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(Yonhap Interview) Jung Sung-hwa consolidates reputation as musical actor in 'Kinky Boots'

All Headlines 10:30 March 26, 2018

SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) -- Jung Sung-hwa has overcame his comedian background to become one of the country's most talented musical actors.

He is currently playing the cabaret performer and drag queen Lola in "Kinky Boots," the Korean adaptation of the Broadway musical. The work has helped him further strengthen his reputation as a sought-after musical actor.

"It is still hard to perform in 15-centimeter high heels on stage. I have muscle aches all over my body. But as soon as I start performing, I can forget the pain and pressure. When the spectators cheer for me loudly, I feel alive as an actor," Jung, 43, told Yonhap News Agency in a recent interview at Blue Square in Hannam-dong, Seoul, where the show is currently going on.

Musical actor Jung Sung-hwa smiles for photos before a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency at Blue Square in Hannam-dong, Seoul. (Yonhap)

He won the Best Actor Award from the first Korea Musical Awards last year for the role, a demanding character who should possess both sass and tenderness, not to mention be able to dance and sing in outrageous costumes and high heels.

Lola flutters his false, thick eyelashes and throws punchy lines that bring spectators to outbursts of laughter. But the character also exhibits a serious side where he pleads for people to be true to themselves and to live an independent life.

"When I premiered the musical, I saw more of his talent and laughter, but since the second performance, I've discovered more of his wounds behind the laughter," he said. "By emphasizing the humorous side of Lola in the beginning of the show, the spectators can connect with him more deeply when his scars are revealed later in the show."

As he got to understand the character better, Jung didn't purposely lose weight. Previously he lost eight kilograms for the role.

"I ruminated over how I could express Lola more sincerely. Lola wouldn't mind a little love handles. The more truthful, the more attractive the character. Lola's real beauty lies inside."

Musical actor Jung Sung-hwa (C) performs the musical "Kinky Books." (Yonhap)

Jung made his debut as a comedian on SBS TV in 1994 and as a musical actor in "I Love You" in 2003.

"As I didn't want people to say I wouldn't be good enough because I was a comedian, I tried really hard. The background actually helped me to dissipate the idea because people were surprised to find that I was better than they had expected."

In 2007, he was cast for the main role Don Quixote in "Man of La Mancha" and in "Les Miserables" in 2012.

Although he further advanced in the musical industry, he hasn't defined his boundaries. In 2016, he appeared in the comedy film "Split."

"I definitely want to try movies again. ... I also think about producing, but the job requires a high level of culture and heavy responsibility so I won't jump on it recklessly. I am dreaming about it for now."


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