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Actress Park tries on 70s-era heroine for size

Coming fresh off a rom-com TV series, Park Jin-hee evades the fluffy genre with her latest small screen role; a vengeance-driven heroine in the SBS epic “Giant.”

“My character, Jung-youn, is an ambitious woman who finds success as a loan shark,” the 32-year-old actress revealed at the drama’s press conference on May 4.

“Part of the reason why I signed on for this project is because I haven‘t done a piece set in the past,” she explained, referencing the backdrop of “Giant,” which centers on the 1970s. “In the past I have played lots of bright and upbeat characters so I was very charmed by this character, which is unlike anything I have done before.”

What Park says is true, if you don’t count her stint as a Joseon-period court maid in the historical horror flick “Shadows in the Palace” (2007).

Furthermore, her career is peppered with memorable rom-coms. Remember her pseudo-amnesiac romanticist in “Lost and Found” (2008), or her turn as an older woman trapped in a younger woman’s body in “Please Come Back, Soon-Ae” (2006)?

In contrast, her character in “Giant” resembles something of a cross between The Bride in “Kill Bill” and Scarlett O‘Hara. She is a strong warrior woman with a mission. 

Actress Park Jin-hee takes on a new role in SBS’ Monday and Tuesday night series “Giant,” which started airing on May 10. (SBS)
Actress Park Jin-hee takes on a new role in SBS’ Monday and Tuesday night series “Giant,” which started airing on May 10. (SBS)
Having recently starred in a veritable ratings flop -- MBC’s saccharine “Still Marry Me,” which brought in an average viewer rating of 5.8 percent -- Park could use a change, a departure from her previous heroine, the indomitable reporter Sin-young, a career woman who eventually allowed herself to be wooed by the much younger Min-jae (Kim Bum).

“Sin-young from ‘Still Marry Me’ was bright, cheery and adorable but also easy-going and professional when it came to work,” said Park. “But this time around, I play a character from when she is 22 to when she turns 40. The period that the series takes place in is different and her personality is entirely different. She is a really cold woman and harbors very different ambitions from Sin-young.”

The heroine Park describes is Hwang Jung-youn, the daughter of a construction company chairman, a tragic figure whose romantic other half, Lee Kang-mo (Lee Beom-soo), turns out to be the son of the man her father murdered.

Ill-fated love is not the only misfortune to befall her. Intent on becoming the heiress to her father’s business, she loses it to a former suitor. In true warrior woman-form, this heroine rises to the occasion and finds her true calling as a loan shark.

“I have been going to bookstores,” Park said of how she is prepping for her role. “But, to be honest, there aren’t many texts on loan sharks. There can’t be. So, of course, there is a limit to what books I can get but since I haven’t any real experience in this field, I am trying to get some indirect know-how on the matter.”

In addition to hitting bookstores, Park is also thinking about cutting her hair later on to highlight her character’s transition from a 22-year old to a 40-year old.

“I think it will be good to change my hairstyle to show that time has passed,” she explained.

Park, however, has plenty of time to think about what kind of coif she wants. The grown-up Jung-youn won’t make her appearance until the eighth or ninth episode of “Giant.”

When she does make her grand entrance, Park promises to bring something new to the table: “Because she harbors ambitions for success, I think she will present a radically different persona.”

By Jean Oh  (
Korea Herald Youtube