[September 2016 – Elle] Kim Yoo Jung – Pretty even without trying – Interview


How should I call you? Miss Yoo Jung? Little Yoo Jung? I don’t mind either. Call me the way you want to. I’m mostly called by my name when I’m on a set.
In <Moonlight Drawn By Clouds>, you play Hong Ra On who dresses up as an eunuch. Although there have been dramas about a woman dressing up as a man, none has never featured a woman playing an eunuch. The scenes among the eunuchs are a lot of fun. I shoot most of my scenes with actors, so I call them “hyung-nim”. It’s my first time wearing men’s clothes, but it’s actually comfortable because I don’t have a girly/lady-like personality.

I thought you were a girly girl, but you said it’s awkward for you to act cute.  My mom is easy-going. She’s with me most of the time when I’m on a set, so I think her attitude influenced me. Ever since I was a child, I could never forced myself to be coy or to try to make others like me. I think my personality has always been this way.

In this drama, you’re not someone’s child version. You’re the female character leading the story. How does it feel? I feel a big sense of responsibility. The drama has been a hot issue before it even aired. To be honest, it’s burdensome and scary. I wonder what will happen if the drama doesn’t meet the expectations. As the first day of filming drew closer, I lost confidence. My acting hadn’t been criticized, I hadn’t been in a scene that made me feel awkward, so why did I feel this way? I wondered about it and at some point, I also realized that I had been craving to do well. I was like “this must be a success, there must be something I show to others for it to do well?”… Talking about it with the drama staff, my mom, my friends, older actresses I’m friends with made me feel more at ease. They told me “just enjoy what you do like you usually do, everyone believe in you so why can’t you believe in yourself?”. This made me think that acting when I don’t trust myself is betraying the ones who believe in me. I thought I shouldn’t be conceited, but that I should have self-confidence.

Do you enjoy filming? To be honest, it’s very hard. The weather is quite hot these days. I wear a hanbok, but I must play a man, so I must wear a compress bandage on my chest. It was so difficult to put with it the first day of filming that I wanted to run away. However, I made up my mind and I realized that I had fun filming and seeing the people I’m working with. I’m happy each single day lately. This project is like a gift. The staff, the actors, we’re all filming and enjoying working together. I hope this atmosphere will get conveyed to the viewers when the drama airs.

Did you become really close with Park Bo Gum whom you’re filming with? He’s really nice to me. We’re really like an older brother with his little sister. Before we began filming, we met to read the script together and had a meal in order to get to know each other. However, I was so shy that we couldn’t really get close at that time. When filming began, going through this struggle together made us had a sense of familiarity toward each other. And it’s not just with Park Bo Gum, it’s also with Jin Young, Kwak Do Young and the other actors playing eunuchs. We’re comfortable like we’re all family.

Is it boring to hear that you’re pretty. Not at all! “You’re pretty” are words that always make you feel good when you hear them. However, I want to hear more words like “you’re charismatic, you’re charming, you’re humble, you’re polite”. Because I feel that I’m really this way if I hear these words. Like when people around me say “you’re pretty, you’re pretty”, I make efforts to be even prettier.

Have you ever thought it’d be nice to be born as a boy? Yes, sometimes. There are things I cannot do as a woman. Just like there are things women do but men can’t. The gazes saying women must be coy, must be prudish are uncomfortable. I’m not good at pinching my legs together. My behavior is more like a tomboy’s. I actually communicate really well with men.

If you could be a man for a day, whose life would you like to have? Jung Woo Sung-sunbaenim’s? I would try be a handsome man to meet beautiful women (laughs). It’s just a thought for fun. I’d want to become my father.

Your father? Why? I think a father can be the person who knows the best what family is and the person who knows it less because you will never become the other person, so you can’t know his thoughts or his feelings. It’s not just my father. I want to be my mom, my sister and brother too. I’m curious to see what my family thinks, how they see me, how they love me. I’m a woman, so I will probably become a mom one day, but I will never be a dad. [Living one day as a father] It would make me know everything about the responsibility and the burden you must bear as the head of family. I think that’s why I thought about my father.

A lot of your Instagram posts are music related. I like listening to songs and I like singing along. When I’m obssessed wiht a song, I listen to nothing else but this song. What I enjoy listening these days is the song “Fix You” by Cold Play which I put on Instagram not long ago. And “Home” by Michael Bubblé. I also listen a lot to movies OST.
What else do you like? What are your other hobbies? I enjoy taking pictures. I take pictures of buildings or landscapes, or people with my Polaroid camera. And reading my horoscope! I make sure to read it everyday! It’s not that I believe everything it says, but it’s the feeling that a change can happen? It said today that orange is my lucky color and once I came to the set, I ended up wearing orange outfits, so I said “oh!”. There’s one hobby I particularly enjoy. It’s reading restaurants menus. When I’m home, I look up tasty food points and I read every menu. It’s hard to find time to look it up myself. I must check my weight too, so I can’t eat everything like I want to. I think having to watch my weight ever since I was a child and to go on a diet made me greedy about food. Reading menus keeps me satisfied.

