Suzy sheds off 'first love' image
BAE Suzy rose to fame simply as Suzy, making her debut as a member of K-pop girl group Miss A in 2010.
In 2012, she reclaimed her last name when she caught her big break as an actress in the film Architecture 101, playing the classic girl-who-got-away and earning the nickname "Korea's first love".
In her latest film, The Sound Of A Flower, which opened in South Korea on Wednesday, the girlfriend of actor Lee Min Ho goes against that image, playing Jin Chae Seon, the first woman in Korean history who performed the pansori - a traditional Korean art that blends singing with theatre.
The movie adds fictional dramatic elements to the elusive historical figure of Jin Chae Seon, telling the story of how she was able to break the glass ceiling in the conservative Joseon era.
"I'm Jin Chae Seon in the movie, but I think for a lot of people, my story overlaps with hers," Suzy, 21, said in an interview at a Seoul cafe on Monday, noting that Chae Seon's efforts to become a pansori performer were not unlike the struggles she faced to become an idol star.
"Of course, I didn't have to go through the same historical situation. No one told me I couldn't (become a singer) because I was a girl, but my parents were against the idea," she said.
Even after she was able to convince her parents to audition and start training with JYP Entertainment, Suzy faced a slew of new troubles similar to Chae Seon when she began training with pansori singer Shin Jae Hyo (Ryu Seung Ryong).
"Some scenes make me choke up every time I see them, like the scene where (Chae Seon) is practising voice projection in the rain, and she collapses," she said.
"When people are training (to become singers), they all have moments when they hit a wall. In those moments, they just drop to the floor and cry a lot."
The experiences of Suzy and Chae Seon may have been similar, but their appearances create a jarring contrast. Suzy appears in the film free of glamour, her face and clothes smirched with ash and dirt to realistically portray the orphaned girl who worked in a gisaeng (courtesan) house.
"On our first day of filming, I saw myself with the make-up on and was a bit surprised," she admitted. "But that was who Chae Seon was, and it was easier to concentrate on the role... I became goofier, more comfortable."
Suzy also recalled a day when she was filming in the countryside and none of the locals recognised her because of her costuming.
Suzy said she enjoyed the different look, which was a change from her "first love" image.
"As someone who wants to keep acting in movies, (the 'first love' description) is something I have to move past," she said. "If (The Sound Of A Flower) helps dilute that image even just a little bit, that's a good thing for me."
After taking a year off after filming The Sound Of A Flower, Suzy is set to begin the KBS TV drama Uncontrollably Fond opposite Kim Woo Bin, scheduled to air in South Korea next year.
THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK