Yoo Ah In “Sports Chosun Travel Talk” Part 3: “I want to be remembered as a youth icon”
During the Blue Dragon Awards special photoshoot, September 22nd, Yoo Ah In had an exclusive interview with Sports Chosun. The interview was published on October 20th in 3 parts. Here’s part 3 or the last part of interview, translated by Yoo Ah In International Fans Community
(See Part 2 here)
Sports Chosun Travel Talk③]
The true-to-life actor Yoo Ah In (30) is an icon of youth. There’s no perfect word to describe him other than that. He has rebellious eyes, he is courageous and he has deadly charm from head to toe. A young man with a passion that sparks and flourishes brightly every year. It’s Yoo Ah In who tries to strive forward and evolve one step ahead of others to meet his image. His motto is “I would rather disappear than giving up”– whether it’s a flowering path or thorny field, he’ll move forward fearlessly and restlessly.
Thanks to that, Yoo Ah In has spent his 13 years of career in a very constructive life. There are many peers who are enamored with Yoo Ah In’s ‘youthfulness’ and make him to be their muse, but many of them envy him too, because as much as they pour their energy out, he’s always one step ahead of the hustle bustle. They’re frustrated since he doesn’t seem to be out of breath. I wonder whether because he was born with a tiger spirit that it’s in his nature, or whether it is sustained by obsession.
“Bwahaha. I am always tired of busy life and I am exhausted all the time. I’m exhausted every single day. When I think about it, I’m not a good mental person. It’s not easy to be weak. But just like everyone else, I keep trying to catch up, to control myself. I’m naturally weak, but my inner will is very strong, that even if I don’t want to show you so much, I often reveal it, and I have seen a lot of disadvantages [for showing his strong will]. And every time I reflect on it, I think I grew up in that kind of experiment myself. I often talk about my shortcomings [flaws/weaknesses]; ‘I have a short tongue’, ‘my tone/voice is a problem’. Now that I have been acting for over ten years, my flaws are more acceptable, and I’m happy to let you see them, but I also want to show you how I try to overcome these flaws. As the saying goes, ‘all the worldly ugly pictures are in me’, I often recollected this sentence. Haha. Isn’t it a point to understand a character like ‘Veteran’ [2015, director Ryu Seung Wan] Jo Tae Oh? Not that I mean to forgive and praise him. Please don’t misunderstand, this is my way of understanding the characters. Jo Tae Oh is also a youth. A very ugly youth, a weak and pitiful youth. Haha. There are various aspects in me; pretty, good, and kind. On the contrary, there is a mixture of rough, superficial, and vileness in me. I’m not a special person, I’m just like everyone else. Everyone works hard, especially the youth. I am standing in the middle of youth now, so naturally, I’m working hard too.”
Some people refer Yoo Ah In to James Dean, the Hollywood ‘youth icon’. James Dean starred in only three movies, but he is the 1950s Hollywood film’s central figure. Particularly in ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ (1955, Director Nicholas Ray) James Dean shaped a representation of the troubled youth who struggled for worthless value in a rich and peaceful American society. He was a handsome shooting star who thrilled the 50s woman’s heart, he was like a firework whose sparks dashed fast and died at 24. James Dean, who took a short, thick, and intense face of youth, is still called the ‘youth icon’, and Yoo Ah In got the nickname “Korean James Dean” as his charm reminds every one of James Dean.
“I’m not as cool as James Dean, but I would like to say that I’m a youth icon with a larger spectrum than James Dean (laughs), because I’m in the age of youth, and I want to show you the most beautiful youth and the psychology of various youths. I want to be an actor who can show you the present and future youth. That’s my remaining task. But it doesn’t mean that I will be able to reach out and represent ‘youth’ forever. ‘I can show you the face of youth the best’– I just want to be seen as that kind of actor, if possible. And that’s exactly what I’m good at right now. I made my début in my teenage years and now I’m 30 years old. I always try to play youth characters. I think I have continued my acting life with that keyword, though it could be a critical hit to my ankle/tie down my footsteps [meaning: he could trap in that youth character typecasting] one day. When they think of Yoo Ah In’s acting power, I leave them an impression that I’m not living a peaceful life. Like a typhoon and a thunderstorm? (laughs). [Note: many people say Yoo Ah In has a stormy/high intensity acting and blazing energy in all roles he plays]. I know that the adjective ‘youth icon’ is very heavy and takes a great deal of responsibility. I know that it can turn to a weakness, but I don’t think that it’s exhausting or difficult, and I don’t want to abandon it. The more flexible and honest I am, the more I wish to live as a youth icon.”
