Park Min-young emerges from dark period with ‘Marry My Husband’

Actor Park Min-young plays the lead role of Kang Ji-won in the tvN series “Marry My Husband.” Courtesy of tvN

Since rising to instant stardom with her debut sitcom “High Kick!” in 2006, actor Park Min-young has forged a steady career, becoming one of the most popular rom-com stars. Despite her prolific career, her private life was kept out of the spotlight until the news broke of her dating a man facing a multi-billion-won embezzlement charge, leading her to be questioned by the prosecutors.”The most challenging thing during the issue was when I realized that the things I’ve taken for granted were never really granted. And that most critically hit me,” Park said during an interview with The Korea Times at a cafe in Gangnam District, Seoul, Friday.In September 2022, she was reported to be dating Kang Jong-hyun, the de facto owner of Bithumb, Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. Kang was facing allegations of embezzling 62.8 billion won ($47 million), along with accusations of dereliction of duty and fraudulent transaction charges.Allegations linking Park to Kang’s financial misconduct cast an unforeseen spotlight on Park’s personal affairs, particularly her and her sister’s involvement with Bithumb’s financial activities. Soon after, Park announced her breakup with Kang and her sister resigned from a directorial position at a company owned by Kang.After a period of keeping a low profile, Park decided to get her career back on track with the lead role in tvN’s recent romance series “Marry My Husband.”

The series, based on the hit webtoon of the same name, revolves around Kang Ji-won (Park), who is dying of cancer. After witnessing her husband (Lee Yi-kyung) having an affair with her best friend (Song Ha-yoon), Kang gets murdered by them. Just when she felt her life ended with nothing but tragedy, she woke up in her body of 10 years earlier. Getting a second chance to relive her life, she takes revenge on those who ruined her life with the help of a supervisor at her office, Yoo Ji-hyuk (Na In-woo). This role of vengeance and rebirth offered Park a pathway to self-reflection and redemption.“I’ve gone to the point I felt I was left alone in the world. In a situation where Park Min-young, as a person, can’t be flawless, when I thought about how could keep this scratched version of me alive, there was Park Min-young as an actor. I thought to use this actor Park Min-young, who has always tried her best effort in every work for almost 20 years, to stand up again. So working on this series, I approached every scene with a mindset that it is my last,” she said.“It took me time to realize and admit that I’ve made a mistake, but after that, apologizing and saying ‘I’ll do my best as an actor so this won’t happen again’ are not something to be ashamed of. I thought of it as the first step I must take for myself.”

Referring to the past years since the scandal as a “cave,” she expressed this series has helped her to come out of the dark.“The past two years have been a long and dark tunnel — actually not even a tunnel, it was a cave,” she said.“Hoping to take a step forward as a good actor and a good person, I decided to break the ice and come out to the world because I can’t hide forever … This series has been like medicine to me. It’s meaningful because it helped me to go back to the mindset when I first started at the times when I was a bit arrogant or self-satisfied.” The series, which aired its finale Tuesday with its highest viewership rating of 12 percent, garnered popularity for its fast-paced and compelling story of regression and revenge. It also garnered popularity overseas, topping Amazon Prime’s daily streaming charts in about 67 countries.Park said although the series captures Korean sentiments, it spoke to global audiences with its universal message of hope.“I felt this series was just the definition of a Korean drama, which didn’t specifically target any overseas market. It’s genuinely our story that combines Korean sentiment, ‘han’ (translated to resentment or regret), and (the country’s) current issues, such as gaslighting,” she said.

“One of the themes that runs through the story is ‘second chances.’ I think it reflects a hint of hope or anticipation that ‘this life may have been a failure but the next one will be better.’ And I think that theme overcomes the language barriers, as well as K-content’s uniqueness of that refreshing quality and fast pace.” Park’s character, Kang, used to be timid and seclusive with only her best friend in her surroundings after her single father passed away. But she completely changes her personality in pursuit of revenge when she sees the ugly truth about her friend and becomes clearheaded after being reincarnated as her younger self.In her portrayal, Park embraced the challenges of depicting a character undergoing a dramatic transformation from timid to fierce.“There were a lot of lines that I said for the first time. During almost 20 years of my career, I don’t think I’ve ever played such a vengeful character … It was something new and a challenge for me,” she said.Park shared the character resonated with her especially since her hiatus, noting she deeply felt the character’s loneliness.“I may seem extroverted but easily grow lonely inside. So when I felt Kang was always lonely, I felt a sense of empathy … (With the makeover scene,) that moment hit me. She could’ve looked like that all this time but she didn’t because she didn’t live for herself. And reflecting on myself, I may always seem flashy but I realized I’ve never really taken care of myself,” she said.“After going through that 슬롯게이밍 huge issue, if I am given a new chance, I want to genuinely cherish myself.”

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