After ‘Mask’ finished airing on 31st July, Yeon Jung Hoon attended an interview session with reporters at 935 Entertainment’s office on 1st August. There were so many interviews published by different sources. So, I decided to compile everything into one concise but complete interview. It took me over 2 months to finish translating. I stopped translating halfway because I was so busy even on weekends. When I had free time I was just too lazy to do anything but watching my dramas 😛
So I hope this interview will make you all my fellow YJH’s fans happy despite any grammar mistakes and any weird sentences that you’ll come across 😉
His thoughts after the drama ended
I always feel wistful about many things after finishing a project. In the case of this drama, it was nice working together with the 3 other main casts (Joo Ji Hoon, Soo Ae, Yoo In Young) and our teamwork was great as well. Although there were several difficulties during the filming, we cheered each other up and managed to get through the hard times. So, I’ve become so attached to them. Although from actor’s position, we’re sorry that the project we’ve been working on for a period of time was over, but I believe we also gained a lot of things from each other too.
First attempt at playing hardcore villain role
For this project, even before the last episode came up, I already intended to make this character to be completely evil. The villain roles that we usually saw in most dramas were originally a nice person to begin with before they became evil but eventually they would turn their lives around into a nice person they used to be in the end. It is hard to find a villain role that is downright evil from the start in our local dramas. That’s why I wanted to make this character to be someone who has no compassion at all. Our director also wanted the same. We wanted to make my character to be a cold-blooded devil that makes a deal with a supposed pliant woman and tried to get the same vibe from the movie ‘Devil’s Advocate’. To me, it was an interesting villain role that I was rather happy to get cussed out by viewers who watched it.
Feels empty while playing Seok Hoon’s role
The merit of playing a villain role is that I can take a load off my mind and that relieves me somehow. But it was a role that needed me to despise other people constantly and that required a lot of energy and stamina. Especially for Min Seok Hoon’s role, it was a character whose extreme emotion was running high throughout 20 episodes of the drama. I had many worries on just how should I portray Min Seok Hoon character alone because he was a character that showed very subtle emotional changes. Playing Seok Hoon needed me to show several different emotions when dealing with Eun Ha, the real Ji Sook, Ji Sook who lives as Eun Ha and Mi Yeon. All that, made me confused at times. But every time that I got confused, I would refer back to the first synopsis that I received and I could gather up my thoughts back. Actually, when I got immersed into a character, I would try to get out of it very quickly when I’m off-camera. If would be hard on me if I didn’t do so. But I think while playing Seok Hoon, I was so immersed into him more than any other characters that t I’ve played so far. I even started to have the feeling of emptiness in the midway of the drama and there were times that I felt emotionally difficult. When Ji Sook gained power to go against me, I had a feeling that I might become everyone’s enemy for real. I even said to myself that I should be careful and not to get carried away next time.
His thoughts on his villain acting
When the drama was aired in the beginning, my wife said to me that my character Seok Hoon seemed like a nice guy who was pretending to be a bad guy, but after the tenth episode she said he was just a really bad guy. Hearing that from her, I wondered if I really did well in delivering my character. The drama didn’t reveal more about Seok Hoon’s back story. There were several back story scenes but some got edited out to avoid interruption to the melo stories of the main characters. I have shot tear-jerking soliloquy scenes that highlight about Seok Hoon’s family history and how unjustly treated and how victimized he felt that led to his wrath towards the chaebol family but unfortunately they got edited out. Since the amount of scenes that supposedly could explain Min Seok Hoon’s past in more details got reduced in the drama, it seemed that the audience might have wondered why Min Seok Hoon only did evil things. But for me who have played his role and knew his back story, I could see why he turned up that way. I know that I said I wanted him to be downright evil but I also wanted the audience to know and understand why he did what he did. Although he treated Ji Sook badly but he never did heartless things to her. He put his target more on Min Woo and much much more on Chairman Choi (Min Woo’s dad). His original target was exactly Chairman Choi and nor Ji Sook neither Min Woo in the first place but this fact didn’t get to be fully explained in the drama. So, I just kinda wish that those parts should rather be included in the story as well.