Yoo Ah In confessed that he wanted the ‘youth icon’ identity stay in people’s impression for as long as possible. Thirty years later, forty years passed, even in his middle age, he wanted to be remembered as a self-portrait of youth. But even the youth icon Yoo Ah In is unable to retain the ruthless years. “I don’t know how much I’m aging (?)”, sighs Yoo Ah In, and we all laugh. There are times when he feels like an old man, does things like old men do, goes home and kicks blanket. [Note: “이불킥” or “blanket kick” is a fun word that many Korean speakers use these days, which means overthinking/having overactive mind during bedtime. It is used for a situation when someone is going to sleep and suddenly remembers an embarrassing moment, then she/he kicks the blanket unconsciously due to shame or regret].
“If I could, I would like to be called an ‘icon of youth’ until I die, but that wouldn’t be easy, would it? I will change, I will become an old guy. I’m aging. In the past, when my dongsaengs looked at me like asking [for opinion/advice], “what do you think, ahjussi?”, I tried to avoid it, so I hung out a lot with my hyungs instead (laughs). I didn’t want to be an adult, a nasty hyung or a poor oppa to younger friends. Should I stay cute to keep playing with my hyungs? Haha. But now it has changed. I feel more comfortable with the dongsaengs. I don’t know how much they feel comfortable with me, but the obvious thing is I feel comfortable with them. I was a very private person in the past and I had to be alone. I used to be fragile, but recently I changed and feel solid. I go to people without hesitation [take initiative to approach people] and try to be at ease. The world outside is a very scary place, but if you keep your spirit up and hold your center, you can overcome any ordeals. Furthermore, it’s also good to be able to look back at my own experience and see how much I have improved when I encountered terrible times. Isn’t that just a youth icon about? Haha. I’m still doing my best to not feel the aging of body, mind and spirit. But sometimes I feel like I’m getting better at being effective than I was in my early 20s. They say the wisdom of mature is seeking shortcuts and quickly going through this shortcut [in life] and trying to minimize the failure. But I think the real maturity is to be willing to throw yourself at one point where you want to be [in life] even if you arrive late. I think the whole world is talking about the so-called-maturity a lot smoother these days [people are taking the meaning of mature easy]. Rather than calling it ‘mature’, I think ‘slippery’ is more appropriate. Haha.”
The two-hour-interview with Yoo Ah In was far from enough to explain his fierce actor’s life, but it was a good two hours of meeting a 30 years old sincere and human beauty Yoo Ah In. He tried his best to look at himself as objectively as possible, and sometimes he was so cold and harsh [at himself] that he caught me by surprise. He’s a very confident person, perhaps because he has a firm philosophy and beliefs in his own life. The Yoo Ah In we warmly love and cherish is this kind of person, and this kind of actor.
Lastly, Yoo Ah In wants to leave the most extraordinary thanks to the 20 million people who came to see him at the theater last year, and to the fans who stood by his side and his family who have been around for a long time. Though it’s unlikely Yoo Ah In’s style, but perhaps it is Yoo Ah In’s most thankful style.
“I’ve been living my life trying to love things that I love. I want to tell you that I will continue working hard to show good performance in the future, I will love this job in order to continue the good work. Also, there’s ‘be happy’. I really appreciate it a lot and I hope you will look forward to it. I don’t want to say it plainly, but I can’t help but to express it like this. You know I’m being sincere. I don’t know for sure how many opportunities I will have in the future, but I want to do it before it was too late. Thank you very much. I’ll really work hard. And please be happy, everyone. Haha.”
Bonus: More photos from The Blue Dragon Film Awards Winners Special Pictorial
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