You must be on planes a lot because of your overseas activities. Do you always stay awake like that?
I have a phobia about flying. I don’t sleep and I’m nervous, so I remain sitting most of the flight. In the meantime, there are also times when I enjoy being on a plane because it’s the best way in the world to get some quiet and relax “me” time.
This trip is over once we arrive at Incheon airport. Did you enjoy it?
Everything was fun! Wasn’t Canada’s weather a bit fickle especially during this trip? Right after it rained, the weather becomes bright again as if this rain was just a lie. I even enjoyed watching the fickleness of Canada’s weather.
What did you like the most about Canada?
I completely fell for British Columbia’s variety of sceneries. This harmonious image of seeing Nature and the city as one. Each place we went to had a different charm to the point it’s hard for me to think all happened in the same week. These 5 days went by in a blink of an eye. It’s sad. Each staff member has a distinct and unique personality and I enjoyed meeting each one of them.
Do you feel at ease in places where not a lot of people recognize you?
Because I’m free. I was able to walk around and go everywhere in Canada to my heart content, so it was nice. Grandville Island, Robson street, I just walked around everywhere. I was able to express my freedom as much as I wanted to. I think I was able to gain even more many things through this couple of days off combined with the photo shoot.
I’m talking about it now, but I admire how you were nonchalant about the sudden rain and stayed focused only on the photo shoot.
A set is also something very important to me. It’s where I spend precious times of my life, where I make beautiful encounters with nice people. Isn’t the staff staying busy and working with all their passion for me? What I feel for the staff on any set is always a feeling of gratitude. When I think about this, the changes or situations that arise on a set aren’t big problems for me.
Have you always been like this? Doesn’t it make it things harder for you some times?
I think that’s my nature. I cannot not have a sense of responsibility because being able to take on a lead role and being invited on amazing trips like this are about being an actor people trust. I think fulfilling the trust placed in me is one of my obligations as an actor. However, one thing that is clear is that I’m enjoying this trust. To me, it makes me feel like I’m always earning something through this process.
Everybody knows that Lee Junki is an actor who works hard. Don’t you feel forced to always be good and always want to be good?
It’s true that I want to do well. Because I wasn’t born as a gifted artist, I must always make efforts. It’s a job based on common efforts made by several people and it gets expressed through me in the end. This is my job. It’s through me that the viewers see everything all the staff worked on behind the scenes. That’s why I must be good. This is how the passion put into the work off camera can get the best result.
One thing surprised me during this trip. You’re quite well-informed. From social issues to earth science, there’s nothing you don’t know.
It’s just that I focus on communicating with the staff, so that’s how I’m able to learn many things. Pretending to know things that I really don’t know anything about… I hope people see it a way for me to loosen up the serious atmosphere. You’ll probably notice, but I run out of things to say easily because it’s just shallow knowledge.
Isn’t it a photo shoot to let people know about the official “return of Lee Junki”? What else do you want people to know with this photo shoot?
It’s true that it’s my first official activity. It’d be nice if this photo shoot could show actor Lee Junki with a more carefree and healthier image and if it could make people anticipate my follow-up activities a little bit more. I thought this photo shoot was a good opportunity to convey this hope of mine.
It was exciting to see this image of you for these past few months. To us you’re obviously actor Lee Junki. Yet, here came the news that you were number 1 on the Oricon chart. That your fanmeetings are like a pop star’s concerts. How do your overseas fans perceive you? With this only image of you that we have?
Actor Lee Junki, star Lee Junki, it doesn’t matter how the fans love me, they’re the reason of my existence. I think it’s important to always stay thankful and keep trying to communicate with them. That’s why I did many fanmeetings after I got discharged from the military. Instead of withdrawing myself from the world, when I have some free time, I’m trying my best to meet my fans directly. I don’t know long I will be able to do this, but I like this kind of communication.
You also released a single in Korea. You’re a good singer. I wonder how much do you practice.
I’m not on a real singer level. I’m lacking, but I like branching out in new fields. Rather than being a passive actor, I want to be an active actor who is flexible. I dance and sing to communicate with my fans. It’s the only reason. Of course, someone who has no interest in me will definitely not know. Unless you’re my fan, I guess it will be hard to get the VIP treatment.
