Destiny]. But the problem is the unpersuasive story development and her unclear character.
MBC’s sageuk series Queen Seon-deok is enjoying popularity with a first-episode rating of more than 16%. However, the actress playing Maya, Park Su-jin, who started in the girly pop group Sugar, is facing a beating with acting criticism. Viewers have tagged her with the “bad acting” label for her problems in pronunciation and inadequate expression of emotions.
Despite her smallish role, she’s being denounced soundly as she is compared to veteran actresses Go Hyun-jung and Lee Yo-won.
Idol stars being criticized for their lack of acting skills is nothing new. During the broadcast of Boys Before Flowers, Kim Hyun-joong was constantly troubled with reproach for his acting. And while critiques have died down to some extent, these idols’ sunbaes like SES’s Eugene, Baby Vox’s Yoon Eun-hye, Chakra’s Jung Ryeo-won, FinKL’s Sung Yuri and others had to suffer through harsh acting debuts to eventually make it to where they are now.
Han Hyo-joo with Lee Seung-gi
There are some exceptions to the misfortunes that befall some idol stars, such as Lee Seung-gi, who earned the nickname “Heo-dang” in 1 Night 2 Days. He’s risen as the immature and difficult second-generation chaebol Sunwoo Hwan in the SBS drama Brilliant Legacy, which is set to break through the 30% ratings mark. He’s advanced beyond singing and variety programs in 1 Night 2 Days, with his success coming not because of his popularity, but dependent upon his acting. When seeing his bad-tempered Sunwoo Hwan picking on Go Eun-sung (Han Hyo-joo), his previous image as a ballad singer and wacky variety-show character disappears entirely.
Pop-culture critic Bae Kook-nam says, “When attempting a drama role, singers must in the end be evaluated on the basis of their acting skills.”
Like I said, the article kinda paints the picture with a wide brush. I can kind of see how someone like Yoon-ah was cast in a leading role, given the popularity of SNSD and You’re My Destiny; I just think Cinderella Man was a bad choice in general. And Lee Seung-gi reminds me of an all-around performer who has screen presence and can make the transition fairly smoothly, not unlike Lee Ji-hoon, perhaps.
But I kind of have to wonder why someone like Park Su-jin keeps getting cast in high-profile projects when she gets slammed with criticism every time, whether it’s in trendy stuff like Boys Before Flowers or sageuks like Queen Seon-deok. In contrast, I can see casting Kim Hyun-joong for his image despite his all-too-limited skills, but Park Su-jin doesn’t even have much screen presence. I suppose Sung Yuri suffered through many years of similar critique before pulling herself up in the eyes of the viewing public, but sometimes you wonder why they keep getting these roles over more talented new actors.