Credit: Korea Bazaar
Chinese Translation: 樱之荼蘼
English Translation by sukkiesfanncusa
Bazaar 2012 October Issue
Title: The Moment of Facing Jang Keun Suk
July in Paris, the gloomy weather is all around; August in Shanghai, had scary encounters with saeseng fans; Jang Keun Suk appeared with clean suit in a coffee house at abgjeondong. Face to him, during the time, prejudice, selfishness and bad idea all cause different characters of him, we shared different stories, but his sincerity is the only one.
Author: 진행/ 김민경 (freelance)
Photographer by Zo Sun Hi
If you typed “Jang Keun Suk” to your computer screen, you can’t find a start for the interview. In the time of hesitant, in order to centralize we arranged 5 min game time. What is the hot news in entertainment business today? When the mouse stopped at “news update” and “popularity” ratio, immediately, “Jang Keun Suk in Girl’s Clothes” was the one. With smoky eye shades, even the nails polished perfectly and the gesture that as “she” can fly away by a whistle. Definitely this is a “beautiful girl”, as Jang Keun Suk self claimed “more exciting (transformer)”. He was the director of this. Called himself “Garyu (girl)”, he posted this on twitter for 3 min, it was already on the news all over the place. With this picture as a start point, I clicked my cursor behind his name which before I wasn’t sure how to continue, and sent out what I want to write about him. Jang Keun Suk is a kind of person that the photos maybe others are afraid to expose but rather to hide, but he will take picture by himself and throw to the world. Thanks to him, an actor who has thoughts, a singer who touched audiences on stage, I don’t feel burdened that I need to package him with all the words that usually show on the paper. From Paris, where they looked for vehicle for photo shoot, to Shanghai, the third Cri Show tour, then the coffee house where we were finishing this interview that was put aside because of the Paris trip. In past 3 months, I saw, I heard, I felt and even occasionally peeked “a no reservation story” of Jang Keun Suk, and the difference between “Jang Keun Suk as a person” and “Asia Prince Geunjang”. In stead of pre-designed lines, he would be more interested to the descriptions in the brackets; he will accept this article I think. But honestly, I don’t know why, before I publish this interview, I feel the anxiety coming to me that I may need to go to him to repent sincerely.
When the plane door was about closed, Jang Keun Suk came in, he wrote his name on the final passenger list. During more than 10 hours flight time, he came to economy class twice where his staff was at. The curtain is like a steel screen as separation, he left his business class and run through the narrow aisle, the first thing he said was:” From Gangnam to airport, I used 30 min “flew” here. Surprise? I was late for boarding, so I rode on the Korea Air cart at the airport.” Even with this tight schedule, but he managed to post the picture of him with his managers riding the airport cart on twitter. And put words “Have you ridden on this?” to announce his Paris trip. He sat on the handle of the photographer Zo Sun Hi’s seat by aisle. He didn’t say “excuse me I’m late” but rather be proud that “Aren’t you surprised that I catch the flight to be with everyone?”
The situation was suddenly a star appeared in economy class, there were some commotions in the passengers. But in fact, Jang Keun Suk’s skin failed to their expectation. He has this physical characteristic that his body swollen will all show on his face, till 3 or 4 o’clock pm his face will recover to fair and clear and till then he will be like an artist “glowing”. Although is not necessary I have to give a “plain face Jang Keun Suk” as a gift to my readers, but Jang Keun Suk didn’t even give me the choice of words. Before when you feel the difference between the real stuff and what’s normally on the cover page, one of his staff gave him a glance “better go back now”. Jang Keun Suk wasn’t happy about it:”Does an artist have to be special? It is only a profession and we are human too. Why we always need to be handsome, beautiful? That’s no fun.” I thought he would hide, but he did not. If he knows how to disguise, there will be less hypercritical looks towards him. This kind of regrets only belongs to the people around him. Jang Keun Suk doesn’t carry this with him around. Is not that he doesn’t know the way, but he tosses away the “manual” after he read it. His action is always so direct to the point.
