The Secret Romantic Guesthouse’s Kang San and Ryeoun both keep going forward with an unbending mind. The unbending moments, filled with unpredictable shades.
You always get so embarrassed on set when the staff shows any reaction throughout the shooting. Have you always been this shy? Yes, and you can’t even imagine the end of it. Hence, it was pretty difficult in the early days of my debut. Even during the auditions, I got too nervous and ended up failing them. The paper with the script lines would be shaking when I held them during the auditions.
How about now? Are you okay? Thanks to the experience I gained through several projects, it has gotten a lot better, but I still get nervous during interviews or pictorial shooting sessions since I don’t have that much instances participating in them.
Still, you manage to get through it naturally. Besides getting used to it after some experience, I also worked hard to overcome the nervousness. I even searched on YouTube ‘ways not to get so nervous’ and meditated several times a day without fail. These days, whenever I feel nervous, I just let myself be. I think to myself, “I have just started so it’s just normal to feel nervous.” It feels that I get even more nervous if I pay too much attention to other people.
You really want to become an actor despite having to overcome your own temperament. When I was about to enter the first year of high school after finishing middle school, my aunt showed the musical Cats to me. It was a performance held in Korea and my tears just flowed when it was only the opening. It was more than just being impressed and there isn’t any exact word to describe that feeling. I never had any dream of being an actor back then, but on that day, I was completely captivated. A friend of mine who lived next door attended acting academy so I begged my parents to let me join him. Later, I prepared for the college entrance exam and entered the university.
A moment of experience changed your whole life. What is the most enjoyable thing about this line of work? It’s being able to live the life of a character that I have never imagined before. The process of analyzing the character in order to portray it is also fun as well. These days, I’m making an effort to find joy, no matter how big or small it is, on the set.
How was the atmosphere on the set of your first leading drama The Secret Romantic Guesthouse? I feel a sense of responsibility and pressure. I asked myself a lot of times, “Will I be able to do this well?” My feeling of nervousness actually became my driving power this time around.
It is also your first experience being in a historical drama/sageuk. If you could choose, what would be your joy and sadness on the set of a historical drama? We started filming in the middle of summer and and wrapped up in the middle of winter. It was so hot and so cold. If I could choose one thing that was sad, it was the hardship during filming. The joy was being able to immerse myself in the character thanks to the environment. Putting on the hanbok and being on the set made my way of speaking and walking change. I also liked that we got to visit so many beautiful places around the country because of the filming.
What is your favourite filming location among those? Songso Gotaek/Songso Old House in Cheongsong, which was the background for the guesthouse Yihwawon/Garden of Flowers. It was the first filming location and also where we spent most of our time, which might made it even more special, but it was a very beautiful place. You have to visit it!
The main cast are all of the similar age group so the atmosphere seems to be lively. How was the chemistry between all of you? Among the four of us in Yihwawon, (Jung) Gun-joo hyung (playing Jung Yu-ha) was the mom of the group, (Kang) Hoonie hyung (playing Kim Si-yeol) was the dad; (Shin) Ye-eunie (playing Yoon Dan-o) at times became the younger sister or the older sisters. I was just the Son#1? (the way he described it like he was just an extra lol)
How did you feel bidding goodbye to Kang San after spending intense time together with him? ‘You’ve worked hard! Yu-ha is tending to the national affairs so live well with Dan-o. Give birth to babies and live happily ever after.’
You have starred in a variety of projects: 6 web dramas, a 50-episode weekender, and even a historical drama. Do you have any tip on how to adjust yourself well on the set? If it’s possible to do so, I ask the assistant director to extend the filming for the episode. Spending more time on the set makes it easier to adapt myself to the environment. I’m okay even if they call me to go on the set for every episode.
Are you the type to personally experience something even if it was physically taxing for you? When I am comfortable on the set, my stiff body will grow soft. Only when I’m comfortable that I get to prepare myself freely with all my heart and at times let myself make variety of attempts (at something new). If I take a little too much rest, then it might make me lose my focus.
You seem to have discovered a brilliant way of doing your job. What was the reason (to adapt this way)? I think it started when I was filming the drama History of Losers (찌질의 역사). I really talked a lot with Director Kim Sung-hoon. Even when I was on standby, instead of waiting in the car, I stayed on the set. Since then, I felt that I was liberated from the pressure to do well and the nervousness.
