Which star does this young boy come from? Wherever that is, that boy who is now 17 speaks keen affection through his eyes, what is so special and captivating about his voice that can fill any space? When he was Prince Hwon in MBC drama “The Moon That Embraces The Sun”, when he was Jung Woo suffering from a toxic first love in “Missing You”, he wasn’t a kid actor that would disappear off stage after playing the younger version of other actors. He was an actor who, even when himself no longer appeared, cast the shadow of Yeo Jin Goo on his characters for a long time. Then, proving his strength, the movie “Hwayi” sets the beginning for Yeo Jing Goo. Like a flower blooming among the evil, this beautiful boy becomes the movie’s biggest virtue supporting the entire plot. He’s an high school student who has yet to live his first love, always enjoys gaming talks with his friends and just like that became our cover boy. His solid growth was led by tvN’s drama “Potato Star 2013QR13. I met Yeo Jin Goo on the first day of broadcast where he finally takes on an adult role you would have never guessed as he plays as a programmer.
Before the first broadcast of “Potato Star”, pictures of a kissing scene became quite an issue.
That was slightly embarrassing, but… fortunately, the scene was prettily filmed. I think a lot of people might be confused because I’m still young. (laugh)
You said you’d like to try an adult role when you become a high school student. This is a strong way to start.
(laugh) Yes. I thought I’d be okay with it, but when it actually happened, I was more nervous than I thought I would be. That’s why I think this become a more valuable experience. No matter how I look at it, I think playing a child and playing an adult are two different things. I thought I needed to show a bit more maturity in my acting, so I talked a lot with director Kim Byung Wook. It was lucky for me that my appearance wasn’t a big problem, though. (laugh)
In “Potato Star”, Hong Hye Sung is a programmer who dreams of being the Korean Mark Zuckerbeg, right?
Right. He’s a character with a veil of mystery. When he seems to know something, he doesn’t. He gives off this familiar yet distant vibe at the same time? He’s confident, he can also joke around. He’s a strong character who uses a lot of irony when he speaks. The director asked me if I could play showing this brazen side of me while showing also the “oppa” side. It was my first time trying to do it, so I did have a bit of a hard time. I had never tried brazen characters before. Because my voice also turned out like this… (laugh)
You have a very low and solemn voice, so whatever you say sound quite serious.
This actually makes me uncomfortable when I act. What’s most important than anything is to deliver the lines, but my voice is naturally low, so I’m worried sometimes that the viewers’ attention goes to my voice instead of the meaning behind the dialogues that my voice might bury. That’s why I slightly take a tone higher than my usual range when I say my lines.
Through director Kim Byung Wook’s work, young actors got to show a lot of growth and received a lot of love. You must have had this kind of expectation.
More than that, I was even happier because I’m fan of him. I’m a hardcore fan. Of course, I watched the “High Kick” franchise and I also watched “Soonpoong Clinic”. “Soonpoong Clinic” aired for the first time in 1998. I was born in 1997. (laugh) Of course I was a baby, so I couldn’t watch it back then, but I dipped into this show through a cable channel later on. Since that time I’ve always thought I wanted to try to do a sitcom. It happened finally with “Potato Star”, so I’m quite happy. I really have this impression that the script is perfect too, so it’s fun. The director always gave me precise directions when we were on set, so I was able to have a good grasp of my character without much trouble.
Until now, you had played with your peers, your counterpart this time is Ha Yeon Soo who is 7 years older than you.
It’s a bit different from playing with actors younger than me. Before, since I was acting with kids younger than me, I had a sense of responsibility. I felt like I had to lead them. Baby aside, I’m the youngest on the set this time around. Since I’m working with my hyungs and nunas, it’s just great and always fun. It happens often that I have to film all night with Yeon Soo-nuna. She’s always smiling and it just brings good energy. I’m also close with Kyun Pyo-hyung. I’m getting closer with Jang Ki Ha-sunbaenim. And I also like Julien-hyung a lot. I was very surprised when I saw him. I realized that there’s a bridge to my heart. (laugh) I’m a bit shy around strangers, so I’m so thankful for all of them taking the first step.
You’ve been acting since you were young, so you were probably not unfamiliar with a set with many actors like for a sitcom.
In fact, I’m kind of distressed because of the camera. (laugh) For movies and dramas, they use big cameras and even if they put it right in front of my nose, I don’t feel nervous, but whenever it’s a making-of camera or a photoshoot, they use a small camera and I get very nervous when they come close to my face. I can’t do selcas even to save my life. I have big hands, so I can’t touch the button when I hold my cell phone. I find it amazing when people take great selcas. They take pretty pictures. When I try to take one, I keep shaking and the picture always comes out weird.
