Magazine article Variety

Pop Go the Stars into Korean Indie Pics

Magazine article Variety

Pop Go the Stars into Korean Indie Pics

Article excerpt

Suho, Park Jin-young, Hoya, Da-som, and Park Gyu-ri: This crop of K-pop idols have all recently made their acting debuts low-budget films. Former MBLAQ member Lee Joon, who started his now-thriving acting career in 2013's "Rough Play" written by Kim Ki-duk, was a trailblazer for pop stars looking to expand into film.

But despite their high profiles and earning power, these pop idols have launched their acting careers through low-budget - and sometimes low-profile - indies.

Suho is a member of EXO, one of the best-selling K-pop boy bands that made almost $18.17 million in 2015 through music sales alone. His debut film, "One Way Trip" was made on a budget of a little more than $272,500. Representing a multinational boy band GOT7, which is enjoying huge pan-Asian popularity, Park Jin-young's film debut, "A Stray Goat" was financed through crowdfunding and the Jeonju Intl. Film Festival. Hoya, who's a member of one of the top K-pop boy bands, Infinite, acted in "Hiya" which was made with less than $545,000. A former member of major K-pop act Kara, Park Gyu-ri, started his acting career in "Two Rooms, Two Nights" an independent title made with some $363,300. Da-som of Sistar played the lead in Shin Yeon-shik's micro-budget omnibus, "Like a French Film"

"One of the strengths of K-pop-idolturned-actors is that they are used to harsh competition in the industry, since they have been through the very intense training system of K-pop agencies since a young age" Shin says. "Compared to actor aspirants in similar age groups, idols are less scared of trying and proving themselves."

Having tutored multiple K-pop idols in the art and craft of acting, Shin teaches and hires them because the Korean film industry needs more young actors, and they have passion for acting, which he believes is important.

"In the current filmmaking environment in Korea, where only a [limited number] of actors are active, smaller productions tend to be short of actors" Shin says. "Having more actors will help not only the directors, but also the producers and investors. And there are many K-pop idols who initially wanted to become actors and still have that passion. When it's mutually benefitting, why not try?"

On the other hand, a casting director who recently cast a pop idol for a low-budget film says the trend reflects how the music industry has come to capitalize on its talents. …

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