[PHOTOS & TRANSLATIONS] Yoo Ah In GRAZIA Full Interview, May 2015
This is a 14-pages interview with Yoo Ah In. Many nice new details and deep thoughts from Yoo Ah In revealed in this interview. Once again he never fails to leave us in awe and impress us a lot with his kindness and strong principles. One of the best things I always find in him is, he reminds me again that life is not about the destination, it’s all about the journey. So, sit back, sip your tea, choco or coffee, and slowly take the journey with YOO in this interview~^^
GRAZIA Interview: Yoo Ah In Studio Concrete
‘A comprehensive integrated creative open studio complex consists of gallery, library, atelier, shop and cafe.’ It was a clear definition, but there seems to be a lot of ambiguity in this description.
“A comprehensive place that will not put any restriction on any activity that encompasses art and creativity. We aim to reach out and create a close and long-lasting relationship in harmony with the public.” Such a vibrant declaration from a young group. Whoever see this will call it a heart tickling bluff.
I would say this is Yoo Ah In, and this is the dream that this 30 year-old Seoul residence has. [Note: He’s still 28, but is 30 year-old in Korean age]. Surprisingly we live in the same area. He was in the northern Hannam-dong’s junction.
I thought I was going to do an interview about a mischievous identity place, does it look like it?
No. It hasn’t look like that yet. Hahaha. Maybe just some setting space without specific identity which becomes concrete. I think this has something in common with my job as an actor. In the beginning it was nothingness, and then each one of these people worked with their own individual piece of puzzle that eventually joined into one complete picture. As a result, I think a little bit sense of identity is gradually springing up.
Earlier, I sat down and had a brief chat with your crews, and I was thrilled.
They said that regardless of the relationship as friends, first of all it’s the deep sense of trust in each of their abilities and confidence in every one of you. They praised you a lot.
Darn. It had to be fun for these kids for doing their first interview. Hahaha
People could say this while having some drinks with friends, “Aren’t you tired of working every day in the company? Let’s do something fun”, but the next day they just forget it as if nothing happened. I think it’s not easy to make this idea a reality. You’re amazing.
From a practical point of view, money and space are very important. Luckily, I happen to earn some money. Hahaha.
It seems that you make a lot (laughs)?
Wha.. hahaha. This topic can be annoying. I’m also an art person, it just happened that I make a lot of money because it’s the nature of my job. I wanted to share what I got with friends, with other artists and with as many people as possible. I thought I just had to start from that point. The crew members are all my friends, but I become moved by their art pieces and human nature. I wanted to get these treasure-like friends known to the rest of the world. We are not idols, but we wondered how things would be if we stick together as a 30-something group. It’s a difficult world to even stretch out our legs or lay our bodies down alone. But we thought that if we could team up together, we would show some kind of strength.
‘Yoo Ah In’ is going to be the bridge through which Studio Concrete’s works connect with the public. I think this could turn to a double-edged sword. The icon “Yoo Ah In” has already established a certain strong image.
Even so, we are able to control those misconceptions and prejudices well. My occupation as a celebrity easily causes a misunderstanding with the public. However, this ‘Yoo Ah In’ can be an opportunity that comes just once for my friends. We had to give it a try for once. At that point, I needed to stay away from my position a little. I was looking forward to the moment where I could do something from the scratch. Although my entertainer image could only give a weak impact, at least I created an opportunity through it.
When I was coming here I saw Studio Concrete’s billboard advertisement at the mouth of the alley. What is that?
Nothing special. I used to live near this neighborhood, and now I often pass by this road and always see boring ads around here. So, since our base is located here, I just wanted to put some funny stuff on the way there. Hahaha.
What’s the point of writing “Searching For U.F.O” (on the billboard)?
Initially, I intended to put a sculptured figure on the roof to surprise the passerby. Whether they laugh or shock or feel offended, I think it’s a good idea. In fact, this is how you do to catch people’s attention and make the impression stays long in their mind. Later on I wanted to deliver the message with expressions like, ‘Don’t panic. This is not a big deal’. I thought, “Isn’t this the task that U.F.O should bear?” Simply put, U.F.O might be insubstantial and absurd but everyone is going after something like that.
There was no one on the top of the building?
I particularly want to say about this; in this city, it’s hard to get anything. Hahaha. It is necessary to have the judgment of beauty because you cannot put the whole city into a mess. But the standard of that judgment are very ambiguous.
So, you didn’t get the permission?
