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'Sunset in My Hometown' actor Park Jung-min: 'I tried to think of my difficult years of obscurity'

2018/06/26 09:00

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SEOUL, June 26 (Yonhap) -- At age 30, rising actor Park Jung-min is already revered as a method acting master capable of chameleon-like transformations.

He played a genius piano player who suffers from savant syndrome in "Keys to the Heart," a comedy-drama released to local theaters in January. This time, he returned as an unpopular rapper who makes his sixth attempt at finding fame through a TV audition show while juggling multiple part-time jobs in director Lee Joon-ik's latest "Sunset in My Hometown."

   During an interview with Yonhap News Agency at a cafe in central Seoul on Monday, Park said the protagonist Hak-soo reminded him of the early tough years in his acting career.

This photo provided by Megabox Plus M shows actor Park Jung-min. (Yonhap) This photo provided by Megabox Plus M shows actor Park Jung-min. (Yonhap)

"In my 20s, I studied acting very hard to become an actor. But there was a time when I had little success while working as an actor for almost 10 years. I thought about doing something else, but nothing came to mind. I'm sure Hak-soo also worked hard to become a rapper. He cannot give up easily because he has spent all of his youth on this," Park said.

After receiving an unexpected call from his hometown of Byeonsan on the west coast informing him that his long-estranged father has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke, Hak-soo reluctantly heads for home for the first time in 10 years. He then gets caught up in a spate of unexpected incidents and gets stranded for a while in the town.

In the center of the story is the protagonist's long-held resentment toward his father, who left his wife and only child. Hak-soo cannot leave the hometown even after seeing that his father is in far better shape than he thought.

"Hak-soo thinks that his father and hometown were the main culprit for his miserable life. So I think he felt an instinctive sense of anxiety that, if he wanted to perform on stage with confidence, he needed to unleash his emotional baggage in his mind."

   Hak-soo expresses his feelings through rap songs. The young actor spent a long time directly writing lyrics of the songs, trying to put himself in the shoes of the protagonist.

A still from "Sunset in My Hometown" (Yonhap) A still from "Sunset in My Hometown" (Yonhap)

Park said during a press conference for the film earlier this month that he had to desperately practice rap songs for about two months to realistically deliver the role.

"With the piano, I was able to cinematically embellish my skills, but with the rap, I had to play it only with my voice. I couldn't rely on mechanical sounds. Just a few months of practice doesn't make me as good as a professional rapper, you know. Instead, I wanted to convey what's in Hak-soo's mind with sincerity."

   In Byeonsan, Hak-soo encounters all the people from his past that he doesn't want to remember. When questioned whether he, too, has such a bad memory like Hak-soo, Park chose his first five years after debuting as an actor.

"I was lucky to make my debut, but I felt like nothing much had been achieved since then. I was wondering if acting was the right job for me. It was a hard time. When I think of that moment, I have a sense of anxiety that it might happen again. So I can't let go of the tension all the time. I don't want to go through it again, because I know how scary it is."

   This may be the reason why he appears to pour all his energy into acting whatever roles he does.

"Actually, I don't have what it takes to call myself 'born to be an actor,' not to mention how I was raised up and lived as well as my personality. So when I work for the big screen, I need more preparation than anyone else to express the sentiment or emotion that controls the sequence. You can't play a feeling you don't know."

   "Sunset in My Hometown," set to open on July 4, will be Park's third appearance on the big screen this year after "Keys to the Heart" and "Psychokinesis." His next film "Sabaha" (English title pending) is set to open in the second half of the year.

"After too much work, I'm exhausted both physically and mentally. So I always think 'Let's stop here,' but when the script comes in, I come to work again thinking, 'I may regret if I don't.'"

  

A still from "Sunset in My Hometown" (Yonhap) A still from "Sunset in My Hometown" (Yonhap)

sshim@yna.co.kr

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