Actor Park Jeong-min / Courtesy of Lotte Entertainment
By Kwak Yeon-soo
Park Jeong-min says it feels like a “miracle” that he’s finally become a movie star from being an unknown. When he decided to drop out of prestigious Korea University to attend Korea National University of Arts in Seoul, many ― including his parents ― were skeptical of whether he would succeed as an actor.
“During the early days of my career, I wasn’t able to get any guidance. All I heard were discouraging words like, ‘You’re not cut out for the movies.’ But I always believed that even if I don’t have talent, I should at least do the thing I truly enjoy,” he said during an interview with The Korea Times via Zoom, Tuesday.
His first opportunity came in 2011 when he made his major film debut with “Bleak Night.” Since then, Park has created memorable characters in a series of films that includes: the historical drama, “Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet,” (2016) the comedy, “Start-up,” (2019) and the hard-boiled action film, “Deliver us from Evil” (2020).
Earlier on in his career, Park failed to make the cut in more than a few auditions. However, he didn’t give up.
“Though I have been very lucky. I have definitely worked very hard. Nobody expected me to be where I am today. I was fortunate that I had great opportunities come my way,” he said.
On marking the 10th anniversary of his debut, Park said that he feels lucky to work on great projects, and he is grateful for that. “I’ve been in the business for 10 years, but the funny thing is that I’m still considered ‘young,'” he laughed.
Though he has looked for films with strong characters, he decided to play a sensitive character in his upcoming film, “Miracle.”
Park Jeong-min in a scene from the film, “Miracle” / Courtesy of Lotte Entertainment
In the family drama film, Park portrays Joon-kyung, a mathematics prodigy who lives in the countryside of North Gyeongsang Province and whose only goal in life is to build a train station in his village. Yoona of Girls’ Generation stars as his girlfriend, Ra Hee, while Lee Sung-min and Lee Soo-kyung?play his father and sister, respectively.
The 34-year-old actor explained that the processes for creating a more powerful or more gentle character are similar.
“In order to empathize with the character, I tried to become him as much as possible, by looking for similarities between him and me. Like Joon-kyung, I have a very awkward relationship with my dad and I’m stubborn. Unlike him, I’m not a prodigy,” he said.
Park revealed that there was a great deal of pressure in having to play a high school student role.
“I?asked director Lee Jang-hoon not to cast actual high school students as extras for school scenes. I needed to look the age of the people around me so that the movie didn’t look like it was overdoing things. I promised myself that I won’t do a high school student role ever again,” he said.
Park said that working with Yoona, who appears as his high school sweetheart, was a dream come true.
“I was a huge fun of Girls’ Generation. She was really nice to me, so we immediately became friends. We also shared the same goal of mastering the North Gyeongsang dialect, which was another major challenge. I think that our onscreen chemistry turned out really well. I want to take this chance to thank her,” he said.
During the interview, Park also shared his feelings about making his directorial debut through Watcha’s “Unframed Project” in October. “We completed filming in May and are waiting for its release. Right now, I don’t have any plans to direct other films. I was involved in the project because my co-star Lee Je-hoon asked me do it,” he said.
Toward the end of the interview, the actor was asked what motivates him to continue acting despite the pandemic. “I love working. When I’m not working, I feel depressed. When I go to work and I’m surrounded by people, I feel useful,” he said.Internet Explorer Channel Network