I did not. At first we took a roundabout way. Then I thought, let’s just put it like that right here and right now. Anyway, I caused a very big “fire”. The anger is still alive and unwoven. When I’m out of gas, I’m going to pick it up. Hahaha. 😀
Now the studio is located in North Hannam-dong. Why picked this neighborhood?
Since we intended to build a diverse and complex open studio, I wanted a larger space to accommodate our purpose. But it is not easy to find such a building in Hannam-dong area. Even if we find one, it’s still very expensive. I think this is the best around, and I’m very satisfied with it. This used to be entirely a tattered abandoned buildings. We wanted to change it completely, but we also wanted to understand more about its identity (laughs). I thought it should be interesting.
What about the name “Concrete”?
It was Mr. Kwon Chul-Hwa’s idea. Hahaha. What was that? Why was that? The meaning of the word ‘concrete’ is ‘solid’, ‘substantial’, ‘real’, things like that. We spent a long time in creating name, because I kept opposing their proposals (laughs).
It felt like overused, although now it stuck in my mind. In my opinion, the word ‘Studio’ still does not have a clear concept about a group of organization. What studio? A photo studio? This is exactly why (laughs). This term is too general. But I like it now.
What is the first impression that you hope people will receive after visiting this place?
I did worry about it so long. I discussed a lot with the interior and construction team, but finally I got to judge that the first impression does not seem so important. I didn’t have to tie a cloth around my head [to think hard about it]. I told Director Cha Hae Young, “do what you like, you don’t have to ask for my approval. Just moderately clean, it will be fine. “(laughs)
This place is the crew’s headquarter and at the same time also used as a gallery.Then it would not have enough strong personality [like a real gallery].
That’s right. My first goal was to lower the threshold of the gallery. I wanted to rule the conventional stiff feeling out the gallery.
For how many days a week you visit here?
Well, I don’t come here too often. So far, five or six times a week?
Not bad for a real director.
Where do you mostly work?
Director Uhm Hong Sik seems to be almost the muse for the crews.
Hahahaha. The owner, not the muse. And the face.
‘Let’s have fun, shall we?’ It always starts like that at first, but then ‘fun’ appears to be pretty vague.
Rather than ‘let’s have fun’, I think ‘why don’t you eat well to live better?’ was more accurate. In fact, what’s fun about work? My friends are people who’ve already had a fun and full satisfying life, to the extend that life becomes boring. They are artists, but they receive a lot of pressures and get busier just like a company employee. I candidly thought, ‘Don’t you guys want to make a lot of money and success? Don’t you want to rise head and shoulders above others too?’ Some friends have the talent but always lazy, while some are disgusted with the secular desires. Since they don’t have thought or experience as a particular artist, I very much hope that they can get rid of that way of thinking. “Your desire of something, such as a good car, will not hurt your artistic sense. Just try to go in this way for once. You won’t suffer, let me help you guys”, this was what in my mind.
Perhaps because Yoo Ah In is an artist who works in the public field, that you have such thoughts.
Exactly. Over the years, I have been fighting about some ideas, I have been distressed for a long time about how the public label the ‘arts’, and I still continue struggling with it. An actor is a public artist and a painter is a pure artist? Hahaha. Such ambiguous boundaries certainly exist. I’ve been in contact with the public for a long time, and I have not stopped thinking about this issue. It’s not so much about thinking how to keep myself pure in this state, but rather how to explore the better arts. Only in this way I can try to manage my own secular desires. I have not quite got the correct answer yet, but since I have been pondering about it for a long time than my friends have been, I think I can give them some help.
After all, isn’t “I want to get everyone’s love”, the roots of human behavior? The more people the better.
I think so. You want me to read this interview, right? Hahahaha.
Not only you, I want all people to read this (laughs)
But I know some people think this thought is not as simple as that.
It is hard to admit it at first, since it’s embarrassing.
Everyone seems to have only one side in Facebook and Instagram to show the world their own expression, like, “Please look at me”, while they fear of exposing their true self. I very much hope, that these people who are very dedicated to it, get the love of others. But I won’t get caught up in it. Because I also want to be a better person, I hope to repay the love I received, and I want to grow. I don’t know what I’m becoming but I want to move ahead. I cannot live the same happy past. I guess I gradually became more honest. I was not like this before. Some people say that I’m still not a mainstream actor, but I think I seem to often deceive myself when I was a non-mainstream. Because the lack of a complete love, such as the absence of affection, I was like, ‘I don’t need your love, I can stand up for myself’ spitting this childish lies to support my back. In times of “true love” I fell into emptiness, but at the same time, through this whole process, I do seem to have learned how to love and how to be loved.
