What did you do for New Year’s Eve?
I attended the MBC Entertainment Awards ceremony. Once it was over, I went to eat pig’s feet with the staff. It wasn’t a huisik, so we didn’t really drink alcohol. That day, I suddenly wanted to eat pig’s feet, so… I was in a good mood because I had received an award, so I said it’d be my treat. (looking at the staff standing nearby) However, there was much more than what I had thought.
I was surprised to see your image in “We Got Married” that was quite different from this taciturn and serious image.
Of course, the image you see in “We Got Married” is me. It’s just one aspect of my personality. “We Got Married” is a variety program, so there’s a theme for each filming session. When the discussion is serious, I’m serious. When the discussion is light, I joke around. What you see in “We Got Married” is not 100% of who I am because what is broadcast is a short and edited version of what we film. Things are very different. It depends if it’s a private place or it depends of the mood. When I talk about work, I’m always rational and I speak a lot when I’m at a bar.
How do you feel today?
I feel nothing in particular today. The only thing on my mind is that I must go to my kendo lesson when this photo shoot is over.
You’re a kendo instructor in your new project.
I lost a bit of weight because I wanted to show a sharp image in the drama. Losing weight isn’t as easier as it used to be for me. I think pants size follows your age.
I couldn’t read your Twitter account because it’s in Japanese.
I have a fanclub in Japan, so this is my Japanese account. I give updates to my Korean fans through Facebook and I use Weibo for my Chinese fans. I don’t have a personal SNS account.
Why don’t you have one?
I’m the one who personally write the current updates. I just don’t write personal stuff. If there are people who want to communicate with random people, there are also people like me who need to have a reason to talk to someone. I don’t want this well effect caused by these remaining texts because even if I write juste one or two sentences, there can be misinterpretation one way or another. I’m very careful about writing such things. When I post something on my fancafé or on my Facebook page, I write it down on my notepad first, then I edit it over and over again before I upload it. I can’t use SNS because I have this kind of personality.
You studied at Chungang University, so I thought acting was your major.
I was in the information system department.
What did you study?
I didn’t study. That’s why I’m an actor now (laugh). I didn’t have the aptitude for it. I think I was a victim of the universities’ thoughtless major combination system. During my high school days, I followed the liberal arts course, but I ended up going for the major I had cross-applied for because my grades allowed me. So the classes were more difficult than the sciences major and I could nothing about it. For instance, I had to take classes such as statistics. Although I’m really not good at maths.
Didn’t you change your major?
My grades didn’t allow me to change major. Don’t people say to have fun during your freshman year in college? So I had fun. After I finished my military duties at a company, I took the exam to change my major. I needed to have the TOEIC or the TOEFL, but I didn’t, so I wasn’t qualified. My college teacher told me not to have expectation because it wouldn’t work out even if I passed the exam anyway.
If you had been qualified, where would you have gone to?
I wanted to go to the Department of Biology. I just wanted to graduate and work in a lab. I had various dreams at the same time. I was young and thought I could do anything if I worked for it, anything would work out whatever I did. That’s why I tried to change my major, but I wasn’t proactive about it.
After going to college, you went into acting.
My first acting gig was the music video I filmed with May Doni. I was working part-time as a model at that time. I prepared myself to be an actor as I worked part-time. Working as a model made me greedy acting-wise. I actually spent a lot of time to find my way in the acting field. I was no acting student coming from some traditional background called the Department of Drama and Cinema. I bought the book for acting majors, for filming majors and I studied on my own. I studied various things such as lighting and scenarios.
So after working as an actor and a model, you suddenly went to Japan.
At that time, I didn’t have an agency to give me work. To someone who knows this field well, this route can be easy to follow. However, to those who know absolutely nothing, there’s this strong obstacle you can overcome no matter what you do. Before I went to Japan, I was in a model agency, got scammed, didn’t get paid, so I left. Then the next agency I joined fell apart. I wasn’t good at studying, modeling was the job I knew how to do, I could speak a little bit of Japanese, so I went to Japan to work as a model. I wondered if I should go to a cooking school while I attended a language institute and I went. And then, I went back to Korea. It wasn’t easy to live all by mysef in Japan. It was like studying abroad. I worked as a model, so I earned more money than the average part-time working student, but I had to pay school fees and my monthly rent, so I was left with almost nothing. Before I went to Japan, I invested time into acting and some director at an agency gave me a final call. That’s why I decided to come back and gave acting another try. I thought that this call was a good excuse to come back. That’s how I came back and I got my first project. It was “Flower Boy Ramyun Shop”.
