2 years ago, Kim Jung-hyun’s blushed face was featured on the posters put on the walls on every corner of Jeonju.
KIM JUNG-HYUN’S TIME
How are you faring these days? Have we met before this?
(We met) At Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF) 2 years ago. We met for a moment there on the streets. Ah, so that was already 2 years ago. My memories of those moments are still clear, even to this day. The first film festival I got to participate was Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). Everyone would be gathering in a crowd at one place during film festivals, to the point of brushing on each other’s shoulders when we passed through a narrow alley. I really liked that kind of feeling, so it remained in my memory.
We still remember Junghyun-ssi’s blushed face at that time. We’re talking about your face on the posters of Overman, which were plastered everywhere around Jeonju back then. Yes, that’s right. My first regular length project as a lead was Overman. At that time, the movie was yet to be released in cinemas. Since it was also the place to promote our movie, we put the poster featuring my face on every corner of the streets where the JIFF was held. Everything was new and exciting for me. Right before we went back to Seoul, I went to visit every place where the posters were put up just to see them with my own eyes one last time. Right, it was like that back then. Now I’m recalling it.
You have done so many things as an actor over the past two years, right? I had coffee with my agency representative right before I headed here. We were just talking about random things when he said in a passing, “Hey, you have been continuously doing one project after another without any rest for the past two years. You’re working really hard.” When I heard those words, I suddenly felt a strange realization dawning upon me. It turned out that I have done a total of 10 projects including both dramas and movies in the past 2 years. This is something that I really wanted to do. This is also something that I intend to continue doing in the future. I think of it as something that gives me happiness, because there are many times that I go about my life while forgetting about being happy. There were times when I felt so tired and it became difficult for me, plus there’s also the feeling of uneasiness as I wondered if I was really doing a good job. The moment I started acting was the first time I got to forget those thoughts.
What kind of vagueness do you think it is? Yes, when I work, I thought that there wouldn’t be any ambiguous feeling in my heart, but there’s actually the vagueness between the past and present. That seems to be the most difficult thing to me.
Maybe because you have been working continuously without any rest. That might be it. Anyway, I couldn’t say that every single moment was happy for me. That would be a lie. As an actor, of course I feel happy whenever I get to meet a good project; however, it’s still a job, where I would be having encounters with different people and I need to prepare for some amount of stress from the relationships formed through the project. Acting is a career where one would have to forge relationships and exchange something with so many people. I tried to avoid it, but there’s undeniably some kind of stress stemming from the job. Of course, despite the challenges, I always have a thankful heart for being able to work like this. Now that we’re talking about this, I have this thought: I’ve really been doing well. I’ve endured it well, and I’ve went through everything well.
Why did you continue working like that without any rest? I did that because I wanted to become a good actor. I thought that by doing that, I got to join many projects and had more opportunities to communicate with the audience through the projects. It is also one of my ultimate reasons to be doing this job; I want to share the feelings and emotions you can’t buy with money. It would be great if I am able to make the lives of the audience and the viewers a little more enriched and flourished.
Perhaps, luck seems to play an important role too for you, right? Yes, I can’t leave out luck when I’m talking about this. Be it how I started doing this or how I came to this point of my career, it’s not something that I planned beforehand. Of course, I always gave my best in everything I did and continued to uphold my belief. I believe that those thoughts and beliefs would be rewarded eventually. If that isn’t the case, then I might have fallen and failed earlier.
You are turning 29 this year, right? Yes, that’s right.
Are you in a better place now? Are you talking about financial stability? Yes, I’m comfortable at the moment. Now that I’m earning money, I even have this feeling of being more flourished myself. There are my friends who used to face difficult times with me back then and they are still working hard while doing part-time jobs. Back then, we couldn’t even dream of doing some things, eat some food, or the things we envied other people; now, we’re able to do them all. (smiles) Whenever I go out and have meals together with them, I’m the one who’s more thankful upon seeing them so happy. I’m receiving energy from them. There’s also this kind of rewarding feeling that I had; that those moments would be the time when I could return to just being the person Kim Jung-hyun.
