By Shim Sun-ah
SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — Singer-actor Im Si-wan of the now dormant K-pop boy band ZE:A is an up-and-coming talent in Korean cinema.
Im is best known for playing Jin-woo in the film “The Attorney” (2013) and the lead in the cable TV series “Misaeng (Incomplete Life)” (2014), which were both successful in the box office and ratings. He was recently invited to a out-of-competition category of this year’s Cannes Film Festival as a co-star of the new crime-action film “The Merciless.”
“I made an acting debut with the television series ‘The Moon that Embraces the Sun’ and felt that acting fits my aptitude quite well. Before, I just vaguely longed for acting,” Im said during a round table interview with the Korean press for “The Merciless” on Friday.
“After finishing the drama I thought I’d like to do more acting if there is any chance. And I’ve got many good opportunities so far, fortunately.”
He was also lucky enough to work with many veteran actors who are far older than him like Song Kang-ho in “The Attorney”, Lee Sung-min in “Misaeng” and Seol Kyung-gu in “The Merciless.”
“It was a great honor to work with those great actors. I think I grew a lot from this,” Im said.
His character in the new Korean film was Hyeon-su, a policeman who goes undercover in jail to investigate a large-scale drug trafficking ring.
His mission is to get close to Jae-ho, an underboss of the criminal organization played by Seol, who was serving his prison term. Together they come to work for the organization after leaving prison, but their relationship begins to crack as they discover secrets about each other.
The 28-year-old actor shook off his upright image to widen his spectrum of acting to the fearless tough guy.
“It was so cool that I did not have to pretend to be good on screen. I felt like I slipped off a layer of my skin.”
Five years into his acting career he is recognized more as an actor than a singer in the public eye.
That’s also partly because his idol group ZE:A, which was formed in 2010, has been dormant for years, with three of its nine members in the Army and the rest focusing on individual activities. Im is also expected to enter the Army in a few months. All able-bodied Korean men are required to complete about 20 months of military service before the age of 35 in South Korea.
“I think reassembling entirely will take at least several years because members need to go to the Army.”
Im said he still wants to continue his singing career despite his newfound success in acting.
“I’d like to release a single album, sing soundtracks for dramas and hold a fan meeting if time permits. But I’m not sure if I can afford time to do them.”
These days, he is busy filming the new MBC TV historical drama “The King Loves” set to go on air in July. His character is Wang Won, a crown prince of the early Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392).
With the filming of seven of the series’ 20 episodes remaining, Im said he might not be able to walk on the red carpet of the 70th Cannes Film Festival that opens next week because of his tight schedule.
He showed high expectations for the film’s forthcoming screening in Cannes.
“I didn’t know exactly about Cannes except that it’s one of the three largest film festivals in the world. I wonder what kind of turning point in my life it would be that I appeared in a Cannes-bound film.”
Directed by Byun Sung-hyun, “The Merciless” is to open in local theaters next Thursday.