Plot line progressed slightly different from the synopsis
There were some parts that were written slightly different from the original synopsis content. As the story unfolded towards the middle of the drama, there were also repetitive contents that made me questioned how far the story will progress this way. It is not within actors’ rights to determine how the story plot will be developed after all. When I saw those parts (in the script), since they were not done earlier, I was slightly confused. Should I go to a different direction? At that time, I read through the synopsis once again and I thought if I tone down the evil vibe for my character, I feel like the villain character of the drama itself would be gone missing halfway in the drama. So I decided to strongly exert the evil vibe and hope that the ending will proceed somewhat the same way with what was written in the synopsis.
His thoughts about the drama’s ending & parts that he felt unsatisfied about
In a drama, there is a limitation to bring all the characters written by the scriptwriter in the original synopsis 100% to life. The last shooting was done in a rush so it was difficult for me to do so perfectly. Surely, in the early of the drama I portrayed the character according to the given outline and followed exactly what was written in the script. But for the ending, I think I did miss a few parts even though I tried very hard not to miss anything. I and the other casts discussed a lot because we concerned about how should we portray each of our character nicely for the ending. I don’t know how did others see it but to me and the other actors, it was the ending that we all gave our best for. Actually, the ending which Mi Yeon committed suicide at the cliff after she couldn’t accept Seok Hoon’s choice was a bit different than what was written originally. In the original synopsis, Mi Yeon met with Seok Hoon and asked him to run away from this country together with her. But Seok Hoon who had no intention to run away with Mi Yeon, refused and said to her ‘Running away together with you is like living in a prison without bars. So I’d rather go to prison and start anew when I’m out”. After that Mi Yeon asked Seok Hoon to meet again but when they met, she shocked Seok Hoon with taser and brought the unconscious Seok Hoon to hotel room and tied him there. Mi Yeon then decided to end up her own life while she was hugging Seok Hoon. I think Mi Yeon wanted to verify her love to Min Seok Hoon so much to the point that she turned up choosing the extreme choice in the end. Also, Ji Sook and Min Woo wouldn’t have a happy ending if we were to follow the original plan. However, we were still deliberating and so indecisive about the ending scene but somehow it ended up getting changed. If this scene was aired, I think it would give more impact to the ending. I didn’t have any specific part that I felt so unsatisfied about. But personally, I think that the melo part of the main leads was added too early in my opinion. I thought it might have been even better if Ji Sook and Seok Hoon fell in love while they both were trying to ruin Min Woo’s life.
Don’t think Seok Hoon is an evil person & he wishes Seok Hoon evilness to be done in greater extent
The evilness of the villain should be a little much harsher. Looking back carefully, Seok Hoon’s evil deeds were never truly succeeded. So I wish he could achieve that at least once with Ji Sook’s help. What if, through Ji Sook’s help, Seok Hoon managed to make the downfall of Min Woo and Chairman Choi (Min Woo’s dad). Maybe at one time later, Seok Hoon would come again to find Ji Sook who chose to stick by Min Woo’s side due to her guilty conscience. Perhaps, Seok Hoon’s life could be depicted that way. Even though many people said Min Seok Hoon was really an evil person, but because I’ve played as Min Seok Hoon and I’ve seen things through his emotions, I think Ji Sook was the one who was really mean. Seok Hoon had saved Ji Sook’s life who was on the verge of death when she was struggling to pay her debt with the loan shark, he gave her money, he got her a perfectly looking rich man by her side, and there were no longer loan shark men appeared out of nowhere to take her away… how great was that for her. After all, everything he did was also beneficial to Ji Sook in some ways. Since I said such things like these, Yoo In Young told me ‘I did villain roles many times and it’s only natural to have that way of thinking when you play as a bad guy. You just don’t think yourself as a mean person.’
Accident during first shooting
Actually, there was an accident when I was shooting for the scene in which I carried Eun Ha’s dead body. The car that I drove almost fell off a cliff. Because I have many experiences with cars, I think my body can recall very well on how to avoid dangerous situation while driving. The car hit the guardrail and spun but fortunately it didn’t fall off the cliff. Because such accident happened, the director told me “You have to shoot more dangerous scenes in the future, so you have to be extra careful” and after that no more accidents happened. I consider myself lucky to escape from such a possible huge misfortune as it could have been much worse than that.
