Five-0 Redux: Shin shows his experience

Jun. 11, 2013 | 7 Comments

 Vince Shin as a North Korean in a tense scene with "Hawaii Five-0" star Alex O'Loughlin. (Courtesy CBS)

Vince Shin as a North Korean in a tense scene with “Hawaii Five-0″ star Alex O’Loughlin. (Courtesy CBS)

BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser

Of all the villains we’ve seen in “Hawaii Five-0,” Hawaiʻi-based actor Vince Shin played the type of antagonist viewers felt more empathy for than the normal bad guy as the “North Korean Combatant” in the most moving episode of season three, “ʻŌlelo Paʻa” (“The Promise”).

Shin spoke mostly Korean in the episode and had several action scenes in which he “helped” McGarrett and Catherine Rollins find the real remains of McG’s SEAL brother, Freddie Hart (Alan Ritchson). While Shin played the one of several bad guys in the episode, he definitely made an impression with fans as someone we were supposed to hate, but probably didn’t deserve to be blown up by a McG grenade.

Vince Shin, center, on the "Five-0" set with fellow actors Guangpyo Hong, left, and Sejin Yoo. (Courtesy Guangpyo Hong)

Vince Shin, center, on the “Five-0″ set with fellow actors Guangpyo Hong, left, and Sejin Yoo. (Courtesy Guangpyo Hong)

Obviously, his ability to play a realistic North Korean combatant had more to do with his acting ability than just his Korean heritage. As a professional actor who got his start in Korean television, Shin was the perfect person for this seemingly anonymous role.

Shin was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, but came to Hawaiʻi in 1982 for his sophomore year of high school. He graduated from Roosevelt High School, then went on to study accounting at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

After UH, he returned to South Korea to act. He made his television debut in Korean soap operas — well known in the United States today as K-Dramas. He starred in television shows in Korea for 10 years and also wrote film and play scripts. He most recently played Mr. Oh in a short film by Brent Anbe, “Ajumma! Are you Krazy???” Anbe wrote and directed the film, which is about local ladies who love K-Dramas.

According to Shin, in Korea the soap operas he starred in weren’t “as big of a deal as they are now.” He acted alongside Lee Byung-hun, who played Storm Shadow in “GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra.” He then moved from acting in television dramas to Korean stage and writing.

Once he returned to Hawaiʻi, Shin got married, had two children and decided to focus on his photography talents. His company, Love Story Weddings Photography, keeps him busy and grounded.

“My work on stage and directing really helps me to see a love story and photograph it well,” he said.

Shin on the "Five-0" set. (Courtesy Brent Anbe)

Shin on the “Five-0″ set. (Courtesy Brent Anbe)

Shin had great stories about his time on the “Hawaii Five-0” set. He shot for three days in Mililani and Waialua for the “North Korea” scenes. He did most of his stunts, except for the scenes when he rolled out of the car and when Alex O’Loughlin jumped on him to catch him — those were performed by a stunt double. He worked with Jeff Cadiente on using weapons and shooting, as well as how to properly roll out of the car.

Shin said he auditioned once and he was quickly cast. He was supposed to speak more Korean in the original script and O’Loughlin was supposed to in turn speak Korean to Shin’s character, but Shin said he and O’Loughlin talked about speaking Korean and Shin suggested that “an actor need to be an expert in the language” or basically he can make a fool out of himself. O’Loughlin agreed, and they worked out simple words and phrases for McGarrett to speak.

“So when Alex says “pah” in Korean, that means “dig,” which is what my character was supposed to do, and that was enough,” Shin said.

Shin and O'Loughlin mix it up in the brush. (Courtesy CBS)

Shin and O’Loughlin mix it up in the brush. (Courtesy CBS)

He also talked about working with O’Loughlin and Michelle Borth, which “was really great,” even though they didn’t know Shin was a trained television actor.

“Michelle is really down-to-earth, she really helped me a lot,” said Shin. “Alex was concerned when he had to hold a knife to my throat, and I told him, you have to make it look realistic — do it for real — put it to my neck.”

