The contents of this article are the same as the ones previously published in this blog, except that this article is better-written compared to the previous ones. Besides, I like the pictures that accompanied the article so I decided to post the article anyway. 😀
Article Title: Why did Jo Hyun Jae choose to do “Yongpal” that everyone was so worried about?
[News En, Yoon Ho Jung, Reporter/Photos by Lee Jae Ha] 2015-10-11 14:35:12
“Everyone around me was worried and said, “Can you do it?” Then I told myself that I should just trust myself and go for it.”
Jo Hyun Jae played the role of Han Do Jun and performed his character excellently in the SBS drama “Yongpal” (Script by Jang Hyuk Rin/Directed Oh Jin Seok). For the interview with News En he confessed his thoughts on the end of the drama, he shared some behind-the-scene stories as well.
In the drama Jo Hyun Jae suffers from illegitimate child syndrome. In order for him to grab chairmanship of the Hanshin Group from his younger sister he forced his sister into a vegetative state. He plays the role of Han Do Jun and he habitually commits all kinds of atrocities. Jo Hyun Jae challenged himself to play the villain for the first time since he began his acting career. He has such an innocent and gentle face but he pulled off his 180-degree acting transformation, which has been earning for him praises for his excellent performance for being the best villain in “Yongpal”.
Jo Hyun Jae debuted in a commercial for a sports drink back in 2000 and for a while he was just an older brother who displayed purity to many girls. He had the looks and a very nice voice. People loved his pure flower boy style face. However, in “Yongpal”, he was very cruel and cold-hearted as Han Do Jun and he was able to show dramatic change more than than anybody else. Jo Hyun Jae, why did he change? And where did his old image go?
Interviewer (INT): What is your thoughts on finishing “Yongpal”?
JO HYUN JAE (JHJ): “Yongpal” is a very special drama to me. The outcome was good and it was the first time for me to play such a character. I was very pleased because of the public’s positive reaction regarding my challenge for this role. I am so thankful because I could add this character and a good drama like this to my filmography. I feel very fortunate to be part of a project like this. It was an extremely meaningful time for me.
INT: I bet you felt a heavy burden regarding your villain role.
JHJ: I had no feelings of burden whatsoever, but people around me were concerned because they weren’t quite sure if I would be suitable for a role like that. I got so many of those kinds of reactions. I thought that as an actor I should just focus on being able to widen my acting spectrum. So to the best of my knowledge and conviction I just expressed my character in the way I believed it to be. I focused on having that kind of thought and attitude while working. I focused on how I can express my character without looking like I am feeling some kind of burden.
When I read the script at the beginning, the quantity was so small and also there was no detailed explanation regarding the character of Han Do Jun. I was concerned about the part of not knowing about the character before going into it. But despite that, I am still thankful because I still managed to express and deliver my character well.
INT: How was acting with Chae Jung An?
JHJ: I am pretty sure that the viewers would feel that the melodramatic acting between Chae Jung An and I would seem like a sudden progress. Chae Jung An even felt uncomfortable about that part. But despite that, the 2 of us just focused on our acting and performed pretty well. Chae Jung An is the type of person who would make someone comfortable. Because of that I was able to do my job comfortable. We were also able to make our melodramatic acting even if it was going too fast because of Chan Jung An’s good personality. I am really very grateful to her.
INT: Did you have a strong desire for the villain role?
JHJ: In the drama “King’s Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang” (KDSBH, MBC, 2013-2014) there is a part where my character becomes a bit evil. After seeing my acting in that part the writer told me that it suits me very well and even recommended me to try acting as a villain in the future. I really did want to play a villain since I was in my 20s. But because of my pure and innocent image I wasn’t able to get work based on a villain character. Even if I asked for it they wouldn’t allow me to. (Smiles)
INT: How is your actual personality?
JHJ: I think I am rather quiet and reserved. Just because I have a personality like that doesn’t make me naive either. I am already in my mid-30s. I think it is very natural for anyone to have some kind of darkness hidden and suppressed deep within themselves. When I performed for this character I thought of the many unfair things that happened to me and even bad memories from my personal life. I used them to study and research my character. Bad things are experienced by anybody and I used that to my advantage and researched it first before going into my character.”
INT: Would you say that you’re satisfied with your performance?
JHJ: I was satisfied with a few scenes. I was so happy when I heard people around me say that I ‘looked evil’. I think about it that it is more or less a compliment about my performance after all. Even though I was this mean bastard but I felt good about it because of the compliments. For instance, there is a scene where I throw a glass cup to my personal secretary but I delivered it as if I wasn’t normal through my facial expressions and also through the tone of my voice when I talk. I really would say that part did make an impact for my character even if it was rather short because I was able to express and deliver Do Jun’s personality very well. It was good in a way. I think there’s an attachment for this character once you gather up all those scenes together and think about them. However, as an actor there is a bit of regret no matter what project I am in.