And four years passed. You’re now a star recognized by many.
I still don’t think there’s a big difference if you compare my popularity now and before. People say to live and enjoy the present, but who actually lives while enjoying the present? We live while dreaming of the future. The future is about looking at our own ideal and moving forward. If we try to find a substitue to this ideal, we’ll always feel that we’re insignificant or there’s something lacking in our lives. That might be because I’ve always had this lacking feeling, but I have never felt satisfaction. The fact that a lot of people recognize me now, I don’t give it a big meaning. There’s what appears briefly, but I must only look at what I must deal with and move forward. Right now, I’m about to start a new project, so I must only look at this and go on. When it’s done, I will be waiting for something different. I had a long-term plan in the past. However, nothing actually happened how I wanted things to happened. Our predictions convince us through logic, but living through this logic we’re convinced of doesn’t help.
So what’s the conclusion you came to?
First of all, doing a good job at what is given to me now is my goal.
Did you think you could do well in a variety program?
I never thought I could. My partner was my biggest chance. When I signed for “We Got Married”, I decided to let go of everything. I’ve always been the type to make a clear distinction of what I like or not from the first impression. People who don’t like me will hate me even when I’m just lifting a spoon. People who like me will like me even if I’m just there doing nothing. That’s the reason I told myself to go for it and let go of everything and just go with the flow of the moment without trying to create a set-up or embellish things.
Did being a part of this virtual marriage program change your outlook on marriage or dating?
It didn’t. I think the same. My ideal type is someone I can communicate with and who knows about loneliness. Only those who have been lonely can receive love. Somone with an empty space can know the feeling of having this empty space filled. I wasn’t in a relationship for four years. While I wasn’t dating, I got to think about what I was lacking in, what kind of relationship I wanted and what kind of person I wanted to be for the one I love. That allowed me to breathe. I have projects to work on right now, so dating isn’t that important to me.
So you’re doing the drama “Unkind Women”.
I’m living a melo romance with the female lead and there’s also a love triangle. My character has this chic side and he’s rough but full of affection. That’s why I’ve been thinking about this character lately. First of all, he’s a kendo instructor, so he exercises. His image is built to create a “detailed macho”. Like he seems to be indifferent, but he knows what his partner needs? Or like he’s a detail macho man who knows the truth about something but look away for the sake of the other, or he’s like a delicate sangnamja [t/n: sangnamja= a man who can show his masculine side and his soft side]. I wanted to express the difference yet synergy you can feel between these two words.
You wanted to show this image and you wanted become someone like this at the same time?
You also have a little bit of this naugthy image.
“We Got Married” went for the +19 rating at the beginning… But to be honest, it was just because I was being mischevious and I was joking around. The articles only focused on the obvious stuff, so this 19+ image came out. I’m past 30, so shouldn’t it be a bit of 19+? I’m not 18 and there’s no reason for me not to do 19+ things. I’m not someone who has never experienced love. What will I try once this drama is over? First of all, I want to finish this melo project well and then I’d like to try a movie for men. Like a noir movie where you see the men’s sense of loyalty. It’s something I tried a little and I’d like to go in that direction again.
Today is January 2nd. Work aside, what is your personal wish for the New Year?
Personal wish? Hm…It’d be nice if I could reach the beginner’s level in Chinese. I must study Chinese harder. And can’t it be related to my work too? I don’t really care about things outside of my work. Ah, there’s one thing. I own an alto and I’ll buy a tenor saxophone. There are so many songs I’m able to play. Like “My Way”, “Moon River”, “If”, “If I Leave”. Anyway, my job is my number 1 priority. I have the boring life of a workaholic.
Translation: @onesunnylady – thesunnytown.wordpress.com