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[K-Star’s Best Character] Im Siwan: The Ex-Idol Actor Who Met Jang Geu Rae in ‘Misaeng: Incomplete Life’

Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Jeon Gyeong Ju

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Credit: tvN

Im Siwan made his debut in the entertainment industry as a member of ZE:A (also known as Children of Empire) in 2010. Although he was good-looking and had a high-quality vocal skill, he didn’t get much attention from the public. For this reason, he once attempted to quit his career in show business, but then made a big change when he tried acting.

Im Siwan debuted as an actor as the young “Heo Yeom” in MBC’s historical drama Moon Embracing the Sun. It was a tough challenge because he wasn’t an idol who had focused on acting at the very beginning, and he had never learned it personally. Contrary to concerns, however, his first step as an actor was beyond expectations. He led the popularity in the early parts of the series by showing stable performances unlike the usual rookies. Im Siwan, who proved his own potential in Moon Embracing the Sun, continued his acting career in earnest. Meanwhile, he met with tvN’s drama Misaeng: Incomplete Life (shortened to Misaeng below), a piece that would entirely change his acting life.

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Credit: tvN

Based on the same-titled webtoon written and drawn by Yoon Tae Ho, Misaeng portrays the lives of ordinary office workers and human relationships in them in a realistic way. Im Siwan played “Jang Geu Rae,” the main character of the series.

Jang Geu Rae is a person who failed to become a professional Go player and joined the company, One International, as an intern. Despite the stigma attached by others, saying that he’s a high school graduate and entered there through someone higher up, he gradually grows up as an office worker by doing his job silently. Im Siwan also didn’t make his mark as a singer, but he met with Jang Geu Rae and grew up as the actor Im Siwan along with the character.

Their failures are not actually considered as the darkest moments in their lives. Just as Jang Geu Rae overcomes difficult problems in his workplace using the clever moves of Go game, Im Siwan once said that his experiences as a singer had greatly helped him express various emotions. His delicate emotional expressions drew tears from the viewers in every episode of Misaeng. On the back of the novice actor Im Siwan’s determined resolutions and impassioned performances, Misaeng made a huge hit and became the masterpiece throughout his career.

Im Siwan has completely changed in the wake of Misaeng. After getting recognized his acting skill by winning the New Actor in TV prize at the 51st Baeksang Arts Awards, he solidified his own position as an actor, appearing both in the big screen and the small one. In the latest OCN’s original thriller Hell Is Other People, his first TV drama in two years right after being discharged from the army, he performed so passionately that nobody could hardly believe he just made a comeback after a hiatus. Im Siwan has fully grown into the “wansaeng (a complete life)” actor, even though he started his career as a “misaeng (an incomplete life).” That’s why I’m looking further forward to his future activities.

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