This Actor Found Fame Step by Step

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This Actor Found Fame Step by Step

Yoo O-sung, 33, is one of a few genuine actors in Korea whose strong point is not his appearance but his ability to assume another persona - in other words, his acting talent.

He is also appealingly modest. Despite his established position in the Korean film industry, he refuses to allow that he has made it as a fully-fledged actor.

"I don't actually think someone can really be called an actor before they turn 40. Until I am 40, I am no more than a would-be actor."

It seems that his early experiences of the hardships of the stage have left him unwilling to concede that he has finally succeeded. His first play, "Pitjul" ("Ties of Blood"), was on in 1992. From then on, he threw all his energies into small parts in theater, television dramas and films, but it was only in 1999 that he got his first major film role in the Korean movie, "Lee Cheol-jin, a North Korean Spy." He found popularity with the public in his next movie, "Juyuso Seup-gyeok Sageon" ("Attack the Gas Station"), also in 1999. Now he is one of the brightest stars in the Korean film community. His latest film, to be released on March 31, is "Chin-gu" ("Friends").

The first impression he leaves, one of a rather imposing, cold man, sits rather incongruously with the information that he shed tears upon his first reading of the "Friends" script. "I was so moved when the protagonist had to kill his best friend," he explained. Because the film is set in the past, he said, "It also holds nostalgic appeal for those in their 30s and 40s."

Also surprising about this outwardly macho man is the fact that he faithfully records events and his feelings in a journal every day. He remarked, "Before being a star, I want to be an individual with a sound body and mind. I live my life like I am climbing up a ladder, step by step."

He got even more serious when he talked about the importance of films. "Films should impress and move the audience, just like the feeling we get after seeing a huge, majestic tree."

Is he referring to a solemn personal philosophy? No, he said, simply that "actors and actresses should be able to rejuvenate their audiences, who live in this dog-eat-dog world."

As for his future path, he remarked, "I am determined to star only in films that deal with real 'human' things such as consideration for other people, rather than romance or big-budget movies without any significance."

Regarding his next schedule, Mr. Yoo added, "I am to star in my next film as a detective, which is so ironic thinking that I usually play scamps. I guess that's because I'm an actor."

However, for this actor, one of the most difficult jobs seems to be one that he's not paid for. Upon hearing that his 11-month-old son is slightly sick, he sprang up, saying with a smile, "It's so hard to be a father, you know."

by Park Jeong-ho

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