It was in last year, he got on stage to congratulate to Ms. Kim Ha Neul who got best actress award, Kim was his acting partner in the movie You’re My Pet which was also about to release. He was trying to easy Ms. Kim who was crying and nervous, he used his wit to help the situation. But he got critics as” You think this is Hollywood?” Normally, to be modest and shy consider a courtesy at award ceremony. As in Korea, a country which value old traditions so much, Jang Keun Suk no doubt is something else. To Jang Keun Suk, he is not used to often keep in a low profile and saying:”No I’m not… it’s alright…” But he is also not being uncontrolled on self expansion, and swaggering all around arbitrarily. Even he keeps moving, at the time when he wants, he will come to the place where he was at. For this part, there are lots of people criticize him meanwhile there are very few people attack his acting talent. After “You’re Beautiful”, “Mary Stayed All Night Out” and “You’re My Pet”, one after one, even these role choices have been questioned to ingratiate for favoring Japanese and Asian markets, as this year is the 20th anniversary of his debut, it will not leave a big blank because of this. Look back to his other works, he played roles were very different to his age type. TV drama “Huang Jin Yi”, movie “Happy Life”, TV drama “Beethoven Virus” and movie “The Itaewon Homicide Case”, none of them the roles matched his own age.
“Many people are worried that if I intend to choose some acting roles with tendentious. I don’t really have this kind of thought in me such as “I will give all myself to what people expect me to.” But like needs to balance with demands, supplies should be balanced. We can’t against “The principle of the market”, right? In life when you live between choices and focus, I actually pretty much manage my value successfully. At least I gave audiences the fresh acting that still with hot steam on. So is not like that I don’t have marrow of work.
During the stay in Paris, even there was not one day with ideal climate and nice weather, he never complained about it and he had to always button up his coat to get warm. Someone even questioned: Is there a totally different “Our Paris” and “His Paris?” He really had so much fun. He made new French friends everyday. From the hotel on the way to the restaurant, we walked with him on the street just like those blonde girls did. He saw some fans that had followed him since he arrived at the Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, he didn’t just lower his head and say “thank you” to them. The first greeting he said with 3 sentences:” Am I good looking? You’re beautiful too. What’s your phone number please?” Oh dear, I don’t think that everyone believes that he would really want their phone numbers, how can you speak like that? You can definitely get refreshed by his words and be your best. He responded to people who are nice to him with his own “Jang Keun Suk Style”. The fans were so much in love with this star, who did shuffle dance with them, who took pictures with them. But Jang Keun Suk knew very well what’s his real position here.:”Is not like that you are holding a board with my name on it, then you’re my fans. These people come here because of Kpop sensations, they might be the fans of an idol group. Even they just be here as the masses, but next year I will make them to be my real eels and that’s my goal.”
Surprisingly, he understands so well where his position is. In the documentary which was broadcasted at the beginning of this year, he said that he knew very well about his big popularity difference between Korea and Japan. Just like ride on a roller coaster. Sometimes he will fall down by the air rotation rule, and, only in the cycle he can keep his exciting feeling at the same level. Jang Keun Suk enjoys the cold and sharp look that people give him. Inside him, he is doing the air rotation himself, his glamorous sense and plain sense are paired together, he tried to keep them balanced. Maybe for most people, the commotion and glamorous are favored, but for him he knows by heart how to have plain sense. Korea is conservative country, as an artist Jang Keun Suk has strong “feeling action” inside of him, there is “only one” Jang Keun Suk, and it would be not common that this “only one” becomes to a new icon. It is not important to judge if Jang Keun Suk’s path is right or not. Before he left Paris, at hotel waiting room he plugged his iPod to the speakers and started to play party DJ for his fans. Seems those torn your eardrum heavy songs are his songs. So this is important: no matter how bad weather was in Paris, but the weather of Jang Keun Suk was “a nice sunny day”!
