[April 2015 – Elle] Sexy brain Kim Ji Suk, “Problematic” Interview

Elle - Kim Jisuk
t/n: the title is a word play on tvN talk show “Sexy Brain Generation – Problematic Men” which is like a talk show/debate with male celibrities with “big brains”. Their nickname is “problematic men”.

Even without running a business for a living, anyone lives each day by selling something about themselves. So that got me thinking. Was what actor Kim Ji Suk decided to sell and what he sold were acting skills and potential, good instinct about a character. What he decided to buy on the selling list was more interest from the viewers and being favored by them? Seeing him in “Problematic Men”, it seems that the range of what he sells is becoming different. He’s branching out to sell himself. “The theme of today’s interview is “Business generation” because I was curious to hear about the strategy of Kim Ji Suk who dreams to be a top salesman”. It happens to be also the title of a book I read recently, but I think it describes your attitude.” “Ah, did you watch? Episodes 1 and 2? I was earnest while filming.” About his ability to solve his own problems, he said that “although there’s no right answer, there’s always a solution”. And his gaze changed a little as he revealed his self confidence. “I joined “Problematic Men” to overcome, to get 1st place. To express myself. It’s nothing else”. Before we really started the interview, I submitted him a problem about which kind of salesman he would be.

Which model would you like to be similar to? (Possibility to give multiple answers

1 Casanova who stole young women’s purity with his gifted power of persuasion and taking advantage of them

2 Mahatma Ganhdi who advocated the non-violence principles through his amazing power of persuasion

3 Bill Clinton who had a smooth journey up to the White House through his power of persuasion and even survived to a sex scandal.

4
Dalai Lama who accepts the heart of others because he adjusts cleverly his speech contents and his method to the audience in front of him.

With no hesitation, he selected number 1 and number 4. “The context seems similar. The fact that it’s about winning over people’s hearts. However, I was definitely going for number 1 before I heard number 4.” Time to hear his reason this time. “From a third party’s point of view, Casanova is a bad guy. When he’s with a woman, it’s not mutual love. Isn’t the real success about receiving the body and the heart at the same time? Casonova’s sincerity lasts as long as this moment they share. It’s the best role model. Instead, he must be good in the way to end things.” Turning down the question about the way to end things, he said “if I knew how, I’d…(laugh)” and, while he had an open mind, he still cut the conversation short on this topic as if it were close to his personal life. Still, he has this childish charm and speaks way too much for his own good when he displays his desire for winning about stuff that isn’t a big deal. He even bears himself haughtily as if he couldn’t deal with the fact that he’s similar to other people while not being someone special. This is an example.

There are also people who don’t dance at home even when they’re alone. Ah, dancing? You don’t mean a dance that I’m the only one to do? So like taking everything off and dancing?

Taking off what. I feel free when I’m naked in a space where I don’t need to be aware of anyone else. I’d look like a crazy guys if I did it everyday, but I do it once in a while, right before taking a shower. I put some music on and I do it.

I think the fun aspect of this works like a stress reliever. Is acting the ultimate destination of excitment? Why do you act?
Acting? It was my dream since I was a kid. I started because I had an inferiority complex toward my older brother, but I can’t undo this, so I want to do well now. Even if I sacrifice my all, I want to go for it until the end. And it would be even better if I get recognition. I hope my mindset won’t change until I die.

Has it already happened that this mindset got switched off? I’d rather say I worked without feeling a sense of urgency at some point instead. When I was in my 20’s. The turning point for most of men is their military service. And it was for me too because I changed once I came back from the army. It’s a 2-year gap in your life you can do nothing about. It’s a time when you can do nothing no matter how much you want it to. It turns into a space and time where you only think back about the time where you did the things you wanted. Before that, I thought a career was something that flowed naturally. However, I think now it can be the results of someone’s great efforts and there are many people who go through trouble to get a role, so I must set my enthusiasm aside to do well. And this sense of urgency grew.

