• 2014-11-14 13:52:45

More than an Idol Star: How Did Yim Si-wan Become Jang Geu-rae?

ZE:A is an idol group whose members’ individual works have garnered more attention than the group as a whole. More eye-catching alone than in a group, the members were able to somewhat shake off the teen idol image once they began their own projects.

Yim Si-wan, too, is relatively free from the “idol star” label because the spotlight that fell on him was on Yim Si-wan the actor, not the idol singer. After catching the public’s eye with his performance in “Moon Embracing the Sun,” he continued his acting career with “Man from the Equator,” 2-episode drama “Waiting for Love,” and the 10-million-admission movie “The Attorney” and won the audience over with his good looks and acting skills.  

Yim Si-wan’s forte is his image as an actor. Even many of those who are critical about casting idol stars give the thumbs up to Yim Si-wan. It goes on to show that Yim Si-wan’s acting and image have gained the confidence of the audience.

But Yim Si-whan is not without a critical weakness. With his pretty, boyish face and slim frame, there is a limit to how much he can portray in dramas that have a love plot. It is difficult to portray a convincing love relationship or a realistic picture when the male protagonist is prettier and smaller than the heroine. Yim Si-whan has a young, boyish image that makes his chemistry with actresses look rather unreal.

In the recently ended drama “Triangle,” Yim Si-wan played the role of an ambitious character. But the weak, commonplace storyline failed to bring out his character or convince the viewers of his one-sided love for Baek Jin-hee. There were conflicting reactions to Yim Si-wan as an actor.

That was when he chose tvN’s “Misaeng.” He is already Jang Geu-rae of the drama. “Misaeng” is ruthlessly realistic and brutally vivid. If the drama were aired on a major terrestrial channel and based on his love relationship with Kang So-ra, people would have questioned whether Yim Si-wan is fit for the role. But thanks to the storyline that closely follows the original comic, “Misaeng” is attracting more viewers, and Yim Si-wan is keeping the drama fueled with his performance.

The despair and difficulties of a high-school graduate intern, office politics that place more importance on interpersonal skills than competence, the woes of female workers, the top-to-bottom relationship that stunts teammates’ growth than encourages it, and other realistic presentations are resonating with the viewers more strongly than love relationships and dramatic events. Of course, there is fantasy in “Misaeng” as well. Team leader Mr. Oh (Lee Sung-min) is not an everyday mentor one finds at the workplace. But these fantasy elements are used only as a tool for exposing the problems of the reality. Mr. Oh has both the ability and the passion to get a promotion, but he is never given the opportunity, much to the viewers’ disdain.

The biggest strength of “Misaeng” is that it formed a rapport with the viewers through detailed investigation and research. Second, there are no holes in the actors’ performance. Yim Si-wan’s acting is so natural that one forgets that he is a member of an idol group. It is not surprising then that the public’s opinion on Yim Si-wan is turning from good to better. It was a smart choice on Yim’s part to take on a character that the viewers can sympathize with, despite his pretty face and slim frame, and not simply act but become that character.

If Yim Si-hwan had chased stardom and chosen the over-used wealthy son character and love story, he would not have attained this kind of achievement. Through “Misaeng,” Yim Si-wan has shown what his strengths are, and as long as he keeps making smart choices, the viewers will harbor interest in what the future holds for the actor Yim Si-wan.


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