Always shadowed by the “BIGBANG’s Taeyang’s older brother” tag, he began in earnest using the “actor Dong Hyun Bae” title to meet the public. In the play “The Scent of Chrysanthemums” that raised its curtain recently, he took on the challenge to play 9 roles. More than anyone else, he was full with passion and dreams about acting. He’s overflowing with ambitions about the path he chose to follow to live with his bright smile and the path he will walk in the future. Let’s hear about his honest story.
Actor Dong Hyun Bae who always works hard
Hello. Please introduce yourself.
Hello. I’m Dong Hyun Bae who is still lacking a lot to be called an actor but is a rookie who keeps working hard to become an actor.
I heard you were in the famous rock band “Sketch” (? 스케치) when you were in high school. When did you start playing music?
I’ve always loved music, so I auditioned to join the band of the high school I was attending. Others sang songs that would match a rock band like Kim Kyung Ho-sunbaenim’s music or Steelheart’s “She’s gone”. At that time, I had never had the opportunity to learn about rock or pop songs, so I sang in a comic way while mimicking Kim Min Jong-sunbaenim and of course, I failed the audition. However, I really wanted to join the band, so I went to see our teacher and told him I really wanted to do this. And the teacher said “if you want to join the band and make music, you must stay in the top 10 of your class”. So I promised and I got in. Back then, our school always ranked first or second place in Kyeonggi-do, so it was even harder for me to stay in the top 10 of my class. In order to stay in the band, I only studied hard and did music. I used to listen only to Korean music, but being in the band made me discover legendary rock bands and I learned about pop music too. I learned a lot about people like Queen, Skidrow, Radiohead.
I heard the band was so famous that you had more than 1,800 fans. What was your role in the band?
The band had two vocals, including me. The other guy was a pro at singing, so he’d sing during big events like college or rock festivals, I sang during school festivals or other concerts.
You became interested in acting while being in the band?
Until my third year of high school, while performing, my dream was to become the prince of indie bands and I was determined to major in music when I’d be in college. When it actually happened, I realized studying music wasn’t something I’d be able to do more than a year. I talked often to my teacher about my worries and asked for advice. My teacher suggested me one day “Hyun Bae, how about trying to study in the theather and cinema department? It’s not that you must do only acting, you can choose different paths”, so I talked my mum into it and I enrolled into the theatre and cinema department. While studying in college, I came to watch a musical by chance. Musicals are about doing the music I love and dancing and acting all at once. From that moment, my dream was to become also a musical actor.
Were your parents against you doing music or acting?
They were really against it. My father was a civil servant, so he was inflexible. Besides, I’m the first son, so he was even more against it. These days, he still tells me sometimes to try out to become a civil servant, but every time, my mum always comes to my rescue. And Youngbae is doing really well, so I think this made my father open his heart to this idea at some extent.
You debuted in the short movie called “화려하지 않은 고백” (t/n: “the non-fancy confession”, but apparently the international title is “Love’s Greeting” ). Tell us about what kind of movie it was and about your role.
Actually, this wasn’t supposed to be my first role. One day, I got a call at 4 in the morning. It was my school teacher who told me “we’re shooting a movie right now, there’s a punk, I hope you can play this role” and that’s how I ended up in the movie. It’s about a boy in high school who has an unrequited love for a girl. I played the girl’s older cousin. It wasn’t a box-office success, but I think it was a good experience because I got recognition through the cinematic quality.
While debuting in the entertainment world, I think it must have been a problem for you to be labelled as “BIGBANG’s Taeyang’s older brother”.
Instead of talking about it as “my problem”, I think it made me work even harder in order not to become a problem for Youngbae. My little brother is a motivation for me. When I go to his concerts, seeing my little brother on stage is a big motivation, so when the concert is over, I go practice right away. These days, I’m just taking it easy. When I get asked “are you Taeyang’s older brother?”, I joke around with answers like “yes, I happen to be Taeyang’s older brother indeed”. I hope people would see me as the actor Dong Hyun Bae, but I think the “Taeyang’s older brother” title is still pretty strong until now.
While filming cable channel’s “Flower Boys casting, Oh Boy!”, you received a lot of attention from the audience, how did you join this project?
