[TRANSLATIONS] Yoo Ah In ELLE Men Hong Kong Interview Part 1
Following the fashion spread in ELLE Men Hong Kong, May 2016 issue (see here), here’s Yoo Ah In’s long interview, translated by our friend Oohhkkay! Thanks so much for giving us a special permission to share them with Sikseekers/Sikseekland blog, Oohhkkay!🙂
Yoo Ah In Elle Men Hong Kong (May 2016) Interview Translation (Part 1)
Sexiness in Solitude – Yoo Ah In
Yoo Ah In is famous for his strong personality, a bit rebellious but at the same time with an innocent smile and pure eyes. Rebellious, straightforward, sensitive, proud, weird, all the adjectives that are suitable for him yet a bit inadequate for this contradictory mixed personality. He was being called “James Dean of Korea”, also “wild beast type actor”, he beat Song Joong Ki, Kim Soo Hyun and was chosen as number one in “the most anticipated actor in the next 10 years” in a tvN variety show “The List 2015″.
In 2015, two of his movies attracted almost 20 million number of audience, and 2015 was called the “Year of Yoo Ah In”, he swept up awards including Blue Dragon Best Actor Award, Best Actor in Korean Film Reporters Association Awards , Best Actor in Chunsa Film Arts Awards, and the drama in which he played a leading role- Six Flying Dragons, occupied the number one ratings slot all along, the media jokingly called it “AhInShiDae” (Ah In Era). In 2016, amidst all the dazzling brilliance and titles, Yoo Ah In still continued his artistic life in his own way.
Man is the Sexiest When He Makes People Curious
About Yoo Ah In, he may not be the typical “Flower Boy” the public loves. He may not be considered a handsome guy with chiseled features. An average face seemingly with nothing special, the only slightly more impressive feature might be his “red phoenix eyes” (T/N: Chinese description for eyes that inclined upwards on the outer edge) that showed a hint of Asian disposition. A face seemingly with nothing memorable should be a shortcoming for an actor, but on Yoo Ah In, it became the surefire way to develop and expand his acting.
“Rather than talking about a particular part of the face, my face is overall not very symmetrical, a very asymmetrical face, for example eyes in different sizes, my smile is not symmetrical, however, a person is not flat but multidimensional. There are different feelings generated from different angles, I think this is my strength.”
Precisely because of the uncertainty, it brings flexibility. No wonder everyone says Yoo Ah In have both a good and an evil look, so no matter what roles he takes up, there is no limitation.
It has been 13 years since his debut in 2003, it is still difficult to fix a particular position for Yoo Ah In. Famous for being rebellious, but when you talk to him, you will discover he is very straightforward, sometimes so frank that it makes people misunderstand him as arrogant. Perceptive, sensitive, with unique perspectives towards life, acting and art. From the youth vitality in his eyes, he will still be like a big boy joking and having fun even in his 40s. From the perspectives of many fans, the two extremes of rebellion and innocence runs effortlessly in Yoo Ah In. Even Yoo Ah In did not have a standard answer on what the real him is like.
“An adjective to describe me, what I think of is “All no! Don’t know! Not sure! Chaotic!” I think this is the attitude and position of an actor should have. I am someone with lots of emotional changes, even to myself, I look different at different times, I am different every day, without a definite position. Under the packaging, artists often give the impression of being cool, sexy and cute. Even though it often seems like actors need to go inside these positive adjectives, I think it should not be like that. Actors sometimes need to be cool, but they also need to know how to become beasts. Audience who have seen me acting recently may think that I am strong, prickly and difficult, but after some time, I can still act in an innocent and weak role. A momentary feeling may cause a typecast, but when you go back a step and look at it, the chaotic, imprecise yet abundant way ought to be the attitude actors should have, and only this can make the public and society question and doubt you. Only when there is curiosity, there can be perpetual attention. Curiosity and doubt represent sexiness at the same time, don’t they? When one doesn’t make people curious, one is not sexy enough.”
