Excerpts from FLIX magazine 2008 August edition
(photo courtesy of arayo)
. Proposal to the Media
“You mentioned that I have appeared in a variety of genres of dramas and movies in the past… the Korean reporters who regard me favorably say ‘you show us a rich variety of styles in acting’…But the reporters who do not have a very good impression of me or don’t look at me favorably point out that my acting is always the same.”
…laughs as if to liven up the atmosphere
“I think there are more reporters who are favorable towards me than those who are not… Actually, there was one time when someone from the Korean press said to me “you are not cooperative”, and I told them “I don’t like you people either.”
“I (always) speak my true feelings, so I don’t want them distorted when they write the articles.”
.... in a gentle tone, BYJ revealed his honest feelings.
“When I see my comments coming out in an article in a totally different form, I become truly disappointed and hurt. I think words convey a totally different meaning depending on how it is expressed, and some of our Asian family may also be hurt from reading these articles. So, the reason why I said that to the Korean media is because I thought that if I just kept quiet, there would be no distorted articles. But I told them if you are willing to write without distorting my thoughts, I would be happy to speak to you as long as you like.”
“On the subject of genre…. I am the type that when I have an aim to choose something, I become motivated to do it. So, I want to take on as many different types of challenges as possible. But, even if there is a variety in the works that I choose, as long it is expressed through me, I think you will be seeing similarities in them. However, I do have the desire to appear in a variety of works and genres, and I have done so till now. By doing so, I think I will be able to grow.”
. About the future
“The next work is not yet decided. I will be doing a voice-over for the “Winter Sonata” animation. There is also a plan to make a drama from a Japanese comic, but this has not been finalized yet. In any case, I think I will be able to see you all in a new work.”
It was way past the scheduled time for the interview, and the staff asked us to limit our questions to one for each company. However, BYJ saw what was going on, and amiably offered to go on with the interview treating all of the companies in the same manner. While we (the press) were all feeling gratified for his thoughtfulness, as if to loosen up the atmosphere even more, he softly commented on the tape recorder that was placed on the table.
“(When it comes to gadgets like these) I like analogue ones too.”
He made us feel even more relaxed.
“Analogue things really have charm.”
(Asked which he enjoys more – producing the restaurant “Gosireh” or working as an actor.)
“I cannot compare the two. I am initially an actor, but I have a completely different aim in producing Gosireh, that is introducing the food culture of Korea. So, I cannot say which I enjoy more.”
The original interview was scheduled for 30 minutes, but an hour and 20 minutes had already passed.
. Between the two cultures
“In Gosireh, I am introducing the Korean culture to the Japanese people, and I am always asking my staff how I can do the opposite, that is to introduce something from Japan to Korea. In my country, sometimes I feel there are more Japanese restaurants than Korean ones, and things like “natto (fermented soybeans)” which were not known 5 or 6 years ago are popular now. So honestly, I really am at loss in trying to come up with something to introduce. If I could walk around freely and look at all sorts of things, I could get some ideas, but I regret that I am not able to do that.”
. About the future drama
“I experienced many injuries while working on my latest drama. I did not expect such things to happen. When you think about it, you really cannot predict what will happen an hour from now, can you? Nor can we predict what will happen tomorrow, never mind 10 years from now. In my mind though, I wish I can promise my family that I will continue to work hard forever…, but these promises should not be made lightly. So, that’s why I want to live each moment to the fullest and live through time with a sincere attitude. What I am able to say is that I do have the will to make an effort.”
(on the matter of the press knowing about the possibilities of the new drama “Drops of God”)
“How did you know? Was it written somewhere?
BYJ asks press. Reporter immediately answers “everyone in the family knows.”
BYJ says wryly, “So, I guess I’m the only one that didn’t.”
Press answers, “it was reported in the Korean papers after the Premium Event.” BYJ was careful in answering.
“It is not decided… I haven’t read the comic yet… as of the role, yes I think I would be playing the part of the big brother.”
(asked about the bed scene in the comic.)
“I don’t think we can put that in because it is a drama.”
(asked if he likes wine.)
“Before I injured myself, I usually drank a glass or two everyday, but since my knee has not recovered yet, I am not drinking.”
When the long interesting interview finally ended, the press burst into applause. We were quite impressed with this man who “possesses his own words, and speaks in his own words” in a sincere and polite manner.
……it seemed that BYJ had a crammed schedule on the day we met, and the interview started later than planned. His staff apologized many times about the delay, and added that “since his leg is hurting, he is presently going through rehabilitation.”…
…. Many members of the family are not only mesmerized by his acting, but by BYJ himself. Perhaps they see something in him that cannot be found in the men around them, and consider him an ideal man of sorts. From that perspective, we come to respect him highly for his extraordinary thoughtfulness and graciousness. We cannot hide our disbelief in the fact that such a man exists in this cold world.
His previous visit to Japan was made before the box office ratings for“April Snow” had come out. However, this time, he came here after the great success of“TWSSG” in Korea, and him winning the MBC awards at the end of the year. Probably because of this, we were able to feel a sense of confidence about him and he seemed to be relieved that he had overcome a big challenge. During the interview, he slurped his ice-filled Yuzu tea with a straw in a boy-like manner which was quite cute. It may sound strange to speak of a grown up man like he is a boy, but curiously, this seems natural when it comes to BYJ.
I recalled how BYJ was labeled a “perfectionist” from the drama crew – now after going through this meaningful interview, I have come to think that rather than being a perfectionist, he is merely someone who pursues “quality” more than anything else. For this very reason, we were able to have this interview - rich in content - under his motto of doing his best in every moment. Spending time of high quality with fellow reporters, I left the hotel with a certain satisfaction one feels when one’s intellectual curiosity is fulfilled. Bae Yong Joon, a special actor “who possesses his own words, and speaks in his own words”. We will still not be able to take our eyes off him in the years to come.