It was a bit hot during the photo shoot? Do you like summer?
I like summer. It’s really a good season. I don’t really dislike the heat. I enjoy taking a walk outside because I like the sun. I’ve come to hate winter when I’m filming. It’s really cold when filming happens in winter.
Is there a summer you particulary remember?
I’m doing a drama after 2 years and a half. I remember every summer of these past 2 years and a half. Each year, I spent a month or two in Hawaii, so I felt staying in Hawaii almost all the time because I thought to myself that I had none of the stress I felt in Korea. I’m usually someone who doesn’t worry and goes around freely. However, tne moment the plane left Korea, the moment it took off, I felt a sense of freedom. When I say “summer”, Hawai comes to my mind. When I say “winter”, I think about the icy cold windy New York.
Do you have a season fever?
It would be nice if spring and autumn were a bit longer because they’re already over when I’m trying to enjoy them. I think I’m more affected by the way I live than by the season itself. I completely go back and forth because of people, because of the relationship in my life.
Between being on the set of a drama many people watch and being on vacation where you can meet only the people you want to meet, which one do you enjoy the most?
Everything is different. It’s hard to say that one thing is better than the other. It’s not a matter of choice. To be honest, creating relationships with the countless people working on a drama set is something hard to do. It’s really one of the hardest things to do. So yes, it’s comfortable to live while seeing only the people you want to see, but I’d end up being complacent and caught up in my own world, right? That’s why I think appearing briefly then coming back suddenly is the best thing to do.
Actors usually say nothing but “being on the set is a lot of fun”. They don’t really say it’s hard. Aren’t they untruthful?
I’m trying my best to like and enjoy being on the set. However, it’s never easy to spend a few months with people and try to take the lead as you try to create good relationships with everyone on the set. That’s why I admire all actors because they must be friendly with directors and other actors they don’t really know, they must understand and like each other to be able to work well. Many things are up to the actor.
What do you think you would have done if you were not an actress?
My major in college was “handicraft”, but I wasn’t able to graduate. To be honest, I think a job where you have to sit at a desk without moving wouldn’t be interesting. I’m curious about it too. What job would I have done if I hadn’t been an actress?
How about being an editor?
It’s nice! I wonder if being an editor isn’t similar to being an actor. I think both jobs are like walking on eggs. You need to have skills, but people are important and it’s about networking to meet people and you get hurt a lot. Still, it’s worth it because it’s a job that can give you extreme joy every now and then.
There are indeed beautiful moments in this field. Moments like the photo shoot or interview we had today. Moments like this make me love this job. It seems like something you’d feel a lot too.
I’m happy when I feel an outcome in detail. Working a little harder and not just pass over something is something I appreciate and if it happens, it makes me emotional. I also do this job because of these beautiful moments. The staff doesn’t sleep for a few days. They hold these heavy lights, they run here and there before the sun goes down because they try their best to make my face look prettier, even if it’s just a little. Seeing people like this is really touching. It’s a beautiful thing.
I heard you had a lecture today. What are you teaching?
I have fun with seniors in college. Haha. When I was first offered to do it, I rejected because I wondered what help I could possibly give them. However, as time went by, I thought about it a lot and I worried a lot and I realized there were many stories I could share. I started giving lectures because I felt there were many things I could talk about to seniors. I did a lecture called “Audition technique”. I know Go Hyun Jung-sunbaenim gave a similar lecture at Dongguk University. This semester, my course was about individual acting practice. I had fun with my students today before coming here today.
What do you do to have fun with your students?
We drink coffee and we also have lunch. Because of my drama, I missed a couple of classes this semester, so I sometimes invited my students on the set. It’s more about having a discussion than specific lessons.
What do you talk about?
I often tell them not to get hurt.
Oh that’s important indeed.
How many people, how much these kids will hear it? That’s why I tell them this. “No one has the right to rule. No one but God can judge you.” I tell them you never know how your future will turn out so don’t let people hurt you. This job is about acting connection, it’s about the relationships you create with other people.
Doesn’t the process of teaching others also make you learn about yourself?
