Here is Jo Hyun Jae‘s interview which appeared in the Japanese book on Korean dramas called “Korean TV Drama” (No. 66), released in Japan on April 2015. I am working slowly translating the interview to English because many of JHJ’s answers to the questions are quite long, so I have divided the interview in several parts. My translation is not verbatim. This is Part 1.
QUESTION 1 (Q1): I feel nostalgic for the “Seo Dong Yo” (SDY) film set revisiting the shooting 8 years ago. We once met a long time ago, you seem to have become more expansive (open, demonstrative, communicative) compared to before.
JO HYUN JAE (JHJ): As I grow older, I seem to have become a little rounder. My personality has also changed, I was really very shy when I was a child, could not even speak in public due to shyness. I was a poor talker. Actually, I am still not a good talker. (Laughs)
However, the shoulders are still quite powerful. However, the power of the shoulders have fallen considerably.
Editor: The last sentence is a figure of speech. It just means that JHJ is less tense now or that JHJ now feels more relaxed.
Q2: Also more motivated to work?
JHJ: Recently, I realize that my acting is not polished. In the past, I did not realize how immature I was. I want to do things properly now. Honestly, I am now more excited about work than before. Given a chance to portray a certain character, I try to imagine how I would portray that character to make it my own. When I think of that, I feel my chest throbbing with excitement.
Q3: Why did you choose to appear in “King’s Daughter, SBH” (KDSBH)?
JHJ: I always wanted to do another historical drama after I worked on SDY and, of course, because I found the story of KDSBH to be very good. But the biggest reason for choosing KDSBH is because the one directing it is PD Lee Sang Yeob. There are some people for whom you feel good just by simply looking at their face. PD Lee Sang Yeob is one such person. I was able to trust him right away. I am truly grateful that he chose me to be the hero for this drama, wanting to work with me, then giving me feedback on my work. We really worked very well.
Q4: Maybe you found it easy working with PD Lee sang Yeob because you are both in your mid-30s, closer in age?
JHJ: That is a good point. Honestly, shooting conditions in the past and in the present have not changed much. We are always pressed for time, working in freezing cold weather, we do not get enough sleep. The only reason I was able to endure the hardship is because the director gave me a lot of praise. And when I hear my work being praised, I work even harder to give my best even if I am very tired already. Instead of giving me instructions, he (PD Lee Sang Yeob) motivated me. In effect, he provided me with an environment where I can portray my role with freedom, for which I am truly grateful.
Q5: You seem to have an edge when it comes to portraying roles set in Baekje.
JHJ: I noticed that myself. In 2 historical dramas where I played the hero, both are set in Baekje. I felt a little strange about that. But though both dramas are set in Baekje, the characters are quite different. In addition, I wouldn’t mind playing other famous Korean king regardless of the era.
Q6: Because both SDY and KDSBH have the same historical background, then filming was done in the same places.
JHJ: That’s right. It has been 8 years since the last time I was in the SDY set. It brought back a lot of memories, I cannot measure the depth of the emotions I felt when I set foot on the SDY set again. I recall the time working with the good PD Lee Byung Hoon, the time when we stayed up working for 6 days and nights without relief, could not even sleep a wink. We were served healthy food, a ridiculous amount of food, to keep our energy levels up. It made me happy to see my large photos hanging at the entrance to the SDY field sets. (Laughs)
“Seo Dong Yo” posters at the entrance to the SDY field set
JHJ with PD Lee Byung Hoon while filming SDY
To be continued
Credit: Photo and original transcript in Japanese from Hiromi @ club.brokore.com/sodonyo. Thanks!