You started high school this year, right? Do you feel a difference between the first year of high school and the last year of middle school?
To be honest, when I was in my last year of middle school, I wondered if my first year of high school would be that different. When I was doing interviews, I used to say that I wasn’t nervous about entering high school. I think that was foolishg of me. (laugh) It’s like two different worlds. For my first test in high school, we got the grades right after and I was so surprised that I wondered if this was actually my grade. When I was in middle school, if you crammed for a test just the day before, you could get a decent grade. This doesn’t work at all when you’re in high school. I’ve decided to study steadily; but my behavior is always lacking a little bit.
In the movie “Hwayi”, the character you play is 17 just like you. This character must have been unusual.
Hwayi is a kid who is very thoughtful. He is raised by criminals. Although he knows that, he still loves his fathers a lot and always makes them smile. The fathers also love Hwayi, so that makes this story even more unfortunate. While I was reading the scenario, I could feel how much they loved Hwayi and that got me even mored riled up. If this had happened in real life, how much pain he’d have had to go through… This thought was suffocating. As I felt this way, I really felt empathy for him. To the point I wondered if I wasn’t addicted to him…
So this is was like that for “Hwayi” too, for Hwon in “The Moon That Embraces The Sun”, for Jung Woo in “Missing You”, your acting showed a great emotional amplitude that can’t commonly be felt in your daily life, wether it’s love or a tragedy. What do you base your acting on when it comes to situations when you can’t use your own experience for?
I’m the kind to speak a lot with the director. This was also the case for “Potato Star”. For “Hwayi”, I had many discussions with director Jung Joon Hwa. This was my first time playing such a big role in a movie and Hwayi was a character complicated more than anything. He seemed innocent at first. This was what complicated because he seemed innocent to me. I had a different feeling when I was reading the script. During filming, there were many things I had to change. Until the last day of filming, I thought “Hwayi” would never end. That’s why I was kind of anxious, thankfully “Potato Star” came along and I was able to overcome Hwayi.
Hwayi was raised by fathers who are criminals, but he dreams to become something else than a criminal. Besides being an actor, do you also have other dreams?
As of right now, becoming an actor is my biggest dream, but I want to try other things too. There are many things I want to study, many places I want to go to, many things I want to eat too. I think I’m lucky to have such a clear vision of my future at my age. My friends are jealous. They must be thinking a lot about what they should do with their lives, I found my path early. My parents are a big support, so I keep telling myself that my parents and I are a good match. (laugh) My friends would like to try many things, but their parents are against it.
You shot your first movie when you were 8. Do you have memories from that time?
I do. At that time, more than acting, going to the set for me was like going somewhere to have fun. It was like I was going to see and play with my hyungs and nunas? I remember that I acted carelessly on the set. So when did I feel that acting was something I really wanted to do? During my first year in middle school, I shot a drama. For the first time, I directly talked with the director to understand my character. That time, I really enjoyed acting. To be honest, I have yet to find a role to keep me focused like that role did. I think it’s because it was my first time discussing the script with the director. There was nothing but Kang Mo [t/n: the character he played in SBS “Giant”] in my head.
How would you like to be perceived? Is there a certain image you’d like to have?
This isn’t something I’ve clearly thought about yet. Instead of having the “this is how I want to be seen” mindset, I just want to show the best person I can be. If we talk about how I want to be perceived, I think I may look like a virtual person/not my true self. The real me jokes around a lot and I’m loud. (laugh) A lot of people think I’m taciturn, but I’m absolutely not. The characters I played were gentle and caring, so people have this misunderstanding that I’m also a serious and taciturn kid, but when people meet me in real life, they all say “you’re more talkative than I thought you’d be”. When I’m in school, I joke around a lot to the point that the teachers only look at me. (laugh)
What is your biggest worry these days?
Last year, my biggest worries were my acadamic record and my height. Fortunately, I’m still growing up. This year, since we’ll have to film “Potato Star” for a long time, I hope there will be no accident and everyone will safely reach the end. I hope that people will tell me a lot that “Hwayi”, which is my first movie as a lead, was good and I hope it will come out well. But I can’t even watch it! [t/n: the movie was rated 18+, so he was old enough to play in it but not to actually see it] Ah… Really, this is making me crazy.
So right now, your biggest worry is the fact you’re not allowed to watch “Hwayi”?
(laugh) Yes. I must wait another two years and 6 months, right?
Original article: 1stlook