Posted : 2013-08-12 17:09
Updated : 2013-08-12 17:09

Crisscrossing runway and screen

Kim Woo-bin poses in Seongdong-gu, Seoul on Aug. 9.
/ Korea Times photo by Huh Yoon-jin

Rising actor Kim Woo-bin has looks, style and sincerity

By Park Jin-hai

"Toughness" is what people expect from actor Kim Woo-bin.

When he takes to the runway, his eyes glitter with a glint of seduction and devilishness. When he walks and talks, this tall-and-lean framed model-actor sometimes comes across as a vampire (thanks to his teeth), but also like the teen rebels that he has portrayed in several dramas, including "School 2013."

But, behind the villain-like look and style, the 24-year-old has the most unexpected characteristics - seriousness and sincerity. These features stand out from the hyper-and- lighter side demonstrated by other stars his age.

"I was a rather quiet student, studying hard. Once I was ranked fifth in a school exam out of everyone in the same grade," he coyly but proudly said during the interview with The Korea Times. The actor's positive side shines through as a role-model as he urges teenage girls not to wear makeup and teenage boys to not fight at his fan meetings.

No one would have expected him to go into modeling, but that's where he got his first break in entertainment.

"I said I wanted to be a model when I was in middle school. Everyone close to me raised doubts, except for my parents," he said. "My parents trusted me and gave me full support. Before I started my modeling career at 20, I used to replay fashion show videos on-line and study how famous models walk and pose on runways."

He has been in numerous fashion shows big and small, and has established his name in the industry. He, in fact, received the New Star Award at the Asia Model Festival Awards in 2013.

Kim Woo-bin, left, stars in "Friend 2," directed by Kwak Gyeong-taek, right, in this file photo. Kim will play of the son of Han Dong-soo, played by Jang Dong-gun in "Friend" (2001). The movie will be released in November.
/ Courtesy of Trinity Entertainment

Kim said his other career pursuit as an actor came, when he was asked to act at pre-meetings for commercials. "I started studying acting to become a better model. But, in the course of doing so, I found myself feeling the same thrill and enthusiasm that I felt the first time I came to walk on the runway," he said.

Asked about the different charms between modeling and acting, he said "They are rather similar, in that they both require basic skills, but there cannot be a single or definite answer to that question. Depending on the amount of hard work and thought you put in, the end result can be different. That, to me, is the biggest charm of both," he added.

Kim concurs that he is currently more of an actor than a model, but he wishes that he could manage both, like actor Cha Seung-won, who is 43 and yet crisscrosses between the runways and screens.

He enjoys the best run of his career, culminating with the lead role in the movie "Friend 2," the sequel to the hit movie "Friend" (2001) that starred such big name stars as Jang Dong-gun (who played the character Han Dong-soo) and Yoo Oh-sung. Kim plays Han Sung-hoon, the son of Han Dong-soo who died in the first movie. The movie has finished shooting and waits for November release.

He is also cast for the upcoming drama "The Heirs" with Lee Min-ho and Park Shin-hye. The SBS drama will be written by Kim Eun-sook, who has previously worked with Kim Woo-bin in "Gentleman's Dignity." It is expected to air in October and will be set in a high school attended by affluent teens.

Kim seems well poised to grow into the next generation hallyu star. Chinese and Taiwanese fans increasingly call for fan meetings, and to meet their calls he recently opened his page on Weibo, China's most popular social media platform.

The rising rookie Kim maintained a calm and sincere attitude throughout the whole interview. When asked questions, he would pause from time to time before relaying his thoughts. That attitude seems to have come from the many years he had endured as an underpaid model-to-be, with a dream of spreading his wings one day.

According to him, when times were tough, he has kept telling himself the famous quote from a book "God gives trials to only those who can overcome the pain." "It motivated me to get through the hardships."

Time must be on his side these days. Kim has also bagged an emcee role on Mnet's music program "M! Countdown," where he will be hosting the popular music program from Aug.15.

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