April 07, 2005 14:44
With tangled hair, a blank look and a subdued mumble, singer and actor Eric credibly portrays a jobless man in the new MBC miniseries “Recruit” -- a radical change from the rich charismatic heir in his previous work “Fire Bird.”
“While attending college, [my character] Kang-ho was popular and good at sports. But after graduating, he failed to land in a job and is coming to realize that he is nothing. But he doesn't give up,” Eric says.
The star says he was delighted with the high ratings of "Fire Bird" and the popularity of his role. "But many people told me that I wasn't very good at acting," he says. "I desperately wanted to get recognized for my performance in the next work. I love the scenario and the character of Kang-ho because I feel he has something in common with me. Whenever I read the script, I burst out laughing.” he says, turning received wisdom on its head.
Eric recalls his first shaky steps in the entertainment world releasing his first album with the band Shinhwa in 1998.
“The other members and I worked hard, but it was a total failure. Our agency almost washed its hands off the band. I was seriously thinking of giving up everything and going back to the U.S. So I understand Kang-ho,” he says.
Given his later popularity, it is surprising that Eric is the last member of the band to go solo. “I'm a lazy and easy-going, so I didn’t think I should become a conspicuous solo entertainer,” he explains.
Eric is frank. On his homepage he vows, “I will become a great figure who doesn’t have to pander to the will of broadcasting corporations.” That was a topic hotly debated last year, and it is for this reason that besides fans he also has his share of detractors.
“Unlike the time when I was under the protection of Shinwha’s fan club and was active solely as a member of the band, now there are many people who get upset by the most trifling things I say. I hope to embrace them all by showing them who I am through action instead of words,” he says.
I had to ask Eric about Shinwha, which makes up a big part of his identity. He started by saying, “I don't want to break the fantasy that fans have, but being a celebrity is mostly about making a living.” Then he gave a convincing real-life example that explains why these teenage idol groups exist.
“Once in an autograph session, a middle school student said, 'I think I will do well in my exam if you give me a word of encouragement.' Without much thought I wrote down, 'Let’s make it number one.' A month later that student scored first place in the exam out of the entire school and sent me a copy of her report card. That made me realize that our role as an idol group is not so simple.”
Closing the interview, I threw him a question. “Don’t Shinwha members who have gone solo find themselves in competition with each other?” The answer deserved a medal. “In the early days of Shinwha, if we disliked something about each other we wouldn’t be able to hold it in for even a day, and would end up feverishly fighting each other. Because we have gone through those times, feeling jealousy or envy is impossible. Besides that, of course, we experience rivalry with each other.”
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