Actor Yim Si-wan not satisfied with just being good
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) -- Yim Si-wan is a young Korean actor who can flawlessly pull off both good guys and villains on the big and small screens but being good is not enough for him. He wants to supersede established stars and is serious about his goal.
The former member of K-pop group ZE:A began his acting career in 2012 with MBC's historical drama "Moon Embracing the Sun." His first performance exceeded expectations, and he went on to act in other dramas, becoming a breakout star for his inspirational role in tvN's drama "Misaeng: Incomplete Life" (2014).
Since then, the self-taught actor has played totally contrasting roles in movies and dramas, and drawn positive reviews from both fans and critics.
He showed a strong bond with veteran actor Seol Kyung-gu in the neo-noir action film "The Merciless" (2017), and captured attention as a terrorist in the disaster blockbuster "Emergency Declaration" (2022), which also starred Cannes award winners Song Kang-ho and Jeon Do-yeon.
Lately, Yim played another villain in the Netflix movie "Unlocked," starring as a serial killer who installs spyware in smartphones he gets hold of and ruins their owners' lives.
Released Feb. 17, the movie follows Na-mi (Chun Woo-hee), whose life is turned upside down after Jun-yeong (Im Si-wan) picks up her lost cellphone and uses it to track her every move.
The 35-year-old actor said he focused on portraying Jun-yeong's twisted mind and artistic pursuit, in this case, collecting a long list of his victims.
"I think (Jun-yeong) would feel satisfaction when he devises creative ways to destroy people's lives by using personal information he gathers from their smartphones," Yim said in a recent group media interview. "I approached the villain character by utilizing my bright side."
Yim said he was intrigued by the well-written script but was hesitant over the serial killer role at first.
"I initially turned down the offer because I think actors should consider their influence on the society through their works. Even after the rejection, I kept thinking about the script and decided to do it," he said.
In real life, the actor uses Facebook and Instagram for official purposes but rarely posts about his personal life. He is uncomfortable with sharing too much about himself with an unspecified number of people in online space.
"I think the movie is scary because it raises realistic fears that something similar could happen to me," he said. "I think having awareness about the danger of smartphone hacking could be the first step to protect ourselves from such risks."
Although Yim cares about his social influence when picking new projects, he places high value on playing villains as a way to extend his acting range and test his limits.
"I heard that taking villain characters is a blessing in the world of acting. Actors can give impressive performances and open themselves to many possibilities," he said.
Yim said his first attendance at the Cannes Film Festival for the screening of "The Merciless" was a big moment for him and provided him the opportunity to set higher goals.
"At the time, I thought I needed to elevate my goals and shouldn't settle for being good enough. I decided to go crazy with (acting) in order to be able to enjoy such an honorable moment again," he said. "It became my prime motivation."
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