English translation: tenshi_akuma
In fact, I was honestly afraid to interview the strange creature who calls himself “Prince of Asia.” On the contrary, the conversation with him was quite fun. He is Jang Keun Suk, a frank and open guy who showed us both his strong and weak points as honestly as possible. His fans describe him as the most lovely and brilliant person. If I add one more to it, I will describe him as the most honest person. Actually he has a good figure, but he is a rare and remarkable young actor who shows us what JKS is plainly, which is quite different from many other actors who show their best side and hide their worst side from others. He shows his true self such as he yawns openly when he finds it boring. I’m happy to share our exciting dialogue with you.
— I think your latest movie “You’re My Pet (YMP)” is not a proper title. I would rather name it “You’re Jang Keun Suk.” Lol. In the movie there is full of your charms such as dancing, singing and cuteness usually shown at your fan meetings held in Asia.
JKS: When I accepted the offer, I thought the setting and the character I would act was most needed for me at that time. Because most of the character I acted before were hurt mentally, so when I acted them, I had to direct a defiant look at others. On the other hand, when I acted In Ho (the lead character of YMP), I felt as if I were playing naked in front of the camera. A review described my acting of YMP as “Isn’t still enough to fall in love with JKS?” and I admit it’s true. In Korea we have recently used the expression “the acting withers up viewer’s arms and legs (meaning of the exaggerated and artificial acting).” In fact, this YMP is a kind of movie which intends to make viewers react so. That’s why I dealt with the shooting not to get beten by the unreality. I was sure if I had felt ashamed of the character, I would have gotten funny looks from the viewers. So I was determined to act it boldly from the beginning.
I like human watching when I get on trains.
— How did you feel when you first read the script? I think YMP has various aspects as a film. How did you prepare for the character?
JKS: To be honest, I found a lot of questions about the script. I had a good impression about the character and the overall feel of YMP, but there were too much fantastic elements. I prefer realistic movies, so I discussed a lot with Kim Ha-neul and the director how to act realistically under the unrealistic scenes. At first, the director planned to shoot fantastic and beautiful scenes, but I didn’t understand at all why I should act like this. As the script couldn’t been rewritten at that time, he gave me extra time to prepare for the character. He asked me how I wanted to act, so we discussed and built up the way to act on the set. YMP is not only an interesting but also a witty and rhythmic movie.
— I’m afraid that YMP is not a type of movie that everyone, except your fans and women, can enjoy watching it simply. Some people said that it is disrespectful of men’s human rights. What do you think about acting Momo not as an actor but as a man?
JKS: I don’t think I have to respond the claim. Personally I rate authoritarian men lower in attractiveness. In my opinion, I found men who has many faces and flexibility attractive. For example, when he is in love, he not only shows manly side to her but also says “I’m sorry” first. In Momo’s case, he is good at showing his winsome look. Because if not, he can’t eat his favorite dish, an octopus-shaped sausage for supper… Lol.
— What kind of men do you think you are?
JKS: I was asked the same question on Twitter the other day. (While searching Twitter with his mobile phone…) Let me see it must be a recent one… uh! I found it. “I am attractive, intellectual, and critical. Besides, I have cuteness and act unpredictably. In addition, I am an honest man. I think I am a man who can’t be explained in a word. Lol.”
— Do these splendid modifying words describe yourself of today? Or ideal yourself you want to be?
JKS: Most parts are what I want to be so. In fact, I’m not sure what I am. I believe that personality can’t be defined as one color. I am looking for my original and unique color. In fact, one of the reason I chose a career in acting is that I can change myself from character to character within the framework of works. Recently talent agencies have forced their actors to follow their plans blindly. I don’t think it’s good for them. In my opinion, the most important thing for an actor is that looking for myself to know what is necessary for acting. So I like to say “hi!” to people I don’t know on the street. I like studying the way people walk and watching people on the train. The sleeping form of people on the train varies. I really enjoy watching it.
— I think you are a kind of person the agency finds difficulties to manage. Because you won’t accept their plan blindly.
JKS: That’s why I established my company. Lol.
— How about now?
JKS: I feel comfortable and happy. I sometimes feel lonely because I’m alone and considered as the weak in the showbiz, but still I prefer my life today. As for me, life just following someone is not worth living.
— Do you still sometimes feel you’re weak?
JKS: Struggle for power always exists in the business world. It’s impossible to avoid the relationship between the staff I work with as well as that between big companies and mass media even if I don’t like it. So I’m really satisfied with this situation that I can do whatever I want to even if I sometimes feel it’s beyond my ability leading more than fifteen employees.
