You may not have heard of Ha Hwang Haiyen, but that may change someday. Haiyen is the first Vietnamese actress to appear in Korean dramas, and as told in an interview with the Chosun Ilbo, she hopes to continue her streak of success. Haiyen made her debut in 2007 in the KBS drama “Flowers For My Life” and has since appeared in many dramas.
Haiyen was born Hoang Hai Yen in Vietnam, where she dreamed of becoming an actress. “I used to mimic actors on TV,” she admitted to Chosun Ilbo. “I still can’t believe that I’m an actress in Korea. I’ve been extremely lucky.”
Still, as a student at Hanyang Women’s University, she decided to play it safe. “I chose business over acting for my major, because I wasn’t sure whether I could bet on my acting career,” she said. “Although I’m doing my best to support myself by acting, there’s always a risk that I could find myself out of work, and then a degree in business will come in handy.”
It seems that Haiyen didn’t need to hedge her bets, as she has enjoyed a steady stream of work in Korea as an actress. “I always have outdoor shoots on weekdays, so I’m busy all week as I have to travel to provincial areas like Yesan and Taean in South Chungcheong Province.”
Haiyen is now fluent in Korean to the extent that some people don’t realize that she’s a foreigner. “I’ve really become Korean,” she said. “I used to be nervous all the time because I was afraid that people wouldn’t understand what I was saying, but now I don’t worry at all. I think acting helped improve my Korean a lot.”
However, Haiyen believes that it is her identity as a Vietnamese person that will ensure her success, mentioning that the growing number of Vietnamese migrant workers and multicultural families in Korea will lead to an increasing demand for foreign actors. “Being a Vietnamese woman, I have an advantage in that area,” she said.
Haiyen hopes that she can lead the way for other Vietnamese actors to succeed in Korea. “For the moment, I’m going to work hard to become a better actress and focus on my study as well,” she said. “Maybe in the distant future I hope to set up a management agency for Vietnamese actors and actresses who need systematic support and management, and run my own entertainment business.”