The Korea Herald


More than just another Daniel Henney

French actor seeks to make a name for himself

By Korea Herald

Published : Dec. 16, 2012 - 20:13

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This is the seventh in a series on foreign entertainers working in the Korean entertainment industry. ― Ed.

Just listening to Fabien Yoon’s upbringing, it’s no wonder the young French actor ended up in entertainment.

His mother was a script-writer and brought young Fabien up around stages and sets for TV shows.

“I was always on the set with my mother, because my father was working and my mother wanted to raise me. So she didn’t want me to stay home with a nurse,” he said.

“I had opportunities to see actors. And sometimes they would just need a kid. So I did a lot of appearances in movies or TV shows.”
Fabien Yoon. (Courtesy of Jung Yeon-jin)
Fabien Yoon. (Courtesy of Jung Yeon-jin)

He said he was definitely was influenced by his family in choosing acting. His sister is also in entertainment, working as a musical actress. He joined the theater department of his school when he was 12, but it wasn’t until he was 16 or 17 that he decided to get serious. Though, at the time, he wanted to be a writer.

“At first, actually, I just wanted to write scenarios. But I wanted to do theater, just as a hobby, because I always liked being on the stage … But, my thing was, I wanted to write movies. I think it just came naturally.”

After being picked up by a modeling agency in Paris, he was sent to Seoul on a three-month contract to learn modeling here. He came in 2007 and went back and forth between Seoul and Japan before settling for good here in 2008.

He said at the time he didn’t know any Korean, but he was a big fan of Korean dramas. Yoon got his first taste of acting in Korea in 2009 when he appeared in two episodes of the drama “East of Eden.” He said the role was in English, but he was nervous about acting in a scene with top actor Song Seung-hun.

“I was so stressed,” he said. “And I just got the call the day before the shooting. So I had no time to prepare or anything. And I was so, so stressed. And after that shoot, I was sick for one week or something.”

He couldn’t speak any Korean for the audition, but he impressed the casting director by reciting lines in French from a play he did when he was younger. They asked if he could speak English, he said yes, and they gave him the role.

But Yoon started thinking that if he could learn Korean, he would have more opportunities to act in more Korean dramas. He saw Daniel Henney, a foreigner and superstar in Korea, and thought that if he could speak Korean better than him, he could do something in Korea.

So, he went “crazy” studying and practicing with his friends. He said he would study about six to seven hours a day by himself. And after a year, it paid off. He became fluent enough in Korean to land more roles.

This year alone, he’s been in dramas like “King Two Hearts” with Lee Seung-gi and Ha Ji-won, and “Dr. Jin.” Currently, he just started filming on MBC drama “I Miss You,” starring Yoon Eun-hye, Park Yoo-chun and Yoo Seung-ho. He plays a young lawyer, a departure from his previous roles playing older characters which involved a lot of makeup.

He said he loves what he does, even if it involves 12 to 48 hours of shooting with little to no food or sleep. He has a passion for acting and only hopes to continue in Korea, getting better known. He wants to be known for his work and not for being another foreign actor.

“Korean people, they always ask me, ‘Do you want to do like Daniel Henney?’ because whenever there is a new foreigner popping out, it’s always like, ‘Oh, you’re the new Daniel Henney,’” he said. “But you know, I want to be really noticed for what I am, not Daniel Henney No. 2.”

For the time being, Yoon plans to stay in Korea. He said he’s invested a lot of time and effort to make it work here, so he doesn’t want to leave and “start from scratch.” And he said as long as he’s happy, he’ll stay. If that means 20 years from now, he’s still happy acting in Korea, then he’ll still be here.

He said he has no limits and he just wants to reach the top, because he feels there is something here for him to do. Every year, things keep getting better, and he keeps building more passion. He said he often talks with the Korean actors he meets on set and they often give him advice.

“They say, ‘Fabien, I’ve been waiting 10 years before doing my debut on Korean TV. You’ve been here just four to five years. Just wait. If you’re good, people are going to know you someday,’” he said. “And when there is opportunity, just grab it. Do your best. And if you’re good, it’s going to be natural.”

By Emma Kalka (