You’re right. Sometimes, it feels like what I say to these kids are words I say to myself. I clear up my mind as I give my lectures. Being in front of a camera is very scary at first. That’s why I tell them to get used to the camera. We actually play around with a camera, we also do some editing work.
Is there a young talented actor who caught your attention?
They all have something fresh to offer and they’re all talented in my eyes. I think everything is over the moment you’re stuck in the “A=B” mold which has been happening these days. If you compare with what was going on a few years ago, now no one says someone can’t act just because this person is an idol, no one says actors must have good “diction”, right? I don’t worry about things like this and throw them away. There are actually times when I feel it’s a good thing. Acting is all about trends.
How are you dealing with this trend?
I’m always trying my best to question myself and to keep an open mind. Am I thinking like what old people think? Am I showing “old” acting? My answer sounds like taken out of an ethics book, but I think I have to empty myself and that’s what makes me able to receive everything and fill this void again.
What kind of student were you?
I think I was a good student only up to middle school. I read a lot when I was in middle school. I sometimes think the books I read back then brought me here. I didn’t think to myself “I must become an actress”, but I used to say crazy things like I want to study at the Institute of humanities at Seoul National University.
You debuted in the drama “Sunflower” in 1998. I still remember vividly how you were back then. Although it was a supporting character. I had the feeling you’d do well. You played a psychiatric patient, but despite your shaven head, you were beautiful, innocent. It was even quite an active role. There aren’t really supporting characters with a charm like this.
You’re right. Such good characters are rare. I still have the script that is turning into shreds now. The name of the avtor and the name of the character who plays it are written on the first page of the script, and it was written “Kim Eun Jung” next to my character’s name “Moon Soon Young”. People may think it’s a typo, but it’s not. The one who got the role first was Kim Eun Jung. Because of the scene where the character shaves her head, she gave up on the role and it became mine.
The scene where she shaves her head was already in the script? The legend says the role didn’t require for you to cut your hair, but you did it anyway because you were so into the role.
Hahaha! That’s not the case. The scene was in the script since the beginning. This drama is what opened the road for me to have a bright and comical image. It’s a character that gave me the opportunity to take on the path to look bright and off-the-wall. I found out that people also like this kind of character.
“Lovers in Paris”, “Marrying the Mafia”, “Forever The Moment”, you were the queen of success. However, what I remember the most is “Blossom Again”.
It’s a movie that really grows on you. It’s truly a movie for women, at 10,000%. It’s a movie that was created at the wrong time.
It can be seen as a movie about the relationship between a teacher and her student, but I thought the movie was about the “growth” of Jo In Young, the lead character. What’s your take on this movie?
I just got goosebumps. You’re right, it is a story about growth. It’s the story I needed. Director Jung Ji Woo is the incarnation of detail. After I got the role, a blackboard was delivered. My character is a private academy teacher, right? If you’re a teacher who teaches maths for a living, you’re supposed to know how to speak while writing on a blackboard, right? That’s why I practiced every day how to write on a blackboard. Then I had this friend about to quit med school who came to the filming departement and this person gave me math classes. For the scenes at home, the director told me to come with the clothes I wore at home, so I did. Then he asked if I had no clothes with holes in it. I remember replying “director, I have no clothes with holes in them”. And he also told me not to look at myself in the mirror, not to comb my hair.
This movie allowed us to see you acting again. I mean, you had no reason to accept this role back then. Wasn’t it a movie worth to be chosen by a top star as well as a rom-com queen?
To be honest, I read the scenario and I went “what is this?”.
So why did you choose to do it?
The one I was back then had spent all of her confidence. It’s a role I played after “Lovers in Paris”. Once I finished “Lovers in Paris”, I worried a lot about how I should live, what else I’d be able to show. And that’s when this project came to me. That’s why I tried everything the director suggested.
Didn’t you ask the director why he chose you?
