[W Korea March 2017 Interview Part 2] Yoo Ah In: “The person who can view a man the best is the man himself”
This is Yoo Ah In’s special interview with ‘W’ magazine, March 2017 issue. He became the twin cover for ‘W’ Korea’s 12th anniversary special issue with Song Hye Kyo.
See part 1 here
Here’s part 2, translated by our Sassy Translator of the Yoo Ah In International Fans Community and edited by our dear Korean friend Passerby 😀
[Man We Love Part 2]
If it was me 10 years ago, and if I saw programs such as “Produce 101”, which gathers trainees and make them compete brutally against each other, I would have cussed the show out. But now, I recognize the virtue of such genres. And instead of cursing the show, I’m thinking of ways so that those children can be healthier within the system.
Q: If charming and influential people actively revealed their lives and how they live freely, the world will become more flexible.
Yoo Ah In: Isn’t it boring to only show the neat side [in celebrities]? I ask the public to be a little bit more understanding/forgiving when they look at celebrities. And I’d like to tell my colleagues: ‘how about you have some nerve and live in a fun way?’. There are many moments when I feel lonely and in need of a comrade/like-minded person in the industry [T/N: Yoo Ah In wishes that he has more close colleagues who share his same notion about how celebrities should be living their lives just normally without worrying about the public eye. He rather feels lonely and doesn’t enjoys standing out as the free-spirited guy in an industry where actors are very protective of their own image]. I also think a lot, wondering about what role I can do for my juniors [to help them out].
Q: Judging by the baseless hostility that’s rampant in the portals’ comments, it’s not hard to understand the celebrities who deliberately choose to live quietly and safely.
Yoo Ah In: In the past, I used to blame the seniors, because I thought that they made the world not fun by apologizing to the public even when they didn’t actually do any wrong [just because the public made issues with their specific words or behavior], and by just adapting themselves to the needs of the industry. However, no one can be forced to suffer [T/N: according to Yoo Ah In, people choose their destiny and how they want to live life. They can choose to assimilate, and suffer. They can also choose to break the molds, live the way they want]. Wrestling up against the masses is extremely hard. I wonder if things would gradually be more fun/interesting in the future. Every role in the show business is different. For example, if it was me 10 years ago, and if I saw programs such as “Produce 101”, which gathers trainees and make them compete brutally against each other, I would have cussed the show out. But now, I recognize the virtue of such genres. And instead of cursing the show, I’m thinking of ways so that those children can be healthier within the system. If this would be considered nosiness of me [because he’s concerned for the kids and suggesting ways to make the competition better and not toxic for them], I am so glad to be called meddlesome. God! I am a person who is interested in people, and I’m endlessly searching for myself in them. However, in order for me to do anything about it, I have to be brave and jump into the world. Except I’m just staying at home these days (laugh)
Q: As everything you wrote on Twitter has become a topic for entertainment news and a fodder for controversy, these days, you hardly post updates anymore [on Twitter]. And it seems that you are a person who has a strong desire to write. So do you write them down somewhere else privately?
Yoo Ah In: I write on my iPhone. Whether it was a diary entry or an idea. I write things I discover. [I write] The truth of my life. I write everything. There is also a suggestion for me to collect them in a book, but I’m skeptical about that. That’s because I can’t read books so well. [T/N: Yoo Ah In has said in a previous interview that he finds it hard to read books nowadays. Because he reads one page and keeps thinking about it. So it has become hard for him to finish reading one single book. He can’t shut down his thoughts while reading]
Q. What are your thoughts regarding Instagram? It seems that in this era, the medium through which people communicate is constantly changing.
Yoo Ah In: Nowadays, I’m rather losing interest more and more. I feel that I know a lot about unnecessary/needless things [thanks to instagram]. There are times when things can get out of hand/hard to handle.
Q: When I see things like the fancy life displayed in Instagram and the relative deprivation it causes, I get the impression that the attitude of only accepting/complying with the online world has become dangerous. [T/N: The journalist thinks that the reliance on online apps, like instagram, for information can get dangerous. “Relative deprivation” is a term used in social sciences to describe feelings of deprivation and discontent that are related to a desired point of reference. Feelings of relative deprivation arise when desires become legitimate expectations and those desires are blocked by society. Applying this term to instagram posts: relative deprivation occurs when people, who are not poor by any means, view instagram posts by others who are more affluent, and who happen to like broadcasting their more luxurious lives. As a result, people who are less affluent feel less satisfied about their current financial status. They begin to feel deprived, even though they lead a very comfortable life]
Yoo Ah In: It seems that there has always been such a point of view when something that is different from the past systems emerges. There was a time when making phone calls with people without meeting them [face to face beforehand] used to be frowned upon. However, I do not think that a handwritten love letter is the more valuable way [to express love]. It’s not important whether it’s phone call or a text message [or face-to-face meeting]. If there’s a standard of communication that’s agreed upon within a group of people, and they get along through it, that’s good enough. In such a world, it would be no big deal to send a break-up notification via text message. Also recently, I’ve bought a VR (virtual reality) game machine [and I’m playing it]. And I’ve enjoyed watching the Netflix “Black Mirror” series. Its episodes deals with what’s likely to happen in the near future. There will be a bigger revolution in our lifestyle, and gradually, an astonishing world will unfold. It’s fun to observe and imagine that.
