What Next as Stars Emerge Blinking From the Military?

Hopes run high in show business as some top stars return to the limelight this year after two years in forced retirement due to their military service. Fans of So Ji-sup, Song Seung-hun, Jang Hyeok and Ji Seong look forward to seeing them back on TV. But given the fickle nature of the entertainment world, it remains to be seen whether they will be able to reclaim their old status. What advice can experts give them? The Chosun Ilbo asked 10 renowned TV producers and writers to offer their opinions.

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Clockwise from left: So Ji-sup, Song Seung-hun, Ji Seong and Jang Hyeok

◆ So Ji-sup
So Ji-sup rose to stardom with his sincere portrayal of reserved, gloomy characters in dramas like “What Happened in Bali” and “Sorry, I Love You.” Now he needs to challenge himself to lighter, funnier characters to expand his potential as an actor. He needs to show the public a different, easier side of him. Even if he decides to appear in a melodrama, he shouldn’t take a too serious role. The cynical character in a romantic comedy would be a good idea. Or he might try his luck in a film, ignoring the clamor from TV producers. If he does, he might be well advised to start in a low-budget independent movie rather than a blockbuster. If at all possible, however, he should try to preserve his very special aura.

So will be discharged in April.

◆ Song Seung-hun
Song’s prettiness has rather worked against him in choosing parts. He needs to look closely at the road fellow actor Jang Dong-gun has taken in his efforts to gain recognition for his acting rather than his looks. Song should choose a strong, tough role for his comeback that can erase his gentlemanly image in melodramas like “Autumn Fairy Tale.” He will have to put everything he has into whatever role he is going to play to make the public forget the draft-dodging scandal. Why not play an evil or cold-blooded character? Whatever part he decides to play, he should project a tough, masculine image. This is all the more important if he wants to see adulation in Japan to continue. But he should try to impress Korean fans first.

Song was discharged in November.

◆ Jang Hyeok
Jang Hyeok is considered a spirited and potentially versatile actor. But before he had a chance to prove his potential, he disappeared into the military after a draft-dodging scandal. Now, he should move on from the young energetic parts to show a more serious, mature side, extending his appeal to older audiences. It may suit him to play a gentle character in a heart-warming human drama. Or he could try to revive the image he projected as a taciturn rebellious teenager in the drama “School” in 1999.

Jang was discharged in November.

◆ Ji Seong
Ji Seong has set himself up as such a paragon of virtue that he urgently needs a charismatic evil part that is hard to forget. He could take Sean Penn as a model. Just before joining the army, he tried to do just that with “Blood Tears”, where he played a bad man who had been damaged by life and left a strong impression despite the fact that he appeared in only a few scenes. A similarly impressive character will do nicely for a comeback.

Ji will be discharged in June.

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