When he was in middle school and his teacher asked to write down his dream, he wrote “model” without even thinking about it. When he turned 20, he walked the runway for top designers during the 2009 S/S Seoul Fashion Week. If it weren’t for his parents’ free concept of education and his mother’s outstanding fashion sense, Woo Bin doesn’t know if he’d bere today.
Kim Woo Bin debuted on TV through On Style “Challenge Super Model Korea Season 2”, KBS Drama “White Christmas”, MBN “Vampire Idol”. He had hit after hit with SBS drama “Gentleman’s Dignity” and “To The Beautiful You” (2012), “School 2013” and rose to stardom.
Once the drama was over, many people recognized him in the street, which he said was amazing. He found the perfect balance point called “endless efforts” between the narrow line separating the modeling and acting worlds.
I heard your dream was to be a model ever since your first year of middle school. What kind of student were you? You look like someone whose parents would have high expectations if your results placed you at 5th place of your entire school.
I was an ordinary student who wasn’t very different from his friends. When we were asked in our 1st year of middle school to write down our dream, the word “model” just suddenly came to me. I don’t remember why, but I guess the fact that my mom is very interested in fashion might have been a big influence. My parents told me, “you were born as a man, find a job you want to do and you’ll enjoy doing”. And after that, they said they’d always support me. So, when I was a child, I wondered which job would make me happy and I stayed focused on that. (laugh) Instead, they told me to familiarize myself with books and movies. It was my homework. I think the man I am today is because of my parents. I still love books and movies today.
What were your first activities when you debuted as a model?
When I was 20, I took the auditions for the Seoul Fashion Week. It was in 2009. As I took part in the shows of 5 designers such as Kim Seo Ryong, Song Sung Geun, Park Sung Chul, Kwak Hyun Joo and Seo Eun Gil, I really started working as a model. Now that I think about it, I was so nervous that I have no idea how I finished the show and got off the stage. Since then, I haven’t missed a season and I walked the runway each year. I met a lot of good people, so I think that’s what allowed to experience various things and to even be on TV.
You went from being a model to being an actor. It’s been 3 years now. What would be the biggest difference and the biggest similarity between acting and modeling?
I think they both require to express emotions. The difference would be how you must express everything during the photo shoot. When you’re filmed, I feel that you have a little bit more time to do so. The reason I like both modeling and acting is the fact that “there’s no right answer” about the way to do things. If I work hard, I can show something new and being able to fill endlessly these new perspectives makes me happy.
You have your representative work. What big influence your role as Park Heung Soo in “School 2013” had on your life?
This project has a big meaning for me. I haven’t played a lot of roles, but it made me say for the first time “a set can make you happy like this”. I was able to work with nice people and be a part of a meaningful project, so this fact itself was enjoyable. In each interview, I’m asked what “School” means to me and every time I say it was “a place I learned about love”. Working with the nice staff, nice actors, I got to love them, I got to meet great people. I received a lot of love through this project.
You’ve filmed many variety programs and even CFs. You’re number 1. You’re the best these days! Are you aware of your popularity?
When parents who watched the drama recognize me in the street before their kids do. Every time it happens, I think “this drama is really loved!”. I’m still shy, so… (laugh) But the fact itself of being recognized really makes me happy. There’s no other way to repay them but to work even harder. All I keep thinking about is “I don’t want to disappoint them, so I must work hard”.
You said in an interview “I have a strong face, so I’m confident about playing this kind of role”. Strong characters aside, is there a type of role you’d like to try?
I’m not confident about roles like this because I have a strong face. (laugh) I got to play a lot of strong characters, so I feel like they’re a bit comfortable for me. Of course, each role, each situation is different and their background is different, though. I want to experience feelings with a bit more diversity in the future. Still, that doesn’t mean I would reject strong characters. It’s not the case.
You’ve been a model for a long time, so you will probably have an answer. For you, what is required to be a model?
I always say to my hoobaes “things will work out if you work hard”. I alway put the emphasis on working hard. Compared to other models, my body condition isn’t that great, so… (laugh) I always try my best to show something different in my walking or in my poses. So the advice I give to my hoobaes is that they need to have the passion and the efforts to make up for what they’re lacking. It’s not about being ambitious. If you’re passionate about always working on your flaws, and this isn’t just about modeling, won’t you be able to do anything?
