Park Hee-soon is back as another drug lord in 'A Model Family'
In the latest Netflix original series “A Model Family,” actor Park Hee-soon once again portrays a lonesome leader of a drug cartel, similar to his role in the 2021 Netflix series “My Name.”
Specifically, he is Gwang-cheol, the second-in-command who remains fiercely loyal to his crime ring — until he finds out that his boss, Yong-soo, portrayed by Choi Moo-sung, plans to abandon him.
“A Model Family,” released on the platform Friday, revolves around the ordinary “model” citizen and family breadwinner Dong-ha, portrayed by actor Jung Woo, who becomes entangled in the crime world when he takes bags full of cash as he faces bankruptcy and divorce. Gwang-cheol involves himself in Dong-ha’s family as he tries to locate the cash.
In “My Name,” Park's popularity rose significantly as he portrayed Choi Mu-jin, the boss of Korea’s biggest drug ring Dongcheon. He acts as a father figure to Ji-woo, portrayed by Han So-hee, as he was best friends with her father.
Always donning a tie and suit with his hair slicked back, viewers, especially those from younger generations who are less familiar with the actor, dubbed him as the new icon of sexy.
The veteran actor, who has been active on stage and on screen since 1990, says he’s still unsettled by the new description of “sexy” that “My Name” fans have given him.
“The word itself is unfamiliar — I’ve never heard such an adjective describe me before,” Park said at an online interview Tuesday. “But of course, I’m happy about it. Honestly though, I don’t really know what it is to be sexy.”
Park revealed at the local press event earlier this month that he initially received the script for “A Model Family” while he was filming for “My Name.”
“In ‘My Name,’ Mu-jin was like fire,” Park said as he explained the differences between the two characters. “He has a very high level of self-esteem and passion. On the other hand, Gwang-cheol is parched and dry, because, having been an orphan, he has a sense of deprivation from having no family. So the two characters came off as completely different for me. Of course, since both are portrayed by me, there may be similarities, but I tried my best to distance Gwang-cheol from Mu-jin, with the former being adapt at hiding his emotions and thoughts.”
The actor, however, initially wanted Gwang-cheol to forego the suit for this series.
“So that the two characters’ image do not overlap, I initially wanted to not to wear a suit for ‘A Model Family,' ” he said. “But director Kim Jin-woo insisted. I finally got away with just wearing a suit and no tie.”
Kim, however, gives credit to “My Name” for letting him discover a new side of himself.
“In the series, I’ve seen faces of myself that I’ve never seen before,” he explained. “I was more thrilled to see new sides of myself that [director Kim Jin-min] discovered than I was to be called handsome or sexy.”
Even before he rose to fame through “My Name,” the actor has often been associated with the dark side, mostly as a villain, a pursuer, a shady police detective or a crime lord. Park, however, doesn’t mind that he is often called out for such characters.
“Actors are always chosen to appear in a project, they do not get to pick what they want to do,” Park said. “At this age, I’m grateful that I still get picked at all. But after ‘My Name,’ new types of roles have started to be offered to me. Although for ‘A Model Family,’ I successively portrayed a character with a similar image, I don’t think I will be appearing as another similar character anytime soon.”
The actor, however, has his share of fun living vicariously through his dark characters.
“They do things that I would never be able to experience in my real life,” he said. “How would I ever be able to hit and kill people? I haven’t even the faintest idea what a drug looks like. There is a kind of catharsis in becoming a character of the imagination.”
BY LEE JAE-LIM [email@example.com]