After the first Cri Show 2 in Seoul on July 7th. Jang Keun Suk started his Cri Show 2 Asia Tour to Yokohama, Japan, the third stop was Shanghai. That was the first time I saw Jang Keun Suk on the big stage. I didn’t go to Japan to see how he does in Japan after he became Geunjang. In Shanghai I saw a real singer Jang Keun Suk. I got confirmed by that moment. From “Beethoven Virus” and “Hong Gi Dong” OST I got to know his voice, personally I like it. His low voice is really good with love songs, it can bring enjoyable timbre to your ears. When he debuted as a singer, he was on the top of Oricon chart. (note: Let My Cry single album) I thought he hit jackpot. But I didn’t have enough prove to question his singing. No matter what, maybe compare to slow love songs, (rock songs) suit him better. “I don’t know how to use those trained singing methods, in order to rule a two and half hour long show, I need to have more diversities. The most important thing is that people pay good price not just come to see Jang Keun Suk standing like a singing tree up there. Cri Show’s highlights are its splendid views and the story line keeps the show going. As singer Jang Keun Suk, his nature is an actor. On the stage I don’t want to lose the opportunity to mix both identities. The story starts as singer Jang Keun Suk and ends as actor Jang Keun Suk. Let’s say this, Jang Keun Suk debuted as an actor then also became a singer, even he is not perfect but definitely he doesn’t want to go easy by just playing safe. He is using his talents from both identities to work out the best. As one person plays two characters, is fun to watch the two emotions going at once. I don’t want to force two totally different characters to become one, that’s not what I mean. It doesn’t matter which identity is more or less. You will find balance inside your heart.” As an artist, on Jang Keun Suk’s stage, he uses his acting skills to expand his track. From this process, underneath is a sumptuous show as the balancing cross to both.
That night, there were 10,000 people filled in Shanghai Mercedes-Benz Art Center, during the show you could hear some people in audience speak fluent Korean, made you think if this is really in Shanghai. “There is a reason I like to use Chozer or Zikzin this kind of words. I want to have something like “Hi” “Hello” that people love to say it all the time. Start from eels, then these words used widely by eels, so one day even people who are not my fans may use them too. I don’t have the plan to become people’s ambassador. Culture can be spread and absorbed not related to languages and thinks. People say to Hollywood stars ‘I love you!’ to Hong Kong stars ‘Wo Ai Ni (I love you in Chinese)’ people who love Korean stars would say ‘Salanghey’.” Even he is already at this position, even he is very popular now, but Jang Keun Suk is still not used to the real situation. When he was out in Shanghai, there were more than 50 cars/vans of fans following him. (It is true, that was dangerous even more than in the movie). They had prepared the disguised vehicle, but still they had to cancel the celebration after the show. Not only that, the restaurant they reserved have been surrounded by fans, cause the traffic jam. Suddenly Jang Keun Suk became “A foreigner who disturbs Chinese public transit”. When fans encountered with the security guards, the Chinese police came, 4 lines of traffic had stopped, as requested by police, the staff had to go back to their hotel. As security reason, he had to leave Shanghai a day earlier. Jang Keun Suk posted on weibo to express his concern and asked fans that they can follow him, but please do not cross the center line, if it is like what happened yesterday, he will not be able to come to China to do shows since the local authority won’t approve it. He thought that was proper suggestion for the fans. Next stop was in Taiwan, those like car race followers were much less. At the press conference, he went back to his own nature: I said not to over center line, but I didn’t say that you can’t follow me. Keep safe and come to follow me, Taiwan!” This is Jang Keun Suk, this is Geunjang style.
In Paris, Jang Keun Suk was an emotional actor, he shared his story; in Shanghai, as a singer that he was still trying, he has proved that he present a great show. After these two cities, I was even more interested in him. I keep following him until he asked me:”Do I have to this cheeky interview?” I asked him come to the coffee house. It was more difficult than I thought to bring him there. Find a quiet coffee house, just on the Rodeo street center. Wearing a classic suit Jang Keun Suk walked to the place instead of driving. People see him on Rodeo Street might just think that he has some scheduled event. Recently, he is busy and has lots of meetings, he has prepared a few sets of suits. So he played a “CEO Game” at office, after work on the way back home he posted pictures and brought himself as the topic of the talks.
