[December 2014 – Marie Claire] The discovery of Song Jae Lim – Interview


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When I met you about three years ago as a rookie actor, I was wondering if I should raise a cat or not. You told me about the cats your were raising and you convinced me. One of these cats appeared in “We Got Married”.

It was Olla. It means “hello” in Spanish. I don’t know if it’s because of the name, but this cat is good at greeting people. It’s a Norwegian Forrest Cat, but I think it’s mixed. It weighs more than 7kg. My other cat is Leon. It’s a short-haired cat. Clearly, this one is mixed. It’s more cautious, more cat-like. Very shy.

I know that men who raise dogs are different from those who raise cats. I think men raising cats are definitely more delicate.

I think you’ll find more energetic men among dog owners. It’s something that would match dogs. You must walk dogs, but cats hate being walked. I think the difference in the way you choose a pet depends on if you’re active or you like staying home.

What about you?

I like staying home.

What do you do at home?

Days go fast for them because they just keep meowing except when they’re sleeping. Playing the saxophone is a hobby of mine. I’m trying to learn a lot of songs that can be sung. I can’t read a lot these days, but I usually read, I think about my career, I space out.

You don’t seem to be a saxophone guy.

Right. I used to play the guitar, but I wanted to play a special instrument. An instrument that isn’t played by a lot of young people.

An old school instrument? (laugh)

An old school instrument. (laugh) One of the reasons I enjoy music is the contrast for the future. I want to enjoy my retirement days in a romantic way. And there’s nothing but music for me. I want to play this instrument at that time. The second reason is that it’s very good for vocalization and breathing because it requires basic abdominal breathing. That’s why I swim too.

I can understand your other reason, but aren’t you too young to learn something because you don’t want to get bored when you retire? Where would you find a 30-year-old man thinking this way?

There are men like this. First of all, there’s me. And I think there must be a lot of people like that. When I compared myself to the ideal image of me I have, I thought about the things I don’t have and I’m going down a path that will fullfill what I’m lacking of. My hobby is something I can do right away. Aren’t other things what I can prepare in advance for the future? That’s why I started.

What is the scenery of Song Jae Lim’s retirement?

The West Sea’s sunset glow and a small 2-story summer house in a complex. I like the glow of the West sea’s setting sun.

It’s a lonely scenery.

I like loneliness. I’d rather enjoy doing lonely stuff than being distracted by people making too much noise.

You’re totally qualified to raise cats.

Right. (laugh) I will definitely have cats even then.

It was unexpected to see you on “We Got Married”.

It was unexpected for me too. This offer was unexpected. I thought about it a lot until we started filming. I wanted to show something that is more than my acting. I needed something like a turning point. I feel that people remember me as the taciturn character from “Moon That Embraces The Sun”. I wanted to attenuate this aspect and show another side of me. This good opportunity was no coincidence.

“We Got Married” is about pretending to be in real life and watching how true relationships unfold.

It’s about sharing my vision of what a relationship is.

Aren’t there some aspects you feel repulsed by?

I can’t say it’s fake, but what you see isn’t the real me either. It’s not really lies either. I think my image comes out with no adjustment. I didn’t join with some specific setting in mind. I thought I had nothing to lose. I portrayed taciturn roles three or four times in a row, so I was ready to do anything to get rid of this incorrect image of me. Despite me saying you could see a real side of me in “WGM”, I wonder if this would backfire. Still, I’ve always been the type to know pros and cons of a situation.

You often use the word “job”. It seems that you see acting as a job.

When I started thinking of acting as a job, that’s when I started loving it. That’s when I started wanting to be good at it. Right now, I think of it as fate. Between the time I was 27 and 30, I worried a lot. I wondered if I should think about doing something else because this job takes a lot of time. This was how it was for me before. It’s my job now. It doesn’t matter if it makes me famous or not, it’s the job that makes me take responsibility for my life. I accept it fully as my occpuation.

Was it your turning point?

That’s how it was before I turned 30. I did a lot of thinking when I was 27. It’s the age when it’s not too late to start something and despite the fact it’s not too late, you’re scared to start something else. As I was iddling my time away, I turned 29. I had invested a lot of time into acting and it had given me many dreams. While I couldn’t properly enjoy it, I actually dared to have dreams. There was nothing I had studied, I didn’t graduate from college, so I was ready to go back to change job. I felt a bit pushed toward that and I just told myself “go!”. It was the only thing I was good at, I learned a few years on set. I forgot about it all and decided to do something else. That’s when I made the choice. I said let’s make this my job.

What do you like about being an actor?

I don’t know how to explain it. What I can say for now is that it’s about being with the people I work with on set.

It doesn’t sound like something I thought I’d hear from you.

I’m really interested by the people I work with. And it might be because this a generation that can’t be separated from mass communication, but it seems that I unconsciously found interest and enjoyed things like video culture, video making. When I tought about acting as a job, I started studying a little bit on my own. To be honest, it’s a field that evolves and changes way too fast. Cameras are used for almost two years before they get changed. When we filmed the drama “Chuno” we used a new cinecam called “red one”. Since then we had cameras from Alexa or something, it keeps changing.

