From shy to fly

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz - By RUMY DOO

FEW would be able to tell that ac­tor Park Seo-joon, who has been in the spotlight re­cently for his por­trayal of a play­ful boyfriend, used to be an in­tensely shy teenager.

In the re­cent hit drama se­ries Fight! My Way ,Park­playsthes­pir­ited Dong-man, a boy-next-door type char­ac­ter who re­mains bois­ter­ous de­spite nu­mer­ous set­backs in life.

This month, Park will make his movie de­but in the po­lice-buddy flick Mid­night Run­ners as­theen­er­getic cop trainee Ki-joon who leaps to ac­tion be­fore think­ing. Both char­ac­ters are the epit­ome of un­ques­tion­ingly con­fi­dent youths with noth­ing to fear.

The real-life Park, how­ever, was not so self-as­sured, he con­fessed. Park de­cided to be­gin act­ing in mid­dle school as a means to es­cape his crip­pling shy­ness, he said in an in­ter­view.

“I couldn’t even or­der food at a restau­rant, I was so em­bar­rassed,” Park, 28, said of his younger days.

“I wanted to change that. And I have to con­fess I was drawn a lit­tle bit to the glam­our (of act­ing).”

So Park joined the an­i­ma­tion club at his school and par­tic­i­pated in his first cos­play event at a school arts fes­ti­val.

“That­wasthe­first­timeIwasn’t afraid of peo­ple’s at­ten­tion. It was sur­pris­ing,” he re­called of his first stage ex­pe­ri­ence. “I went to an act­ing academy for the first time when I was in high school. They told me it was too late.”

Park went on to study the­atre at Kyung­pook Na­tional Univer­sity and made his first drama ap­pear­ance in the 2012 se­ries Dream High 2 atthe age of 24, un­like many ac­tors th­ese days who be­gin act­ing in their teens.

Park then starred in the sit­com

Pots Of Gold as the spoiled son of a wealthy fam­ily and proved him­self a tal­ented ro­man­tic lead in the 2014 drama Witch’s Ro­mance.

His suc­cess came grad­u­ally rather than overnight; he be­gan to slowly rise to star­dom through the 2015 dra­mas Kill Me, Heal Me and

She Was Pretty, and the 2016 pe­riod piece Hwarang: The Poet War­rior Youth. His per­for­mances were lauded as un­forced and nat­u­ral.

“I re­ally don’t like it when you can tell some­one is act­ing,” he said. “I want to be some­one who feels com­fort­able in ev­ery sit­u­a­tion. I think you have to be re­laxed to be able to lis­ten to oth­ers’ thoughts and, in turn, ex­press your own thoughts.”

Hav­ing come into fame only in re­cent years, Park says his years as a “very or­di­nary” 20-some­thing help him de­liver de­tailed ren­di­tions of strug­gling Korean youths.

“I’ve worked part time, I’ve at­tended hag­won (af­ter-school classes) ... I’ve done ev­ery­thing you can do as a teenager and a 20-some­thing in Korea. That helps me play every­day char­ac­ters. De­but­ing late wasn’t such a bad thing.”

In Mid­night Run­ners ,which opens in South Korean the­atres to­day, Park plays a bud­ding cop-in­train­ing full of “pas­sion, tenac­ity and sin­cer­ity,” he says.

In the film, Ki-joon and his fel­low trainee Hee-yeol, played by Kang Ha-neul, chase kid­nap­pers bare­handed and with­out for­mal po­lice ex­pe­ri­ence, with the sole goal of bring­ing jus­tice to the world.

“He’s some­one who doesn’t re­ally know how the world works. He’s a lit­tle sloppy, just full of pas­sion.”

Park’s chem­istry with Kang was piv­otal to the com­i­cal, youth­ful rhythm of the two pro­tag­o­nists in the film.

“We in­stantly got along . ... We might have led dif­fer­ent lives but the way we think is very sim­i­lar,” he said of Kang, who started out in mu­si­cals be­fore mov­ing on to dra­mas and films.

“I think act­ing is more about re­ac­tion than ac­tion. You have to un­der­stand the (other ac­tor’s) style and re­act to that, which can bring life to a scene and to a work. I never think that I have to be the star of a scene.” — The Korea Her­ald/Asia News Net­work

— The Korea Her­ald/Asia News Net­work

Hav­ing come into fame only in re­cent years, Park says his years as a ‘very or­di­nary’ 20-some­thing help him de­liver de­tailed ren­di­tions of strug­gling Korean youths.

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