Captain Korea Ok Taecyeon on his acting career and the meaning of «true happiness»

Captain Korea Ok Taecyeon on his acting career and the meaning of «true happiness»

One thing is for sure: Ok Taecyeon is a mood maker. Every time you have the chance to chat with him, he's able to sweep your worries away.

Taecyeon is actually one of the most versatile figures of the Hallyu Wave. First of all, he can sing, dance and rap. But that's not his only quality. With his group, the second generation 2PM, he rewrote the concept behind being an idol, showing a more manly and sexy, almost "beastly" image and opening a new chapter in the K-pop universe. Taecyeon is also a skilled actor. Since his debut in 2010 in Cinderella's Sister, he took part to hit dramas like Dream High, Bring It On, Ghost, and Save Me. It was 2021 when he played the key role of Jang Jun-woo/Han-Seok in Vincenzo. A turning point in his career that left him «exhausted».

Taecyeon really is a complete package. He can speak multiple languages, he's a model, and his choice to give up the US permanent residency to enlist on the mandatory military service gave him the deserved nickname of Captain Korea.

Before starting filming his new project with Ha Seok Jin, and Apink's Jung Eun Ji, talked with him about his last role as Ra Yi Eon in the historical K-drama Secret Royal Inspector & Joy (produced by Studio Dragon) and his acting career.

Congratulations on ending Secret Royal Inspector & Joy. How do you feel?

«I am a half relieved, a half sad. It was a great show, I don't think I will be able to meet such good friends and act alongside them».

This was your first time in a historical drama. Which were the main difficulties you encountered during the filming period?

«Korean historical dramas have their distinctive tone and dialect. I was faced with this challenge because no one speaks like that anymore. Finding the tone for me and using the dialect was the most difficult part of the drama, yet it was fun trying out different tones to find what sounded right for Ra Yi Eon».

You shared on your SNS many moments on the set with the cast of Secret Royal Inspector & Joy. The filming lasted about seven months. Which is the strongest memory you have of that period?

«I don't think one memory can tell what we have experienced. We had so much fun every time and missed each other when some of us weren't on the shoot. From scorching summer to freezing winter, 7 months for filming made all of the casts into a family-like group where we would share our problems and give out advice, and most of all help each other out when we need them the most».

You said that your character, Ra Yi Eon, was someone that realized what true happiness is. Did Ok Taecyeon reach the same in his life? What is real happiness for you?

«True happiness, it is a deep question no doubt. Have I reached it? I'd like to think so. For me, happiness is found in little things. From eating tasty food to dining with your loved ones. It is not about what I achieved or will achieve, true happiness is always with me if I take a closer look».

Thinking about all the roles you took in these years, which one you think was the most difficult for you to portray, and which character was the most similar to you?

«Jang Han Seok of Vincenzo. No doubt about it. it was hard for me to portray a character who happens to be a psychopathic killer and yet, the mind of 7 years old kid. The director of Vincenzo had a clear vision of how Jang Han Seok should be expressed and acted, and even though the direction was clear and precise, it was a bit burden for me to act as a ruthless killer. As for the similar character, it is Ra YiEon of course. With the love for the food and people around him, I'd say Ra Yi Eon is Taecyeon of the Chosun Era. While acting as Ra Yi Eon I was very comfortable and was able to try different ways to express Ra Yi Eon».

I would like to analyze with you the finale of Secret Royal Inspector & Joy and Vincenzo’s. They are so different but still of a significant impact on your character's storyline. Do you think they were the correct conclusions for both Ra Yi Eon and Jang Joon-woo?

«The finale of INJ and Vincenzo were very satisfying for me. Through the death of Jang Han Seok, viewers were able to feel the catharsis. Jang Han Seok was hated by everyone, and his gruesome death even though it was not justified, in a way, it delivered justice. The finale for INJ was very heartwarming, and I thought giving up official duties and becoming a cook was Ra Yi Eon's dream come true. He found happiness with Joy, and loved what he did. Both conclusions were very appropriate for the characters».

You said that after playing a villain, you were “exhausted”. What do you do to get rid of the roles you played after you ended filming?

«I needed to think about happy things for a while. I was very burnt out and did not feel like myself for quite some time after Vincenzo. Thankfully, INJ began its pre-production stage, thus I had to meet new various people. Just meeting new people and talking about the new project got me to be myself again. It's not like I tried to get rid of the roles, but it is important to come back to being me».

Are you reading some new scripts right now? What are you looking for in your next adventure?

«I am looking for my next project right now, I think I will be able to come back with another drama airing next year! I hope to see you soon» (the interview was made before the announcement of Taecyon being cast as part of the upcoming OCN drama, Blind)

You’ve been to Italy before. Which is your most significant memory of the country?

«I loved Italy. I had the chance to visit Rome a few years back. I was going through some bad times and I needed to refresh myself. I just got on the plane and headed to Rome. I had such a blast. It was such a fascinating city, and I loved every moment when I was there I got to see amazing artwork and meet Italian Hottests. When Covid-19 dies down, I would love to go back and see different cities of Italy».

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Marianna Baroli

Giornalista, autore

(Milano, 1986) La prima volta che ha detto «farò la giornalista» aveva solo 7 anni. Cresciuta tra i libri di Giurisprudenza, ha collaborato con il quotidiano Libero. Iperconnessa e ipersocial, è estremamente appassionata delle sfaccettature della cultura asiatica, di Giappone, dell'universo K-pop e di Hallyu wave. Dal 2020 è Honorary Reporter per il Ministero della Cultura Coreana. Si rilassa programmando viaggi, scoprendo hotel e ristoranti in giro per il mondo. Appena può salta da un parco Disney all'altro. Ha scritto un libro «La Corea dalla A alla Z», edito da Edizioni Nuova Cultura, e in collaborazione con il KOCIS (Ministero della Cultura Coreana) e l'Istituto Culturale Coreano in Italia.

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