Torn and bruised by a series of events involving a legal battle with his agency, K-pop idol Micky ― one-fifth of the near-disbanded boy band TVXQ ― put in a confident if somewhat close-mouthed press appearance for his major acting debut in KBS’ “Seonggyungwan Scandal” on Tuesday.
“Who wouldn’t feel pressure when starting something new?” Micky, a.k.a. Park Yoo-chun, said fielding comparisons between him and other TVXQ chums that have been making the pop idol-acting crossover.
Park, Hero and Xiah filed a lawsuit against S.M. Entertainment over their 13-year contract last July, but the court’s ruling in partial favor of the trio turned out to be little more than the calm before the storm for the boy wonder.
In April, S.M. filed a court objection to the trio’s injunction and in July slapped a suit on the head of a cosmetics company that the three members had invested in. The latter was in response to a defamation suit filed by the company against S.M.’s CEO. S.M. was cleared of all charges in May.
To add insult to injury, Park’s manager was accused of assault in late July.
Unfazed, it seems, by the brouhaha, Park jumped on board as the lead for the upcoming period piece; a move that will either prove fortuitous or rash.
TVXQ leader U-Know’s small screen debut in MBC’s “No Limit” crashed and burned, bringing in abysmal ratings; not a good harbinger for Park and for member Max who awaits his fate with the drama “Paradise Ranch.” Meanwhile, member Xiah took a safer route through the musical “Mozart!” and Hero pulled off an award-winning performance in a Japanese drama.
Park’s paltry acting experience (primarily through variety show skits and a boy band-pushing TV drama film) will most likely cast doubt on his ability to pull off this hefty role. Both director Kim Won-seok and co-star Song Joong-ki, however, expressed their faith in Park.
“He has a good voice for acting and is attractive-looking,” said Kim, who cemented Park’s reputation as a budding action star by announcing that Park had level three taekwondo skills and that he “hardly used a stunt double.”
Kim then said: “He will surprise you with his slapstick comedy. He is good.”
“I cannot say that I didn’t have prejudices about idols or singers who act, (Park) included,” said co-star Song. “(But) he really tries hard. It is touching.”
Will Park’s efforts pay off?
There is no guarantee that Park will produce a persuasive portrayal of the conceited, self-indulgent, blue blood Joseon Dynasty scholar Lee Seon-joon; especially when the singer admits that he himself lacks the anal tendencies of his character.
“My personality is somewhat open and free,” the 24-year old said. “But the hidden sense of pressure (my character feels) is similar. I can relate to that.”
His ability to tune into the darker side of Lee could add depth to the romantic, gender-bender series.
Based on a novel, “Seonggyungwan Scandal” ― as its name suggests ― unfolds at the Joseon Dynasty’s premier educational institution, Seonggyungwan.
Believed to be established during the Goryeo Dynasty as Gukjagam in 992, the institute was re-christened Seonggyungwan in the early 1300s.
There the male progeny of high-ranking officials and aristocrats prepared for the state examination “gwageo” and were trained for government service work. Alumni include famed scholar Yi Hwang (1501-1570), a.k.a. Toegye whose face currently decorates the 1,000 won note.
The drama, however, exhibits no pedantic pretensions.
The school, in essence, serves as a vehicle for a “Twelfth Night”-esque plotline, where a ballsy female (played by “Princess Ja-Myung” actress Park Min-young) masquerades as a man to enter Seonggyungwan in her sickly brother’s stead. There she encounters fellow student Lee Seon-joon (Park Yoo-chun) and a romance blossoms.
The male-only school backdrop also allowed for the inclusion of a bevy of good-looking actors, providing plenty of eye candy for female viewers.
“Seonggyungwan Scandal,” however, promises to be more than just a frilly, one-note rom-com.
“The piece will bring out the romance, the melodrama and the slight raciness of the tale while also highlighting how these youngsters perceive society and how they mature,” said director Kim, assuring the press that the series would dramatize actual aspects of the Joseon Dynasty institute.
In the meantime, cast and staff members can benefit from Park Yoo-chun’s loyal fans. According to co-star Park Min-young, hundreds of fans visit the set three times a week, bringing hoards of food for everyone.
“I feel very grateful,” she said.
“Seonggyungwan Scandal” airs on Aug. 30 at 9:55 p.m. on KBS 2 TV.
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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