Choi Si Won Is One Funny Con Man In ‘My Fellow Citizens’
Chronologically Choi Si Won is an actor who sings, rather than an idol who acts. The talented singer, songwriter and dancer appeared in the dramas Precious Family, Eighteen: Twenty Nine, and Spring Waltz, before he debuted as a member of the k-pop band Super Junior. Yet it took more than a decade for k-drama viewers to recognize just how funny the actor could be.
There’s no longer any doubt about the actor’s comedic skills, given his last few successful dramas and his current role as a third-generation con man in My Fellow Citizens.
Although Choi’s character, Yang Jung Kook, is committed to a life of crime, as a lucrative family tradition, he somehow winds up marrying a police officer. It only works because neither spouse knows what the other spouse actually does during the day. Choi’s fictional wife, played by Lee Yoo Young, thinks he’s a businessman, working in his family’s business, which is almost true. He thinks she has a desk job and doesn’t pursue criminals, which is almost true. He doesn’t know she worked as a detective in the violent crimes unit, but asked for a transfer when she heard men don’t date female detectives.
The desk job is too boring so she secretly transfers again, but this time she transfers to the police department her husband fears the most, the one dedicated to catching white collar criminals. Conflict is inevitable, but that might not be a bad thing. While she may eventually have to handcuff him, keeping secrets has not been good for their marriage.
My Fellow Citizens is the third in a series of standout comedy roles for Choi. His natural comedic flair won praise in She’s Pretty, which co-starred Park Seo Joon and Hwang Jung Eum. In that comedy he played a fashion magazine editor who falls for Hwang Jung Eum’s unique charms when no one else recognizes them. He takes one look at her white socks, worn with black shoes, thinks she’s purposely channeling Michael Jackson’s unique style, and decides to call her “Jackson.” For many viewers, his portrayal of the easygoing, eccentric editor was a breakout performance.
According to Korea’s Joongang Daily, it was the role that established him as an actor rather than an idol-actor, even though he was technically an actor first. In an interview with Joongang Daily, Choi Si Won said that his previous roles limited him and in order to break free from such limitations, he explored comical characters. It was a smart move.
After She’s Pretty, he enlisted for his two-year mandatory military duty, which is required of all able-bodied Korean males between the ages of 18 and 35. After his release in 2017, the actor promptly appeared in the drama Revolutionary Love, playing an unemployed third-generation heir, who develops some revolutionary ideas because of his love for a hardworking young woman, played by Kang So Ra. His “revolutionary” ideas about treating workers equitably do not appeal to his fictional moneyed family. The drama was popular not only because it mirrored the struggles and aspirations of many young Koreans, but much of the appeal was due to Choi’s self-deprecating performance as an entitled heir. In real-life, Choi comes from a well-to-do family, but he has supported himself since being discovered by a talent agent at the age of 16.
Choi also did a brief comic turn in the English language production Dramaworld, financed by the online video streaming site, Viki.com. Dramaworld laughingly played up all the tropes that exist in dramas. In his brief appearance, Choi is hit by a car and in a classic K-drama trope, wakes up to fall-in-love-at-first-sight with the heroine before being whisked out of the plot. With just a few of his signature facial expressions, he makes a lasting impression.
Choi might not limit himself to comedy roles in the future, but he’s created some memorable comic characters, including one very funny con man in My Fellow Citizens.