2016-01-01 New Year Interview – Full version
Original source: STARNEWS
English translation: Hazy Lee from ECI
“‘Yanghwa Bridge’ belongs to me. Dad used to be a driver, and mom a dishwasher. For their son, they came to Seoul with merely 200k Korean Won. This is why I need to work hard, to protect my family, and let them be happy.”
The interviewer used to think JKS is about impressiveness. ‘Branded sports car’, ‘Properties’ are words associated to him. ‘Asia Prince’ is also a modified glamorous phrase about him. That was the thought prior to the interview. However after the 1 hour interview, I totally changed my view. He is very frank, focused, steady, and very sharp. He has clear goals.
There are reasons to interview him in 2016. JKS went through tough moments last year. TVN variety show ‘3 meals a day’ had to go through the painful process of editing even though filming was completed. ‘Tax’ was the issue. Even though it was an error made by the Company, the whole world focused the blames on him.
JKS spent the past year as a student. He also completed his Masters studies (Hanyang University Drama & Film Faculty). He said “I felt the most comfortable when I am in the school studying”.
He is now the MC for Mnet ‘Produce 101’. JKS initially rejected the invitation in view of his studies schedule. However, Mnet waited till his holiday break. He is not only the MC for the show; he also had a supervisory role. A ‘National producer’ role, a total of 101 participants, only 11 will be selected.
“It’s a very interesting and challenging role. Giving them lessons, and helping them with the practice, liken an entertainment company. The kids call me Representative Jang, the staff too. The 11 are not chosen by me. They are selected through votes casted by the public. One of my goals in life is to develop an Asia Prince junior. In the process, I learnt a lot too. I met many good teachers, who taught me the practical ways which helped me a lot in my life. But to control 101 is really tiring (laugh)”
“Of the 101, there are some who, at first glance, shine like a star. There are some who think they shine like a star hence don’t work hard, which is such a pity. Really empathize with those who cried on the stage when they saw their undesirable score. Reminded me of the times I was young. I went to many auditions in many places, and encountered the same disappointment. The fact is — these do not determine the ultimate path of your life — at that time I felt it was the end of the world. It felt like I was looking at my own kids now (laugh)”
JKS debuted in 1992 as a model when he was 5 years old. He went on TV screen in 1997. This is his 25th year at 30 years old.
“Many people felt I was hiding from the screen since I did not appear on TV. The circumstance then wasn’t right for me to step forward to clarify anything, the flying swords that were attacking me, really made me panic. I continue working hard. When the show was aired, it was edited to show only my hair, and people would even made fun of it.
Till today, I have not watched the ‘3 meals’ I participated in. I saw the PD recently; he told me we will definitely work together again even if it was not that same variety show. I could persevere on as there are many who know and understand me.”
JKS added, “University life has taught me a lot. Many students in my class are working, and have achieved a certain level of success, but would still work hard to further secure their foundation. I learnt a lot from them.”
JKS mentioned he would invite his fellow classmates to a meal in school, but he didn’t get to pay every time. “I dislike giving treats as a precedent to gain favor or status; will pay only when there is the need. I felt giving a treat to my fellow classmates is out of courtesy.”
He heard when there is any artiste who skipped school, his name would be mentioned, “JKS is able to come, why are you not all attending school. hahaha”
JKS often donates to the school, helping those needy students.
“I remember when I was directing the short film, staff who participated in the filming, came and bowed and said “bro, thanks”, and I asked why. He said “it was bro who paid my school fees”. It was an indescribable feeling then, I didn’t know them, yet hearing that they were able to complete their studies through my contribution and participated in the filming as staff. I learnt the true meaning of Philanthropy.”
