Korean stand-up comic Wonho Chung steps out of his comfort zone and replaces the stage with an acting performance on the small screen. He plays the part of Issa / Jose in Saq Al Bamboo, the TV adaptation of the award-winning story by Kuwaiti novelist Saud Alsanousi. The drama series is aired on main-stream TV channels in the Middle East during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Acting besides well-known Kuwaiti actresses Souad Abdallah, Shojoon Al-Hajeri, Fatma Alsafi, Reem Erhama, Farah Al Sarraf and Maram Bloushi, Wonho had his work cut out for him. With only two small cameo appearances in feature films under his belt, Chung faced a very steep learning curve.
Working with famous director Mohammed Al-Qafas was a unique experience. “I joined the “school of the genius director” and I learned so many aspects of the acting craft in a very short period of time. It was hard work, but a very rewarding experience at the same time”, Chung says.
“From the first day on set, I had the support and guidance of no other than Souad Abdallah, who took a personal interest in teaching me how to portray my character convincingly”, Wonho remembers. Besides learning how to act, he also had to learn how to speak Tagalog, a language that is completely foreign to him. Besides Tagalog, the role required him to also speak his native Arabic tongue as well as English with a strong Philipino accent.
“Standing on the shoulders of giants’ is probably the best way to describe my entry into the world of acting. I am so grateful for this opportunity – I could not have imagined doing this at this stage of my career”, Wonho says. Now that the first two episodes have been televised, he is looking forward to, but is at the same time nervous to learn the reactions of the audience. But at least that is something he is somewhat used to.
Wonho plays the role of Issa / Jose, who is born from the relationship between the rich son of a well-establish Kuwaiti family and a Philippina housemaid employed by his grandmother, the family matriarch (played by Souad Abdallah). Born in Kuwait, he spends the early part of his life in the Philippines, questioning his identity, his nationality, as well as his religion and his roots. His journey of self-discovery brings him back to Kuwait, where he tries to connect with his father’s family.
“I am so grateful for Sabbah Pictures trusting me with this huge responsibility and I hope that I will be able to meet their expectations”, says Chung. Now that he has had a taste of acting, he hopes that there will be other roles for him to play in the future. Time will tell.