From Ingenue to Inspiration: The Evolution of Park Min Young
Whether cross-dressing, royal, or everygirl, Park Min Young is the girl crush of our dreams, and we’re fangirling over her fangirl character in her latest K-drama. A look at her onscreen evolution and why we can’t get enough.
Park Min Young is one of Korea’s leading actresses and practically a K-drama staple these days. She’s starred in cult hits such as Healer (2014) and burst in on the drama scene with Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010), where she played a cross-dressing student in a sageuk with verve and spirit. Her foray into Korean dramas started early with I am Sam (2007) and High Kick! (2006), but Sungkyunkwan Scandal shot her to starlet status.
Despite her subsequent roles in cracktastic dramas such as City Hunter (2011) and Healer, Park Min Young’s popularity was overshadowed by those of her male colleagues. Her decision to choose a wide range of roles in more serious fare such as Remember (2015) and Queen for Seven Days (2017) cemented her as a capable actress. As a Min Young fan, I feel that her increased popularity thanks to the rom-coms What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim (2018) and Her Private Life (2019) are like the long-overdue recognition this talented and hardworking actress deserves.
Fans might be scrambling to imitate her office outfits and pitch-perfect makeup in her most recent dramas, but Park Min Young has always pulled off any character and styling she’s been given. Let’s take a look at how this actress has evolved through some of her most memorable dramas.
In keeping with her cross-dressing character in this drama about a woman who disguises herself as her brother and ends up entering the prestigious educational institute Sungkyunkwan, where only men are allowed to attend, Park Min Young’s makeup was understated to the point of invisibility. It’s a look perfect for her character Kim Yoon-hee: fresh-faced, saucy, and cute without being cloying.
At one point I shipped her with all three guys because that’s what Park Min Young does to you. She makes you ship her with everybody.
Healer is the true epitome of cracktastic drama: action, romance, and a compelling plot that features a mercenary for hire, a young reporter raised by ex-cons, and a past that tangles their futures together. Ji Chang-wook might have been the breakout star here, but this was Park Min Young’s first major drama after a two-year hiatus, and the break appears to have restored her verve while giving her a gravitas acquired through long-term reflection.
I might have been the only person on the planet who actually liked Min Young’s styling here. I loved her short, choppy bob, her loose clothes, the understated makeup. She was believable as the plucky paparazzi reporter Chae Young-shin, and served as a refreshing counterfoil to the highly-polished image she was to adopt in her later dramas.
It’s a shame she received so much flak from netizens about her looks in the drama. I hope one day she can flex her acting muscles in portraying the working girl with as much charm as she did in Healer.
Queen for Seven Days
I’ll confess that this is my favorite Park Min Young drama. High stakes, tortured romance, sundered families — this drama has the whole shebang. Prepare to have your heart plucked out and served to you freshly grilled.
Her makeup starts out fresh and youthful and then curves to a more mature look as she becomes queen (I hope this isn’t a spoiler as the title does rather give a main plot point away). This drama isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s so worth it. And then follow it up with the next drama on the list because, you know, balance.
What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim
WWSK’s popularity rested on Park Min Young’s portrayal of the Everygirl, capable and confident in her job, but desiring more in life and in her career.
I claim this to be the drama when we all lost any possible reservations we might have ever had and fell collectively in love with Park Min Young. Those pencil skirts! That hair! Those tasteful earrings! The real star of the drama is the stylist who clearly did not hold back. Hair extensions, glowing skin, flawless lipstick: Professional young workers unable to afford a personal shopper, look no further. Every outfit of Park Min Young’s can be replicated with success in and out of the workplace.
Her Private Life
Carrying the theme of Everygirl a step forward, Park Min Young’s latest role as Sung Deok-mi in Her Private Life portrays a woman in her early 30s who is secretly a hardcore fangirl. Even if you’re not a hardcore fangirl who lies in wait at airports in quasi-ninja gear with cameras that cost a full month’s rent, the chances are that you’ve at the very least emitted one fangirl squeal over that fe/male lead/K-pop star.
Sung Deok-mi’s secret life as a fangirl grows to encompass more than adoration of a pop star — it showcases her relationships with her friends and co-workers and sets the stage for her eventual romance. Min Young’s style continues to be imitation-worthy in this drama, from mature and elegant pantsuits to adorable tuxedo dresses and pretty date-worthy outfits. Makeup does play a key role: In a couple of scenes, Deok-mi takes special care over her appearance before meeting idol Cha Si An (played by Kim Jae Wook), and in one scene, applies a bright lipstick when he shows up at her workplace.
Park Min Young has cemented herself as a fashion and beauty inspiration who isn’t afraid to work hard and take on a variety of roles. Her styling in her last two dramas has helped me enormously in putting together a work wardrobe (left to my own devices, I dress more like her Chae Young-shin character than Kim Mi-so), much to the approbation of my colleagues. With the end of Her Private Life, I am looking forward to her next drama. I’m crossing my fingers for a sageuk. I’d love to see Min Young expand her already-wide range and breathe life into a diverse set of characters.
What’s your favorite Park Min Young drama? What kind of drama would you like to see Park Min Young star in next?