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The Vineyard Man learns he can also break hearts

Oct 09,2006
For two months on KBS 2TV, Oh Man-seok was a simple-hearted vineyard farmer who ended up helplessly in love with an urban girl.
He grinned shyly, showing perfect white teeth under his swarthy complexion on “The Vineyard Man,” and that made the hearts of female viewers go wild.
“If only there really was a man like Taek-gi [Oh’s character] who is so modest and trusting,” became a popular refrain on Internet chat sites as female viewers dreamed of a peaceful country life with such a nice man.
Now that the romantic comedy series is over, Oh is back in Seoul from a vineyard in Yeongdong, North Chungcheong, where he stayed for the last two months while filming the drama.
He will next be seen as a slick, witty television producer in a cable channel seies tvN will start showing tomorrow. The new drama, “Hyena,” has a storyline that is a Korean male version of “Sex and the City” and Oh’s character is supposed to be so slick that the “honest Taek-gi” who used to speak in sweet homely dialect should be forgotten in no time.
“I have played all types of different characters for theaters in the past,” the 30-year-old actor said confidently in a recent JoongAng Ilbo interview.
Oh started his acting career in musicals. He was recognized as a good actor and singer and proved his talent by winning the best musical actor award for his role in “Hedwig” last year. Television drama was never his specialty, but he managed to pull off his first leading role in “The Vineyard Man” successfully.
“I was actually scared a little to take the leading role so fast in a genre that I was not yet familiar with,” he said. “I learned a lot from it.”
As confident as he was of his acting ability, he said he realized he was far from perfect when his elder cast members Lee Sun-jae and Yoon Mun-sik told him to “loosen up.”
“I still felt I had a long way to go,” he said.
One of Oh’s strong points as an actor is his clearly articulated pronunciation, which is a skill he learned as a theater student for over eight years at the Korean National University of Arts. He said he never missed any speech or language classes and always carried a dictionary with him to correct his pronunciation.
For his singing and dancing skills, he said he practiced for hours after class and that Korean traditional dancing was one of his special strengths.
It was not until 1999 that he made his debut as an actor in the theatrical work “Faust.” Despite the slow start to his career, he seems to have been on a roll recently. He has received offers to act in television dramas and films, along with upcoming stage plays and musicals.
“I don’t think plays and television dramas are entirely different genres to challenge me,” he said. “Let’s put it this way. They are like two rooms in a house and I am just trying to pull them open with a different door knob.”
Oh is not content to simply stay an actor, singer and dancer, however. He said that in several years, he wants to direct a theatrical play himself. He previously had some experience of theatrical directing while a theater student at university.
“I want to create a work that will be a whole new genre,” Oh said. Meanwhile the fans who filled the Internet with praise for Taek-gi may have to deal with broken hearts.


by Hong Soo-hyun


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