You have experienced a period of yearning for love of the public, and now you got a lot of love from everyone. And it seems you want your friends to experience such processes and emotions too.
That’s right. It’s exactly what was in my mind. In the beginning I had this idea; how about I just support them independently as my personal interest? “Let me provide you a creative space, because I have faith in you”, just like that. But that was just my one-sided standard. Let them open their eyes and find ways, even if you don’t like to go or change, it seems to be somewhat better. I often told my friends, whether in my actions or writings, “You can go to the mountains alone but don’t tell me that you are completely independent. It is impossible to gain absolute independence. No matter how hard you push open, you are still intertwined with this world’s slimy ground, you can’t get out of sight from others and their desires.” So I called them to make studio Concrete to “feel completely those words I have said”. Of course, you may encounter failure, or maybe someone will withdraw from it, but the important thing is to experience and go through it all.
If that’s your inner desire, then from the outside, what do you want to convey to the public?
Actually, this is a very difficult homework for me. First of all, the art that I think of is not something you do, but more close to something that you discover. I think that if the public believes buying an art piece is art, the people around me believe that art is discovering something and putting a new frame on top of it. To put it in commercial way, it’s as if I could spend 1 million Won to buy a coat or hundred millions Won to buy a painting to hang in the bedroom. Buying a postcard and taping at the head of your bed, or ripping out a magazine photo and posting it on your desk. Through this, isn’t there a new kind of depth that you create from something that was nothing? More than wanting to sell something particular, I want to participate in that action. Our biggest homework and goal is to allow people to easily understand the concept of art. This is not something I can do on my own. However, as a man of this age, as people who have a desire for what they want, I think this is a daily task that I’m assigned to. By bringing these ideas together, through interactions with people, wouldn’t it make any changes?
↑ (From the left) Director Cha Hae Young and Shiba Inu “Takku”, Artist Kwon Chul Hwa, Manager Kim Ji Eun, President and Creative Director Yoo Ah In~ no, Uhm Hong Sik, Design Editor Park Noh Seop, Artist Kwon Bada, Photographer Kim Jae Hoon.
Not only tremendous things can make the difference.
That’s right. Slowly but sure, you can make a change. But I think Seoul is undergoing dramatic changes. Sometimes, because people don’t want to break out from their own ideas, they become very defensive, but at other times, especially in science and technology, we are really easy to accept new things, and adapt in a flash. And in order to adapt to the development of science and technology, they even change their way of life unconsciously. I think art should have the impact like science and technology do. Arguably, more people pay attention to its value, and recognize art not as a luxury but something that enriches their life.
At present, the most prominent work of Studio Concrete is Tom Paper Magazine. I’ve read the latest issue, and Editor-in-Chief Uhm Hong Sik’s writing was really interesting. It makes people want to read and underline the sentences.
That article is full of satire. Hahaha.
The article has this sentence, “There is no right answer in terms of taste, we cannot look down on others’ preference of taste”. “Taste bestows creators the qualification, the ability to grasp the preferences of others, and helps establish the status of creators.” Were you creating satirical effect from this part?
I wrote about an actress’ style. Actually, I was about to cut that part out of the article. In my eyes she is a fashion terrorist, but I’m not making the rules. I have been through the so-called best-dressed and worst-dressed in those TV awards and the likes. I may have worn a lot of expensive clothes, have been overseas many times to visit fashion shows and understand many collection, but I do not say that these make me become eligible. Because in the end, I’m just formulating the right answer and the taste within the discussion scope. It must be hard to discern. Is this really my taste, or am I being brainwashed thinking “now my taste is the best” and acting like it is? As the fashion magazine must talk about a series of brands, as for my own taste, I think the most part of it is actually acting.
Because acting is related to style?
Yes. Before pursuing acting that fits my taste, I’m actually trying to pull off a real person in my acting. But often times it doesn’t receive public sympathy. But when I do a very typical acting I get everyone’s love. I’ve been acting for 11 years, and I’m trying to stick to my personal taste, while at the same time also exploring methods to convince people, that I’m working hard to improve my skill. Probably we need to analyze our work type to master it. What could be more annoying in everyone’s eyes? What is more reliable? What do experts think better? These days, people seems dare to master the so-called experts, so-called coolest people as well as determine popular style that they think the best. For example, artist Kwon Chul Hwa can draw very stylish pictures, but as a high school graduate, he failed to emerge in society. Artists need to think carefully about how to project their own tastes and perspectives, show them to the world, and gain praise. We must work to analyze the tastes of society where we live in.