The next morning, he found a red mark on his neck.

“Alex said, “I’m so sorry, Vince!” and I told him, no, no, that’s good, that how good we did in the scene,” Shin said.

In addition to the stories about the show’s stars, Shin was very grateful about the kind of treatment he got on set.

“I’m a very unknown actor (in Hawaiʻi), but they still treated me so well,” he said. “During one of the breaks, it started to drizzle and I felt an umbrella over me!

“I told them, ‘I can hold my own umbrella, thanks.’ After every cut, they’d ask me if I wanted some water — room temperature or ice cold? It was a huge treat.”

Shin with some of his fans from Australia. (Star-Advertiser File)

Shin with some of his fans from Australia. (Star-Advertiser File)

He said all of his friends in Hawai’i know about his earlier career about acting in Korea, but they had never really seen him act before “Hawaii Five-0.” They were really thrilled about the size of his part and how long he was on screen. And while they didn’t like his demise, they were still impressed by the size and breadth of his role.

Shin was a pleasure to talk to, not only because he obviously knows television acting and directing, but he was so gracious and wonderful to fans when they met him at the “H50 Ohana Fan Wrap Party” in April. He took the time to talk to everyone, pose for pictures, and even had a few minutes to answer my questions.

Many of us really enjoyed “ʻŌlelo Paʻa,” so while Shin thought it was a treat to be catered to on-set, we thought it was definitely a treat to meet him.

Redux Side Note:

On Monday, June 10, fans got together to kick off the “H50hana Summer Tweetup Series” at Big City Diner Pearlridge. Fans watched “Kapu”, which aired during the soon-to-end Monday night timeslot.

There will be a special repeat of “Hawaii Five-0” this Friday, June 14, with “Hana I Wā ‘Ia.” Monday episodes are scheduled during the 9:00 p.m. slot until June 17. “Five-0” will make it’s official move to Friday nights at 8:00 p.m. in Hawaii when “Under the Dome” takes over the Monday night timeslot on June 24.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

  • ESS

    Great interview Wendie! I very much enjoyed Vince on the show. I mean, I enjoyed hating him ;) which means he did an excellent job. Too bad he was killed off and we won’t see him anymore. It’s cool to know his background and how they came about with some of the scenes. The scene with the knife was indeed terrifying on screen, I can imagine how it must have looked in real life. Vince and Alex went for it in that scene and it paid off!

    I for one, however didn’t have a problem with him being blown up with the grenade. That’s an eye for an eye regarding the atrocities he had committed. McG is a SEAL and that kind of stuff is expected. It also served its purpose to delay his death, provide a trap for others and give McG and Cath a diversion for later. Honestly I thought that was pretty brilliant. I have a much larger problem with the beating of unarmed suspects which unfortunately became the norm this season.

  • pauldunn1

    Thanks again for a great post regarding another local actor who took it to the big house of Five0. Sounds like they used a real knife and not a rubber one.

  • Tula Birmpa

    Great interview indeed, Wendie! You give us such a better insight into the Show with the things you write, it is always a pleasure to read the reality behind the ‘finished product’ that we get… It never ceases to amaze me that the Show is as multicultural as Hawaii itself! Thank you!

  • Terry FiveOs

    I didn’t feel any empathy because Vince did too good of a job as the bad guy! LOL Well, until the grenade went off.

  • jlopie1

    Oops! I seem to have missed the empathy part for Vince’s character in Olelo Pa’a! He was certainly convincing and I had no problem with his ‘untimely” demise! Cool to find out about Vince’s background and his experiences on set! So glad to see your blogs continue through the summer!

  • LisaLisa98

    Vince is a super cool guy & it was great to hear about his tv background and experience on the set. I’m so glad he came to our Fan Wrap Party! He was such a pleasure to meet. If anyone is getting married, they should definitely check out his Love Story Weddings photography company! ;)

  • Luna McAwesomesauce

    Great to find out about the other actors who leave their mark on an episode, and an impression on us fans. You always provide us with great background information and insight! Mahalo!!