[ENTERTAINMENT]Girl-next-door trying tougher rolesChaerim, 23, a Korean television actress, reminds many people of Meg Ryan in her 20s. Cute, peppy and friendly, she has been an icon of the cool "new generation" with her pretty girl-next-door image (it's no wonder she has many older male fans, too). She is a favorite actress to play good-hearted, Cinderella-like roles － the sweet young girl who always wins in the end. Now, Chaerim is back, starring in the television drama "Jigeumeun Yeonaejung" ("I'm in Love Now"), starting Wednesday on SBS.
"This time, the girl I'm playing is just like Sally in the Meg Ryan film, 'When Harry Met Sally,'" Chaerim said while taking a short break in the middle of shooting the first episode. In the freezing cold weather, Chaerim looked different from her usual self, perhaps a bit cautious and tense. This is her first role after a six-month break, and she is playing an unusual character for her. Instead of a winning Cinderella, she stars as Hojeong, a woman who experiences many failures in her love life, and gradually grows more mature and contemplative as the series goes on.
Although the series has not begun yet, the story line has already been publicized. Hojeong falls in love for the first time with a guy she meets in the library. Love seems all set to bloom, but suddenly a close friend appears and takes him away from her. Next, she falls for another man, but he turns out to be dreadfully self-centered, talented at only hurting her feelings.
Hojeong is tough, though, and never gives up on love, always dreaming of what might come next. One day she begins to notice her old friend Gyu-in － he would be the Harry in this "When Harry Met Sally." Previously, the two of them had spent much time together bickering, often about the familiar argument whether a man and a woman can be just friends. But they at least are able to console each other over their failures at love. Could these two be destined to fall in love?
Not only is this role a departure for Chaerim, but her appearance is, too. She is generally known as a cute little girl with short hair, but now her hair is longer, reaching her shoulders. "This is a strategy of mine, to have a 'matured look' this time," she explained. Chaerim, whose real name is Park Chae-rim, has appeared several times in TV dramas as a successful professional woman － a news anchor in "All About Eve," a surgeon taking over her father's hospital in "The Story of Four Sisters" and a young CEO of a venture company in "Hooray for Women." But viewers balk at Chaerim as a professional. She was much more well-received as a pure-hearted, naive young woman who falls in love with a much older man.
There is a Korean saying that you cannot hide a cough or love, and Chaerim is no exception. She said, "When a woman is in love, she looks mature and beautiful, and I believe that it will be the same for me on this TV drama."
But when asked about what is going on in her real love life, she grows wary. "Just see me as an actor, please. Whether I am happy with my love life or not, it will just show on the TV screen."
by Park Ji-young