[Herald Interview] Ahn So-hee observes, listens and empathizes

By Rumy Doo

K-pop sensation-turned-actress is a student of human behavior, quietly observant of people and their often erratic emotions

  • Published : Feb 26, 2017 - 14:38
  • Updated : Feb 26, 2017 - 14:39

Soft-spoken Ahn So-hee seemed to put a great amount of thought into her answers before vocalizing them.

One of her hobbies is simply to “observe people” as she herself isn’t “very outgoing or talkative,” Ahn said at an interview Wednesday at a cafe in Samcheong-dong, Seoul.

“People say that observing others, (and) seeing and feeling lots of things will help me even more in my future acting,” said the budding actress, who stars in the recent film “A Single Rider” alongside Lee Byung-hun and Gong Hyo-jin, who described Ahn as “surprisingly adult” in interviews.

The singer-turned-actress is most familiar to K-pop fans as the rosy-cheeked youngest member of the disbanded group Wonder Girls. She skyrocketed to idol status in 2007 with the group’s first addictive smash-hit song “Tell Me,” but even during her K-pop activities, Ahn showed an interest in acting.

In 2008, she made her film debut with a role as a high school student intent on getting her boyfriend to kiss her in the sexy comedy “Hellcats.” Four years ago, Ahn announced her departure from Wonder Girls to pursue a full-time acting career.

Actress Ahn So-hee poses for a photo before an interview Wednesday at a cafe in Samcheong-dong, Seoul. (The Korea Herald/Park Hyun-koo)

Her ability to listen has translated into a capacity for empathy, she said. “When I read a script, I think, ‘Yes, that’s how some people might feel.’ I think it’s helped me understand and accept others.”

Ahn remarked that “A Single Rider” zooms in on what may seem like the characters’ unconventional emotional reactions to life’s events. The lead, played by actor Lee, is a forlorn stockbroker who has lost his wealth and become disconnected from his family. But rather than rage and yell, the character watches from afar, silently tortured.

“I could relate to that. I think I would be hesitant in the same situation,” said Ahn. “Some people need time to process events and gather their thoughts.”

Ahn is steadily compiling a filmography starting with roles she feels she can handle. Last year, she portrayed a harangued college baseball team manager in the internationally acclaimed zombie thriller “Train to Busan.” 

Actress Ahn So-hee poses for a photo before an interview Wednesday at a cafe in Samcheong-dong, Seoul. (The Korea Herald/Park Hyun-koo)

In “A Single Rider,” Ahn plays the young backpacker Ji-na who wanders around Australia alone on a working holiday.

The role strongly reminded her of her stint in the US in 2009, when she toured the country with fellow Wonder Girls members to promote the retro pop track “Nobody,” which eventually became the first Korean song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“I could relate to that struggle of trying so hard to do well. More than anything, I could relate to the loneliness of being alone in a foreign continent,” she said.

In an effort to communicate directly with her audience, Ahn recently started a social media account.

“I want to talk about my projects and the types of music and films I like,” she said. Ever careful, however, the actress is not yet ready to share the intimate details of her everyday life.

“For now, I’d like to share my tastes rather than my daily activities.”

“A Single Rider” opened in theaters Wednesday.

By Rumy Doo (doo@heraldcorp.com)