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Says the nature of Korean family relationships still eludes him. A mere two years after arriving in South Korea with a single suitcase and a one-shot contract for a TV commercial, Henney, 27, has become one of the country’s most famous TV and movie stars, a heartthrob who can’t go out for coffee in Seoul without attracting a (mostly squealing female) crowd.In the process, he has created a new acting niche in this movie-mad country: roles for a cultural hybrid with Korean roots, coming in from the West and struggling to master love and relationships.Among the thousands orphaned and sent abroad was Henney’s mother, Christine, born in the southern port city of Busan but adopted, along with her brother, into an American family when she was just a year old.“She always kept the clothing she’d come over in, but she never had the money or the means to find out about her own parents,” Henney says.“And there’s always a fear of what you’ll find.” Henney’s father is an American, with family roots in England, and the actor says he spent little time thinking about his mixed ethnicity as a kid growing up in small town Michigan, “a very naive place of 1,100 people where all the kids there ever thought about was hunting and fishing.ONE of the most popular movie stars in South Korea admits he speaks Korean like a 12-year-old.Confesses he wouldn’t be able to handle a Korean-language script and isn’t completely comfortable expressing emotions in a Korean way. to an ethnic Korean mother and American father of British descent -- none of these shortcomings hurt if you’re always cast as the Asian-looking American trying to navigate love and relationships in Korea.
He is hoping that the role in “My Father” will expand his resume enough to tweak more serious interest in Hollywood.
“It’s all: What kind of wire am I going to be hanging from; what kind of kick am I going to be doing; what kind of car am I going to be racing. ”Henney insists he could be happy working in Asia only and the potential for wider stardom is enormous.
The Japanese, who have a proven market for Korean TV and movie stars, are just beginning to notice the Henney phenomenon, sending reporters to Seoul to interview him.
I always just thought of myself as a white guy,” he says. There was teasing from friends, who would bow to him, or tease him about the ramen noodles his mother stocked in the kitchen.
And there were racially instigated fistfights as well: two a week, he has told interviewers, though he declines to quantify the scrapping when pressed.