I’ve worked in showbiz for 20 years. 15 years of them were like training period.
— I think you clearly understand what you want to do now, what you have to do now, and what you can do now. You told me the reason why you chose YMP now because you are in 20s and it’s the best time to act in such a sweet movie.
JKS: It’s rare in Korea that actors who are 25 or under have the box-office revenue. And it’s common that the scripts and genre given to actors in my age are so limited that we often have to wear school uniforms. Under these situation the movies I appeared on before were not so successful. I’ve been evaluated with a promising actor, but there were no hits in my films and dramas. But from now the script given to me is expected to increase. The genre and character given to me will also increase. I don’t want to say YMP is the movie in which I tried my luck when I’m 25. I can act freely and jokingly now because I’m young, but when I’m in 30s and become a real and mature man, I’ll get more chance.
— I think the real winner is JKS yourself. Actors usually don’t like to express themselves because they have to act various characters, but you chose to express real JKS. It’s totally different from others. Do you have any anxieties that you might be typecast and can’t act characters you want to in the future?
JKS: Each Character in productions exists as the character itself. It’s an exceptional case that the character in YMP is quite similar to me. Usually characters and JKS exist separately. On the other hand, I’ve recognized that I’m considered as a boom. However, I’m not satisfied with this situation because I haven’t been recognized as a good actor yet. Never once! After I appeared on a Korean popular talk show “Kneedrop Guru “, JKS has become more popular as a unique character, but I believe that the best life as an actor is recognized in production. And I admit the fact that I might lose popularity easily like the crush of the bubble even if I am in fashion now. That’s why I knuckle down to even trivial works. I’ve spent my life proudly. If I were asked by me if I had no regrets in my life, I would absolutely answer “No!”
— You’ve attracted attention not as an actor but as an entertainer, but it’s true that you’ve tried to act in various genre year by year. You’re a multi-talent entertainer, but at its heart is always acting. That’s because “an actor” as a career might have a bigger meaning to you than we consider.
JKS: There are two reasons. At first, I feel more catharsis when I’m acting than I express myself in front of the camera. Secondly, I sometimes sing and dance, but compared to people who choose it as a career, I’m not so special. I just know how to sing, but don’t understand the song deeply. But as far as acting is concerned, I’m confident in myself not to lose the competition against some actors for acting the same character. Because I’ve been an actor for 20 years. Examining it with a clear head, 15 years of them were like training period. Everyone has watched my acting since I was a child actor, but I wasn’t sure what I was doing. But after I became twenty years old, my life has started in a new stage.
— I was honestly surprised to watch “Hwang Jin-i”, “Hong Gil Dong”, and “Beethoven Virus”. You had a proof presence even against Kim Myung-min.
JKS: But I made a crucial mistake in the drama (Beethoven Virus). I rushed to be a mature man. I had my hair cut short, grew a beard and built up my body. It’s like I played a trick on me. When I was 22 or 23 years old, I persuaded myself that I was already mature. I didn’t want to be treated like a child actor any more, so I pretended to be strong and manly, but it was my failure. I should have prepared myself for learning how to act from senior Kim Myung-min at that time, but I was foolish enough to compete against him.
— Usually it’s hard for us to speak our mind even if we admit the failures. But it looks not difficult for you to speak your mind.
JKS: I am always practicing to see myself objectively. There is another JKS next to me, who listen to I am speaking now. When I open my big mouth or tell a lie, another JKS scolds me. I’ve trained myself as follows. If JKS after 10 years says to me today, “Stop shuffle dance!!”, I think dancing shuffle now is not right. Because I’ll regret after a while. On the other hand, if dancing shuffle now makes everyone smile and entertain, I’m sure JKS after 10 years will say to me, “It’s OK because you’re 25 now. But when you’re 35, you have to decide how to behave properly.”
I prefer to pursue an exciting life, not a steady life.
— In short, living as JKS means to develop JKS while simulating your character. I’m afraid that even if you develop yourself as you intend to, people around you may not understand you properly.