Isn’t it awesome to rank number 1 on the Oricon chart? It even happened that you occupied the first 4 ranks? How did you feel?
It was crazy! I think being able to experience something like this as an actor is a huge blessing. I was happy and proud.
Your fandom is close to what idols’ fandoms are. I mean from the passion they show.
True. To be honest, actors’ fandoms usually don’t have apparent activities or aren’t passionate. They appreciate the projects “their actor” do and it’s their way to boost his energy. However, my fans started changing at some point. They started expressing their emotions vividly. It’s not easy for an actor’s fans to be like this. That’s why it surprises me, makes me happy and is interesting to see.
I wonder if you weren’t the reason for your fans to change in the end. This is definitely something that makes you special. You must have a lot of hidden stories.
What actors do between two projects don’t really bring attention. However, I keep doing fan-related activities between two projects. I think that’s what makes me look special, but to be honest that’s all there is to it.
I didn’t think there would even be fans at Vancouver’s airport. The fan we met earlier at the airport said he/she loves so you much that he/she started studying Korean. How does that make you feel?
I live telling myself that I’m a [Korean] culture ambassador and this mindset never changes. I’m Korean. It’s an honor if someone from a different culture loves my country’s culture and language through me. This has become some miracle-like experience that I see everyday.
Whenever you’re asked for a picture or an autograph, you always say “sure!” “why not?”. Are you really okay with this?
It’s one of the specificities of my job, so how can I be uncomfortable about this? Of course, I’m not always happy about it, but if it’s about sharing something, isn’t it better to be cool about it and accept it? Because it makes them happy. I think of it in a positive way.
You just keep talking freely. People around you must be worried.
If you have a bad mindset, no matter how attentive you are, you get attacked. You do need self-control at some extent, though. I like the way I express myself. I’m living the lonely life of an actor, so what am I supposed to do if I can’t do the things that I want? Being like this makes me feel less lonely. That’s also the reason I use Twiter. I’m really thankful to have that.
Lee Jun Ki is a man who has it all. What is the driving force that makes you running forward?
I don’t have big dreams. I hope more people will watch my projects. It’s an everyday process.
So you have a lot of money now. You said you didn’t need a Lamborghini, but if there’s something in this world you’d want to have, you would probably be able to have it…
There aren’t that many things that I’d like to own to the point of being very excited about it. Putting aside the new products I get early, I think my life is quite dull. I’m a Gangnam hikkikkomori [t/n: like an otaku, someone who never leaves his home].
I know many “let me be” techniques, but I think being a “Gangnam hikkikkomori” is unusual. However, isn’t it a problem if you decide to have some fun?
It’s not I enjoy this life 100%. I’m very lonely. I think it can’t be helped. It’s not easy for me to meet new people anway and I’m a Busan guy, right? After I graduated from high school, I got used to living alone.
I was able to hear a lot of your personal stories as we traveled together. Are you and Jackie Chan close like brothers?
We were in the same agency in Honk Kong. He told me to talk to him comfortably, so I called him “kkeo” [= hyung] and I felt that people around us were surprised. So I called him “ddakkeo” [= big hyung].
As you became a star, you must have gotten more and more occasions to meet your idols or talented people in any field.
These people inspire me. For instance, Jackie Chan is really a charismatic and talentend person. When he calls, everybody comes to him. He doesn’t drink but makes efforts more than anyone else to make sure people are having a good time. This image of him is so charismatic. The first time I got invited to a private party, I wans’t planning to go because my Chinese isn’t good. And Jackie Chan told me in Korean “let’s have fun”. Meeting people like him is enough to be happy. I’m able to learn many things and talking with them make me reflect on myself.
They’re at the center of this stars world. You feel that you really love these people you stand by and who take care of you. Are you also the type to take care of people no matter what if they become one of your people?
I respect and love my staff. It’s not just them, I respect and love anyone I work with. I know it’s their sacrifices and their passion that allow me to shine. Thanks to them, I don’t feel like a lonely human being. Of course, the number of people who took advantage of this side of me isn’t little. They must be punished by Heaven. Haha. Well, things like that can’t be helped.
