By Kim Tae-jong
About two years ago, many of the nation's leading actors left their fans for compulsory military service. Recently discharged from the military, they're now preparing for a comeback.
How has their two-year hiatus changed them? Can they hit stardom again?
The first of those to answer these questions is Yoon Kye-sang
, 28, a former member of the popular boy band g.o.d. Yoon developed his career as an actor in the 2004 film "Flying Boys
" before leaving for the Army.
Discharged from the military in December, he will make a comeback in the new SBS drama "Crazy for Love"
(Sarange Michida), which will air Feb. 3.
"I thought all my fans would disappear while I was gone. But I'm really happy and grateful to my fans who have been waiting for me", Yoon said on Jan. 25 during a news conference at the InterContinental Hotel in Seoul, which he attended with the director and other actors from the new drama.
In the television series, he will play an ex-convict who accidentally kills a man and later falls in love with the dead man's fiancee.
"Let's say I was like a cute boy or something before. But now I think I can show the mature side of me after all these years with tough guys in the Army", Yoon said.
But he added that he has no plans to rejoin g.o.d. and lead the life of a singer.
The first and biggest concern for stars like Yoon is how they can step back into the limelight. But some may have to work harder than others to deal with the bad reputations they left behind.
and Jang Hyuk
, both 30, and Han Jae-suk
, 33, were charged with manipulating their medical records to avoid serving in the military. The charges left a stain on their reputations, and they had no choice but to fulfill their service with soldiers much younger than them.
Before the scandal, the three actors were at the height of their acting careers at home and abroad, and it seemed that their popularity would only be damaged by the scandal and two-year hiatus of military service.
Luckily for them, their fans remained loyal.
When they were discharged from their units in a remote village, groups of fans waited to celebrate their arrival.
Song was met by thousands of fans from Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and China outside the Army camp when he was discharged in November.
Overwhelmed by the fans there, Song said: "My silly and immature action disappointed many people. But now I know why men have to go to the Army, which helped me mature as a man".
Song's next work has not been confirmed yet, but a new TV drama on MBC is expected to be the first step.
As a warm-up, he has already held a series of big fan meetings at home and in Japan, where thousands of fans gathered. He has more recently starred in a commercial for Lecaf.
Although not in the spotlight like Song, Jang and Han are also carefully preparing comebacks.
Jang will star in the new drama We Were There (Uriduli Itsotta), slated after "Prince Hours
" on MBC. He will play a cheerful medical doctor in the romantic comedy. Han is planning to star in the SBS drama "Angel", in which he will play the son of the nation's leading armory company.
While the three are working to improve their damaged reputations, Won Bin
is going through physical rehabilitation to ensure a successful return to stardom.
was released from the military last April because of a knee injury.
He apologized to the public for the sudden discharge. He served only about eight months. The military confirmed that his medical condition disqualified him from serving.
After his release, he avoided all contact with the media and the only words from his agency were that his plans will be announced when his rehabilitation is finished.
Other actors who will complete their military service requirement include So Ji-sub
and Ji Sung
, who will be released from the Army on April 27 and June 6, respectively.