By Park Chung-a
The movie "King and the Clown" has brought the talents of new actor Lee Joon-ki to light. His adept character portrayal has sparked a new trend of "feminine masculinity," and the syndrome of kkotminam (flower boy).
The 24 year-old plays Kong-gil, a court jester who becomes involved in a love triangle with another court jester, Jang-saeng, and King Yonsan. Lee’s performance received rave reviews from critics and now, any clothes or accessories that Lee dons turn into an instant fashion statement. Lee signed a one-year modeling contract with Samsung Electronics last week, to promote their Anycall mobile phones.
"Personally, I think the term kkotminam goes with those who have big eyes and clean-cut features. I earned the nickname through the neutral-gender image of Kong-gil, but I don’t consider myself a typical kkotminam. I think my strengths are an oriental look with an androgynous charm, though," Lee told The Korea Times. "Learning the skills of a court jester was difficult but more difficult was that I had to abandon myself completely for six months of shooting. The character Kong-gil cannot express his own thoughts, a bit like a beautiful fool. In order to convey his mysterious charm, I had to close my mouth and limit my actions, despite many temptations. That was the hard part."
He said he believes the purity, sincerity, and mysteriousness of Kong-gil is what made people so attracted to the character. "No matter how difficult his predicament may be, Kong-gil is patient and resolute, reserved with his inner emotions. Through a strong spiritual bond with Jang-saeng, he accepts his reality but consistently pursues his dreams," he said. "I think the sincerity of the character provoked maternal instinct from the audience."
Lee is currently busy shooting his next movie. "I play a young man who appears to be strong and cheerful but has a fragile inner-self. He grows up scarred as a result of an unhappy childhood,’’ he explained.
"Although I have no specific plan for working abroad, I think such opportunities will come naturally, if I do my best here in Korea."
Lee surely carries a large burden on his shoulders, as audiences look forward to seeing more of his exceptional talent in 2006.