“Everyone says I am rich, but I only have 200million won in my bank now, and my car is rented (kekeke…)” and he began talking about his younger days…
“My initial goal was to earn money, when my parents came to Seoul with 200k won. Mom told me we can no longer stay in our hometown hence we came to Seoul. ‘Yanghwa bridge’ is similar to my situation then, dad driving a cab, mom washing dishes to earn a living. We have no house, and no money to buy school uniform. Since then for the next 10 years, our goal was to earn money, me too. To me, it was my role to protect my family and my act of filial piety. But ironically, we thought when we earned our 100k, it will be enough, but when you get your 100k, you want to earn 1million, after 1million, you want to earn 10million. There is no end to ‘desires’ in life, but one would realize there is no true meaning in pursuing so much money if he just blindly focus on earning them.”
JKS then spoke about his school life.
“I have a classmate who earned 600k won at the filming site, yet he would still work very hard to pursue his dream. Notwithstanding my status now, at times I feel undeserving compared to them. One easily loses out as there are too many outstanding students… One has to work very hard in order not to be overtaken. How long can one survive with a kpop title, most of the kpop is now history. My main goal now is to help others. The help is not merely through acting activities, but I felt grooming the next generation will be more meaningful.
Many artistes would donate quietly, and are then given the title of charity angel, but I feel one should shout out when in need of help. The help rendered may not necessarily be money, but should first identify what is needed, for example during the Japan earthquake, when asked what they needed the most, the reply was they were cold. Blankets! Hence I donated 15,000 blankets then – this was so much more practical compared to money. Many people will measure status or success through money, but that is not true, and I understood this fully when approaching my 30s.”
JKS last drama was 2014 KBS’s Beautiful Man, basically he has no drama for 2 years, and he himself is fully aware, but he has high expectations for his drama.
“Korean showbiz is a double edged sword. The drama I chose will be associated with money, and anything that is associated to money will be a danger in this era; an actor should focus on acting, and not distracted by counting money on the calculator. Looking back the past 5 years, I was able to spend ample time reading through and understanding the script for ‘You’re Beautiful’. However, after that, it was all about the millions of dollar that are appearing before the eyes. Capitalism in this society is inevitable, but being a cultured person (being in the world of arts) and to be shaken – it all boils down to self. I was 25, 26 years old when I became ‘Geun-chan’ in Japan, and earned millions in a year, that really didn’t help me (rolled eye).
Japan to me, was medicine as well as poison to me. My life was very lonely then, and had no one to turn to. I have no intention of entering China. The China market to me is too huge. Compared to acting in a Chinese drama, I felt I should first focus in Korea – to first be accepted and win the hearts in Korea before pursuing China, this will be the correct order. It’s more natural and unhurried. One can’t eat tofu while it’s hot, otherwise, will just throw it out.”
JKS indicated that his activities will mainly be in Korea this year~
“I received a lot of love in Japan, and held many shows, but I didn’t gain much, and did not earned a lot of money. Why? I always want to give the best stage to my audience, and will invest a lot on the stage designs. I wish to film better dramas in Korea, but now I have higher expectations hahaa — to film drama that will be successful.”
Being a Korean star, JKS who earned lots of love from his fans also talked about the danger in changes.
“I understand myself better than anyone, my looks, and my weakness, and know where my problem lies haha – so I am continuously learning. I usually do not hang out with other artiste, as those around me get hurt easily (laugh) Those who watched me play and play along will be in trouble, and naughty JKS will not allow his friends to get hurt. I have my own way of handling crisis. I do not have any issues in the society, no drink driving nor gambling nor drugs. I will stick closely to principles, and my managers around me are always there to ensure that too.”
For the past 5 years, JKS was probably an alien, not a Japanese nor a Korean.
“Wherever I go, be it long or short hair, male or female, Geun-chan or JKS, I got really confused myself, and I got lost in the dramas I filmed, and the news I read from Naver is all about properties. I had the fun I wanted, now I want to focus on the reward in the path as an actor – my 20 years is liken whisky which is fermenting – although not sure when it can be consumed.”
JKS doesn’t like dating but think marriage is good.
