As a member of the once-sensational K-pop group Crayon Pop, Heo Min-seon used to dance in a helmet and bright tracksuit that recall the Power Rangers. She has now moved on to acting onstage.
Also known by the name Way, Heo recently took on her first theater gig with a role in the historical play “Jjamppong,” acclaimed for its depiction of the May 18 Democratic Uprising in Korea.
“I used to act in a high school theater club and had always wanted to try acting, even during Crayon Pop activities,” Heo said during a recent interview with The Korea Herald.
“I am very satisfied with my current role in ‘Jjamppong,’ although there’s so much to learn as a rookie actress.”
Heo Min-seon of Crayon Pop poses before an interview with The Korea Herald on May 12 in Seoul. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
In “Jjamppong,” Heo plays Gina, a teenager working at a family-owned Chinese restaurant in Gwangju. Against the backdrop of the May 18 Democratic Uprising in the city, the play unfolds with the historic tragedy tearing the family apart.
Heo said she grew up listening to tales about the Gwangju uprising from her father, who witnessed the period. It helped her obtain a keen understanding of Korean history and also to better connect with Gina, a young but mature girl who withstands the blow the event dealt on her family.
A scene from a historic play “Jjamppong.” (San Theater)
Despite her newly-launched acting career, rumors that Crayon Pop is on the verge of disbandment have plagued Heo, as its members’ contracts with their agency expired in March.
“We still haven’t agreed on whether to renew our contracts with the agency, but it is crystal clear that all of the members, including me, wish to stick together as Crayon Pop,” said Heo.
“No matter how the result turns out, the past five years were the best in my life for sure. For now, I would like to focus on my acting career.”
After debuting in 2012, the group’s members rose to become global breakout stars with their quirky hit “Bar Bar Bar” and dance choreography that centered on one particular move, called the “Straight-Five Engine Dance,” which featured all five of them bouncing up and down.
It even caught the attention of American pop star Lady Gaga, who asked the group to open for her United States and Canada tour in 2014. The group’s success continued with hits such as “Doo Doom Chit” in 2016, until band member Soyul tied the knot with Moon Hee-jun in February this year, after which the group went on hiatus.
However, Heo kept making efforts to bond with fans by appearing in TV dramas and musicals, through which she developed a passion for acting.
“I knew that we would go downhill someday, even though we were receiving so much love back then,” said Heo.
“It was really tough to accept the fact that we had become lackluster, but I guess I try not to remember sad things. All I can think of now is how much I learned and evolved during those years.”
Heo confessed that she had a hard time getting used to the group’s quirky image at the beginning. They had stood out among other female K-pop groups that either oozed appeal with skin-baring outfits or adopted a sweet image with fluffy skirts.
To fit into their group’s concept, the members had to practice acting out of character. As part of such efforts, they filmed hilarious videos and rated them based on how funny they were. Heo had to drop her personal character and exude a brighter and funnier image. The group’s personality, crafted by such endeavors, was the key to its sudden rise to fame not long after its debut, Heo said.
“Some might find it awkward to see me acting on stage, but I will keep moving forward as an actress. I’m also learning English these days to communicate with fans all over the world,” she said.
Expressing her hope that Crayon Pop would stay intact, Heo said the members, without Soyul, will attend the 17th Golden Feather Awards in Taiwan on May 27, which will be the group’s last official schedule.
Heo, who started acting in “Jjamppong” on May 16, will appear in the play until early July.
By Hong Dam-young