Idol singers no longer seem satisfied with merely appearing on stage and in TV dramas. Recently, more idol group members are getting involved in moviemaking, with Kim Dong-jun of boy band ZE:A currently receiving the most attention for his supporting role in "A Company Man," which was released on Oct. 11.
Viewers have heaped praise on the 20-year-old for his movie debut, posting comments on local movie websites about how he was able to acquit himself well in both action scenes and those that require emotional depth. They say he deserved more on-screen time beyond that of a supporting role.
"Code Name: Jackal," starring JYJ's Kim Jae-joong, and "26 Years," starring 2AM's Im Seul-ong, are scheduled to be released next month. Both singers started their acting careers with TV dramas before expanding into movies.
Choi Seung-hyun, better known as T.O.P from the boy band Big Bang, who drew attention with the movie "71 Into the Fire" in 2010, is now playing the male lead in a new movie. Meanwhile, ZE:A's Hwang Kwang-hee and BEAST's Yoon Doo-joon were cast in supporting roles in the light-hearted movie franchise "Marrying the Mafia 5."
Shin Dong-ho of U-KISS and FT Island member Lee Hong-ki will also appear in films that are now in production.
Movie and music industry insiders describe this as a win-win strategy as producers can draw on the singers' popularity for promotional purposes, while young stars can take their careers in an exciting new direction. Acting also offers the implicit promise of greater longevity career-wise compared to singers' flash-in-the-pan success.
"It's hard to find suitable actors who can play a character in their late teens or early 20s because young actors in that age range are usually either inexperienced or highly paid stars. This is one reason why we look to idol singers," said one local movie producer.
"As many idol singers shift to movies, local entertainment companies are considering adopting a professional actor training system," said a staffer at JYP Entertainment.
However, some fear the gambit may fail if the singers, whose acting talent is largely untested, fail to perform convincingly on the silver screen as this could frustrate and ultimately alienate moviegoers.
Lim Sang-yun, who directed "A Company Man," said that since idol singers have been trained in a systematic way from early age, they often prepare thoroughly and stand out in auditions. "Kim Dong-jun was cast because he had prepared very well for his audition. Every blank space in his script was filled with notes," he added.