Na In-woo finished his run as (Kim) Byung-in in Mr. Queen and began his sprint as River Where the Moon Rises’ Ondal. This is Na In-woo’s faith in peace, as he finds the best way to carve his path amidst the circumstances given to him.
NA IN WOO’S NEW WORLD
Our meeting with Na In-woo, who was in the middle of hectic filming schedule for River Where the Moon Rises, started late at night. When it was the time for everyone to wrap up their day as they lie on the bed, Na In-woo was busy sweating off while climbing mountains for filming in Guri, Gyeonggi-do Province, before wrapping up his part in the countryside and coming up to the studio in Gangnam for his next schedule. There was no doubt that he was tired after the hectic filming schedule, yet he was the one who approached the staff (for the photo shoot) first. “If you let me know (about what to do for the shoot), I’ll do my best,” he said as he greeted the staff, bowing and folding his towering height into half in the process. His action made the staff roared in laughter, kicking off the shoot in a bright atmosphere.
Even when he had to join a new drama set all of a sudden, he was not shaken by any means. “I thought that it wouldn’t be easy. But then, thanks to the director, fellow cast, and the staff, I think I got to go through it well. Having received so much help from so many people on the set, it became a huge driving force to me,” he said, sharing his thought on filming his current drama. When asked about his curiosity regarding the character Ondal he portrayed in media for the first time, he answered as he flashed his toothy smile, “The character is an innocent and pure one. Although we are familiar with the image of Ondal the fool, my heart aches as I read through the script and realize that it is a choice he has to make because of his grave situation he’s in. I want to showcase Ondal’s bright self, as well as his pure and bright side with details. Although Byung-in’s love story did not end well in Mr. Queen, the character I’m portraying in my project after him has his love reciprocated.”
In the drama Mr. Queen, which concluded its run with the high ratings of 17.4% for the final episode, Na In-woo revealed himself bit by bit through acting: his smart action scenes, his gaze full of yearning, and his restrained emotions. Thanks to how he vividly conveyed Kim Byung-in’s unfortunate background story and the character’s feelings of yearning for love, the viewers were able to be deeply immersed in his character; as a result, his own presence was also raised to a different level. The smart, soft, and strong Byung-in definitely leaves an impression behind, thanks to Na In-woo’s fresh face plus his stable voice and projection. Perhaps, the reason why Kim Byung-in managed to stand his ground in the drama was because of Na In-woo’s hard work for such a long time.
His height had already reached 180cm when he was only in middle school, leading to him being noticed by the sharp eyes of a casting director. He started off being a trainee under JYP Entertainment through the so-called ‘street casting’. “I had the thought of taking acting seriously at the age of 19. Since then, I have continued giving my best in doing so.” From his first appearance as Dong-woo (Kim Junho)’s matured younger brother in the movie Twenty back in 2015, he honed his skills bit by bit by appearing in various productions: dramas Shine or Go Crazy, Golden Pouch, Unasked Family and Mystic Pop-up Bar, also webdramas Spark and It’s Okay to be Sensitive.
From the middle school boy who had a vague wish to become an actor from his days of watching dramas like Sorry, I Love You and Rustic Period, he has waited and endured the test of time to make acting as his job, studying his next scenes as an actor. “I’m originally someone who does things a bit slowly. The determination I had when I first started acting is still unchanged until I arrive here, at this moment right now. Rather than focusing on a certain turning point or reasoning, I’m someone who will continue to walk towards my own goal.”
Although there are news confirmation regarding his casting this year in the movie That Woman’s Bucket List and the drama A Blue Spring from Afar, Na In-woo himself isn’t someone who wishes for short-lived excitement or to be shining brightly only for a short moment. What he wants is something close to being a professional; being able to maintain his career well as an actor and being recognized as a pro. “Whenever I accept a project, I wish to hear reactions like, ‘That actor is made for the character.’ It’s because I want to be able to act well. I hope that when someone remembers me, they will think of me as a polite guy. After all, I’m still someone who is living among the society as part of the crowd. I find it enjoyable to be able to match well with various people around me. That is the reason I like being on the filming set.”
There is no such thing as incredible highlight in his life. To him, every single day is precious and filled with joy. Since today is the day he takes part in his first ever pictorial in his life, it becomes a precious day to him. When he’s resting, he prefers practicing by playing songs like Gary Moore’s Still Got the Blues and Jason Becker’s Altitudes on his guitar; other than that, he also prefers catching up with sleep or playing games to fill his ordinary days, but those times he spent are also important source of joy in his life.
Na In-woo chose trust, love, and peace as the keywords representing his life, imbued with his sincerity. “The trust between one person and another, the heart that knows how to love everything, and the attitude in protecting peace are the most important things to me.” When told that being an actor seems to be something that didn’t match him, he tilted his head as he explained in earnest to include the word ‘curiosity’. “I have always been someone who is curious by nature, pursuing and observing something I’ve set my eyes on. Because of that, I think that this line of work suits me. There isn’t any exact answer when it comes to acting, but the process of finding the answer is what makes it enjoyable. Truth to be told, that’s what makes it difficult too.”
He changed his stage name in 2019: from his real name Na Jong-chan to Na In-woo, which bears the meaning of ‘friend-like person’. “My real name means ‘providing help to many people’. I still find the name ‘In-woo’ awkward.” Still, it might be a deliberate move by the person who had been working closely beside the actor for 10 years in his company, giving the stage name ‘In-woo’ to him, someone who gives us the reason to smile. The normal and seemingly average Na In-woo’s existence, is probably something very much needed in this age, in a precious world where his sincerity and way of communication has proven to be a weapon for him to move forward.