Park Si Hoo: from Underwear Model to Hallyu Star
He came out of nowhere with his ‘friendly and comfortable’ image, and slowly started to slowly gather fans with each piece.
Soon, he was landing lead male roles, instead of the always-suffering second lead, and with the success of his recent roles, finally became a full-fledged star actor. This is the story of actor Park Si Hoo, age 33, the man who makes many women moan with longing.
Though he′s starred in relatively few works, and as his past as an underwear model, under the name Park Pyung Ho, his real name, was revealed, some said that he′d risen up through the ranks too quickly, and accused him of being a lucky star who had it easy.
But on the issue, Park himself says, “I think it took me about a decade to become a real star,” and bashfully reveals his actual debut was in the 1998 play The Twelve Nyang Life.
1+1 might equal 2, but that doesn’t apply in the case of rookie group Tasty, as the duo performs as one on stage.
His reminder of his roots means he can now talk easily about his days as an unknown actor, back when he was scooted around as a play actor and underwear model before he finally caught the eyes of the public. Now he has not only a strong group of Korean fans, but also a fairly impressive fanbase in Japan and China as one of Korea’s representative hallyu stars.
Chinese fans chipped in to open a mini-library with the name Si Hoo Reading Room in an elementary school in China, and even donated 10 million won to 23 elementary school students for a middle school scholarship. Park made 1,500 of these devoted and warmhearted fans go wild in February, with his first exclusive fanmeeting in Shanghai.
The same goes for Japan. As Fuji TV aired Queen of Reversals and Prosecutor Princess at the same time in June, Park’s popularity soared along with the dramas’ popularity. Japanese fans would visit Korea to show their support, even giving out free packed lunches to the staff at his drama shoot. Some Japanese fans even launched guerilla attack visits on the office of his agency, to the astonishment of the agency employees.
There are various definition for the word ‘tasty’. What does your group name mean?
So Ryong: It contains a lot of keywords like sexy, handsome, trendy, and delicious. It means we want to show off our different sides.
Out of all the keywords, what fits you the best?
So Ryong: A lot of people say that we are genuine and human. Everybody says that we are friendly.
Dae Ryong: I think the Tasty on stage is trendy.
I saw your performance. Your choreography and style is very trendy. It’s also sexy
Dae Ryong: Now that I think of it, I heard we’re sexy quite often. I’m thankful that’s how people see us.
Who came up with the name?
So Ryong: The head of our agency told us the day before our music video shoot. I’m not sure if selected the name out of a list or he made it himself. (Dae Ryong: He made it himself)
So there were other group names?
So Ryong: Yes, there were a bunch of weird ones. Pepsi Nex, do it, and 11 because we are twins. The one I can’t forget is Goblin
Why Goblin? There must be a reason.
So Ryong: It’s funny because it has absolutely nothing to do with us (laughs).
Dae Ryong: So Ryong suggested 2NE2 (laughs). As soon as we heard that, we couldn’t stop laughing.
So Ryong: We would have been basically copying 2NE1. And people didn’t like that either.
The first piece Park Si Hoo is remembered for by the public was KBS2’s Sassy Girl Chun Hyang (2005), in which he played a small role, as the boyfriend of Hong Chae Rin (Park Si Eun).
He continued to work, building on his roles through works like MBC′s Let’s Get Married as the cute and kind Kang Jae Ho, and Which Star Are You From? as the rich boy Han Jung Hoon.
With SBS’s How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor in 2007, he was finally acknowledged for his acting skills and won the New Star Award at the SBS Drama Awards that year.
He kept the fire going with Iljimae and Glory of the Family, coined the term ‘Seo Byun syndrome’ with Prosecutor Princess, and even became Korea’s most wanted man with Queen of Reversals. Now, he is known to guarantee success, shaking up the hearts of Korean women with his role in The Princess’s Man.
Even while he was shooting The Princess’s Man, many other countries sent him offers to bring him in for activities such as photo shoots. But because Korean dramas run on a very tight filming schedule, he has turned down a majority of those offers. He thought he′d be able to rest after his drama ended, but then his film I Am the Killer started shooting on October 7, immediately putting him in yet another hard core schedule.