Quite a detailed actor in terms of getting the styling right for his character
Usually most actors will get make up done by their own personal staff at a beauty salon. But I prefer the other way around because for my makeup I like to leave it under the hands of the drama’s makeup team at the filming site instead. As the ones who know better about the drama itself, they must have analyzed each character individually and I just wanted to follow their opinion on that matters. Wearing the eyeliner for example, it was actually the idea from the drama’s makeup team. I’m also very particular about the hairstyle for my role. Personally, I don’t think pomade hairstyle that is in trend nowadays is suitable for me. But since it is a part of getting the best styling to make my role look cold, I think the makeup team was right about this. So, in this drama, we did a brush-up hairstyle for my role except in the last scene. Thanks to the hairstyle, I think I managed to add cold vibe to my role. And also, I have a specific person that in charge for the clothes I wear in dramas since long ago. That person also put a lot of effort for this drama too. For example if the shirt’s collar is too high, one will look stylish and give an avant-garde fashionista feel. But we decided to choose low collar style for my role so I have a bit more classic appearance.
Losing weight to look sharp for his character
For this role, I also put a lot of effort on my appearance. I thought it didn’t feel right if I look so round and fleshy when playing a villain role so I tried to lose weight. I have been shedding some pounds ever since ‘Vampire Prosecutor’ days just to get the right image for my character. Because Min Seok Hoon too was a character that has a sharp image so I thought I should convey the image through my outward appearance as well. But I also have undergone a few small and big surgeries before (one time before filming Vampire Prosecutor 2 & one more time last year). Come to think of it, during ‘East of Eden’ too I used to force myself with physical training apart from controlling my diet menu in order to lose weight. But it didn’t give any benefit to my health and I also had to face yoyo effect after that. So I need to control my diet menu and still take care of my health. For this role, I didn’t want to exercise the same way. Since after the surgeries, I’ve been doing rehabilitation routines and I’ve been exercising steadily. I don’t have any special diet menu and I keep my fitness through regular exercise. To start filming for ‘Mask’, I felt like those normal routines wouldn’t be enough to achieve appropriate weight loss that I wanted. So, I did nothing extreme, just reduced my carbohydrate intake while filming and I managed to lose a few weight.
Great teamwork with other other casts
Since I played a villain role, there were many parts that required me to heighten my emotion. Therefore I managed to pull out a lot of emotions more than any other characters that I’ve played in the past. At first, I thought ‘Will I be able to pull off the character to be this so scary-looking?’. But the people around me have guided me so well, so I was able to explore many facets for my character as well. The other casts were really good at what they were doing too so we could all create great synergy together. I went out and drank soju together with Joo Ji Hoon recently and I heard the same thing from him. He said ‘Out of drama that I’ve worked so far, regardless of their content, this drama (Mask) had a really great team to work with. I consider this team is the best team in my acting career. I’ve never felt like this before.’ As a fellow actor who worked together with him, hearing such words from him made me feel great. I also heard the very same thing from Soo Ae. The four of us (including Joo Ji Hoon, Soo Ae & Yoo In Young) get along really well and we did hang out together too. I had such a great time working together with them.
Talking about SNS and unique friendship with ‘Mask’ co-stars
At first, I started open my own SNS account (instagram) to communicate with my overseas friends. But now it’s even better because I get to communicate with my fans as well. About the photos that I uploaded while filming ‘Mask’, actually Yoo In Young was the one who started to post those playful pictures. She’s already a professional in taking pictures secretly at filming set (sneak shot pro). I wish that I can work together with those 4 actors (Joo Ji Hoon, Yoo In Young, Soo Ae, Kim Ji Min) in other project once again. We talk about many things when we meet and have a meal together fortnightly. And it was always enjoyable when we were shooting. Joo Ji Hoon’s incessant chatter also played a part in creating a good atmosphere between all of us.
