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Ascent of ‘Good Manager’ just beginning: star actor Namkoong
SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) — It is a feat that nobody could have predicted. But in a head-to-head matchup with mega “hallyu” star Lee Young-ae, actor Namkoong Min and his show “Good Manager” have pulled off one of the bigger underdog upsets in recent Korean TV history.
The late night comedy series on KBS 2TV appears to have cemented its pole position among competitors. According to Nielsen Korea, last Thursday’s episode of “Good Manager” recorded 16.7 percent nationwide viewership. The rivals “Saimdang, Memoir of Colors,” starring Lee Young-ae, and “Missing 9″ stood at 12 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
“We’re busy filming so I’m not quite sure of the buzz. But I am sort of getting the feel for it through the climbing rating. I wish it would go higher,” Namkoong chuckled as he spoke with Yonhap News Agency in a telephone interview recently.
“I’m truly happy, but the show has just begun. We’ve aired six shows out of the 20-episode series. We still have a long way to go so I can’t be slacking now.”
The satirical comedy series stars Namkoong as Kim Sung-ryong, an accountant at the fictional TQ Group and a genius at misappropriating corporate funds for personal use. He inadvertently ends up fighting against greater corruption within the workplace to save the ailing company.
To many, the success of “Good Manager” is seen as an underdog victory, given the David and Goliath-like matchup against SBS TV’s “Saimdang.” Prior to its premiere, the spotlight on “Good Manager” was nowhere near that on “Saimdang,” which made headlines for bringing Lee of the famed show “Daejanggeum” back to TV for the first time in 14 years.
And it’s not as if “Good Manager” owes its success to Namkoong’s past star power. In fact the 39-year-old has largely appeared in supporting character roles: mostly comic but at times villain roles too.
“When taking on bad roles in the past, people told me I looked scary. But nowadays people say I look funny, just looking at my face,” Namkoong said.
His most recent work outside of “Good Manager” was “Beautiful Gong Shim,” also a comedy. Namkoong says he worked extra hard in studying and acting out his new character as to not offer a similar performance to his previous role.
“I wanted to differentiate my work in ‘Beautiful Gong Shim’ and ‘Good Manager.’ Both are comedies but never have I put more time into studying my character,” explained Namkoong.
“I’m fully analyzing and studying who the character Kim Sung-ryong is and how he would react in certain situations.”
Namkoong’s walk toward his newfound, bona fide stardom has been a slow burn. The actor said that he now puts a premium on writers and directors he respects when hunting for scripts, and no longer on certain character types and screen time as he says he did in the past.
“I decided to look at the director and writer, as opposed to the character, when working. My attitude toward acting has changed after experiencing the thrill when performing whatever roles and scenes I’m given,” Namkoong said.
“I think people are now starting to properly recognize my work. I feel good for having worked hard and knowing that the values that I believed in proved true.”
The star also shared his thoughts on comedic acting, how its sometimes underrated and how truly difficult it is to master the craft.
“The point is to overreact but not appear to be overreacting,” he said. “A scene doesn’t succeed if it lacks comedy, while at the same time, you can’t exaggerate. I’m working constantly to balance myself between the two sides.”
“Good Manager” also boasts a strong supporting cast, including actress Nam Sang-mi, idol singer Junho of group 2PM and veteran character actor Park Young-gyu.
“A drama is a product of not just one performer, but something that is built together,” Namkoong said. “The synergy of our show’s cast is truly great.”