I didn’t ask. However, I felt that he wanted to use an actress like me who rose to fame quickly and show that I truly improved. I can even think that the focus he was able to use was bigger because I portrayed a woman who was the opposite of a lead female character. I guess it was about using this easy feeling of familiarity I give. Jo In Young, my character, isn’t a woman who thinks the world revolves around her, but she’s a woman who does what she wants as long as she doesn’t hurt others. Bringing up this movie after such a long time… This movie is really meaningful to me.
You’re currentfly playing Duk In, the lead character of the drama “Make A Woman Cry”. Isn’t it a new role for you? Why did you choose this drama for your return?
It’s very rare to come across a female character like her in a drama. It’s always about the man helping the woman. There aren’t many female characters who solve their problems on their own. It’s usually the lead male character who solve everything eventually.
Until now, you played many characters that are happy even without a man in their lives, but a man luckily appears in the end and they’re even happier. However, Duk In is a lead character which thinks having this man around her doesn’t make things better.
Yeah, it’s a character which can live well even if she’s alone. She runs a restaurant in front of a school. And things actually get complicated when her relationship with him start. However, it’s interesting. It’s also attractive to use force to overpower men. She uses her force to overpower men through action scenes, so even if it’s physically exhausting, there’s a catharsis. It’s a fiction, but it makes me able to beat someone bigger than me!
Duk In is a character with a lot of sadness. Her kid died, her husband cheats on her. How is it to play such an unhappy character?
I think that’s why they gave me the role. Would it be too depressing? I wondered. This time, I asked them why they cast me. They said it’s a serious and complicated story, so it’d be difficult if the approach was too heavy. At first, this character was also very hard for me. Especially the fact that she lost her kid. It was hard to act because I can’t even imagine the sadness that it is. I also had to attend action school and I realized the drama had begun at some point because I went through the process through my body. Every now and then, there are things like this that make your body move first. I think it’s nice to say honestly that something is difficult when it is once you tried to confront yourself.
Still, it’s a drama, so there will be a happy ending, right?
It should be this way, right? I realized it’s all about the words “forgiveness and healing”. I think Song Chang Ui’s character and mine must deal with her kid’s death issue and there will probably be a few more issues between them.
You’ve played various roles until now, but all of them had happy endings. What do you think is the condition to be happy?
I think happiness is only about one’s satisfaction. A few years ago, I think I was worried too about to show unconditional happiness. However, when I think about it now, the first thing to be happy is being completely satisfied with yourself. I think what’s important is to look inside my heart to find out how happy I am or not.
If you had been given the choice to do just the photo shoot today or do the photo shoot and the interview, what would you have done?
Hahaha! This question is really embarrassing but interesting. Hm… To be honest, I think I would have done only the photo shoot. I like talking and I enjoy connecting with people, but there are times when it’s nice to leave things in the margin, without using words.
You sometimes hate the fact that what you say remained because it’s written, right?
Right, that’s exactly the feeling. However, if I’m the reader, I do think I’d want to read also an interview after looking at the photo shoot.
An interview is about two people who don’t know each other and talk as if they had known each other for a while. However, aren’t there any moment when what you say is better organized when you speak with people you don’t know? Like you think to yourself “so these are the thoughts I have”.
You’re right. It’s a feeling similar to what I feel when I’m giving a lecture. “These are the thoughts I have”. I will feel it too when I go home once the interview is over and when I read the interview afterwards.
Isn’t this interview a way to certify who the actress Kim Jung Eun is like some kind of scale, a growth ring would?
We talked earlier about how I hate words I say remain because they’re written. When I read this interiew after a while, once it feels like the memory of a scent, I’ll tell myself “ah, I was in this situation back then”. I’ll remember the time, the scene, the mood, right? I change a lot according to the project I’m working on or the situation I’m in.
Do you dream to be an actress for many more years like Kim Young Ae or Yoon Yeo Jung?
If it’s possible, it’d be the best thing. If people like me for a long time like they’ve been liking these two women, it would really be awesome and it would make me happy. There are no better actresses than the two of them.
If you keep working for a long time like that, we’ll definitely get more opportunities to meet. When you do your next photo soot with “Allure”, you will also give us an interview, right? I will give you the choice.
Hahaha! I will do it. The interview, I mean.
Translation: @thesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com