“If I need to use all my fortune to replace something, I would like to buy “time”. I watched movie “In Time” played by Justin Timberlake. Just like in the movie, if I can buy the time I need, I think that would be great. All the child stars had theses experiences. Even we were confused, we still had to act; in order not to get scolded, we learnt how to read people’s faces. I know those days made me like this as today, but I don’t like to look back and go back to that part of time. I think “God is fair” Even my time was taken away, but it did give me a stable living. Human, you just can’t get everything.” When he was the leading actor playing in the TV drama, there was not even a week he can have but still on the contract, he insisted to put Monday and Tuesday no shooting schedule unconditionally in order to win some time for himself. He set his schedule 2 or 3 times longer so he could go to college study as a student. He wants to protect this for himself, he doesn’t want to get any interfering from his schedule to it. He has lost the time to be with his friends at teens, now he doesn’t want to lose it again. At his 20s, he was back and forth between hope and hopeless, it has not completed yet, and he doesn’t want to miss the only chance he has.
After became Geunjang, people expenses and consumes over his image, for this, someone give him the look “Jang Keun Suk is not stable”. For this kind of opinion, does he have some sense of crisis or not? In fact that’s Jang Keun Suk’s own issue. For those sharp critics, surprisingly Jang Keun Suk listened carefully. “Even I feel hurt inside, but to me, those opposite comments, they made me more on alert, they also build me up. It is impossible to let everyone likes me. I’m not a People’s Actor, I’m not a People’s younger brother. The only band-aid to help my wounded heart is the ones that even more malicious than before.
People start to lose their own freedom because of other people’s looks at them. All the negative critics to a person also mean others start to pay attention to you. Before, a famous “new” description to him is “Jang Keun Suk’s empty momentum explosion”, it was first started on his CY website. All he wanted to do was go to Paris, standing on the Avenue des Champs Elysees in front of Arch of Triumph, have a bottle of wine in one hand, and paper in other hand, say it loud as Parisians “New York Herald Tribune.” Suddenly, his CY website visitors increased so much, “in fact” he said:”I wasn’t aware of the reason. So the problem was the wine; then why Paris? why New York Herald Tribune? these are the triggers, to think about it now, it was empty momentum. (laugh) This time on my Paris trip, I wore the similar clothes like last time, once again I fulfilled my empty momentum promise, and this mocking to myself (to what I have written) I felt very happy and interesting about it.”
During second half of last year, for a few months, Jang Keun Suk fell to a long, cold, sad, lonely tunnel. Maybe you can use the word “depression”. Even this may not be enough to describe it. It just can’t be defined by one word to his complicated feeling. At this world that you can be drawn by people’s spit, Jang Keun Suk who worked for 20 years in the business knows well, it is impossible for him not to know how to survive in this game; how to do to make people like him. His weakness is that he understands everything so well, but he can’t find right answer to it. The difference he has with people who is in the same age as him is getting bigger and bigger. Is it the gap of popularity or ability? I’m not sure for the right answer, but one thing I can be sure. Jang Keun Suk doesn’t follow any other people’s path. Even he walks on this road alone and runs to a dead end; even it is a very difficult path but he won’t let anyone get ahead of him. Jang Keun Suk as a man who hates be bored and trivial, there is no way for him to refuse to walk on a road that may have the brightest future.
Before I finished this article, I sent a text message to him. I asked him so what I have been fooled by Jang Keun Suk. Here is his reply:”The part that you all think I’m a bourgeois. I live in a life like everyday I’m in a war. That’s total opposite of what you thought of.” Jang Keun Suk always says that he likes to thinks at opposite side of himself. So the answer to that I think is we are fooled by Jang Keun Suk’s “real heart”, the heart that hidden under his mischievous talks, his “empty momentum” moves.
Editor’s Note: Here is the link of the movie he mentioned in the article In Time, for more information about the movie, please click.