But the actor seems to do better when he′s constantly building on his own success - take a break, and while his fans won′t forget about him, it seems likely that he′d fall somewhat behind, in an industry saturated with actors waiting to take his place.
How did it feel when the name ‘Tasty’ was finally decided?’
Dae Ryong: When I heard it, I thought, ‘Ah, this is it’. It’s a great name.
Your names are very interesting. Are they your real names?
So Ryong: Yes. We were born in the year of the dragon so our mother added the ‘Ryong’ (Korean for ‘dragon’) at the end.
Dae Ryong: The dragon is a majestic and powerful animal. I think she wanted us to be great figures just like a dragon.
There’s a saying that you end up like your name so I think your mother did a good job with that
Dae Ryong: You know how people say ‘Yong dwaet da (You’ve come a long way)’? I think we’ve really come a long way.
So Ryong: I hope there are a lot of things in the future that will make us great like a dragon (laughs).
You guys are both twins.
Dae Ryong: We’re twins but we’re different if you look closely. Our personalities are totally different. So Ryong gets close to people quickly. It’s gotten better but I’m still really shy. If I meet someone and think we won’t get along, I won’t talk to them at all.
So Ryong: That’s why it’s hard on me because I have to be nice to that person for Dae Ryong. I’m not shy. I hear that I’m friendly.
You guys look the same to me on the outside
So Ryong: Oh, physically we’ve always been the same. The size of our waist, the length of our legs, and even down to the length of our fingers. This one time, our stylist measured Dae Ryong and then measured me, but I thought to myself, ‘Why would she do the same thing twice’ (laughs). I hope she doesn’t do that next time.
I heard twins can understand each other. Is that true?
Dae Ryong: We think about the same things a lot. For example, I’ll think to myself ‘I’ll go shopping soon since it’s my day off’, and then So Ryong will come up to be and ask me to go shopping.
Since you guys are together so much, your tastes must be quite similar.
Dae Ryong: The things we like are similar. I like basketball so I have a lot of basketball shoes. So Ryong wasn’t interested in basketball at all. But then suddenly he started collecting basketball shoes.
So Ryong: Since I see him all the time, I like his hobbies. I started to get interested in it and now I collect basketball shoes. I don’t collect a lot of them, but I do try to get the limited edition shoes.
Do you like basketball?
Dae Ryong & So Ryong: We love basketball. When we have time we go watch KBL. We also watch games on TV too.
Do you have a favorite team or player?
So Ryong: There’s a player I like. Kim Hyo Beom and Jeon Tae Pung. I saw them play in real life and they were so great.
Dae Ryong: I like Lee Dong Jun. I’ve seen him play at an actual game.
Dae Ryong: I get together with my friends once a week and play a game of basketball. We were playing one day and Lee Dong Jun came. My friends asked him to a game and I was so nervous because he was in front of me. I couldn’t even say hi. The result? We obviously lost.
His charm comes from a mix of his pretty looks, his gentle personality and his passion toward his work. His body, fine-tuned by various sports such as scuba diving, snowboarding, Hapkido, boxing and Kendo, is also another attraction you can’t miss. Women can’t seem to take their eyes off of his body when he sometimes happens to take off his shirt.
But the main reason why so many fans just can’t get enough of him is because of his skillful acting, which allows the actor to take in any character and make it his own. He stole hearts with his watery eyes as the kind director and rich boy, and added another charm to his list by showing himself as a strong and trustworthy man in The Princess’s Man.
If you speak with him for a while, you can also find that he has a pretty easygoing and kind personality for a top star. He is sincere toward everyone he meets.
I heard you were trainees at JYP for a long time.
So Ryong: I was at JYP for five years and at this current agency for a little less than a year.
Dae Ryong: The JYP audition was my first audition and I made it. I was sent immediately to America right after. I trained for a few years and came to Korea, but our debut date wasn’t set. The trainees who came in after me debuted before us. We weren’t ready then and just really anxious, so it was really hard because we wanted a chance to debut.
When you search Tasty, ‘Park Jin Young’s twin dancers’ comes up as the related keyword. You guys performed in 2007?
So Ryong: Yes, we performed as Park Jin Young’s backup dancers for a little bit. We even had a group of fans.