Well, you’re in your 30’s now. You held your birthday party not long ago. Are you passing through the different stages from being a teen, to your 20’s?
After my school days, I volunteered for friendly roles. When I was in my teen years, it was the hard-working cutie with a lot of innocence. In my 20’s, it was the charming guy burning with hot passion. That’s how I see it!
How would you like to spend your 30’s?
As I’m getting older, I hope I won’t lose my innocence and have the soul full of various emotions. Of course, I hope my acting gets deeper and deeper. And more than anything else, won’t I be more charismatic as a man? Don’t men shine once they turn 30? And I’m a first-class groom recognized in Korea for his body and heart even for doing his active duties in the army in the 1st category.
This Korean manhood that makes it hard on the staff who haven’t gone to the army yet…
I was already going to the army and didn’t go through another examination because I wanted to be in the 1st category. When I was in high school, I was evaluated to be 1st category and that’s the category I did my military service in. If you’re a man, you must go to the army.
You’ll do variety programs from now on, so you’ll probably have a lot to say. Won’t you be asked about the army?
First of all, I said I wouldn’t do variety programs for a while. The army, well… Despite gathering all celebrities, even if it’s just for three days, the spell works and they just turn into ordinary persons. When I had my first meeting with Shin Minah for the drama, I was all loud and went “I get to see Shin Minah who I had only watched on TV when I was in the army!”
I heard you have a reading session for your drama right after we arrive. From now on, you’ll hear the question “why did you choose this drama?”.
It’s reallt a distinctive drama because people who know me will feel a fresh determination. It’s not heavy. The sincerity and the meaning this project carry are clear. Besides, this was something hard to see from me until now, but this drama is full of romance. You can look forward to it.
What was the ultimate reason for you to choose this drama? The script? The director? The writer? Shin Minah?
All of these reasons. More than anything else, I was attracted by the freshness this drama offers.
Did you miss being on a drama set and work like crazy? There are a couple of roles you had to pass on because you went to the army. I think it’s sad and unfortunate.
I really, really, really missed it. I missed it so much that all my unit watched dramas. There were dramas too good to miss and seeing the great acting the actors showed was a daily motivation. As I’m about to start filming a new project, I’m very happy.
Do you have the instinct to figure out right away now which role is made for you and which role isn’t?
I don’t know. It’s about if I like the role and want to give my all. And I think about if I can actually play the role.
“This is a role I can play”, what aspects make you feel that way?
There are projects when I receive the script and they seem to be very interesting projects that will be good. However, the role must be also suitable for my age. For things like this, when it’s not something that can’t be achieved throug my efforts, I don’t feel the desire to play the role.
The fact that this is your first post-army project must be stressful. Like, will this be your best role?
I think the obligation to match the audience’s choices about anything is the destiny of an actor. “Iljimae” was a good role to start pushing back my physical and mental limits. I had lost my voice when I was filming the drama, so I had to do some dubbing for the DVD release. However, I was scared because the “Arang and The Magistrate” writer also said there would be a lot of action scenes. I wonder if choosing a heart-warming and innovative project isn’t the explanation for my return as an actor. To be honest, I’m very nervous and the pressure and fear aren’t little. I think I’m about go back to this intense lifestyle. This drama is the only thing I’m thinking about these days.
You eat well and you don’t sleep! So how do you recharge your batteries? By any chance, Red Bull?
Hahaha. I like energy drinks. I suffer a little bit from insomnia. To be honest, sleep is a precious time. I’ll sleep forever when I’m dead. It might be because of my loneliness, but sleeping never makes me feel comfortable. I recharge my batteries with compliments. I enjoy the work that I do and when I get compliments, my batteries get recharged.
So what do you think about when you lie on your bed?
I think “must fall asleep fast. sleep, where are you?”. I think about this and that. In one word, I’m unfocused.
So photo shoot work aside, I got to see Lee Junki who dances or who can speak English and laugh with foreigners, or takes pictures while running by a cliff, who loves joking around. I didn’t know you were so funny. I had to come to Canada to find out.
It’s just that I was enjoying this set’s freedom. I don’t want to lose this cheerfulness. Of course, people who don’t know me might be surprised to see me like this, but this is what I like.
Translation: @onesunnylady – thesunnytown.wordpress.com