His thoughts on people’s opinion about how he enjoys luxury hobbies
I took a photo of my wife Han Ga In and send it to a photography contest by chance. At that time, I just wanted to take a profile picture of my wife who enjoyed dancing as her hobby. I sent the picture to Sweden Photo Contest and who knew that I would win the first place with it. Being known as someone who enjoys luxury hobbies and things? There’s no such thing as that because they’re not all mine. Some of them I received from sponsorship. (His remark made reporters laughed). I remember something that Joo Ji Hoon said about me which I agreed; ‘Hyung (older brother) is a person who really knows how to have fun’. He was referring to my working attitude on set. For me, I wish that I would always enjoy acting. I hope like the way I am now, my enthusiasm and passion for acting will last a long time. Even in the future, be it a major role or even just a minor role, I would give my very best for it.
Talking about his wife Han Ga In
We don’t talk much to each other about acting stuffs. Although she is my wife, I never get involved in her work matters. So, even when she’s choosing a project to work on, I feel like I overstep my boundary if I were to read and analyze script together with her. Because every actor will perform their own acting according to their own sentiment, so I think it is right if we both choose the project we want to work on individually. We both are in the same profession, so we can choose any project that we find suit us best. It goes the same with my father. We just don’t mind to bother so much about each other’s acting career. On the other hand, my wife really put extra attention in taking care of me. She always prepares morning juice for me and makes sure that I take my vitamins diligently. My wife doesn’t dance anymore these days. (Han Ga In is known to fond of dancing especially ballet). I think she was born to study. She said she just wants to learn languages at the moment so she’s studying Japanese, Chinese, English and a few other languages. I guess she’s great at important and useful things like that. And lately she even started to learn something new like playing cello. But I couldn’t stay at home to learn those things together with her. When my wife is learning languages and playing cello, I will go out to take pictures and go racing. Haha! Although we both have different hobbies and preference, we just get along really well. We still go out often too to have fun together during our free time. And to the topic about our baby plan, I’m just going to say no comment. After what we’ve been through last year (the miscarriage), we like to be more cautious now. I’ll let you know if we have any good news in the future.
His acting changed after he came back from military service
Before military service, I played many roles with melodrama and romantic comedy genre. During military service, I had the chance to look back and think deeply about my acting. At that time, I could see that I was truly a rookie with that kind of acting that I had been performing so far. I thought to myself that my acting still didn’t have the aura that a senior actor would have. It felt like as if I simply had been doing popular roles for my young age. I had so much regrets about that. Now I’m already getting closer to my forties. Before this, there used to be limited roles like immature uncle, company’s CEO or ahjussi roles left for actors my age. But Hallyu wave and senior actors have widen the range of activities and even created variety of characters for actors around my age. Thanks to our senior actors’ effort, I had the chance to play variety of roles after I discharged from military. I didn’t like to show a novice-like acting anymore and so I did more of strong and manly acting since then. When I challenged myself through ‘Vampire Prosecutor’, I had a lot of worries. But I believed that diverse experience like this would be helpful in the future. I don’t know what kind of role I’ll be taking next but I believe the experiences that I’ve gained so far would never betray me.
Role he wants to play in the future & difficult role that he wants to avoid
I’ve even played vampire role before, so there’s no such thing as ‘difficult role’ that I wish to avoid. To me difficult role is rather exciting and stimulating to play. Though I did many melodramas previously but the characters that I played in those dramas were interesting too. Before I played Seok Hoon’s role, I and my managers said many times that it would be great if I get to play such role (completely evil role). So, I just grabbed the chance when it came to me.
What did this drama ‘Mask’ mean to his acting career
To me ‘Mask’ is a drama that would still linger in my mind for a long time. I’m also curious to know what other people think about the ending. Actually, this is the first time for me to have this kind of ending ever since I’ve been working in a drama. I played a character that was devilish person in the beginning but after all he just had a great deal of things to repent for in the end. Moreover, shooting for an ending that cannot be seen often in a drama like this, it really distressed me. After finishing a drama, there’s always a certain thing that you wish could have been better. But more than that, finishing this drama this time was rather a very poignant moment for me. I think ‘Mask’ will remain as one of drama that I had so much fun working for. I was really grateful to all the casts and the production staffs. During the wrap up party, I said to our scriptwriter Choi Ho Chul that I’m interested to work with him again in the future if he writes another story with a different genre other than melodrama.”
Source: Various sources
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