JKS: That’s why I found it really interesting. It seems simple, but in fact, it’s difficult to make myself understood. No matter how hard a twenty-years-old man makes efforts, I am, after all, a twenty-years-old man. I may be lucky and talented, but I can’t beat seniors who live much longer than I. On the other hand, I can honestly say that I want to be a prince of Asia. This is simply because I am still young. So I can say that as many times as I want. The reason why I said that my dream was becoming a prince in the world is not because just to accomplish it as my dream but because I want to show many people the process of my struggling to make it come true. I may fail and fall, but once I decide to walk a thorny path, I have to step forward while taking a splinter out. I’m not ashamed to fail or give up. Even so, I’m just irritating myself. I’m not scared of being seen my failure by others. I may fall and get injured. At times like that, please cheer me up. Of course! You can ignore me. I can bounce back. I’m a super positive person!
— Everyone is inclined to behave too carefully after making a mistake. Making a mistake may not be shameful, but hurtful. Has your bravery as if there were nothing to be scared about been built up since you were a child actor?
JKS: No matter how hurt I may be now, I experienced the worst time before. I’ve lived in severe times. I started to work as a child actor because of making money. I’ve been talking about the past over drinks with my parents lately. When we moved up to Seoul, we were on the breadline. Compared to the hardship at that time, I have little to fear now. Because I never want to go back to that days again, I’ve tried to live straight, not to be twisted. If not, I may hit the lowest point again. I wonder that days makes me pick up on positive vibes.
— Your positive and honest personality seems to attract Japanese people. The former Korean star came to Japan after they gained popularity in Korea, but you don’t trace it and have carved a different way to fame. What do you think about it?
JKS: I think it’s a challenge. A challenge I have to struggle against. In Korea I haven’t had any blockbuster representative works. There were no dramas which exceeded a viewing rate of 30 percent and no films which drew more than 2,000,000 spectators. But I made it in Japan earlier than in Korea. A huge hit of “You Are Beautiful” totally changed what I have been doing in Korea. That’s why it remains a challenge I have to overcome. There is one idea that I just continue to work in Japan because I’ve succeeded in Japan, but I am a Korean and I have a strong desire to be recognized in Korea. I want to enjoy acting at ease, but after YMP I am busy shooting “Love Rain” now. I have to carry out this challenge.
— What kind of drama “Love Rain” is? The director, Yoon SukHo, was said to be very careful to have actors and actresses express their inner feelings according to his previous works.
JKS: “Love Rain” describes two types of love. Until the fifth episode, the setting is 1970s. People at that time were living bitter days and cautious about love. It describes analog love of my parents’ generation. Today we can tell our love with mobile text-messaging easily, but at that time they had to wait for their loved one just to see her in front of the school for more than an hour. It’s inconvenient, but I feel it’s so romantic. I think their love is much purer and kept pit-a-pat much longer than today. From the sixth episode, digital love is described as a symbol of modern days. The character I act is a challenging person and sometimes doesn’t hesitate to do what he wants to. As for me, acting two persons in one production gives me a big chance and challenge.
— I think what motivates you now is your tireless energy. But this energy came out because you are young. When you get older, it’s natural that you lose the energy. When the time comes, what kind of competitive characteristic which is different from now do you think you’ll have?
JKS: Experiences. I’ve learned how to bounce back from a setback since I started to work for 20 years. So I don’t want to walk on a guaranteed and less enjoyable track. I want to try a new thing. I want to try even a seemingly reckless attempt. If so, I have a chance of encountering my representative work which symbolizes “Prince of Asia” much earlier. In this way if I can become “Prince of Asia” I’ll be happy. But it doesn’t seem interesting that everything goes well without accident. Why do I have to take a direct route? I think going a long way round is often fruitful. I want to enjoy walking whatever route. Everyone were surprised when I chose “The Case of Itaewon Homicide” because it looked the last movie to be expected. It was fun. If everyone thinks that I always choose a unique road and wonders what kind of road I will choose next time, I dare to show them what I do best such as YMP. I may possibly choose to act a zombie or a killer next year. I don’t want to be considered as a fixed image. I prefer to pursue an exciting and challenging life.
— I hope there are another JKS in Korea.
JKS: There are many actors like me. Lol.
— Yoo Ain? Lol.
JKS: Well, Yoo Ain and Kim SooHyun. “Wandeukee” was really an interesting movie. A player detect a player. Yoo Ain is a player, indeed. We’ve known each other since we were in high school, but we’ve been too busy to keep in touch. Now we just say “hi!” when we meet at the awards ceremony. I was wondering that he would do something interesting, and he did in “Wandeukee” as expected. Just like Yoo Ain has “Wandeukee”, I have YMP. And I want Kim SooHyun to catch up with us soon! I want him to overtake me and inspire me. Lol.