My dream was to gain experience starting with short films and to grow as an actor like Ha Jung Woo-sunbaenim did. However, the CEO of my agency told me “I know your mindset, I know your intentions, but don’t you think you need to show your appeal to the mainsteam audience?”, so I went to the audition. The show was called “Flower Boy casting”, and as you know I’m not the flower boy type. When I went to the audition, most of the guys were tall and good-looking. I thought I’d fail anyway, so I went with my mind at ease. The jury actually saw me with confidence and I got selected.
In “Flower Boy Casting”, you had a mission in every episode and you showed a passionate side of yourself. Are you competitive in general?
I’ve always enjoyed sports, so yes I’m competitive when it comes to sports. And I also had to repeat my last year of high school [?]. At that time, my motto was “live with no regret”. Even if it’s for the smallest thing, work hard for it, so you have no regret when you think about it later on. That’s the mindset I have every time I go to a filming set and I try my best.
Through “Flower Boy Casting”, you got a role in the drama “Shut Up! Flower Boy Band”. You were a band drummer, so you must have had a particular soft spot for this role.
I really wanted to do this drama. One of the conditions was that only the winner of “Flower Boy Casting” would get a role. I didn’t think I could win, but I did think that if they saw how much I worked hard, they might acknowledge me. That’s why I worked even harder during the filming and I was very happy to get a role.
In “Shut Up! Flower Band”, you play the Sharks gang boss. Do you think this role would let people see the charm of Dong Hyun Bae?
I was also filming the movie “Holy Land” [t/n: other title is “Super Action”] at that time, so it was like playing two gang characters at once. For the first time of my life, I shaved my head to have the mohican hairstyle. I wondered if this image would be more appealing to the viewers if I kept if for “SUFBB”. In order to live up to the shark image, I died my mohawk in red. The reaction was explosive. (laugh) When I was filming, the director told me to do anything I wanted, so I expressed everything I wanted through improvisation and the setting. It was a real strength for me to hear the director telling me “Hyun Bae, the most interesting time for me when I film is when I film you, so just express freely everything you want to express”.
Do you have any similarity with the Sharks boss’ personality?
We have many things in common. I always strive for perfection. Whenever I’m lacking in something, I turn into a heodang (laugh). [t/n: heodang is basically someone who is book smart. He studies really hard, but he fails when it comes to real life situations]
I heard you played 9 roles on your own in a recent play. Tell us briefly about your roles, introduce the play to us.
It’s a play based on the novel “The Scent of Chrysanthemums” by Kim Ha In. We try to express the movie emotion and the novel emotion all at once. It’s about different love themes from a man’s and a woman’s points of view. Just from the title “The Scent of Chrysanthemums”, you can tell it’s a tragedy, a deep and sad story. However, we reinterpreted the atmosphere and put a comical twist into it. I’m a multiman in this play. Through the opening greeting, I come on stage as a radio DJ. While I read the story of the main male character, we go back in the past. We introduce the meeting between the man and the woman in the past and we come back to present. Since I play 9 roles, I think the hardest part for me was to have a good grasp of each nine of these characters.
If by any chance you already have a next project, can you tell us about it?
Right now, I’m going to auditions for movies. I want to do various roles on the big screen next year.
Is there a genre you’d like to try as an actor later on?
I want to try to do an action movie, a cloak-and-dagger movie or a comedy. When I have many years of experience, when I become a seasoned actor and have enough legitimacy, I want try an authentic melodrama.
What kind of actor do you think you are?
There are things I always think about, but I think acting is my life and something I can’t stop doing. I wonder if it’s being an actor isn’t about taking classes but about learning from life itself and live all these emotions that as an actor you can show with sincerity to the audience. So this is something I think about these days. it’s important to be truthful in your acting, but isn’t meeting people with no fake honesty is what makes you a good actor? Before, my acting teacher told me one day “a good person becomes a good actor” and this is something I don’t intend to forget any time soon.
Please say something to our readers who also dream of becoming actors.
I don’t know if I’d dare to say something like this, but if I were to speak as someone who is half a step ahead, I’d say I hope you never get scared of trying. If I were a bit younger, I’d say to study hard, but I think it’s also about experiencing many things too. Gaining experience by traveling around and meeting a lot of people is also very valuable. And I always talk with my hoobaes. I tell them when you can play/have fun, play to your heart’s content. Just, never forget you’re an actor and as time goes by, if you really want to act and if your heart is really into it, only then try again.
t/n: my characters’ descriptions might be a bit off.
Original article: cuvism magazine