A flawed hero


PSH at Seoul’s WPS on 1 March 2013

I’m not as crazy about Wm Shakespeare as perhaps an Eng. Lit. major should, but there are a few lines in his plays that I’ve committed to memory.  The following from “Othello” (not my favorite tragedy) is one of them.

Othello on Desdemona:

She loved me for the dangers I had pass’d,
And I loved her that she did pity them.  (I.3.159-168)

Why do I like Park Si Hoo?  I like what I see — the way he looks, the way he acts (1. performs in his dramas/movies, and 2. behaves outside his works.)

For all of his fans, PSH is beyond reach, even though the lucky ones among us occasionally get to see him in person (at fan meetings, birthday parties, and other such events.)

Idols are always put on a pedestal, whether literally, like those figures of saints in a church, or figuratively, like the way actors/singers are held by their fans.

But many idols are not saints, as we all know, and that is why it is best to behold them from a distance (where you can’t see everything in HD – high definition^^)  Once you see them up close, you discover their physical imperfections (even under make-up).

PSH, however, is a rare one.  Everyone who has seen him in person says he looks better in person than in photos or on the big/small screen.  That is really strange — to be an actor but to not be photogenic^^

Many star-chasers believe their star is perfect.  I’ve never thought or felt PSH was perfect.  He’s not the handsomest actor I’ve ever liked (the others are non-Koreans), but I’ve never liked an actor as comprehensively as I like him.

An actor of course should be good in acting, but you’ll be surprised how many actors can’t act.  PSH, as I’ve said more than once, is the best Korean actor of his generation.

I also expect my favorite actor to be a good person (even though that really has nothing to do with acting — a good actor can act like a good person^^)  From all that I have seen, heard, and read about PSH, he is without doubt a good person.

BUT he is a flawed human being, an angel with clipped wings.  The heroes in Greek tragedies all have a tragic flaw — the proper term is “hamartia” — from Aristotle’s “Poetics”.  The Greek tragic heroes are all characters of high rank, prestige, and good fortune whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty — the tragic flaw — so that their downfall evokes pity and fear in the audience.

PSH fits into the Greek tragic hero mode, as does Shakespeare’s Othello.  “Character is destiny.” (from Greek philosopher Heraclitus).  PSH’s character determines his fate.  His shortcoming is paradoxically his strength — his trust in people.

He’s a country boy, no matter how acclimatized he is to the big bad city Seoul and how sophisticated he looks.  Once a country boy, always a country boy — in the good sense, meaning down-to-earth, honest, forthright, sincere, simple (NOT simple-minded), pure-hearted, guileless, a little naïve, childlike (NOT childish), but most of all, trusting.  He trusts people, especially those he knows (or thinks he knows.)

An error of judgment or discernment due to ignorance (of his “friend” K’s motives and A’s scheme) has led to PSH’s catastrophic near-ruin — of his character and his career.

If I liked PSH enormously before, I found myself drawn to this flawed mortal more than ever after his “downfall”.  To paraphrase Shakespeare, I love PSH (more) for the sufferings he has endured (and he loves his fans that they did “pity” them.)

The way this young man conducted himself during his ordeal amazed me.  In his two appearances before Western Police Station, he was so full of courage and dignity that watching him brought tears to my eyes.  Most people would rather there’s a hole in the ground so they could burrow themselves in, but PSH strode purposefully towards the reporters and apologized for keeping them waiting while promising to clear things up with the police ASAP.  This must be the most difficult scene he has ever acted in — a heroic performance.  He was so thin, hollow-cheeked and hollow-eyed, he broke my heart.

A flawed hero, yes, but still a hero to me.

(Credits: I forgot which of the K-media the photo was from, sorry, but thanks anyway.)


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10 thoughts on “A flawed hero

  1. @Ashley, I cried when I read your piece, I don’t know why (and not because I’m in hospital again.) Everytime I think about what PSH has gone through, I cry. Will there come a day when I can laugh instead of cry?

  2. OMG! What a harsh treatment for our PSH! A flawed hero? Maybe!

    @ Ashley you can see him as a flawed person, but he has not hidden this. And that’s his greatest gift to all of us!
    He is a human being , he is honest, he is sincere, and he believes in other persons’ pure-mindedness. And this is one of his flaws, that has brought the ordeal of his life. And many times I was angry on him, for his lack of discernment in relation with false people. But unworthiness is the most frightening thought!
    And he has suffered humiliation, but behaved with dignity, honesty, with responsability, with respect towards shark-like-reporters . Although his heart has been broken down, he could resist heriocally the furious attacks of K. media and later on of public opinion’s attacks.
    Yes, I love PSH even with his flaws and I’d like to tell him:
    “Be happy with being you! Love your flaws! Own your quirks ! And know that you are just as perfect as anyone else , exactly as you are![ Ariana Grande]

  3. PSH is a flawed hero but also an amazing hero who can endure ordeal which many people can’t. He is not a saint but he is a good man with integrity. He shows grace under pressure and hurt.
    I admire him more and support him more strongly after the unfortunate incident.
    @Ashley, thanks for the article which tells fans that he is still a hero.

  4. I just can say I completely feel the same way about PSH, I mean I love him and respect him ar more after his “hamartia” . Not everyone is a hero in real life and if someone gets to be one, of course it’s not easy and he should pay the price for it, but when the hard times are over he’ll be better, stronger and wiser.

  5. Just like all of us PSH is just a human being. Human beings are making mistakes, misjudgements, whatever you call it. PSH is no exception, but PSH is also a public figure, a Hallyu Star which is making him more vulnerable to any mistake or misjudgement.

    Whenever I see a photo of this time my heart breaks again. It was so unfair and it has left his mark on PSH for the rest of his life. To me he will always be a hero. The more others judge him, the more I feel to stand up for him.

    Thanks for writing this article @Ashley. It has been a thoughtful read.

  6. thank you, ashley for this moving article. i will continue to stand by this beautiful man no matter what.

  7. Dear @Ashley, thank you for the post. You are absolutely right saying that “PSH is the best actor in his generation”. There are many K.actors who have a nice face, but outstanding acting talent of PSH is what distinguishes him from others.

  8. @Ashley, thanks for sharing this article. PSH is a human being like us and we always love and support him!

  9. @ashley… this is a thoughtful article. it totally narrates my feel towards a fellow human being. u know, his grace in facing & managing his crisis, actually inspires me. thank you for sharing.

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