Dae Ryong: We were the only trainees after Rain who performed as Park Jin Young’s backup dancers. I think that’s why people knew us.
It sounds like you guys were recognized. The choreography for Do You Know Me is really good
So Ryong: We choreographed the dance for the song. There were a few moves that the professional dancers made but most of it was created by us.
Dae Ryong: We focused on creating a precise and tight choreography. Making our arms into an ‘X’ and shaking our shoulders were the highlight of the choreo.
It really looks like the two of you are once person.
So Ryong: It’s probably because we danced together for 15 years.
The song is also refreshing. The title Do You Know Me really grabbed my attention
Dae Ryong: The title song was more puzzling than refreshing (laughs). When we first heard the song, we were both like ‘What is this?’ We thought, ‘Who the heck would know who we are?’ We just debuted, so we thought the song was too aggressive. If it went wrong, we would look arrogant and people wouldn’t like us. So we tried really hard to at least make the choreography look good.
I saw the picture you took with SNSD’s Yoona and miss A’s Min. How do you know them?
So Ryong: I know Min when we were trainees. Min is close to Hyo Yeon and she introduced to the other SNSD members. Now we’re close to them.
You guys may be rookies but you have top star friends.
Dae Ryong: A lot of people are shocked by that. We once gave our CD to Taetiseo after performing and the other rookies who were saying hello to them were shocked when they saw that we were close to the girls (laughs).
You guys are being recognized as the hottest rookies around. Did this hit you yet?
So Ryong: It’s so amazing to see fans cheering us on on music programs. We’re thankful.
Dae Ryong: When I see people recognize us. We went to Myeongdong on our free day. We were wondering if anybody would recognize us when someone in their twenties came up to us in a coffee shop and asked for our autograph. It was amazing because we had only debuted for a week at that time.
Really? The cheers and support you get from fans on music programs are quite impressive
So Ryong: We’re thankful for all of those people who come and support us.
Dae Ryong: It’s really encouraging to see fans cheer us on when we’re on stage. I also find myself chanting with the fans. If you look at my mouth closely when I’m on stage, you can see me doing the chant.
Is there a singer you like?
So Ryong: Rain. He’s why we auditioned at JYP.
Dae Ryong: We followed Rain’s choreo when he performs on stage. We’re also anticipating what kind of comeback he’ll make.
As mentioned before, Park Si Hoo’s popularity reaches not only across the nation, but across the Asian countries such as Japan, China and Taiwan. But recently, as agencies of hallyu stars have been unfolding aggressive promotional marketing, every Korean celebrity who goes overseas becomes a ‘hallyu star’, lowering the label’s value.
Park Si Hoo is actually undervalued by Korean entertainment officials compared to his popularity in Korea and overseas - his name still isn′t on the short list of top leading men officials want to cast in their dramas - odd, considering his record of success, but something the actor must overcome if he wants to continue on this road.
Fortunately, he has gained the opportunity to act with the skilled actor Jung Jae Young in his next film, I Am the Killer. He is taking on the role of the killer, marking his first change in his first film with his first evil character. We look forward to seeing how this chance will work in his favor, letting him take a big step forward as an actor.
Photo credit: Eyagi Entertainment
Translation credit: Erika Kim
Name: Park Si Hoo (Real name Park Pyung Ho)
Birth: April 3, 1978
Body: 182cm, 70kg
Blood type: B
Family: Parents, little brother (Park Woo Ho)
Hobbies: Scuba diving, working out, snowboarding
Talents: Hapkido, boxing, Kendo
Debut: The Twelve Nyang Life (1998)
Agency: Eyagi Entertainment
You guys just debuted. Is there a goal you want to achieve this year?
So Ryong: We want to win first place and the rookie award. We really want to try hard to get it. We also want to stand on a huge music stage in Asia.
If there was a keyword associated with Tasty, what would you want it to be?
Dae Ryong: We want to be known as Asia’s no.1 performance duo. People think of the group Deux when they hear the word ‘duo’ and now we want people to think of Tasty.
So Ryong: We want to become a group that will be remembered by a lot of people.
Editor: Sin Yu Mi
Photographer: Maeng Min Hwa
Stylist: Lee Jong Seon
Makeup: Kangho the Red Carpet
- Park Si Hoo 20111007