Have you experienced bitter rejection? So many things hurt my pride. Before I was overflowing with hostility when I cheered myself up by saying stuff like “you just wait and see”, “I will do well”… Now, I just embrace the rejection as I tell myself “Really? Okay”. I think I changed in a practical way.

Are you strategic? I didn’t have a strategy all this time. I think my vision changed while I was taking a break from acting. My job is about selling myself just like I’m doing today with this interiew. Knowing any of my strengths or my flaws is the way to have a better chance to succeed. I used to think that it would be nice if I could sell myself only through acting, but I’m fine, I’m okay with doing even more.

How did you get to this point of view? Should I say that I thought about it during my 6-month break after I finished “Angel Eyes” in June last year?

You have filmed many projects. It’s true. Although I filmed “Cheongdam-dong Alice”, “Wonderful Mama” after “I Need Romance 2”, I realized that most of people only remembered my role in “INR2”. Once, the chauffeur driving me home actually asked me “I really enjoyed seeing you in “Chuno”, didn’t you do any activity after that?”. I said I just quit. (laugh) No matter how many diverse projects I do, the viewers only remember what they want to remember. I realized that it doesn’t matter if it’s a low-budget film or if I change my image, it is useless to be seen by producers if the audience won’t see you. So I thought about stuff like this once I finished “Angel Eyes”. I spent six months seeing only my friends and watching a lot of TV.

Do you mean you were depressed? I found out that even a man in his mid-30’s can experience growing pains. I had all these thoughts packed up all at once. Thigns like acting, my ego, my future, the path I’m taking. I got to think about many things. I tried to do some self-diagnosis and watch TV and I was like this actor did this, how would I do it? This person became a hot issue, this ground is fair.

This ground is fair? As time goes by, I think the situation is fair at some extent. When you find the middle between the opportunities given to you and the twists life gives you. That’s why you feel it’s fair and there’s hope. When I look at the actors around me, each one of them fits in a category. There’s the type willing to wait a few years until the role they want comes to them, there’s the prolific type because they don’t want to be forgotten. What about me? What if I know what my status is, if I know what my weapon is, if I find what to bring to the table because I figured out my strengths and my flaws? This is how the answer came to me. In order to work in an objective environment and with people who see me in an objective way, I left the management agency that was dear to me. I kept repeating to myself “should I do it even if I don’t dare to?”, but I learned to how to get rid of impatience as I carefully rejected projects I was offered.

So your standards to choose a project changed! A lot. If there’s a character for a list like yours that would go from 1 to 10, I thought I’d make a good mix of the ten of them and do projects people would talk about. However, even if it’s a lead role, it will be hard to sell myself if the drama ratings are 2 or 3%. People around me dissuaded me to do variety programs, but I chose to because I thought I’d be able to show a different image. Especially with “Problematic Men”, I had a good feeling about it.

Your EQ is involved Exactly. My EQ is really high. To the point it had to be lower a little. (laugh) Doing “Problematic Men” made me find a side of me I didn’t know. I think I’m showing different sides of me. Instead of trying to be funny, I think it’s not bad to give off a charm by bringing laughter out of being earnest.

Laugther out of being earnest? I’m completely earnest. It seems that I’m trying to be funny? It’s absolutely not what I’m trying to do.

Is having a sexy brain based on specification? I don’t think so. It’s the ability of being able to convey your own opinion by using logic. It’s the ability to convince with rational logic. I think this is what the program is aiming for.

You lived in England during your childhood, you graduated from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, you have your license to be a German language teacher. Could you imagine how much of a powerful part it could be? I couldn’t. To be honest, it’s embarrassing and it’s cringe-worty. However, my vision about it changed a little. I turned this aspect into a weapon like “okay, I did all of this, so is there a reason for me to keep it inside constantly?”. Instead, I must do it but not in a hateful, annoying way. (laugh)

Can you reveal your method to get a good feeling and your weapon? Before we started filming, here’s what I thought. “If you can’t grade up with them, don’t pretend even just a little bit that you can”. However, this program is very hard. When I walked into the studio, I was hit by this strange atmosphere. There’s no script, it’s like a place of knowledge bragging… I couldn’t lower my anxiety.