This man is a puzzle-like question mark guy, in his looks and his personality, and even his opinion on how to position one as a charismatic and sexy man is also puzzle-like, “The man who makes people curious is the sexiest, and the most charismatic. I think I am sexiest when I am alone. When I am with others, I can be friends or lover. When one is in front of others, there is a certain level of additional processing anyway. When one is alone, there is no need to show anything to others when others can’t see, and when only I know. That is the most natural from inside out. No matter what I eat, I don’t need to care about what others think, that is the best. (Q: If that is the case, then fans will never be able to see Yoo Ah In at his sexiest?) Yes, but they can see the sexiness in a slanted or refracted way, kind of a second rated sexiness.”
Control Switch For Acting
Along Yoo Ah In’s path of acting skills development, all sorts of different characters beyond one’s imagination were portrayed vividly by him, no matter if it is the cool Geol Oh “Moon Jae Shin”, the strong and determined “Kang Young Gul” in Fashion King, or the wise and cold “Lee Soon” in Jang Ok Jung, Living by Love, “Lee Sun Jae” who broke all the restraints for love in the popular drama Secret Love Affair last year, the arrogant, psychopathic, emotionally open-book-like third generation Chaebol “Jo Tae Oh” in Veteran, or the crown prince “Sado” who have been suppressed continuously until he collapsed and went mad in The Throne.
Thinking back about the 13 years since his debut, he doesn’t know what to do if he needs to choose a representative work, “It is difficult to choose only one. Veteran, The Throne, Secret Love Affair, these three were filmed when I was 28 years old, these three seems like the condensation of my innocence and power in the 20s. I have recently finished filming Yi Bang Won in Six Flying Dragons, this character is similar to me physically, and it is an unforgettable experience during filming. He is definitely a multi-dimensional character, many aspects of me were shown in this character. However, if you talk about a character that is the most similar to myself, there is really none among all these. Many of the roles I have done before are quite extreme characters. The behaviorally more natural ones like Seon Jae in Secret Love Affair and Young Gul in Fashion King, they probably are more like me.”
Being able to portray different roles freely, Yoo Ah In also has his own ideas on acting, rather than portraying a character, it’s more like his personality dissociating into different characters.
“For me, acting is like a control switch, like when we go inside a room, the light will light up after we press the switch. Acting is like I have prepared a lot of ingredients and spices, and I can take them out when they are needed. It’s also like piano keys, they are already there. When I play do then it’s do, re then re, mi then mi, I have sorted out everything, all the emotions, all the interpretations. Whenever I need them I can take them out, just like piano keys and control switch, they will come out when I press it. Therefore, there is no need for me to leave a role because I am not an actor who will get inside a character and then leave it to get inside another one when it ends. Through the different characters, I change myself, others’ lives, others’ way of living, others’ emotion, others’ psychology; straightforward feelings, looks and hate would not be empty, because when I meet this character, I also change myself and walk onwards together. Just like I met Seon Jae, I met Young Gul, I met Yi Bang Won, just like meeting all the previous characters, and the characters I will meet afterwards will be more like putting down myself.”
Yoo Ah In debut when he was a teenager, he was forced to grow up quickly in his path of being an actor because of the expectations from the outside. Age is a double-edged sword. Entering into his 30s from his 20s, as a man, as an actor, Yoo Ah In is not in any doubt about the contradictory definition of maturity and youth even when he faces the challenges of young new comers.
“20s is a time for fast growth but when one enters his 30s, one needs to start to remember people and things around. Actually, both of them should happen in the same time. Now I will start to look into myself, bringing some of my thoughts and strengths to people around me. Going into my 30s, as an actor, I felt more responsibility because of previously developed image, opinion, and prejudice. I will be even more careful regarding these opinion and concept that were already formed. I am worried about typecast and being set in a certain position. When I was in my 20s, in a sense, I am like a piece of white paper, I can only show one single sided image only. Now, a lot of dramas/movies form Yoo Ah In, form me, so regarding how I am going to continue on the way, I have more puzzles and thoughts.”
“On the other hand, I think I am still very young, I still have the desire and urge for new things. Breakthroughing myself, searching for the true meaning, and abandoning them when I got it wrong, I am still experiencing this process. Because of the spotlight and the public, actors need to pay attention to their image on various aspects. And so, as a result, it seems that they are required to live in a small space, facing lots of oppression and forces, colliding with everything and then escaping from this framework, expanding oneself towards a wider world continuously, but keeping one’s freedom in the process, observing the world and at the same time using the things one observed to perform in era one is in.”