Idol singers proving worth on prime time TV shows

SEOUL-- If you're enjoying a new TV drama series late at night and see a young, unfamiliar face in a weighty role, chances are he or she is a pop singer.

In reality, idol singers have been dipping their toes in acting for quite some time. But never has their presence been more pervasive and, more importantly, their acting consistent in quality.

In KBS 2TV's office comedy series "Chief Kim," 2PM's Junho plays the character Seo-yool, a cold-hearted prosecutor-turned-finance executive who engages in white-collar crimes by manipulating Nam Gung-min's character like a chess pawn.

Park Hyung-sik of boy band ZE:A appears in KBS 2TV's period drama "Hwarang" as the young King Jinheung of Silla. Park has made a noticeable footprint in acting since his role in 2013's critically-acclaimed fantasy show "Nine: Nine Time Travels."

In SBS TV's crime thriller "Defendant," Yuri of Girls' Generation plays a public defender representing Ji Sung's character, a prosecutor framed for murdering his family. Fellow S.M. Entertainment star Chanyeol of boy group EXO stars in a direct competitor, MBC TV's "Missing 9," as a musician stranded on a deserted island.

On cable TV, Super Junior's Yesung appears in the crime show "Voice" as a brilliant hacker on the 112 emergency call center team. BTOB's Yook Sung-jae graced tvN's mega hit fantasy series "Guardian: The Lonely and Great God" as a third-generation business tycoon.

There was a time when idol stars in general were snubbed by critics and meticulous TV fans for mostly ho-hum acting. But production companies couldn't just ignore star power, especially considering huge overseas markets.

Major talent agencies have also started addressing this dilemma, slowly including acting as an integral part of their star training.

"Yesung is perfectly pulling off a never-before experienced character with amazing focus" said an official from the production of "Voice," stressing the difficulty in portraying Yesung's monologue-heavy character.

The limited life cycle of the idol system, which happens to be getting much younger, is also pushing singers and their agencies towards TV and movies. Some even have quit their day jobs after hitting it big in major TV and movie works.

Im Si-wan of ZE:A has established himself as a legitimate actor after playing lead in tvN's hit drama "Misaeng (Incomplete Life)" in 2014. Former idol singers An So-hee and Han Sun-hwa also both left their groups, Wonder Girls and Secret, respectively, to pursue a career in acting.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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