What’s wrong with aunties these days that they have become a formidable force, championing Korean pop singers and actors? They are no longer content with babysitting their grandchildren and dogs. I too have become a grand champion. And I have no grandchildren and no grand dogs.
I had been watching Korean dramas for 10 years when I chanced upon Sungkyungkwan Scandal (SKKS) on cable channel KBS World in late 2010. That night, I had plonked myself on the couch, fiddled with the TV remote, and happened to catch Episode 1 of SKKS. If someone had warned me that it was going to be the turning point in my life, I might have gone to the pet shop to buy myself a dog instead.
During the first 4 episodes, I was constantly griping “What was the director thinking when he cast this average-looking, stiff cardboard as the main lead, Lee Seon Joon? He can’t act. This actor must have come cheap. He should switch role with the handsome, baddie Student Council President.“
To me, the actor taking on the Lee Seon Joon character was as mediocre as his looks. My family was so sick and tired of having to hear my criticizing the main actor for 4 episodes, I suspect they would have thrown me out if I didn’t own the couch and the house and had paid for the TV.
Strangely by Episode 5, I noticed this guy’s acting had improved so much, I was fascinated by him. I no longer lay on the couch, grumbling. I sat up and watched him closely, mesmerized. His charisma set him apart from the other actors. His looks grew on me. It dawned on me that he is a handsome man whose looks make you want more and more of him. And it’s more than just his curly eyelashes and charming smile. He has a soft yet determined look in his eyes that no body language can portray. This guy can act! What has happened to him? Or to me?
Every new episode was shown at 9:30 p.m. and the first repeat was 5 and a half hours later at 3 a.m. the following morning. From Episode 5 onwards, I no longer slept at normal times. I would wait up to catch the first repeat. I had to turn the TV volume down very low as the whole household was asleep at 3 a.m. It was my turn to be afraid of my family.
The second repeat was on every Sunday morning which clashed with my church service. I just couldn’t get enough of him. So for the next 15 episodes on Sundays, I would wake up early, watch the repeat, speed to church and slip into worship service late. I have never felt more sinful on Sundays and God so forgiving.
Who is this actor? I Googled him. I found out his name is Park Yu Chun. Imagine my shock when I discovered he is a K-pop singer from TVXQ ( later broke away with 2 band members to form JYJ ) – a profession I dislike intensely. I hold the view that K-pop idols are plastic looking clones who move their butts on stage, pretending they can sing. I was shocked that this handsome singer is so credible an actor. And SKKS was his debut drama. Unbelievable.
So I checked out TVXQ only out of my interest in this actor. I was expecting to see some pretty boy dancers in tight leotards. Boys who are expected to look good only. Not sing. But the moment I heard the first song “Why did I fall in love with you?”, I was stunned. I had no idea it was a Japanese or Korean song. These guys have beautiful voices. I thought they were lucky in just that one song. When I heard “Love in the Ice” and “I Believe”, my prejudice against Korean boy bands was over! It took only 3 TVXQ songs in less than 15 minutes to change my mind.
Three voices stood out and I was to learn these voices belong to the three guys who broke away later and formed JYJ.
When I heard Yu Chun’s speaking voice in “I Believe”, I nearly died! How can an 18 year old boy have such a sexy, manly, velvety, smooth, dreamy voice? I was completely lost in him when I heard his voice. It’s as though our souls met and touched and refused to let go. I had no idea the rookie who acted as Lee Seon Joon could sing so well. And his American accent in spoken English so sexy.
Then I learnt about the law suit and my love and respect for these 3 young, handsome, multi-talented men skyrocketed. These youngsters have the moral courage to take on a giant establishment which even matured adults would think twice to challenge. From then on, I studied their past and bought their music. I listen to their music daily and on my MP3 when I sleep. I wake up with JYJ music in my ears. Not one single night has gone by since I saw SKKS that I have not had Yu Chun sing to me when I sleep.
I have listened to his singing “An empty space for you”, the OST from his second drama “Miss Ripley”, a million times and counting. Nothing gives me more joy than to watch him sing while playing the piano which he did in the drama.
But his sterling performance in “Rooftop Prince” floored me. He made us think that all princes should be born as charming as he had portrayed Crown Prince Lee Gak to be.
His acting in the melodrama “Missing You” took on a completely different turn that should silence all critics that his past works were well received only because he is an idol. His subsequent works as a presidential guard in “3 days” and a comedic detective in “The girl who sees smells” all showcase his many talents from martial arts to romance to comedy. But nothing beats his role as the sailor Dong Shik in “Haemoo”, his debut movie where he won 8 Best New Actor awards from every sector in the movie industry .
Some actors he had worked with, commented that Yu Chun’s acting is better than some full time actors. Yet he is well known for being a polite, humble, respectful actor who is a mood maker on set. His work attitude in returning to the drama set ahead of time after his father’s funeral in March 2012, attested to his professionalism.
I am impressed by his wisdom when he advised his younger brother, Yoo Hwan, who followed him into acting: “You are first a human being, then an actor. So be respectful of all your seniors on the drama set.”
My love for Yu Chun the actor knows no bounds. I am watching SKKS for the 43rd time. Yu Chun is so refreshing no matter how many times I watch him in the same scenes.
So who is that man in SKKS?
Now I know. He is Park Yu Chun. The actor who has won the prestigious Baeksang award for Best New Actor in TV Drama in 2011 and the Best New Actor in Movies in 2015. How many actors can win that in their lifetime? And from an idol actor at that. It’s like getting it right the first time whether it’s on the small or big screen. Critics can no longer say he is an idol actor much longer. Yu Chun, the actor, has arrived.
To me, he is the first and possibly last Korean actor who has a special place in my heart. And also the first and last Korean singer whose voice I want to listen to for as long as I live.
Written by: YC Love
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Revised original article shared by ParkYoochunSGFC