The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] What ‘Smuggler’ actor Park Jung-min has learned from working with renowned filmmakers

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Aug. 1, 2023 - 14:30

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Park Jung-min (Sem Company) Park Jung-min (Sem Company)

Having debuted in 2011 with “Bleak Night,” actor Park Jung-min has worked with renowned filmmakers and appeared in hit films at a relatively early stage of his acting career.

He has worked with director Lee Joon-ik in “Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet” (2016), director Yeon Sang-ho in “Hellbound” (2021) and director Park Chan-wook in “Decision to Leave” (2022), to name a few. He has played powerful and impressive characters in films like “Svaha: The Sixth Finger” (2019) and “Deliver Us from Evil” (2020).

Most recently, Park played a countryside man-turned-rogue smuggling gangster Jangdori in director Ryoo Seung-wan’s crime action flick “Smugglers.” Many viewed the role -- his first-ever appearance as a villain -- as a fresh new side of the multifacetd 36-year-old actor.

“I was also shocked at myself because I’ve never acted in a role like this before. I wondered why director Ryoo wanted me to play this kind of character. Maybe he saw a different side of me,” Park told The Korea Herald in an interview in Seoul on July 24.

Park and Ryoo first met in 2014, working together on the indie film "Mad Sad Bad.” When Ryoo called up Park about his latest project, Park said he didn't hesitate to get onboard.

“I said yes without having to read the screenplay,” said Park.

Jangdori is a middle-aged man who has spent the majority of his life in a seaside town working in the fishery business. Park said he gained 10 kilograms by working out and eating well to meet Ryoo's request for Jangdori to sport a firm and large physique.

Park Jung-min stars as Jangdori in Park Jung-min stars as Jangdori in "Smugglers." (NEW)
Park Jung-min (left) stars as Jangdori in Park Jung-min (left) stars as Jangdori in "Smugglers." (NEW)

For Park, it did not matter whether he played the starring role or not. He said it was the screenplay that makes him choose the work.

“Besides, it’s the director and the fellow actors that become the decisive factor (when I choose a work).”

Park said he learned a lot by working with renowned actors and directors. World-class filmmakers are never careless, he said.

“After shooting films with director Park Chan-wook and Ryoo Seung-wan, what I learned was that none of these directors does a single thing carelessly. They also know what kind of attitude I bring to the set. One day, I had no lines and went to the shoot without preparing because my appearance wasn't so important. But at those times, the directors would catch my attitude. Since then, I have not gone to shoots without preparing, no matter how many scenes I have that day. Directors have taught me to stay on my toes,” said Park.

“If I am prepared for a scene, even if my appearance is very minor, I feel like I’m contributing to the film and making it richer in terms of quality. Such an attitude taught me that being prepared can pull up the quality of one's acting up from 100 percent to 120,” he added.

Many film industry insiders, including director Lee Joon-ik, have said that Park reminds them of renowned actor Song Kang-ho when he was in his 30s. Park said every single role and film he did in the past still haunts him like a nightmare.

“The way others look at my filmography and the way I look at it are very different. I sometimes go over the list of films I have done until now. Some may evaluate me based on that list, but now I think I should embrace them and get away from thinking that those works still haunt me. All of those works are all equally precious to me. I tell myself that I shouldn’t be cruel to myself,” said Park.

“I want to know what I’ll become in the future. I’m excited about how my experiences will shape me. I try to embrace as many as opportunities possible to build more experience,” he said.

“Smugglers” opened in local theaters on July 26.