I became who I am now because of what I went through back then. I don’t think that the philosophy of life that I have was learned from a book nor someone in particular. I’ve acquired it on the streets, at my house, from the places I worked at, and from the many people whom I was lucky to meet. I’ve also learned it from the places where I had fun, and when I am together with my girlfriend in bed… I’ve gained my philosophy faithfully at these times and through these things.
Q: Now you are in your thirties. Do you think that you will be one of the older generation?
Yoo Ah In: There might be already a new generation who call me an older generation, a”pedantic” [an annoying older person who keeps on lecturing others]. When I was younger, I set a childish goal for myself, and it was to be a good adult. And that’s because I was a young dude who needed a good sunbae. Right now, I want to play such a part [being the good sunbae to his hoobaes], however, I don’t think that kids take it very well (laugh). In a world where the younger generation is forced to play clear-cut roles, in a world that breaks their spirit, I want to be a senior who can tell a somewhat different story. I wish that I could be someone who can show them different values. I wouldn’t tell them “you have to be willing to be poor to achieve your dreams”. I wish that I’d be a sunbae who would advise them on how the world goes. And I would never instruct/teach them to fully accept certain values as perfect/absolute [T/N: he wouldn’t tell them the traditional/cliché advice that older seniors always tell, he wants to be a sunbae who never forces his values on his juniors, a sunbae who doesn’t pretend that his ideals are the ultimate truth. He wants them to believe and embrace what they want to, and not to be mere followers]. Above all, I hope that young people do not try to live up to the values that others have set for them. I am also a person who is extremely affected by the assessment of others, but there are many things that are fake outside. If I live accepting these [fake] things as the truth, I will be faced with emptiness one day. The person who can view a man the best is the man himself. [T/N: he means to say that not all critique is good critique. Sometimes, people -for Yoo Ah In, that could include real life people and online comments- can give fake and empty advice or destructive opinions. So one better be confident, believer in his own instincts, and be his own critic. Because no one can know the person’s true dreams and capabilities more than the person himself. On the other hand, relying solely on the opinions of others can be terrible for one’s self-esteem and morale]
Q: When you talk with your hoobaes (juniors) and dongsaengs (younger close friends), do you feel any generation gap?
Yoo Ah In: I think that the younger generation people are clear and honest [they don’t hesitate/they say exactly what they want to say]. I see their simple attitude at pursuing the goals of becoming beautiful, rich, famous, and being treated well/well-respected by others. However, they might be pursuing snobbish values. And it’s sad to see the lack of reflection on the two aspects of that pursuit [T/N: Yoo Ah In worries that young folks don’t think about the two sides of pursuing such values. He thinks that it’s OK to dream and pursue riches and fame, but he wishes that they would pause and re-consider whether they are pursuing the right values or not]. Sometimes I think it’s reasonable for them [younger generation] to play better within the rules of society, and to live wielding the power, but I think that humans are not that simple. Humans are complex organisms and you have to decide on how to build your own complexity. If you think that the world sucks, you shouldn’t try to just evaporate your anger, but to think about how to approach and express it [to the world] instead. [T/N: Yoo Ah In sometimes think that it’s possible for younger people to gain power within the hierarchical Korean society, which normally favors seniority. But then humans are complex beings. Sometimes they choose to be safe, conforming to the rules of society. So they opt for simply copying others when it comes to their actions, beliefs, and even the values they pursue. On the other hand, sometimes these very people might want to be themselves. Sometimes they want to disagree and raise questions. And in order for younger folks to gain power and status, they have to define themselves, establish their own uniqueness. This is the only way for them to shine and conquer all obstacles. Yoo Ah In wishes that the Korean youth would know how to deal with their anger and frustration with the world. He wishes that they would express that anger with their works and other creative outlets]
Q: You started acting from an early age in teen dramas. If you happened to meet yourself in those days, what would you want to say?
