The Costs and Benefits of their Roles
Two highly anticipated dramas of the year have finally come to an end. SBS’s “Athena: Goddess of War” ended on February 21st, and MBC’s “My Princess” ended on the 24 rth. While the two dramas were of different genres, “Athena” was an action drama and “My Princess” was a romantic comedy, both shared a similar trait. Much of the dramas’ success was dependent on their stars’ name values. “Athena” and “My Princess” had a strong start, but it wasn’t long before both became lack luster in the public’s eyes.
Su Ae – Jung Woo Sung : Misses Out on Public’s Interest
Su Ae and Jung Woo Sung belong to the silver screen. Su Ae has received numerous awards for best actress and has made a name for herself; Jung has also been acknowledged as an A-list star.
However, if we were to judge only by their box office numbers, their success is questionable. Su Ae’s movie debut’s “Family” (2004) brought in 1.28 million viewers, “My Love is Faraway” (2008) brought in 1.65 million, “The Sword with No Name” (2009) brought in 1.68 million, and “Late Night FM” (2010) brought in 1.22 movie-goers. None of her movies sold more than two million seats. The Korean public is more connected to television dramas than movies, and it’s hard to measure an actor’s success if he or she didn’t have any television smash hits. Jung Woo Sung’s “Beat” (1997) sold 1.21 seats and “The Good, the Bad, the Weird” (2008) was a box office hit as it sold over 6.6 million tickets. However, if the latter movie is excluded, Jung too does not have a smash hit. It took more than Jung’s charms to make “The Good, the Bad, the Weird” (2008) a box office success. Its success was based on the synergy of all its actors Song Kang Ho and Lee Byeong Hyun, and director Kim Ji Woon. His “A Good Rain Knows” (2009) sold 300 thousand seats, and “Reign of Assassins” (2010) sold 310 thousand. Jung probably wants to be given a chance to test his influence on the small screen.
For both Su Ae and Jung Woo Sung, “Athena,” whose predecessor “Iris” recorded enormous popularity, was probably the project for them to test out their status and influence. “Athena” was expected to show the same, no, even greater, amount of popularity. The fact that Su Ae, nicknamed “dress Su Ae” for being able to gorgeously wear amazing dresses, was going to transform into an agent and that Jung was to return to the small screen in fifteen years was enough to create a buzz. Unfortunately, that’s where the buzz stopped. It tied “Iris’s” loose ends; but while Jung grew into his character, he still lacked a spark. News about Su Ae’s transformations was also abuzz, but it was not enough to keep the momentum going. Ratings itself cannot be the sole standard in determining a drama’s success, but both Su Ae and Jung Woo Sung needed the ratings to be high for this project. “Athena” started out with huge expectations, but left the audience frustrated.
Kim Tae Hee – Song Seung Heon : Late Transformation
Both Kim Tae Hee and Song Seung Heon are household names and carry star power. However, they have been hit with mixed reviews about their acting. As a result, Kim and Song have taken on heavier projects that could project their acting skills. It is quite easy to picture Kim as a princess and Song as a 3rd generation chaebol, and it was interesting to see them cast as such. The actors’ images perfectly fit the role, and while they tried to shed their images in the past, it has worked to their advantage in “My Princess.”
Through “My Princess,” Kim Tae Hee’s acting was re-evaluated. To be frank, she wore the perfect clothes for the part rather than showing improvement in acting. She was able to grab the public’s attention as she portrayed the bubbly character by making witty Mishil remarks and comically ruining her perfectionist image. However, her appeal stopped at that and started wearing off as the story developed. Song Seung Heon also failed to captivate the attention of female viewers. Aside from his good looks, Song was unable to bring any other charm to his character. Character developments in romantic comedies are important, but the lead actors only expressed their characters too superficially.
To say that Kim Tae Hee’s silver screen performance has been embarrassing is an understatement. Her movie “The Restless,” which was considered a failure, brought in only 1.6 million viewers. Unfortunately, that was the highest number of movie-goers for any of her silver screen movies. Her other movies “Venus and Mars” (2007) and “Grand Prix” (2010) brought 340 thousand and 160 thousand viewers respectively. Ironically, Song Seong Heon also do not have any special credits under his belt considering his hallyu star status. Since discharging from the army, he has worked to create a tough guy image. His movies “Fate” (2008) and “The Invincible” (2010) brought in 850 thousand and 1.55 million movie-goers respectively. However, both actors have always had strong ratings on television dramas which increased the public’s attention when they heard of their collaboration. According to AGB Nielson Media Research, “My Princess’s” last episode brought in a 15% rating nationally. The series had been falling behind competing drama “Sign” throughout its sixteen episode run. While Kim Tae Hee’s transformation was evident, the two were unable to produce another television hit.