Chinese translation: KeunSukChina
English translation: Aphrael77
For Part 1, please refer to this post.
From “umemployment”, JKS learns that “life is about choice”.
In the previous issue, we shared about JKS’ debut as a model at the age of 6 and with the support of his beloved mother and family, he started his artiste life as a child actor. However, in the process of struggle till his success today as the “Hallyu Prince” in everyone’s heart, the process is far from smooth. JKS has experienced difficult circumstances from the age of 15 when he could not get any work, but also because of that tough period, JKS has gained much experience which paved the way for his future glory.
“What is important is not the performance itself, but how one accepts challenges.” His drama became the topic of much discussion and his debut single achieved the honour of topping the Oricon chart. Despite these results, as the “Number 1 Hallyu Prince”, JKS still has very strict expectations of himself.
In a recent interview, JKS has said that “I always work hard not to let my surroundings become one that revolves only around a domineering me, because in such an environment, I will gradually destroy myself and fall apart mentally.”
When JKS was studying in New Zealand for half a year and after that acting in “Nonstop 4” (2003 – 2004), he had fallen into such a situation. At that time, this drama series was proclaimed to be a cradle for newcomers and had indeed made many young artistes famous. In stark contrast, JKS had not gained much popularity after acting in it.
At that time, the unconfident JKS had asked himself more than once, “Must I remain in showbiz like this? I want to study in a university, I want to become an ordinary person.” JKS’ family and friends told reporters that the person who gave JKS much encouragement and support during this difficult period was JKS’ mother.
The people around him who became popular as well as the fact that he had started working from young became an ordeal to JKS. JKS tended to think too much and work himself into anxiety, but his mother encouraged and counselled him patiently. The level of mutual trust in their relationship way exceeded that of the usual mother-son relationship. JKS has never gone through a rebellious period. In the low ebb of life, the person who understood him most was his mother.
The significant turning point in his career came when JKS was invited to participate in a musical. To JKS who had always been active in television and advertisement work, the musical provided a whole new experience. After discussion with his mother, JKS decided to act in the musical.
A Korean scriptwriter said, “At that time, JKS was already in showbiz for 10 years. He thought too highly of himself as an actor and was overly confident, but when saying lines in front of the audience, his voice would tremble and his speaking was average. After he did some self-reflection, he made a decision to start learning everything from scratch.”
In another interview, JKS was asked about his feelings at that time, and he recalled, “Then, I thought that it doesn’t matter how people look at me. What is most important is what my driving force is. If I work hard, there will be returns. If I don’t, there would be nothing. The result is dependent on myself.” Upon facing this reality, JKS felt an irreplaceable happiness every day.
All along, JKS always says he started working since young and always listens to his mother when it comes to work. And acting in the musical ignited JKS’ passion for the acting profession.
Graduation from a child actor
In 2006, in order to gain more systemic knowledge about performing, JKS enrolled in the Theatre and Movie faculty in Hanyang University. In the same year, the Japanese-Korean collaboration in movie “One Missed Call: Final”, which JKS acted in together with Maki Horikita and Meisa Kuroki, aired in Japan. In the movie, JKS acted as the boyfriend of Meisa Kuroki’s character. JKS’ deaf and mute character required him to learn sign language. A movie worker said of JKS, “He understands simple Japanese, so the filming process was smooth. When I heard that he learned Japanese by himself, I was really surprised. Heard that he started reading “Norwegian Wood” and “Crying out Love in the Center of the World” in his high school days, and listened to music by SMAP and others.”
Besides this, JKS also acted in drama “Alien Teacher”. As his acting skill and popularity gradually improved, he was enjoying his university life too.
The reporter visited JKS’ university not far from Seoul city centre. Established in 1939, its past graduands included mega-stars like Lee Byung-hun and Lee Young-ae. With further interviews, the reporter discovered that JKS did not intentionally dress up himself and led a normal school life like other students. Comments from various students: “I often see him at the school canteen drinking coffee and having a burger for lunch.” “But his sense of presence is overwhelming. He has a unique fashion sense and attracts much attention in school.” “Even if we were far away from him, we’d notice this super fashionable figure and our gaze is naturally drawn to him.” “Bright red tight-fitting pants with the currently trendy VANS canvas shoes – he’s always at the forefront of fashion.”
During the school anniversary, JKS became the executive committee member of club event “Lounge H”, being the DJ and also joined in the dance. Another female student said, “But his free lifestyle only continued till the end of year 1. As he became more and more famous, even when he walked around on campus, he would create a stir.”
JKS achieved a breakthrough as an actor in 2006 in the drama “Hwang Jin-yi”. There was a period drama craze in Korea at that time; the rating of the most popular period drama even exceeded 50%. Different from other period dramas, the main lead character in “Hwang Jin-yi”, a drama with a beautifully magnificent style, is a woman. JKS’ role as the first love of the female lead played by Ha Ji-won (32 years old) earned him favourable reviews of his acting skill, and he also received a KBS acting award – a sign of his graduation from a child actor. Of the award, JKS said, “No matter where I go in future, I can tell other people that I am an actor.”
After that, besides winning the unwavering status of a newcomer actor, JKS could also be seen at various major awards ceremonies. However, JKS did not remain complacent about his increasing popularity, and at times even needed to make a clean break. For example, he gave up the chance to act in the popular drama “Boys over Flowers”.
JKS often says, “Life starts from B and ends at D. B stands for Birth and D for Death. Between B and D is C for Choice. Different choices will bring about a completely different life.” And this moving realization came from the difficult period of “unemployment” in his life. Giving up the Korean version of “Boys over Flowers” which was wildly popular in Japan and Taiwan, this has become a meaningful choice in his career path.