Yoo Ah In: I will tell myself that I can run away. There was a time when I used to think that I was lacking in a deadly way. I used to think that I couldn’t free myself from my own world. There are moments when many children believe that the misfortunes they face are their everything [they believe that their world is shattered whenever they go through a problem], and they feel worse about it the younger they are. Unhappiness within the family, school violence, losing hope because of school grades…if you take a step back from it all [or when you look at these things as an adult], you realize that those things are actually nothing [in reality, it’s just a small matter]. But doesn’t that small matter feel as big as the whole universe in those younger days?! Recently, I watched a film called “The World of Us” [a Korean movie released in 2016. A touching movie about bullying at an elementary school, starring two little girls]. 30 seconds into the movie, and I was already crying. My life when I was around my early twenties just popped into my head. It was like facing myself in my early days and it felt like an emotional roller-coaster. I deeply sympathize with things like seeing a little baby facing the violence of a world, and falling into the abyss from which she can’t escape. As I was going to be an entertainer, I quit school early and lived not having much friends. I think that I was a kid who went on to find the stimulus of what’s called “pain”. And I used to wrap this pain up with fancy/splendid words such as despair/hopelessness. There were such moments in my life. Going back to your question, I don’t think that I will ever want to meet myself in those days. I became who I am now because of what I endured/went through back then. I don’t think that the philosophy of life that I have was learned from a book nor someone in particular. I’ve acquired it on the streets, at my house, from the places I worked at, and from the many people whom I was lucky to meet. I’ve also learned it from the places where I had fun, and when I am together with my girlfriend in bed… I’ve gained my philosophy faithfully at these times and through these things.
It’s like having an obsessive compulsive disorder. When I’m not dating someone, I try to find someone to date, hang out with friends, living like a Casanova and not staying in a relationship with one person for a long time. After all, being a lover is my natural character. Because I’m [originally] a fun guy, I do fun stuff when I’m dating my girlfriend.
Q: As a lover, what kind of person are you?
Yoo Ah In: A sick person. [T/N: he means it as in, when he’s in love, he becomes so obsessed and attached to his girlfriend. He describes his obsession as extreme. It’s akin to suffering a disease]
Q: Do you mean that you can’t live alone?
Yoo Ah In: I mean that being alone makes me feel a bit lacking. It feels like I’m naturally born with four arms and four legs, yet I’m only living with two.
Q: That sounds like the story of Plato’s Symposium quoted in the song “Origin of Love”, in the movie “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”. The story is that: originally humans were one-bodied (with 2 heads, 4 arms, and 4 legs). The gods tore them as a punishment. So as a result, humans roam around trying to find each other.
[Background on the works mentioned in the journalist’s question: The journalist cited Plato’s philosophical novella “Symposium”, which includes one of the weirdest –and most charming– explanations of why people fall in love. The story explains that human beings were once round, two-faced, four-armed, and four-legged beings. Angry gods split these early humans in two. So now, in this new age of split selves, the two halves, roam the face of the earth searching and yearning for one another. According to Plato’s book, love is finding that other, the original part of yourself. The movie the journalist referred to “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, is a 2001 American musical comedy-drama film written, adapted, and directed by John Cameron Mitchell. Throughout the film, the main character Hedwig retells Plato’s mythical story about love in the song “The Origin of Love”.]
Yoo Ah In: That’s correct. I watched that movie in the past, and posted my thoughts about it on my Cyworld Minihompy page. Those were the days when I used to do amazing movie reviews. I always want to be a lover [I always want to be in relationship]. It’s the life that I breathe, a natural part of me, like a member of my family, or like having an obsessive compulsive disorder. When I’m not dating someone, I try to find someone to date, hang out with friends, living like a Casanova and not staying in a relationship with one person for a long time. After all, being a lover is my natural character. In that sense, I guess that I should do some melodrama. I think that there are characters that I can build. Because I’m [originally] a fun/interesting person/guy, I do cute/fun stuff when I’m dating my girlfriend.
Q: So why did you avoid doing love stories? There was no melodrama or romantic comedy in your filmography.
Yoo Ah In: I avoided them because I wanted to be a good actor. I wanted to do something special. It’s a must prerequisite for star actors in their twenties to make use of their looks and do such genres. And I think that somehow I have done well [within the industry] without doing that genre [melodrama/romantic comedy]. There was a time when even my body couldn’t stomach the thought of acting in a cliché messy romance within the drama system. Right now, I think that I can do it in a way that’s less cringe-inducing. Likewise, I used to think of mystery/horror/sci-fi genres as difficult, but now I think that I’ve built up, to some degree, the confidence to do them. Although I have my enlistment ahead of me, I want to do as much works as I can whether before or after. I think that I can do it a bit differently than how it used to be done previously.
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