Every opportunity comes knocking on the door without any warning, but for Jang Dong-yoon, this opportunity is even more special to him.
A student attending a good university in Seoul happened to catch a convenience store robber. That was how he appeared on the news, and an offer to become an actor came to him. Isn’t it something unusual? He didn’t have any hesitation when he made the decision. At that time, he was literally letting go of the cards he was holding tightly in his hands and opening up his palms. If he happened to change his mind later, he was thinking of giving it up and leaving it behind. From that day onwards, he entered the world which did not exist in his life before. The perfect new days like freshly painted pictures. Everything was a first for the young man.
Busan International Film Festival is the biggest film festival in the country. We are aware that your film Beautiful Days has been chosen to be the opening film for the festival and you visited Busan for that reason.
It’s just a small movie. It was not a huge scale film, and the scenes we filmed were also just a few. Personally, this film is the first to be added to my filmography, and it’s a start for me. It held such significance for me, so to have this kind of result is something to be happy about. It’s sort of surreal for me but I do feel honoured about it, so I think it’s just a good feeling after all.
How many days did you spend in Busan and what did you do there?
I stayed in Busan for 3 days and 2 nights. I have always liked films, so I did have a lot of things I have always wanted to do as it was the first time I joined the festival. I wanted to watch the other films too and mingle around with fellow actors as well as familiarize myself with the senior actor. However, the schedule was too tight and I didn’t get to do those things. It was only on the last day that I had some time to spare and I got to have a refreshing bowl of milmyeon before leaving the city.
The character you portray in this film is Zhen Chen. If we are to compare it to the characters you have played before, it is the strongest character.
He is a Chosonjok young man who thinks that he was abandoned by his mom, played by Lee Na-young sunbae-nim. He holds a lot of resentment in his wounded heart. He is a Yanbian youth with a strange air surrounding him: his nationality, his way of speaking, and even the situation he encounters. In order to familiarize myself with that kind of environment, I even went to Daerim-dong as my own preparation and received a lot of help from people around me.
Do you have any memorable episode when you were on the movie set?
There’s this one particular day when I had to shot a drinking scene. It was supposed to be shot with an alcohol bottle filled with barley tea, but the staff somehow missed the cue and we ended up with a bottle of real alcohol. I found out about the mistake only after receiving the okay sign and having drunk the whole bottle. Well, it’s already too late, but the twist was that everyone was really envious of me on that day. Everyone on the set was probably craving a good bottle of alcohol back then.
Do you usually prefer to drink alcohol then?
No. I only drink to quench my thirst when the situation calls for it. Other than that, I don’t drink. I don’t even drink coffee.
You are a rare sight of a health-conscious young man these days.
Is that so? (laughs) We all have to prepare ourselves for the future somehow.
What do you think about the career of an actor before you actually become one?
I thought that actors are people chosen for something great that they have, be it their looks or their talents. Plus, I have always liked to watch movies ever since I was young, so I even dreamed of becoming a film director.
What are your current thoughts on actors, now that you have become one?
Honestly speaking, I feel a lot of fun and excitement these days. Of course, there are times when it gets difficult and tiring, but I quickly get over it as I think of the job as something enjoyable that I get to do. There are many of those times when I find out about new things, one at a time, as I act, because it is a path I have never walked upon. Those are the reasons I get the desire to try out new things and it only gets more exciting.
It seems that you are experiencing various kinds of new feelings.
As I acted out various roles in a number of projects, I got to experience various kinds of emotions and undergo various situations I have never encountered in real life. There’s no doubt that this line of work is appealing and special to me.
You have been taking on various kinds of characters and building up your filmography well so far. Do you have any kind of character you are particularly interested in doing?
I am very well aware that I have this baby-faced, boyish image to me. Although there are times when it has a positive effect on me, it can also turn out to be a source of restriction for me. Whenever something like that happens, I always wish that I can do a genre-specific project or a strong character. I also hope that I can grow older faster.
Jang Dong-yoon and a strong, edgy character…it is not easy to imagine that for now.
I want to do something like noir or action projects. But it is also good to keep this kind, nice guy image and get a good opportunity to showcase what I got. I don’t really spare myself when it comes to my body and physical activities. Sometimes there were scenes where I had to dodge myself and it was really fun. The stunt director also praised me, saying, ‘Oh, you’re doing better than what I expected!’ I’m quite fit myself. (laughs)
Perhaps, you are actually daring and adventurous, a complete opposite of your image.
I’m closer towards that actually. I like to be experimental, trying out and challenging new things.
Is there any difference between dramas and movies?
If I am to compare them with studying, a drama feels like having to solve multiple-choice questions quickly in a short time, while a movie is like an essay test which, despite not having that many questions, requires you to think deeply. Each of them has its own appeals.
How about reality show then?
I appeared on Law of the Jungle as my first reality show but I was too wild there. (laughs) At first, I was thinking of the type of role I had to play when I decided to join the show, but once we started, I realized that there’s no such thing in the show. Everything was real. I was able to show my natural self, and it was like taking a load off my chest.
How do you spend your day when you do not have anything on your schedule?
I still like movies, so I will go to the cinema to watch all the new movies. These days, I have also started writing poetry properly and it is something I have been doing from before, like a habit.
What kind of issue do you include in your poetry?
People. I usually like to observe people around me closely, and there is always be something that catches my eyes for no reason. People like the uncle who operates the tent bar in front of our study hall, the homeless elderly around the corner, or the sweeper who starts working at a set time. They are the people who exist in our daily life and appear as the most ordinary people.
How many poems have you written so far?
I think there are about 50 poems. There are 4 of them which have been officially published.
We are curious about the unpublished ones.
I want to publish a collection of poems if there is a good opportunity for it. I don’t really know when I will be able to do so, but I think I really have to write a lot. I am currently filming my drama (Just Dance) in Geoje, so I write whenever I have time to spare.
As you live, an unforeseen circumstance has led you into your current life. What does opportunity mean to you?
Most people would say that it is a streak of luck, but an opportunity can also be something that will never come to me or something I can never attain. Something will come in place of the thing that isn’t mine, and another thing will follow. In the end, an opportunity is something I produce myself. Nothing will come out of someone who stays still and do nothing.
Do you have something that will cheer you up without much effort?
I really miss my cat Dongyi. He is temporarily staying with my parents since I am in the countryside for filming.
So, if your parents happen to send you a photo of Dongyi through KaTalk right at this moment?
Of course, it will cheer me up 100%.
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