Are you also interested in fashion? Yes,  I like wearing nice clothes. I have a casual style like wearing a t-shirt with jeans. I don’t really like showing skin, so I don’t wear short sleeves or shorts even in summer. The weather is hot, so that’s why I wear this outfit (black training pants with a black hoody t-shirt). I like picking out an outfit and going out when I have to meet someone. When I don’t have a meeting, there’s no reason for me to dress nicely.


Do you have a lot of close friends? I don’t have a lot, but I have my classmates and friends I met while working. When we see each other, we talk a lot, we go out and have fun sometimes, but we don’t see each other often. I’m not the type to contact others often. I spend most of my time at home or I’m with my mom and my older sister even when I go out. However, when something happens or when I’m really struggling, I contact my friends. Although we don’t see each other often, this actually gives me strength. It’s awesome.

Did your adolescence go smoothly? I wonder if you went through a stormy time… Hm… I did, but I think the big wave has passed. Things are quiet now. It’s more like the wave gets a little bit bigger sometimes if the wind blows strongly?

Do you think you’re mature? There is probably stuff I’m mature about and some I’m not mature about. However, I hate maturity. I read that living as a mature person isn’t interesting. If being mature is about accepting everything in the world, I hate it. I want to keep saying “why? how come?”. I don’t know if my young and lacking self is the only one thinking this way. Of course, when you’re mature, your acting will show maturity, but I don’t feel that your acting will be original and optimistic. You must probably keep wondering and asking questions about yourself in order to keep bringing something new to the characters. I wonder if being mature means that you have a definitive answer to everything.
You debuted when you were 5 and you’ve been acting ever since. When was the moment you felt that you’ve improved/grown? It happened twice. I grew/improved a lot while filming “Dong-yi” directed by Lee Byung Hoon. I grew a lot taller (laughs). I was asked to come and play the friend. He kept criticizing my acting. I even cried because it was too much emotions to handle. This actually helped me a lot because I started on my own without being taught. Before this filming, I only did what the directors told me, after “Dong-yi”, I ended up figuring out how to get my own interpretation, my own thoughts as I read a script. I shoot my scenes by mixing the directions I’m given and what I think the character should do. The second time I felt I improved was with the webdrama “Love Cells”. I really enjoyed shooting season 2. I realized that my voice came out naturally and my emotions got bigger and I was better at expressing them. If I can say “acting was fun” before that, now the fact itself of going to the set makes me happier too.
Acting, is it something you can’t live without? Acting is something rational as well as emotional. I feel that I will disappear if I suddenly stop doing this job that consumes my emotions and my energy. Of course, there are times when I struggle and I want to quit. I may complain and say “I’m tired and exhausted”, but I also think “will I be able to feel such happiness while doing something else?”. While I was shooting a commercial with Ryu Seung Ryong-sunbaenim, he recommended me a book. It’s a book called “Emotion course/exercises”. He even wrote a word on the first page. It says “acting is about constantly being emptied of and filled with your feelings. Keep your spirits up on this tough road and walk down the path of being a good actress until the end”. Reading this moved me and really cheered me up. I realized how hard it is to get emptied of and filled with feelings. It’s something I became aware of recently. Still, I also figured out the happiness of having my emotions filled again.

You’re 18. Do you want to be 20 fast? I don’t. I’m very sad that I don’t have much time left in my teen years. I wish time would stop right now. My situation is that I’ve grown up being watched and judged by a lot of people ever since I was a child and I think I let go a lot of the happiness of that time of my life. I got cold feet or I worried a lot about stuff that happened or about the future, so… I’m still like that sometimes, but I’m satisfied with who I am right now and I’m trying not to give up on the happiness I’m enjoying right now.

Who do you think is the most charismatic among your peers? Someone worth to be called the icon of today’s teenagers.  While I was MCing for a music show, I felt that idol singers were truly awesome. Some of them were actually younger than me. Being an actor is also a tough job, but you must have a strong heart to display your talent on stage during a short time like singers do. Watching them working so hard behind the scenes for this short moment on stage got me thinking they were really great. The time spent waiting and getting prepared [to start a career] is really hard to deal with, but it’s amazing to put up with it and to keep running toward your dream.
It seems that you can become a teen icon.  I’m thankful to be seen this way, but it’s also a big burden to carry. I met a child actress one day and we greeted each other briefly. She told me I was her role model and she even admired me. I didn’t know there were young people who liked me, who admired me, who thought they wanted to be like me. The moment I heard that, I thought to myself “you must get your act together” because if I waver, it’s not just about me, I will hurt also those who get to dream as they see me. I must do well.

What is the thing you want to own the most? Hm… I think there’s nothing in particular. I don’t mean that I have everything. It’s just that there’s nothing that I feel I should absolutely have because I feel very happy filming these days. I’m in a good environment, I have fun with good peole, I’m doing the thing I want. If there should be one thing, it would be the secret on how not to gain weight no matter how much I eat (laughs)?


Translation: @thesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com



4 Comments Add yours

  1. Sunny says:

    Wonderful interview. Thank you so much for translating. She is so amazing!

  2. yolu says:

    wow she is really amazing and mature

  3. Sunshine says:

    Kim Yoo Jung is indeed so mature beyond her age. Thank you for this translation, Sunny!

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