Having listened to your own taste of acting, as well as doing the typical popular acting, I’m wondering how did you obtain both together?
It’s difficult to explain. I feel that this is not simply a matter of sincerity. The communication style to convey our message, needless to say, is very important too. Sometimes even though I mean to be sincere, I fail to include my sincerity in my acting skills. Or when my speech overflows, my expression becomes too exaggerated. When I want to convey the truth, it seems that I have to use popular style in acting. When I was filming TV series “Fashion King”, I heard many people say, “too frustrating” and “too much”. Hahahaha. Was it because I acted so much? Did everyone get used to the actor’s typical way of saying the lines on the screen? If not, then my acting was different, wasn’t it?
When filming “Secret Love Affair”, although the drama had its own tone, I acted in my own style and everyone accepted the result. It is very important to decide to what extent the feeling and the amount of emotions can be shown. While taking these into account, you also have to be aware of the outside influences. The best thing is, I know I do things that I cherish and love. Even being brainwashed by outside influences and tastes, I have been more impressed with the part which built me up with a great deal of experience. Being self-critical is a must, so that learning is necessary.
I think the best pleasure is to truly feel good in what you do, work on something that you really like, and get an instant recognition.
That’s right. We just said, “Please love me”, that’s what it means. It’s nauseating, but it seems something that we’ve longed for. When I am lonely, someone hugs me, and when I am happy, I share my happiness with someone and make them feel happy, just like that.
You’re a very warm person.
I am. Haha. But I’m not a person who speaks warmly.
What appeals to you lately?
Me? I don’t want to say it. Hahahaha. 😀
What is it? Is it illegal?
Hahaha. No it’s not.
Can’t you say anything? I’m curious!
If the words out, this article would make the news headlines.
I read the interview you did last year, you said “I have to bear countless attention of people and yet I take my pride in the fact that I have never given up being ‘me’ even once”. What is Yoo Ah In’s pride?
Actually, I don’t feel so proud of myself.. Hahahaha. I’m just proud of my own taste. Doing something that I love, and knowing how to carry on the mirror of life, and occasionally having a sense of shame, living in my own way or not depending on something you are forced to do. Some people may say, “doing only what you like to live is not sensible”. Perhaps because I am insensible I live like this.
Are you a man of high self-esteem?
Not particularly. Self-esteem is incomparable. Maybe I just have far too high expectations.
It feels like you’re a man who can do everything well. What thing that you do the best?
Me? Well… Love? Hahahaha. I don’t feel anything special. My acting skill is not the kind of stormy one either.
So what is your motivation that makes you able to do so many things?
Because of loneliness, to fill the loneliness?
Not wanting to fill nor getting rid of it. In the old days I certainly would want to fill it or make it disappear altogether. But now it seems like only a single measure to deal with.
So you keep yourself busy.
Especially busy lately. In fact, there is something that has to be done, but I want to run away. Hahahaha.
Where do you want to escape?
I think I want to go away from all the emotions. Distant universe? Hahaha. Once I came back to Daegu after leaving for a long time, and told my mother, “Mom, maybe I will go and live somewhere far far away.”
Do you want ‘me’ to disappear?
There are gaps in the middle of intertwined loneliness, love and desire. Although I keep myself busy with work, the desire to get away from this state seems always tagging along.
If you still cannot escape it. How do you push those thoughts away?
By arriving in a perfect judgment of ‘I can not escape.” Hahaha. Like this interview, it’s as if you could feel the whole world. It’s on this moment I’m just talking nothing, in fact, eventually confusing myself to determine which part of me to expose. I’m just a man who can speak nothing but the true answer, I can’t even tell the conclusion. What is art, what is acting, I don’t know. My driving force is loneliness, but that is the only best answer I can think of right now. In fact, I don’t understand anything, so I just keep being confused. The most positive thing I do to myself, is to keep this state of confusion, and to live. I wouldn’t say “this” or “this” is a satisfying answer. I’m just constantly looking for it, pursuing it, and feeling lonely, and alive. People told me that finding a shortcut in the process of living is smart. But I am a person who always listens to my endless desire. You just asked me, what is Yoo Ah In’s pride. This is the answer. That’s all I am.
