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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.“I grew up in a rural area,” he says, shrugging at the memory.“You get your racism there.”His first ambition was to play basketball, and he was good enough that scholarships helped him chase that dream through three colleges.story by ADA TSENG photographs by MITCHELL NGUYEN MCCORMACK/Corbis | styling: JULIET VO grooming: ERICA SAUER @ The Wall Group | stylist’s assistants: LAURYN STONE and TESS OAKLAND For the past eight years, Korean American actor Daniel Henney has been juggling roles on both sides of the Pacific.
His popularity has led to a dozen ad campaigns; he now sells rice cookers, among other products.
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.
The tall American with gentle rather than dangerous good looks was an unknown model-actor in Korea until, after begging network executives to take a chance on a foreigner, he landed the role of Dr.
Henry Kim in the 2005 TV romance “My Name is Kim Sam-Sun” (“My Lovely Sam-Soon” on English DVDs).