[INTERVIEW] Yoo Ah In HARPER’S BAZAAR Cover Story July 2018: “A little less lucid actor and a little less obvious person”

Previously reported, Yoo Ah In strikes a pose for Harper’s Bazaar Korea, July 2018 issue. Bazaar Korea as the official media sponsorship for the DMZ Peace Train Music Festival, chooses Yoo Ah In as an image that represents the vision and purpose of the Festival. Besides the cover of Bazaar Korea, he is featured in 14 pages of pictorial. The photoshoot took place in the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea established in 1953 during the Korean War) in Goseokjeong, Cheorwon. In the middle of the photoshoot, Yoo Ah In sat down and had a brief talk about supporting the Festival and also his latest film “Burning”.

First, watch this adorable short clip of Yoo Ah In working together with a dove for the first time:

Yoo Ah In  – Bazaar behind the photoshoot in Goseokjeong (source: mpm329 & pljoon IG)


Note: Because this interview contains a lot of “Burning” film spoilers, we omitted/didn’t translate some parts. For more information about the DMZ Peace Train Music Festival, watch the English news from BBC here.


Harper’s Bazaar Korea: Yoo Ah In is Here Right Now


[INTERVIEW] Reasons Why Yoo Ah In Went to DMZ

The Gyeongwon Line was used to connect Seoul and Wonsan but it’s been shut down for years after the division, and now Yoo Ah In stood on the disused railway station. [T/N: The Gyeongwon Line is a railway line serving northeastern Gyeonggi Province in South Korea. The name of the line came from Gyeongseong (Seoul) and Wonsan, the original terminus of the line, in what is now North Korea. The line was severely damaged during the Korean War. After the ceasefire and the subsequent establishment of the Military Demarcation Line, the division of the line changed, with the South gaining control of the line further northwards as far as Woljeongri]. “Be here, right now!”. Martin Elbourne, the main promoter/curator of the Glastonbury festival in the UK, who visited the DMZ last year by going with a train tour, began planning the DMZ Peace Train Music Festival. And Bazaar planted a daisy flower here. In the midst of a turning point in history, the DMZ Peace Train Music Festival will be held in the world’s only divided nation, from June 21 to 24, in Seoul and Cheorwon, Gangwon Province, Korea. Only four days a year, the Festival’s stage will transcend nationality, politics, economy, ideology and race, and calls for freedom and peace through music. This page is an image that shapes/expresses the vision.

The Woljeongri Station [T/N: It’s a closed railway station in Woljeongri also known as “Iron Triangle Battlefield”. The station is a historical building/tourist attraction in the DMZ, which can only be visited on escorted security tour] is located in the civilian controlled area. The address is 1882, Durumi-ro, Cheorwon-gun, Gangwon-do. Only faint contour lines are shown in the Navigation beyond this address. It’s the last stop before reaching the Demilitarized Zone in the northernmost end. The fact that the South and the North are under the same sky crawls in the skin. Not far from Cheorwon is Paju, a filming site for the movie “Burning”. In director Lee Chang Dong’s first movie of eight years, Yoo Ah In became ‘Jongsu’, and he stays in Paju to fill his father’s absence. He said, “I looked at Taegukgi (South Korean flag) in the yard, listened to the South Korean broadcasting everyday, and while shooting I was having a sense of space that North Korea was just a stone’s throw away.”

In the middle of an early bright summer day, the part of the wrecked train that was used by the North Korean army, and was bombed by U.N forces in the Korean War, seemed to have softened over time [T/N: Located at the spot where the fiercest battle was held during the Korean War, this wrecked train marks the partition line of the Korean peninsula. The windows of the train car are twisted toward the sky and the frame and the body of the train are crooked and rusty. For Bazaar, Yoo Ah In posed in front of the train’s body], with the sign “The iron horse wants to run again” stamped at the front, between the red ripe raspberries and wild flowers. On June 23rd, at 2:30 pm, the first performance on the railway station by British singer-songwriter, Newton Faulkner, will take place in such a peaceful atmosphere. Sitting in a historical building which was restored in 1988 [Cheorwon Korean Workers’ Party Headquarters], while avoiding the summer heat for a short while, Yoo Ah In talked.

“It’s great to hear about the vision and goal of the DMZ Peace Train Festival. I wish I could participate in any way, and I wish I could help make this festival more widely known, and share the festival’s message with more people.”

Yoo Ah In has the power to draw many people into his creative orbit deliberately. Among the designers, artists, and stylists I have met, they call him “Hongsikie”, and many of them claim to be the members of his [creative] community. This pictorial was accomplished by the power of this community too. [T/N: Bazaar’s photographer Mok Jung Wook had his first solo exhibition in Studio Concrete in 2017, stylist Lee Jung Il is one of Yoo Ah In’s stylist-friends, Bazaar’s footage video was taken by Studio Concrete’s artist Kwon Bada, and the Festival’s event organizer team leader Park Ji Won is Yoo Ah In’s best friend].

“Whether it’s filming, exhibition, or shooting a pictorial like today, everyone who participates in the project always has a fierce discussion first to finally reach an agreement to pursue one goal, and I think that moment is very meaningful,” Yoo Ah In said. He added, “I traveled around this country a lot for drama and movie shoots, but I was so nervous at work that I just passed through them. But, today I was able to take quite enough pictures of this place and it felt really nice.”

A nostalgia of the 1970s flowed from Yoo Ah In who seemed to have moved to another dimension for a while, lying on a railing while holding a daisy flower on his chest.