It takes a courage to keep your principles and withstand the gaps. In that respect, Mr. Yoo Ah In is a man of courage.
Right. But like I said earlier, I am just an infinitely coward and shabby man inside.
You’re a perfectionist.
A lazy perfectionist. Hahaha.
Do you often feel nervous?
I gotta say that I’m mostly in edgy state. Just tensed, never increase, never relaxed.
Maybe you’re a clean freak? I notice you often use wet wipes.
My house is really dirty, but I do have a clean freak symptom. Hahaha.
People are full of contradictions. They might die if it’s all burst open. Maybe it is your automatic mode to maintain your balance.
Each person has different habit, character and tendencies. But the thing that defines a person is probably one of all his properties which stands out more. But acting is my job. Perhaps for this reason, I have all my properties exposed to the surface. I don’t want to destroy any part of it. Some people would probably think I’m a weird person. Just like that of multiple personalities character in the recent popular dramas.
You said that the occupation of entertainer is to constantly create misunderstanding, but it must be well controlled. I wonder how you do it.
It’s possible only within the conviction that ‘I’m always going to be a true man’.
The Studio Concrete first exhibition will be hold from 2 to 23 May. It will feature the group of artist; Kwon Chul Hwa, Kwon Bada, and Kim Jae Hoon.
1. Studio Concrete mascot Shiba Inu ‘Takku’.
2. The business cards of President and Creative Director Uhm Hong Sik. The face is drew by artist Kwon Chul Hwa.
3. Magazine Editor In Chief Uhm Hong Sik (Tom Paper magazine)
4. Paintings by artist Kwon Chul Hwa
“It seems that we have been able to communicate well before we were friends, and we look at the world in a very similar perspective. We communicate and exchange with the world through various means; Yoo Ah In through acting and expressing political opinions on Twitter, the others through photographs and paintings. I am looking forward to the mutual effect that will happen in the future with all this synergy.” – artist Kwon Bada
“Everybody comes from different professional fields, but in the end the ultimate idea about art is the same. Although we often get together and talk some bad jokes on art, we did not expect that we are going this way right now. All of us, including myself, are just like children who are abandoned by society. But Director Yoo Ah In put us together again. He changed our way of seeing the world and brought us surprises. He is the best Representative.” – artist Kwon Chul-Hwa
“There are really many talented artists in the world, but some are not famous because it is hard for people to know their works. I think through the works of Studio Concrete, through the figure of “Yoo Ah In”, at least we will draw people’s attention and our ideas will be heard. Perhaps Yoo Ah In helped us solve the hardest challenge of reality. Whether in the end we get scolded or praised, at least people see us for once.” – Design Editor Park Noh Seop
“The first few months with Yoo Ah In seems like two people together creating a seasonal magazine. At first, everything was a question mark. However, one day Ah In said, ‘I want to introduce those treasure-like kids to the world. You have a business savvy and I can bring some stimulating effect.’ Since I’ve been working in the fashion business for 10 years, I can act as a bridge between art and public. But now he’s nagging his friends nonstop (laughs). Back then while having conversations over the wine, he would cheer on us and say ‘Wow, awesome’. But now he kept saying, ‘so how are you going to put it through?’ or ‘when are you going to finish it?’, ‘don’t sleep, get up’. Just like a mother. Hahaha.” – Director Cha Hae Young
“My original main job was community service. Even before joining here I was very interested in social contribution aspect and the improvement of social awareness. I think it’s a good idea combining these heavy work contents with creative art. After worrying about who would later interested in us and who would come to us here, now we feel more able to catch up the direction. This requires a lot of experience and contemplation.” – Manager Kim Ji Eun
“I’ve been very interested in taking pictures and other areas, such as interior design, architecture and paintings. So when Ah In said let’s do things together, I was happy. At first I was not familiar with this style and had anxiety and doubt, but because I have so much confidence in my friends, my worries soon disappeared. I feel we are going towards more and more interesting progress.” – Photographer Kim Jae Hoon
Translated by Admin MM & Furbabe / Yoo Ah In International Fans Community
© Yoo Ah In Sikseekland International Fans Community
※ Any copying, republication or redistribution of YOO AH IN SIKSEEKLAND’s content is expressly prohibited without prior consent of YOO AH IN SIKSEEKLAND. Copyright infringement is subject to criminal and civil penalties.
Source: Grazia Korea