Actress Park Min Young surprised many people with her performance in the KBS2 drama “Queen for 7 Days.” Though she debuted 11 years ago, she has garnered more attention for her elegant appearance than her actual acting abilities. This, however, was not the case in her latest role as Shin Chae Kyung, a noble women in the Joseon Era who was dethroned 7 days after becoming Queen Dangyeong. The actress put everything into her role depicting the real-life romance of the ill-fated Queen Dangyeong and King Joongjong.
Park Min Young sat down for an interview to discuss the drama and its originally low ratings.
Personally, the drama seems satisfactory, yet the viewer numbers were lower than expected. It seems like you could have been discouraged about this. Looking back, why do you think the ratings did not come out as expected?
“‘Ruler: Master of the Mask,’ which has a similar theme to our drama, ended just before. We came second to this drama, so the the public reception was not as high as we had anticipated. ‘Ruler: Master of the Mask’ was really interesting as well, so I think it was hard to break into that niche market. We have to secure a certain viewer rate by episode 4, but since we had our first episode 3 weeks after the premiere of other dramas, it was difficult for us. Of course, at first the viewing rate came out lower than expected. At the begining I thought, ‘Could these be the right numbers?’ But I brushed it off immediately.
“Ratings are in the realm of God, so I just figured it was out of my hands. Though I would like to receive recognition for having done a good job, I decided that I should only do what I needed to do. After that, I didn’t really look at the ratings. Later, when I heard that we had finished in second place, I was really happy. If my expectations had been higher and I had expected more, I would have liked to have gotten first place, but I am really happy with just second. Even though it was late, I’m glad viewers got to see the drama.”
You are known for being a strong in historic roles. Productions you’ve participated in like “Ja Myung Go,” and “Sungkyunkwan Scandal” have all received good reviews. What are two things that you focused on in this drama?
“Since my character is a historical figure, I was really careful in the way that I portrayed her. I was even more careful not to break character. I liked the character because she is lovely and bright, but I thought that if she showed indecisiveness in the love triangle, it would be a fatal blow to her. I wanted to portray this as a sincere love story, and if my acting was off and it seemed like like I was falling for one more than the other, it could cause confusion for the viewers. I set a line from the beginning and stuck to it. I did not want to break the historical basis of the character.”
But there is no actual historic record of Shin Chae Kyung.
“That actually made things easier. I experienced the process of reading only the character description and going off of that. I also read unofficial histories, but that of course is nothing more than an unofficial history. It was in ‘faction’ (a combination of fact and fiction) that I was truly able to let my imagination run wild. I wanted to make my character very loving. There had to be some sort of charm to have been receiving the love of two people. I focused on that aspect. She ended up being quite a good character. The writers did a great job.”
Do you have know-how for historical acting?
“There is no difference between acting for modern dramas and historical dramas. However, historical dramas do require more temperance. In modern dramas there are a lot of full shots and so you are able to have more freedom of expression. You can use more gestures and flowery language that you are accustomed to. But in historical dramas you have to be faithful to the script. Facial expressions, muscles, and eye movements must all match the script so there has to be more details in the acting. The shots are extremely tight and you must do your movements one by one. There are a lot of actors who find this aspect of historical dramas appealing.
“I think historical dramas have an aesthetic of restraint, but there isn’t a ‘know-how’ to it. I think you just have to use the standard tactics of acting. I am the type to try and act by the book. If your pronunciation is all over the place, then you are not able to deliver lines of a historic drama. There are a lot of words that are not used in daily life, and since there is a tone and line style that viewers are used to hearing, no one will be able to tell what you are saying if you do not do it properly. People would say, ‘Why are you using present-day speech?’
“However, since I’ve been doing historic drams for so long, it does seem like it has become more natural and comfortable for me than it was a few years ago. Up until recently, there was a historic style for word endings, but having done this drama, it seems that modern words are getting mixed in. I also followed this trend.”
What will you do on your break from acting?
“I am a homebody. There was a survey for which celebrities seemed most like homebodies and I got 4th place. I was really upset about this! Just 4th place! I love being at home and I like to decorate it prettily because that is where I spend most of my time. These days I am running a cafe called ‘Cafe de Min Young’ out of my kitchen (laughs.) I invite my friends and make them food and bring them tea. I even receive reservations.
“I get asked a lot what I do all day at home but I’m actually very busy. I am raising a puppy and even though he is just 10 kilograms (approximately 22 pounds,) he is full of energy. I have to throw the ball 120 times in the morning to satiate him and that takes a full hour. I do this and that, and if I have customers at my house, that takes up a lot of time. I like to watch movies at my house to rest. Every once in a while I look at the synopsis for casting offers as well. I don’t see a dermatologist so I do my own skin care. I do mask packs a lot and also exfoliate. I take cooking classes and Chinese lessons. Time really flies! On days that I want to rest, I don’t invite anyone over and just chill. Since I was young, I could never understand people who went to study in cafes. I’m the type that has to be at home to study.”
What are your goals and dreams as an actress?
“I want to have the role of a lifetime. At first, I never intended to do acting for this long, but my dreams have changed. When I was lucky enough to debut, I had no idea that I would like acting for so long. I’m not sure when I became so engrossed in it. There were times I think I might start a second life if I were to get married and have kids or if I find a different dream. But the more I act and the deeper I know about it, I only want to know more and act more. It just keeps becoming more fun. Every other thing has ended up being just a hobby, but I want my life’s work to be acting.
“Acting is always stressful. When I analyse a part, it is very sensitive and takes a lot of effort. When I receive a screenplay, I always continue my rehearsals by myself. But that stress suddenly becomes enjoyable. It seems you have to be working at something to be truly alive.”
Watch “Queen for 7 Days” now!