Are the consumers caught by your sales skills? I hope it is going like I wanted (laugh). If there are viewers who support me through “Problematic Men”, I think it will be linked to the fact they wonder if my point of view matches their. The expression “Sexy brain is very nice to hear anyway.

What is your usual method to target women’s hearts? My cheerfulness. It must be my cheerfulness that isn’t about playing a role. If I’m cheerful like that by myself, I will look like a crazy guy. And I’m good at listening to women.

You said earlier that “if there’s a character for a list like yours that would go from 1 to 10, I thought I’d make a good mix of the ten of them and do projects people would talk about”, is it the case with “Unkind Women”? Yes, totally! When I first read the synopsis, I thought “is this a Wed-Thurs drama? Seems like a weekend drama?”. When you think about it, the trend is going in full circle and the 90’s is the source of inspiration right now. I wanted to do a project that would go well with the expression “classic is the best” [t/n: he said it in English]. And when I heard Kim Hye Ja would be a part of it, I just had, just had to do it.

Most of the cast is veteran star-level with also Chae Sira, Do Ji Won, Lee Soon Jae, Jang Mi Hee. Sometimes, you must feel like you’re attending drama school, right? When I’m in front of them, I become really solemn. Even their approach to acting is different. Kim Hye Ja who leads the group is someone who will do something with sincerity until she’s satisfied with it. When I see this, I think to myself “I couldn’t reach halfway of her acting career, so what should I do?”

Isn’t a project that makes you able to see the difference between what’s real and what’s not? I figured out what was more important. In the past, even if I acted fake, I just went with it by pretending I wasn’t being fake. If I rationalized it by saying acting is fake anyway, now I think I realized how this thought itself is scary. The first of half of the drama is about the women, so I don’t have a lot of scenes, but I think being accepted for this project was a nice choice for me.

If you want to be a top salesman, you need 4 things: [mental] flexibility, conviction, perseverance, good instinct. Which one do you have? I have perseverance and good instinct. Flexibility and conviction are a problem for me, but I think my conviction changed here and there. Isn’t it natural for your conviction to change and to look back as you’re finding your way? Of course, I have a goal set, though. However, what is mental flexibility?

If you hit rock bottom, you will only take a few days to pick yourself up? Ah, this flexibility will be hard to get. I’m the type to keep everything bottled up inside my heart. I went to do some Chinese acupuncture because I often had a fever and I was told I had anger in me. I’m taking meds to bring my fever down. When you’re an entertainer, it seems you get stressed out because you can’t express yourself with anyone, you can’t let go. There are things you must keep inside and move forward, and you’re miserable.

What about you? I wish I were happy. I don’t want to make an extreme choice like Heath Ledger. If I feel this way, I’ll go to Thailand and run a fruit juice business.

Are you someone who wants to buy a lot of things? It was the birthday of a dongsaeng of mine [t/n: or his dongsaeng?] who is 10 years younger than me, so I walked around the mall to buy a gift. From home appliances to clothes, I didn’t buy a thing. That’s why I was happy on my way over.

Because all you need is to have your other half? Ah, that can’t be done without a woman in your life. I want to get married. I want to create this fence called family fast.

If there’s nothing you want to buy, is there something you’re proud of as in you’d sell it? Ah, what I want to buy now is what I wanted to buy then. Yes, I have something like this. Acting skills as well as good stamina. What I want to sell is sexyness. I have yet to show charms with sex-appeal. I definitely want to show it in a proper way one day.

I’m anticipating it. Please anticipate. I want to maximize this image. To the point people will go “that guy? Him?”. While I was filming “Take Off”, I tried to change my image and lost 10kg. People said “it’s him? That guy?”. That made me really happy. I want to feel this joy one more time.

Do you have a strategy? This is my problem. I’m always in the planning stage. I mean it’s like looking at the sky to get a star (?). I don’t know what I’m trying to say (laugh).

Elle
Translation: @onesunnylady – thesunnytown.wordpress.com

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