Monday, August 16, 2010

You and One

I've been following the Korean entertainment industry for quite a while. Oh, maybe about 2-3 years? I've learned quite a lot of things and understood at least to some degree how things work. Here's a little note of how that happened. About 4 years ago, an Indonesian TV station started to show Korean dramas, pop hits like Full House, Coffee Prince, and Princess Hours. Just recently, the Korean entertainment industry experienced the phenomenon called Boys Over Flowers. It was everywhere. For a moment, housewives who used to watch sinetrons (something like Indonesian soap operas. And yes, with the overall mediocre quality in set, story, and acting) started drooling over the F4 boys. They became the covers of tabloids. Then Boys Over Flowers continued on to more pop hits like Shining Inheritance and You're Beautiful, or so I'm told. I might talk more about this in another post, but this isn't what I came to write about.

I'm not really the type of person who enjoys enjoying things the mass enjoy (wow that was a weird set of words). So after going through a phase of just the popular, I started digging into things that most Indonesians who likes K-pop don't know. One way is music. Another is movies.

Cute guy, questionable grammar
Today I'm going to talk about one of my favorite young and (as of now) unknown actor, Yoo Ah-in. I first saw him in one of my all time favorite movies, Antique. I love almost everything in this movie: the stories, the cinematography, the guys. It's just such an awesome movie. One guy that caught my eye was Yang Gi-bum, the orphaned boxer who has a serious love affair with sweets. The movie Antique has its success in 2008 but at the time, Korean-ness, I may call, is in hibernation mode in Indonesia. I watched it briefly in early 2009 via my friend and only watched it fully in the mid 2009.

Once I started liking an actor, I try to watch his/her discography. Mr. Yoo Ah-in here, well, he hasn't had his share of mainstream movies in his resume. The only ones I can spot is Sharp# which is his debut role and Antique. So I started digging up his old stuff. And even then it's not that much. I guess he's a one-movie-a-year type of guy. I like watching movies better because it's just faster, and most likely grander so it's a feast for the eyes.

So the two previous movies he did were Boys of Tomorrow and Shim's Family: Skeletons in the Closet. There's actually one more movie, Sky and Ocean, but the movie is a big flop and I couldn't find it anywhere. Anyways, just a little overview, both of those movies aren't your typical mainstream movies. I can't quite define it indie movie because I'm not really sure what qualifies an indie movie from a non-indie aka mainstream movie.

Boys of Tomorrow depicts of Jong-dae, (played by Yoo Ah-in) a boy who has an obsession with guns. I'm pretty sure the story revolves around him, who are in his life, what happens in his life, how it happened, and who made it happen. I won't ramble on much about the story. That you can just google it. It's more complicated than when you first watch it. After thinking about the story and all (and taking a peek at a few reviews), the movie is actually deep. Boys of Tomorrow is the first movie of Yoo Ah-in's I've ever watched after Antique so I was in for quite a surprise. Jong-dae and Gi-bum is in many ways different. Gi-bum has a poor-him type of story but Jong-dae is a rebel. The way he portrayed Jong-dae's emotions and gestures are so well done. This is when I started seeing him more than just a pretty face.

What I feel is different about him than the other young actors is that he's deep. Maybe the way he acts or maybe the way he lives. One compliment I've seen to him from many reviewers is that his acting is good. I mean really good. To a certain point that you know he's meant to act and he means it. His deepness is also shown in his writing. He has said in interviews that he has a hobby in writing and even won local writing competitions. He also sometimes post his work in his blog (the Korean word is hompy short for homepage). I don't understand Korean enough to translate working sentences but those who can say that his writing is hard to understand, even those who uses Korean as a first language.

So about the title. The name Yoo Ah-in is his stage name. A lot of Koreans use stage names (even actors) because of many reasons. A Korean name is made up of three syllables. The possibility of having the same name is bigger. Another reason is that families tend to have weird traditions in giving their kids names, like making sure it has the syllable Jae or something. So sometimes names are really weird and can even sound like a curse word. Not good. Anyways, Yoo's real name is Uhm Hong-shik. I'm not sure what's wrong with his name. Maybe not ear catching enough. So he uses Yoo Ah-in as his stage name. Turns out Yoo Ah-in means something. Yoo is from the English word you and Ah-in from the German ein or one. I'm not sure about the reason behind this combination but who knows.

Recently, Yoo Ah-in has been cast onto a much sought after drama called Sungkyunkwan Scandal. As a fan, I am looking forward to this. But Sungkyunkwan Scandal has been marketed so much, garnering the name You are Beautiful crossing Boys Over Flowers. Besides Yoo, other names in this drama includes Song Joong-ki, Park Min-young, and TVXQ's Micky Yoochun. Song Joong-ki is an adorable guy. I've never seen him act but he gives off a good vibe. I'm not familiar with Miss Park Min-young who plays a girl turned guy. Mickey Yoochun is probably my favorite TVXQ member for no reasons. So I'm actually looking forward to this. What I'm also looking forward to is the media attention Mr. Yoo will get during and after Scandal. I don't know. To me, he's not much of a public guy. I'm pretty sure he likes attention. But I'm curious to how he will act in a media frenzy. I'll be sure to update on that. I also hope post-Scandal he'd still pick works for the acting value, not popularity.

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