For much of Oh Yeon Seo’s acting career, the on-screen shoes the South Korean fills are either dramatically selfless, comedic, or endearingly smart-lipped, characters that inherently win over their audience’s hearts. Her girlish, sweet looks—eyes, large, and lips just pouty enough she’s probably never had to Google ‘Kylie lip kit tutorial’—says it all; made to tug at your heartstrings rather than dish cattiness, or thwart small screen destiny by seducing the male lead from the female protagonist. So nearly 17 years on from her TV debut, and Oh wants to play the villain for once.
It’s hardly as lofty an aspiration as her childhood ambition of becoming president, one she realised “wasn’t a dream she could actually fulfill,” she said laughingly. She also wants to be cast in a film alongside Leonardo DiCaprio (“I really like Titanic.”), amongst other things like appreciating every moment she’s in character, and returning to Malaysia for a holiday where our chat took place through a translator, on occasion of the actress attending a Kate Spade store opening in Kuala Lumpur.
What kind of roles attract you?
I like choosing characters that are a little more independent, and that has a voice for herself. Mainly really, really bright characters. But what I really want is to be a villain, and that’s not a character I’ve ever done before. When it comes to choosing scripts, I believe you really have to love the character to do a better job.
Did you always want to be an actress, and what are some of its challenges?
When I was younger, I wanted to be president (laughs). But when I grew up, I realised that that wasn’t a dream that I could actually fulfill. The most challenging aspect of acting is that you’re playing someone different. I think I just want to appreciate every single moment I’m playing a character.
When you’re filming, do your outfits influence how you end up delivering your character?
It definitely affects the way I act. My attitude changes depending on what kind of outfits I’m wearing, because the clothes also reflect the locations I’m in. My emotions change according to how I feel I look. For example, it feels really different when I’m wearing sneakers versus heels, and it really helps me develop my character.
Tell us about your upcoming drama, People With Flaws.
It’s romantic comedy that is very bright, and very warm to watch. You can also expect good chemistry between me and Ahn Jae Hyun [the male lead]. There are also a lot of handsome men in the show, so look forward to that as well (laughs).
Is there an actor that you’d like to work with?
Leonardo Dicaprio. I really like Titanic, and that’s why I want to work with him. Maybe later, sometime in the future!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
To stay away from the people who only speak the sweetest things to you.
How do you make sure that you don’t burn out despite a hectic schedule?
I love animation, so I’m always watching that at home. It’s very relaxing and healing, and clears my mind. I’m also very into self-care. I’d maybe do a massage or a facial, and I love to soak in the bath. In Korean, there’s a term ‘jipsooni‘ that means you’re always sort of at home, like a homebody. I’m like that.
Speaking of, your skin looks great. What’s your skincare routine like?
I definitely pay a lot of attention to my skin, and I do facials diligently. When it comes to eyecare, I put a lot of effort into all those steps. I really like drinking tea as well, and I think that’s one of the contributing factors.
What’s your ideal vacation?
I actually really like to explore Asia. I definitely want to come back to Malaysia. Each year, I pick a destination to go to in Asia because I feel more relaxed here.
And what fashion item would you take with you?
I like bringing a lot of stuff with me, so the Kate Spade Sam bag really fits my style because I can literally stuff everything inside and just go. I do like the Nicola Twistlock bag for every day, because I love hearts and there’s a heart on it.
Apart from the Nicola bag, what else from Kate Spade are you eyeing?
It’s currently summer in Korea, so I like that the colours and prints are really vibrant, and that the clothing are really lightweight. An outfit like that makes you feel so natural. Even if I were to wear these in Korea, I’d feel like I’m already on vacation, but I’m actually just in Seoul.
Lastly, what do you do to keep fit?
I hate exercise! (laughs) But, I still make the effort because I know it’s good for me. Health is a very important topic in Korea right now. I’ve tried pilates. Otherwise, I do some stretching myself, but I do dread it.