[CELEB] Yim Si-wan has found his true calling on screen

Yim Si-wan as a mysterious passenger named Ryu Jin-seok who randomly boards a flight to Hawaii to kill as many passengers as possible by spreading an unidentified virus in “Emergency Declaration.” [SHOWBOX]

Actor Yim Si-wan definitely stands out from the star-studded cast of Song Kang-ho, Jeon Do-yeon, Lee Byung-hun, Kim Nam-gil, Kim So-jin and Park Hae-joon in director Han Jae-rim’s “Emergency Declaration.” He plays a sociopathic villain in the story, a mysterious plane passenger named Jin-seok who unleashes a biochemical terror on a flight bound for Hawaii.

“Which plane has the most number of passengers aboard on it?”

Jin-seok asks at the check-in counter. He boards the plane set for Hawaii and unleashes an unidentified virus that quickly spreads and infects people through their respiratory organs. The virus kills whoever it infects within a matter of hours. In the face of a disaster, the passengers, flight attendants and pilots must find a way to land the plane safely and quickly with a minimum number of casualties. Back on land, government officials and regular citizens must decide how they will respond to the situation.

Yim SI-wan [SHOWBOX]

During an online interview, director Han Jae-rim said he wanted Jin-seok “to be the symbol of disaster itself,” an unprecedented terror which suddenly takes a toll on the masses. Due to the director’s intention, no history or background information was given to explain why or what set was the cause for Jin-seok’s actions. He “just did it” because he wanted to kill as many people as possible.

Out of all the reviews Yim received for his haunting expression and out-of-focus gaze, the actor said the most memorable praise was that Jin-seok felt like a person who could really exist in reality.

“It meant that he was realistic,” Yim said during an online interview on Aug. 8. “My first impression of Jin-seok when I read the script was that he is the representation of pure evil. There are certain types of villains that I like, such as Thanos portrayed by Josh Brolin in Marvel’s ‘Avengers’ and the role of Valentine, portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ [2014]. Although they are the bad guys, they have a very clear outline of their beliefs and values. So in the same way, I thought I too, should format a clear storyline of how Jin-seok became the person he is, even though it won’t be explained in the film.”

Yim Si-wan [SHOWBOX]

Yim imagines Jin-seok to be a lonely person, with slight figure and a foreigner in the country that he grew up in.

“[It briefly comes up in the film that] he spent his childhood abroad, in the United States, and he would have gone to school there,” Yim explained. “At first, he wouldn’t have been able to communicate with his peers due to his lack of English, and everywhere we go, there are always those sort of bad people who want to bully people in the shadows. Maybe he was taunted, pushed around by others and did not have anyone to rely on. He only had his mother, but he wasn’t able to tell her what was happening with him. So his distrust of people would have piled up and ultimately shaping his beliefs in a very wrong way. He might have justified to himself that people are bad in general and that’s why he had to go through all the bad things happening to him. Distrust turned to hatred, and he might have seen that there is no need for such ‘uncivilized’ people to live, and coming across all sorts of criminals on television or media would have egged him on. I eventually imagined that he arrived to the conclusion that he wanted to go through a kind of purification process to cleanse the world.”

Yim, however, is not at all sorry to see his character simply described as evil.

“I don’t think villains have to have a backstory,” he said. “On the other hand, I think it’s better to leave that part of story blank instead of filling it in with awkward explanations or reasoning.”

According to the singer-turned-actor who initially debuted as part of the boy band ZE:A back in 2010, he has found his true calling on screen.

“I think it was the first time ever that I was truly recognized by the masses with acting,” Yim said.

In the series “Misaeng: Incomplete Life” (2014), Yim portrays a rookie white-collar worker named Jang Geu-rae who adapts to the life of corporate culture with baduk, the game of Go, as his guide. [TVN]
In the film “The Attorney” (2013), Yim portrays Park Jin-woo, a high school student who was wrongfully tortured under the Chun Doo-hwan regime. [NEW]

Yim’s transition to acting began in 2012 with MBC drama series “Moon Embracing the Sun,” when he portrayed the younger version of Lord Heo Yeom, a 17-year-old tutor of a fictional king named Lee Hwon of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Since then, Yim has seen success in a number of drama series and films, spanning from a harmless youth to a psychopathic killer. Other villainous roles that Yim is recognized for include in the KBS drama series “Man from the Equator” (2012) and OCN drama series “Strangers from Hell” (2019). In the former, Yim pulls off the role of teenager Jang-il who betrays his best friend Sun-woo for his own gains. In the latter, Yim portrays Yoon Jang-woo, a new resident to an ominous dormitory who finds out that there is a reason behind the cheap rent.

Yim chose four projects which each became a turning point in his acting career.

In the series “Strangers from Hell” (2019), Yim portrays Yoon Jang-woo, a new resident of a cheap dormitory who has to tackle the haunting incidents happening within the building. [OCN]
In the film “The Merciless” (2017), Yim portrays undercover cop Cho Hyun-soo who befriends a crime cartel’s second-in-command, Han Jae-ho, portrayed by Seol Kyung-gu. [CJ ENM]

“The first turning point would be ‘Moon Embracing the Sun’ because I think it was the project which gave me the boost to continue acting,” Yim said. “Another would be the film ‘The Attorney’ [2013] because it was an opportunity to act alongside veteran actors and the experience itself provided a guideline for me to follow as an actor. TvN drama series ‘Misaeng: Incomplete Life’ [2014] also gave me a positive experience and confidence in acting, and last of all would be the film ‘The Merciless’ [2017] which offered decisive momentum for me to break out of my shell.”

“Emergency Declaration” was released in local theaters on Aug. 3.

Yim Si-wan

Date of birth: December 1, 1988
Zodiac sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Seoul
Debut: January 2010 through boy band ZE:A
Agency: Plum A&C

Yim debuted as part of K-pop boy band ZE:A in January 2010 with the EP “Nativity” and expanded his career to acting with MBC drama series “Moon Embracing the Sun” (2012), where he portrayed teenager Heo Yeom, a tutor to a fictional king named Lee Hwon. Since then, Yim has successively starred in popular drama series such as “Misaeng: Incomplete Life” (2014) on tvN, “The King in Love” (2017) on MBC, “Strangers from Hell” (2019) on OCN, and films “The Attorney” (2013) and “The Merciless” (2016).

This information was confirmed by Plum A&C in Aug. 10, 2022.