That’s very unique. It’s my first time meeting an actor who talks about filming technique like this.

Really? I’m in harmony with the people on set, so I like speaking their language. I said earlier that I enjoy reading and that I want to enjoy it, but I don’t know if it’s me being lonely. I think that’s the reason I enjoy talking to the staff with their own language and feeling like we’re colleagues in the same boat when I’m on a set.

You like being able to relate to people. It’s not something that can be done in an unilateral way. It’s about giving and taking.

Staff members don’t open their heart to every actor.

This guy, he’s such a wizard [?] (laugh).

Because it’s not something we can do together because I said I want it to. In the end, being an actor is a job that requires to be chosen first before you portray a role. It’s not because I choose this person that we will end up working together. I think it’s about destiny at some extent.

Some things go, some things stay.

Because we all have at least one memory to share, it can be brought up continuously or not or just anytime, it’s a nice evidence that I’m living my life. We work like a group on a project. And then we meet again. It’s small little fun like that.

People who think a lot about relationships are usually lonely people. If you think this way, then I think there might be voids you can’t fill. Voids that aren’t filled through your relationships with others.

To be honest, there are many voids I can’t fill, besides human relationships. Aren’t we like holey cheese? That’s why I can constantly crave for projects to do. And then we want to feel a sense of belonging when we’re on a new filming set. That’s why when I’m asked about my acting, I say I want to be prolific. I want to work constantly.

This is still how Song Jae Lim thinks. It seems that there’s no project that makes you realize what you accomplish. It’s been a while since you debuted. You must have figured out how to show the acting you want.

First of all, my short-term goal is to try easy-going roles. Simple settings, naive characters with no fancy speech. I’m not a sophisticated person. I don’t know about long-term goals. We convince ourselves through logic, but we fail all the time. I want to be an actor who shows a wide spectrum one day. WI want my acting to show this unique flavor that I have in mind and that is connected to the times when I think about abstract feelings.

What’s important in human relationships?

Trust. Unconditional trust is important in a relationship between a man and a woman. Trust is also the nature of the relationship between a manager and an actor.

Are you the forgiving type?

I’m not. Even if it brings damage, the one who did wrong must clean up the mess. It’s like a double-edged sword. It’s even more important in a relationship between a man and a woman.

It’s been a while since you’ve been in a relationship. So that’s how you joined “WGM”?

Should I make the jump and get married right away?

Do you want to get married?

Next time I’ll be in a relationship, I want to date with marriage in mind. I think I’ll be selective. That’s why it’s getting less and less easier for me to fall in love.

What kind of person are you attracted to?

Someone with a code that matches mine, someone I can talk to, someone I can understand and who can understand me. I think there must be a lot of understanding in married life.

Understanding means embracing many things about the other person.

I sometimes say it includes embracing my own selfishness.

Do you plan to embrace her selfishness?

I’ll say it again, but it’s not a unilateral thing. My bowl must be big. In order to do so, I must take care of my earnings because marriage must be realistic. When I can take responsibility of someone, I’ll be able to marry her.

Men are so funny. Is this all about who is taking care of whom?

I think it’s one of Korean men’s obsessions. I don’t mind if my wife doesn’t work. However, I don’t want to get married and being unemployed.

What kind of man would you like to be?

People told me to get married to someone who would enjoy listening to me. There’s no fun in this. Someone who I can talk to, someone I can communicate with about my opinions. I’m sure this is how two people get to learn how to listen to each other. There must also be understanding.

Have you already had this kind of relationship?

Never. I was too young. Was it because I was not capable of being in this kind of relationship, or was it because I was too young? I feel like break-ups taught me a lot and made me thought about the kind of person I was while I was in a relationship. I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes I made. The reason my relationship fell apart is because I had a lot of things to deal with on my own. I was around 27, I kept thinking about a lot of stuff and I wasn’t in a free mindset to make sure that I was being loved by this other person. My bank account was about to reach 2,000,000 won [t/n: like 2,000 US dollars]. What was I supposed to do? This was about being realistic. I couldn’t leave this aside and talk only about love. The one I was with said that love was enough to be together, but I couldn’t say the same.

Do you believe in love?

I’d rather want to say that I believe in people more than I believe in love. I don’t know what love is. Is it eros, is it platonic, is it Agape? I don’t know which aspect is love, but I think when you love someone, this aspect changes as time goes by. Do I believe in love? I can’t and I won’t. Still, I believe that love is something that changes with time. This change asides, love is about feeling and adjusting to many emotions. The love we experience when we’re young is different from the love experienced at the age of our parents. I think love is all these feelings. This is what I believe.

t/n: it was harder than i thought it would be because, as usual, he uses abstract concepts and I’m not too sure my English reflected everything he meant and what I understood.

Marie Claire
Translation: @onesunnylady – thesunnytown.wordpress.com

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