South Korean actor Choi Si Won: I want to be like Jackie Chan


Out of Dragon Blade's two-hour-plus running time, South Korean heart-throb Choi Si Won shows up for only about five minutes - not that he minds. The 28-year-old member of boyband Super Junior was not about to pass up the chance to work with global superstar Jackie Chan, even if his role as a Chinese soldier here is like a cameo.

"Jackie Chan is so international. Everywhere you go, people know who he is. I hope I can be like that one day too - to be an actor that represents Asia to the world. I want to work with him and learn from him," he tells Life! in near-fluent English at a sit-down interview in Singapore.

He did ask the movie's director, Hong Kong film-maker Daniel Lee, to feature him a lot more prominently in future projects.

Choi says with a chuckle: "Daniel said to me, 'Si Won, you have to promise me you will appear in my next movie before you go to the army.' I told him, 'Okay - but next time, you must give me more screen time.' Daniel laughed and told me to treat this movie as a warm-up for the next one."

It is unconfirmed when the actor will enlist in military service - compulsory for South Korean men - but it is expected to be within a year.

Even though he is in the film for only a few scenes, his name is plastered all over the movie posters as a major selling point. The fact that he was even asked to be part of the entourage to travel through Asia to promote the film alongside Chan, as well as Hollywood stars Adrien Brody and John Cusack, is testament to how popular he is in the region.

At both the red carpet event at VivoCity in Harbourfront and the appearance at Nex shopping mall in Serangoon held later in the day, he received the loudest screams from the fans there, who were stationed at the venues for hours before the cast's arrival.

It is not difficult to understand his appeal. Standing at 1.83m tall and blessed with boyish good looks, he is friendly and playful and knows all the right things to say to show his charm.

Flashing a megawatt dimpled smile, he points out, for example, that he is active on social media because he hopes to showcase a more personable side to himself.

On his Instagram account (@siwon1987), which has more than 1.2 million followers, and Weibo account (choisiwonkr), which has more than 13 million - among South Korean stars, he is said to have one of the most followers on the Chinese site - he regularly posts updates, such as photos and video clips of him goofing around with his castmates and friends.

"People know me as just this handsome guy - a very handsome guy," he says, half in jest. "But I can also be funny and fun. I appreciate that my fans think I'm classically good-looking and that I have a clean-cut image, but I also want to show other sides of myself."

He is quick to point out that as much fun as he is having, he is a hard worker. His schedule is packed until next year with filming and promotional commitments as he will be appearing in three more movies and two television dramas.

Most of them are major Chinese productions, which much of the money is in these days. For example, he will be appearing in blockbuster movie Helios alongside Hong Kong A-listers Jacky Cheung and Nick Cheung, as well as the cycling movie To The Fore with Taiwanese hottie Eddie Peng.

"I am taking Chinese lessons and I practise speaking Mandarin almost every day," he says, before busting out a few greetings in Mandarin as evidence. "It's not that I want to do only Chinese movies, but this is part of my plan to become more international. I want to become the next Jackie Chan, Jet Li or Chow Yun Fat and be known all around the world."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.