One of the 21 actors and actresses to make the cut for the 2008 KBS New Actor/Actress Contest, Kang Soo-han-I, aged 24, is finally making his way into the spotlight.
"I came to Korea four years ago", said the Korean-American actor in an interview with The Korea Herald. "With one bag in my hand, I arrived in the airport on a snowy day. I knew no one. All I knew was, 'I want to act'".
Kang stayed over at the house of one of his mother's acquaintances until he found a place of his own. Before he entered the 2008 KBS New Actor/Actress Contest, Kang signed on with a Korean management agency, took acting classes and starred in commercials and music videos.
While learning the ropes of the entertainment industry, this Glendale, California kid discovered that his English-speaking abilities were both an asset and an Achilles heel.
"Whenever you tell someone that you are Korean-American, they are sensitive about your pronunciation", he explained.
On the flipside, Kang thinks his bilingual capabilities may have gotten him in the door.
New KBS actor Kang Soo-han-I Lee Sang-sub[The Korea Herald]
"I think my ability to speak English played a great part", the violin-playing actor said. "The Korean entertainment industry is trying to reach out. It's crucial that an actor speaks more than one language these days. Picking at least one English speaking actor might be a safety net". "I am very honored to be a part of KBS", he added.
Considering that he passed all three stages of the contest, including the camera test, Kang might be underestimating himself. After all, he managed to stand out from a pool of over 3,400 applicants.
"As a kid I wanted to do modeling and acting", he explained. "My parents were not into it".
Not one to give up, he wiggled his way into a talent agency in the States. After six months there, Kang decided the market was not that great and headed out to Korea. After that, he couldn't go back.
So when he found out that KBS was looking for new talent, Kang went for it. In a sense, his bold moves highlighted how he went against the grain.
"My family's very conservative", he explained.
Kang, however, could not resist the charm of acting.
"In real life you can't slap your girlfriend", he explains. "You can't throw things at your superiors. But if you do that in acting, you are praised for it".
"My dad saw my passion for acting and okayed me to go to Korea", Kang said.
And after four years here, it looks like things have paid off.
Kang, however, thinks he still has a long way to go if he wants to become a pro. And prior to the extensive training he will undergo at KBS, he voiced plans to brush up on his Korean skills and acting chops.
Where will all this take him? No one knows.
But Kang says his parents are proud of his recent KBS contest win.
"I am a dream chaser", said Kang. "I've always been a dream chaser".
"If I do make it, it won't be a dream anymore".
By Jean Oh