[05.03.09] Kang Ji Hwan’s Interview from Kang Star (Part 2)
Q. What was your parents’ reaction when you finally made your decision to pursue your dream?
A. They didn’t oppose it, but when they first heard about it, they were hesitant. But they continued to support me. Even when I didn’t have any work and I stayed at home, they never asked “why” and waited. At times, that turned into pressure, but looking at it from my parents’ perspective, it must have been hard.
Q. When you got the role in BSGS, they must have rejoiced more than anyone else.
A. Of course. I, myself rejoiced, and was happy to see them boasting to their friends and seeing them happily talking about how people told them they have to treat them. I’m where I am today thanks to BSGS, but at that time I didn’t think it would become such a big hit. For 163 episodes over a period of 1 year, I worked hard trying not to get fired. I didn’t know why I was called in for the audition and after finding out that I was chosen not for a supporting role but for the lead, I was afraid that I would be criticized for my lack of acting ability. Since this was my first drama, I was also worried that if I failed here, I wouldn’t be cast for another drama. Because I never officially learned to act, all I could do was study the scenario thoroughly. Fortunately, the drama was a success.
Q. At that time, didn’t the director and writer give you points for your strong determination rather than your experience?
A. At that time, I was filming an independent film called Host and Guest. The filming took place in an extremely meager environment where it was next to impossible to give any kind of consideration to an actor. I can only remember that it was really cold and I was hungry. The last 5 minutes of the final scene was a monologue where it was imperative that the first take be successful since we didn’t have any money for extra film; I was especially edgy. It was then that I got the notice of the audition for BSGS and arrangements were made to meet the director and the writer. I’m not sure if they were doing it on purpose, but during the course of our conversation, they started criticizing Host and Guest, so I remember getting real short with them. I didn’t anticipate passing the audition and even though it was an independent movie, I was working hard under tough conditions. Looking back now, I must have been out of my mind. (laugh) I was really young. I certainly wouldn’t do that now. Instead, I’d probably try to sell myself by passing out energy drinks to the director and writer, or something like that.
Q. It’s been 7 years since you debuted. How would you objectively judge yourself?
A. I’ve come this far by climbing one step at a time. I think that was a really good thing. As I took each step, there were times I ran out of breath and times when I got greedy and wanted to skip or jump, but in the process I ran into avid fans, was able to get awards, and in the end I was able to confirm that I was going in the right direction. Right now, it feels like I’m halfway up the mountain where I can see the peak, but in a situation where I keep on slipping on the rocks and can’t move up. I’m hoping that 7 Grade will be the rope to help me get to the top. (laugh)
Q. You were able to make a good start in Rough Cut in terms of the project and acting by getting various newcomer’s awards. Now you’re taking the next step by securing popularity…
A. I think I’ve been lucky with awards. I received newcomer’s awards for both drama and movie. If I didn’t have luck with awards, I wouldn’t have anything. (laugh) But honestly, awards are only for the moment. Receiving awards doesn’t necessarily mean that the viewers will remember you. But having received the newcomer’s awards, I can try harder now because I have another goal of getting the best actor’s awards, so in that respect it gives me motivation. Of course, in the case of 7 Grade, it’s a comedy action film so it might not be recognized in film festivals, but if it can catch the attention of the viewers with a different type of character, then I think it can be considered a success, and if the movie can perform well on top of that, I can’t ask for more.
Q. Now that your popularity is rising, at least you’ve already done you military duties, so you don’t have to worry about that…
A. It wasn’t done intentionally, but I’m sure glad I already went. (laugh) And I’m hoping the up and coming actors gaining popularity now would be enlisting soon. (laugh)
Q. Are you hoping to monopolize the film market? (laugh) Actually, there are a lot of popular actors joining the military this year.
A. I try not to show it, but I find myself smiling like when I’m drinking tea. The enlistment period is becoming shorter, so that bothers me. They should make it at least 3 years. With North Korea shooting missiles and such, I’m just a concerned citizen…(laugh)
Q. I think your comments might make a few actors nervous. What about your next project?
A. I try not to look at other projects until I’m done with the current one, so if things are going well after the release of the movie, then I plan to start checking out other projects.
Q. There was a scandal with KHN, but isn’t it a bit late to have your first one 7 years after your debut?
A. Being in love is not a bad thing, but I’ve always thought that scandal was something you shouldn’t be involved in. But while I was filming a drama this year, Director Lee Jan Su (?) told me “ When a young actor’s name isn’t associated with a single scandal, that’s because he doesn’t have appeal as an actor.” Immediately after that, the scandal came out. At first I felt lost, then annoyed, but the news articles were immediately withdrawn and the access rankings were low, so I felt a little sad.
Q. Sometimes rumors like that can be a form of strategy for actors, but 7 years is way too long. How about having one at least every 2 to 3 years from now on?
A. Talk to me about that after you introduce me to someone. (laugh) To tell you the truth, I was feeling my own limitation while filming Rough Cut. Until then, I thought as long as I was acting, that in itself was education enough, that experience was the best teacher. But I was wrong. To the contrary, I felt whatever acting source I had starting to dwindle down. I understand now why actors travel and meet a lot of people. I felt more comfortable at home and not going out too much and only saw close friends and family. But acting is an expression of different people’s lives and emotions, and one has to try to have more varied experience, but I think I overlooked that. Recently, I really feel that, so I think I’m starting to gradually change.
Q. Have you always been the sensitive type?
A. I’m sensitive, but not aggressive. I don’t do things with lots of acquaintances, but like to spend time with really close friends. I just don’t do things with people I don’t know too well.
Q. That kind of personality may be misunderstood in the entertainment industry.
A. I don’t do much general interviews. And as my responsibility as a lead actor increases, when on the set I become quiet and read the script as I try to concentrate on my acting, there’s some that say I’ve become impertinent. For example, in Rough Cut I was playing the role of Suta, the impertinent actor, but I wasn’t comfortable yet with the movie set environment and didn’t have much time to prepare either, so I was unable to immerse myself into the character. In order to become the character, I asked the director’s permission to act like him on the set, i.e., don’t greet anyone, spit, etc. He told me to go ahead without any hesitation. In exchange, I requested him to explain to the staff to avoid any misunderstanding. By nature, I’m the type who becomes sensitive once I start a project, so I try to as much as possible to get the staff together and go out for drinks to relax the atmosphere, but since Rough Cut was a low budget film and the filming period was short, I couldn’t show my true self to the staff. In addition, the release date was moved up and since it coincided with my scheduled trip to Japan, I wasn’t able to attend some of the theater visits. Maybe because of this, talk spread that I’m impertinent. But it’s hard to explain the circumstances every time, so I think the misunderstanding kept on growing. But I’m aware that the role of a leading actor is not only acting, so I’m going to try harder (to avoid misunderstanding).
Q. Finally, what is Kang Ji Hwan’s goal?
A. To give a good performance and get good results, I want them both. Being an artist for the general public, I act to come to a mutual understanding with the viewers and audience. Self satisfaction is meaningless.
Credit: Kang Ji Hwan Thread @ Soompi