We heard that you recently went to Hong Kong by yourself, right? I went there for a trip. I think it was around the time when JIFF was held this year. It was right before my schedule began for MBC drama Time, and the director was the one who recommended me to go for the short trip. The drama itself and the shooting are both important, but he asked me if taking a short time to rest would be better. He thought that it would be great if I could empty myself and have some time to look at my own self. I used to think that I’m someone who didn’t need such freedom in my life. It seemed like luxury to me. I thought that I was doing fine. But it turned out that I wasn’t okay at all. When I first landed in Hong Kong, I spent the first two nights there sitting in the hotel room, crying by myself. I cried a lot.
Still, was it a city that evoked such feelings from you? I don’t know. ‘Why am I having a hard time like this? What was the thing I’m so scared of? Why did I think that I didn’t need a solo trip? If only I knew it would be so nice like this…’ from those thoughts, I think that I have kept so many things bottled up inside me up until that moment. It was as if I was throwing a series of Whys to myself. It was a trip which comforted me a lot.
It seems that being able to comfort and look after yourself is a very important thing as well. That’s right. I think that’s really important, yet so many people tend to overlook it. It was as if the unfamiliar hotel room, the different language, and the space surrounding me awakened the emotions I have forgotten about. That was the moment I got to look back at myself. Anyway, from the third day onwards, I rode the ferry by myself and did people-watching too. It was great. Once I landed in Seoul, I had to go straight into filming; instead of the usual feeling of uneasiness, I felt light hearted.
Are you the type of person who tends to feel nervous before you go to the set? I think I’m a bit like that. As for the time being, we still have some time left, so filming for the drama Time has been comfortable for me. Hence, that’s the reason why it has been somehow okay for me so far. I have insomnia and I frequently have dreams about going to the filming set as well. Maybe it’s because of my strong will to do well. Still, I’m working hard to empty my mind these days. If I used to be preparing for a perfect answer before I arrive at the set, nowadays I’m trying to empty out space (on my mind) for a little. I like that better for me.
Are you someone who is strict with yourself? Frankly speaking, it might be cold-hearted to say it but I’m like that when it comes to myself; I’m harsh towards my own self. I didn’t comfort myself when I felt sad, and I don’t even look at myself whenever I felt lonely. Right now, I think that I should try to love this life itself.
How do you feel about Time, the drama you are filming at the moment? You probably think that the project will become a stepping stone for you to advance to the next level. It’s my first lead role on a primetime slot on a public broadcast, plus it is also the first adult lead role for me, so of course, it’s important. There’s the anticipation but there’s also the intention to do well. But then, the basics remain the same, as always; the concern on why the character I’m portraying shows a particular action and how he makes his choices; the worry on the strategy I should apply so that I can act while staying true to the character. I don’t want it to be too obvious that I’m acting as the character. I’m always worried, wondering if I’m doing a good job for it, but I should be able to overcome this. I believe that if I continue to build it slowly from bits and pieces like this, it will become a sturdy wall one day. That wall will protect me.
Are you making an effort to be wise? How about just focusing on your own feelings? I’m basically a person with many shortcomings. Although I do make an effort to think rationally, there are more instances where my emotions take lead. I just want to get to know myself better. It’s not that I’m trying to become wise or anything; it’s just my intention to live like a human being. I’m not sure if it will work out or not, but no matter what the outcome is, I’ll continue to preach on the beliefs I have faith in. When I do that, even if I don’t reach the exact goal, I’ll somehow end up arriving somewhere close to that.
Do you know why your face we saw 2 years ago was unforgettable? Because it was a face radiating with passion. It’s still the same for me. I really like the fact that I get to live as an actor. I’m filled with the desire to communicate with the audience through the projects. I also have the desire to provide a positive influence on the life of the viewers who watch my acting and my projects. I have this huge feeling of happiness at this moment, together with the feeling of responsibility. I’m well aware of the weight of the burden.