As the sweetheart of heartthrob actor Moon Jung-hyuk - better known as pop group Shinhwa`s handsome rapper Eric - actress Park Si-yeon is widely dubbed "Eric`s girl." But the 26-year-old actress now vows to be recognized on her own merits, taking her first leap into acting.
Immediately after Eric`s love story was disclosed to the public earlier this year, Park has been at the center of attention. Her glamor and beauty had people taking more interest, but Park said that such fame had caused her great discomfort.
"Behind the full make-up and costume, I am actually a very shy person. I don`t enjoy being at the center of attention, especially if it`s attention earned from being someone`s girlfriend," said Park at last week`s news conference for the SBS new drama "My Girl."
<**1>Through this new drama which will be aired beginning tomorrow, Park will make her first appearance in a TV drama here, and be given the chance to prove her acting skills to viewers.
"Love and career are two separate things. I feel bad about the fact that people do not see me as an actress but only as the girlfriend of a popular celebrity," she said. "But I have realized that getting all worked up over the current situation won`t solve any problems, and thus, have been focusing only on developing my acting skills."
With hidden dreams toward acting, Park chose to major in journalism at Long Island University in 1998, thinking that it would help her in learning the TV world better. Striving to an start acting career, Park took auditions for Chinese TV series while attending college, and appeared in three Chinese dramas through small roles.
Park was later given the chance to begin an acting career in Korea, winning in the "Miss Korea" beauty pageant contest in 2000.
Since then, the actress has been slowly preparing herself for the right moment to take up acting, appearing on several TV commercials and music videos.
In the drama "My Girl," Park will play Kim Se-hyeon, a beautiful and talented tennis player who has everything - except for love. Desperate to win the heart of the main character played by actor Lee Dong-wook, Se-hyeon turns vicious and cunning, making the heroine (Lee Da-hae)`s life miserable.
"I am concerned about the fact that I have started off with a big role. It would have been much more relieving if I had started off with a smaller role and gradually built up my acting skills," said Park. "Because Se-hyeon will play an important part in complicating the romance between the hero and the heroine, I have a bigger burden on my shoulders."
Park added that she was all bruises and scars from practicing tennis. Since Se-hyeon is supposed to be a world-renowned tennis player, Park felt that she couldn`t fool the viewers unless she played really well.
In the synopsis of the drama, Se-hyeon was described as Korea`s Maria Sharapova and Paris Hilton. From that description, Park set up an image of the character inside her head, which she revives during the drama shootings.
Park has been analyzing the character day and night - so thoroughly that she is now having dreams about her.
"Because I am neither a glamorous nor an ambitious person, I have a hard time sympathizing with Se-hyeon," said Park. "But I can see that the woman is in fact a very insecure person when it comes to love. I have been trying my best to understand her with this empathy."
Park said that she would be very happy if people cursed and labeled her an "evil woman" after the drama was aired.
"Since Se-hyeon will do her best to torment the heroine, people hating me would mean that my acting is good, right?" she asked with a smile. "I don`t expect things to turn out great from the beginning. I am prepared for criticisms of my acting, which will only make me strive harder for improvement."
By Shin Hae-in