“Dating? I wish to date but am too busy, I don’t even have time for friends. There is a line in drama ‘Marry Me Mary’ which I fine very appropriate “You can’t like me”, and I said that to girls I met, but they would look at me strangely. I wish to get married soon, to have my own family. In my memory, when I was young, we were a loving family and have many happy moments. When the day arrives where I have my own family, I want to create the same. I already had my fair share of fun, those night clubs etc. are too dangerous.”
JKS has a new found friend to fight loneliness, his cat KiKi.
“This cat looks like a tiger (laugh). I was lonely one day and went to the pet shop thinking I will buy a cat, and all looks very cute as they would come running towards me. Only KiKi didn’t come, really has a character like me. She is a female cat, hence when there are girls who came for gatherings at my place, she would bite them and run away. I find a lot of fun watching KiKi, she loves to throw tantrum, and as a result I have neglected Suni, Suni’s position has been replaced by KiKi~~”
Although he was to be recognized as an actor, but as a musician, his dreams for music is the same as the past.
“Music has never been a mistake, as there is no time limitation, I can write in the car, when I am drank, but I can’t for TV drama, as that requires the coordination from the whole production team, to be completed in the film set and broadcast from the TV station. In comparison, music has more freedom, so I find it very attractive and meaningful. Deep in my heart, I want to act at all times, but that is not something I can decide. But music is different, I can do it anytime anywhere, and one who possesses talent in music cannot stop once started. Music is an avenue for me to vent, most people in Korea didn’t know I am into music as well, but in Japan they would identify with me since Deep, Band and EDM are doing music too.”
Why develop in Japan?
“Let me now explain why I headed to Japan. When we went to Seoul while dad was a cab driver and mom a dishwasher, I took on an undergarment advertisement, but we were still poor when I was in middle school. I had to decide whether to select science or art stream and since middle school, I was determined to go overseas to study as I was often made fun by schoolmates for the undergarment advert. They were all taking pocket money from their parents while I was already earning a living for my family, yet they kept making fun of me and I was upset. In the end, my mom had to set aside some money, I requested that she sent me to England or America to study, but we didn’t have enough cash and could only go to New Zealand.
The school is in a remote area of New Zealand, and there were only 5 Koreans in the school. I had more interactions with Japanese friends during sports and activities time. I had intended to go there and learnt English, but ended up speaking Japanese more fluently. At that time we shared about each other’s culture, I got to know about Takuya Kimura, he was acting in a drama at one moment, and appearing in a variety show the next day, and become an MC in another day. I was surprised, culture shocked! The structure in Korea at that time is such that an actor can only act, a singer can only sing – so I was thinking to myself I could do everything if I were to go Japan. In 10 years I have to go develop in Japan. I achieved my dream to have a show in Tokyo Dome in 9 years’ time. Truly thankful~”
JKS shared his secret recipe to becoming Asia Prince in Japan.
“People thought I became famous in Japan over the night because of a drama. That is not incorrect, but I also made a lot of preparation prior going to Japan. I first visited Japan when I was 20, brought with me 500k Korean won. I was able to converse freely in Japanese then, speaking the language of the land I first visited. People were shocked “oh, he could speak Japanese” – hence I understood then, if I continue to work hard, there will be results. I also started learning English at that time. Who knows I may go America one day and could use it? But at the moment, my focus will remain in Asia. I want everyone to think of Jang Keun Suk whenever Asia is mentioned.”
“The next 10 years will be recovery for me, and I will do my best to be an actor till the end.”
And he has another goal. That is to groom ‘Asia Prince junior’. He wishes to develop the next generation through his own personal experience.
“I have 7 goals in the next 10 years. One of them is to groom ‘Asia Prince junior’. Be it an actor, or a singer, I will help path the way. There is no pre-requisite. Only requirement is to work hard. Follow me step by step and be prepared to work and learn hard. A singer will have the exposure to perform along with me on my stage in Japan; if an actor, we can also act together in the same show. I wish to mentor JKS2, JKS3.”Share on Facebook