I heard you have a lot of aegyo despite having strong features and being kind is a second nature to you. The Kim Woo Bin the public knows is rough, but you have the arrogant image of the “real man”. What do you think of your own personality?
I’m really like a child, so I’m definitely not a “real man”. (laugh)I can cry easily and I have a lot of aegyo. I’m quite different from the impression my looks give. I even think to myself “is it okay for a man to cry so much?”. I’m also trying to cut down on the aegyo these days.
You said you like reading books and watching movies. What do you usually do when you get some free time?
Books and movies were always with me, so these 2 put aside… Hm, I essentially draw. More than professional drawing, I just draw in my sketchbok with my 4B pencil. I just draw things I want to draw in the way I want to. Once I bought canvas and I draw using pastel crayons like the ones elementary school students use. The material or everything else looked shabby. It was not professional drawing. (laugh) I just like drawing.
As a model, you usually carry yourself with this star-like look. What kind of style do you like wearing?
I usually like clothes who give this neat and heartwarming feeling more than fancy clothes. I wear a lot of clothes of the knitwear, man-to-man [?], cardigan type. This Spring, I tried to be daring by wearing vivid colors because I thought they looked nice. However… well, I’ve realized there’s definitely a limit to what once can wear. And I really don’t wear clothes with fancy patterns. Printless neat clothes suit me.
If you have a designer brand you prefer, please introduce it to us.
I really love foreign brands, but if I were to choose a Korean designer, my favorite is “Teacher Kim Seo Ryong”. I have so much respect for him. The tailoring itself is really awesome. There’s this strong and organized feeling, so when you wear his clothes, the “form” just comes out. When you wear something, it must look good. (laugh) His clothes really feel that they were made for me. His style is close to the style I’m looking for, so it’s my favorite brand.
Do you have a piece of clothes or a fashion item that you particularly love?
My leather jacket is very precious to me. (laugh) It stretched to fit my body as time went by. I’ve been wearing it for so long that I feel that it was made for me because I’m a bit uncomfortable with borrowing and wearing other people’s clothes. The clothes I wear the most must be comfortable first and foremost. I’ve had my leather jacket for a long time, but I don’t get tired of it. Looking at my jackets who stretched and matched my figure means that we’ve spent a lot of time together and that makes me happy. And more than anything, it never goes out of style, so it’s good.
You probably have your own way to relieve the stress. If you have a life motto you keep repeating in your heart or a driving force that gives you energy, what is it?
When I started working as a model, I went through very hard times and that’s when I read this book. In this book, I read this saying “God only gives the pain you can overcome”. These words really gave me strength and it still does! I keep them in my heart. When the people I love are going through a hard time, this is what I always tell them. I say this all the time to the people around me, so they’re a little bit sick to hear it. (laugh)
Through “Friend 2” directed by Kwak Kyung Taek, you’re the new Jang Dong Gun! You’re about to make your debut on the big screen. Tell us more about your ambitions and goals in the cinema field.
I watched the movie “Friend” more than 10 times. It’s a movie I love to the point I even know almost all the lines said by the main actors and the supporting actors. The words “Friend 2” and “Kwak Kyung Taek” really got me excited. And I still have the same enthusiasm as I’m getting ready to shoot the movie. I’m working hard to prepare this, so I hope peole will anticipate and show us a lot of love. I will work really hard, so watch it a lot.
To finish this interview, if you could write a short love letter to your fans, what would it be?
Hello, I’m Kim Woo Bin. The temperature change is quite severe, so many people got a cold. I hope you won’t get a cold because “health” is the most important thing for me. I hope you will always be healthy and happy. Thank you so much for always supporting me and showing me love. I think working hard to show you a good image of me is the only way to meet your encouragements. I was on stage during the 2013 Seoul Fashion Week. Right now, I’m diligently getting prepared to shoot the movie “Friend 2”. I worry a lot and make efforts to show you a better image, so please anticipate. I will greet you with a good image. Thank you so much. I love you!
t/n: I did google to see if it had been translated, but I didn’t see anything. I know it was pointless to translate this more than a year after it was published. Besides, he’s saying what he had already said a billion times… I’m in my Woobinazing phase because he’s been busy shooting his movie and there aren’t many news about him.