You headed to Seoul by yourself all the way from Jeonju in order to chase your dream of becoming an actor. Was the journey to set your foot in the industry rough? Thank goodness, it was not difficult to set the foot (in the industry), but the barrier to join a project was high. Up until I came up from Jeonju and entered the university, I believed that effort wouldn’t betray you if you worked hard and diligently.
Did you experience a long period of turmoil? It was really difficult, up until last year actually. When I went to auditions, there were a lot of actors around my age who were tall, good looking, and as eager as me in looking for a chance to deliver a good acting. At one point, I even wondered to myself, “Do I even have the talent for this?” and considered dropping it all before going back home.
What was the reason that made it possible for you to overcome that period of time? People of my agency. We even argued and fought too. They supported and cheered me on fiercely but the outcome was always a letdown, so everyone was distressed. The world seemed to be against me and I was forcing myself to suffer, but it was also the moment I made up my mind that this too shall pass and I wouldn’t give up in order to go a long way in this field. I’m also very much aware that the unfolding future might not be as good as this moment right now; ordeals, big and small, might be approaching, but when that time comes, I’m determined not to give up. I don’t take what has been given to me for granted.
How did you endure the period when you did not have any project? Once, I didn’t meet anyone for two months; instead, I only went to the bookstore to read books and walked around aimlessly. I just walked and continued walking. There was this one time I walked from Janghanpyeong Station to Namsan Fortress before going back, which took about a total of 9 hours walking (boy…..). As I walked like that, I got to ponder about a lot of things.
What is left after having such a long train of thoughts? I get to view myself objectively, at the same time confronting whatever things that I have intentionally ignored before.
Do you still walk these days? Of course, but now it’s for working out purpose. It’s good to stay at home doing nothing but I tend to grow exhausted doing so. There are times when my spirit is lifted just from the thought of starting the walk, so I go out with the aim of trying out something again.
It’s like a charm. Can you suggest some of the decent walking paths around Seoul for the wandering youths like you? There’s a nice trail from Janghanpyeong to Hyehwa-dong. Walking until Naksan Park or Namsan Seoul Tower is recommended too. It will take about 3 hours round trip to Namsan and 4 to 5 hours to Naksan Park.
What is something that has been filling your thought these days? Shining Watermelon (반짝이는 워터멜론). We are in the midst of filming and there are lots of things that I have to show. My character is the only hearing member of his family or a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) who is a genius guitarist. I’m entrusted with an important task to portray this character who is skilled in sign language, guitar, and even singing. The guitar scenes have been planned for this month, so I’m worried about that. I’m thinking about how to divide my time in order to get ample time for practice.
Do you have any plan of starring in a variety program? I want to appear on Huh Young Man’s Food Travel. I love talking about food.
What kind of story you want to share with Huh Young Man? I want to introduce good restaurants and receive recognition from a renowned and respected gourmet. I also want to ask about his criteria of choosing a good and tasty restaurant, and what is usually added into the food which make them delicious. I like talking about the locations of good restaurants based on similarities with the place that I have visited.
As expected from someone hailing from the foodie capital of Korea, Jeonju. Do you have any soul food? There are too many of them, but first, I don’t have anything that I can’t eat. For today, let’s choose sundae gukbap (Korean sausage and rice soup). My favourite place is Sundae-ya, Let’s Eat Jokbal (순대야 족발 먹자, a restaurant in Janghanpyeong), combining mini jokbal (pig trotters) and sundae gukbap. When I don’t have any filming schedule, I will also order a glass of soju with it. Even when we were traveling around the country for The Secret Romantic Guesthouse filming, the staff acknowledged it, saying, “The places suggested by Kang San are all good ones.”
As an actor, do you have something that you really have to try? Standing on the theatre stage in a play. I want to experience the thrill of carrying a 2-hour show on the stage. The training period for a play is quite long in order to deliver it on the stage. Won’t it be a way for me to improve myself through the process? I really want to try doing so once.
What kind of topic you discuss with your friends when you go out to meet them? Most of them are my friends from the university, but we have met so frequently that we don’t have any topic left to talk about anymore. We all love to search for interesting videos and watch them together. These days, we’re into watching videos from Psick University (피식대학) and copying them. We do voice impressions and rate each other while playing bowling.
That is unexpected. Do you have any impression that you are confident with? I can do the one of Kwon Hyuk-soo sunbae-nim copying Lee Kyung-young. “It’s great!”