INT: Is there an actress whom you would like to work with?
JHJ: Any actress is fine, they are all great. I don’t think I should be picky. (Smile) I acted in many different kinds of projects and maybe that is why this particular drama was special in a way. The reason is because in this project, melodramatic elements isn’t the main focus, it’s more about Do Jun’s personality.
INT: You reunited with Kim Tae Hee 11 years after you did “Nine Tailed Fox”
JHJ: We both are not talkative personality-wise. Even in our previous drama we worked on together, we didn’t talk much there either. We just basically said hello to each other and that was all. Even now if you were to count all the scenes we’re in together, there aren’t many. I always filmed in the B team department while Kim Tae Hee was filming with the A team department. That’s why we didn’t really run into each other a lot. The parts that make me feel a little regretful would be the fact that we could’ve had a lot more to show to the viewers if our characters ran into each other a lot more, or even show some scenes where we become rivals and such. Even this time around, we didn’t get a lot of chance to talk to each other.
INT: What do you think is the standard for magjang dramas? (Jenny’s note: Magjang is basically a drama that is overly melodramatic. It is usually popular because magjang tend to go overboard with the storyline, to the point of being very unrealistic.)
JHJ: I really don’t want to have a standard for such a thing. For instance, if the drama is a system then I am a soldier that’s holding a gun. I am just a person that delivers and expresses the character which is written by the screenwriter. That is why the role of a writer and the director is such a big deal. You might think that I’m a bit old-fashioned but I usually follow what is written. I really do not want to separate myself even if it’s a magjang drama, I don’t want to be picky, I just want to portray varied characters.
INT: What do you think about the system for pre-produced dramas?
JHJ: Most dramas nowadays are not pre-produced. The public is well aware of that too. Even in “Yongpal” people were saying that the production team should let Joo Won get some sleep. (Smiles) I look at this in a positive way though, even though it’s not a pre-produced drama, there still could be parts that would not fit but at the same time things could even turn out great in an unexpected kind of way. As an actor I want to be in a drama where everything is pre-produced and I am quite envious of that kind of filming environment. However, when you put everything into consideration, like filming everything in such a rushed environment, Korea is really the best with that when compared to other nations. I feel bad about that but there’s nothing I can do at the same time. I think it would be best if I just focused on the good parts about it.
INT: How do you take care of your appearance?
JHJ: When I was in my 20s I didn’t really take care of myself. I had late night snacks a lot every night so even if I was thin in the body, my face was swollen. Once I reached my 30s I did a lot of mini-series types of dramas and here I felt that taking care of my body is very urgent. When I was going into the role of “Yongpal”, I pretty much lived at the gym and I tried my best to build my body up. This was because I wanted to look sharp in my appearance for my role. When I put a lot of focus when it comes to taking care of myself I usually am not able to eat whatever I want.
INT: You are already in your mid-30s….
JHJ: This is why I am so thankful to be able to play a role like this. Up until just recently my image was usually that of an upright and pure young man. I think now the idol image of my 20s is shedding off bit by bit, so I think now is the time to start all over again. In my 20s I just worked mindlessly and I did not have time to spare in any kind of way mentally and emotionally. I was the head of the household and I had to work hard because of it. I really do think that my ambition as an actor was smaller back then. I really didn’t know much about acting either. I think I had a little more of this desire once I got discharged from the military and planned it accordingly. I wanted to do better, and enjoy it a bit more too. I even thought to myself that it would have been great if I did this in my 20s, time sure flies by so quickly.
INT: Are frustrated with your pure and upright image?
JHJ: All the characters I played are valuable to me. No, I am not frustrated with my pure and upright image, I just wanted to try something new. Even when I was in my 20s I wanted to play a role that was of a rebellious one but even if I was cast as such a character, the whole script was fixed even before we started to film for the drama and because of this we pretty much went back to my old standard character. Even now if they want me to play a nice guy, I still would do it. It’s just that as an actor I just want to be in different kinds of dramas and playing diverse characters. That is all there is to it. Next time, I might try for a character that is bright and a bit clumsy. I wouldn’t even mind playing a very witty and playful character too.
INT: How far would you go in terms of role choices? Would you be willing to ruin yourself or even make a fool of yourself?
JHJ: Everything is fine with me as long as it doesn’t involve any kind of explicit nudity.
Credit: Photo as labelled. English translation by Jenny Park. Thanks! Editing by Prissymom. English translation is not verbatim.