In 1945, after the Korean liberation, Cheorwon was under the jurisdiction of North Korea for five years. The Cheorwon Korean Workers’ Party Headquarters was an old Sovyet-style office built by the North Korean Labor Party. After they discovered the ashes, the South Korean government predicted that the anti-communist activists under the Communist rule were arrested, and tortured, and slaughtered in this building. The opening ceremony of the DMZ Peace Train Music Festival will be held at the ruins of the old Korean Worker’s Party Headquarters, whose walls remained standing after the battles for the Iron Triangle in the Korean War, with its bullet and shell-scarred façade.

This place is famous for shooting the music videos as well, for instance, the “Dreaming of Bal Hae” MV from the first gen idols, Seo Taiji And Boys, who hit the scene in the 1990s. Thirty years later [after the restoration], “Burning” captures and brings the ‘feeling of looking into the world’ to young people today. It’s not easy to erase the helpless anger I strongly feel in Jongsu’s slightly opened mouth in his worn-out clothes from my brain. “The world is a mystery to me,” that face says it all.

“When I look back, I used to be Ben [Steven Yeun’s character in “Burning”]. I don’t know since when, but I was living in Ben’s world. I invited my favorite dongsaengs to come to my home. But what about the feeling that my house gives to my friends? I probably have created unnecessary desires and discomfort for them. I’m thinking in such a way since I had always been suffering because of desire. Our profession, for some people, might allow them to see some kind of light. But, for those who find it difficult to get close to that light, could it be just bringing them even greater regrets and misfortune eventually? Simply put, I was just pursuing my own beauty/pleasure. I just realized it after I took Burning“. Yoo Ah In implies that “Burning” is a “Wake Up Call” movie.

“Once I asked director Lee Chang Dong, ‘When do you feel sad?’. He replied, ‘I’m always sad’. [T/N: Lee Chang Dong constantly shows his deep concerns towards Korean society through films, but he never wants to teach or tell people what to do about the problems. He just throws them questions through his films and wants them finding out the answers themselves. Perhaps, that’s why he and his works always feel mellow]. My profession is to create a work that shows what kind of human being is and exposing this world to everyone through the character I’m playing. As such a person with such a profession, I feel enormous shame in many moments. I was so engrossed with myself thinking our job help the world, until ‘Burning’ woke me up from such self-absorbed world. It brings up some pivot points to think about, like, what a movie is and what a movie can do.”

The main site of the DMZ Peace Train Music Festival will be set up in Goseokjeong Pavilion, which has an extensive grass square and vintage recreational facilities nearby the Hantan River. [T/N: Goseokjeong Pavilion is the most scenic spots among the eight scenic views of Cheorwon. The crystal clear waters of the Hantangang or Hantan River wind around Goseokbawi Rock, a peculiarly shaped rock of about 23 meters tall that stands dominantly in the middle of the river. Goseokjeong Pavilion is a two-story tower-style pavilion that has an area of about 33 square meters, built halfway up the Hantan River during the reign of King Jinpyeong of the Silla Kingdom. Today, Goseokjeong refers to the entire area around Goseokjeong Pavilion and the valley surrounding Goseok Rock. In summer, the Hantan River become a popular rafting and cruise ship area]. Under the huge peculiar rocks and natural caves formed by active volcano during the Joseon Dynasty, Yoo Ah In jumped into the valley water and struck a pose while people who came to play on a cruise ship along the rocky river watching him. He greeted them once in a while and continued shooting, and the early morning shoot was finally heading towards the end.

Yoo Ah In is different from what I expected. The cynical and candid personality still stay intact, but the edges have evaporated and gave the feeling of softness. Could “Burning” and “acting ambiguously in a more relaxed state” had some influence on him?

“In fact, I think every moment in life is ambiguous, and I don’t know what to do when I have no answer for everything. But like the words that describe Yoo Ah In, such as ‘confidence’, there were times when I had to shout [scream the answer] as if I knew something. Director Lee Chang Dong’s filming scene was so comfortable, because he’s a person who just feels without intention, without calculating a person, and he’s taking ambiguity as it is. It was just what I had been really searching for.”

[Spoilers omitted] Yoo Ah In sees that ambiguous story is the characteristic of “Burning”. Basically, every action in the film has an unsolved mystery like that of infinite series. “What makes this film worth giving is that it throws you questions about what you understand and believe throughout the film. We tend to believe everything so easily. We judge many things, we love many things affectionately, and we hate many things too. We make our move/action based on such extremely personal judgments. I think that the greatest virtue of this film is to dismantle that situation.”

[Spoilers omitted] As the critics say, “Burning” is a movie where we can find a whole new experience of watching movie, different from what we normally get from other movies. Yoo Ah In said that, along with this piece of work, he became “a little less lucid actor and a little less obvious person”. It’s interesting to see what the future holds for Yoo Ah In.


Translated by Admin M of Yoo Ah In International Fans Community

© Yoo Ah In 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: Harper’s Bazaar Korea, Visit Korea

7 Responses to “[INTERVIEW] Yoo Ah In HARPER’S BAZAAR Cover Story July 2018: “A little less lucid actor and a little less obvious person””
  1. Laura says:

    Thank you so much for the full translations & not revealing the spoilers. I gotta watch BURNING to understand more about what he said on “being Ben”.

  2. Sophie says:

    “We tend to believe everything so easily. We judge many things, we love many things affectionately, and we hate many things too. We make our move/action based on such extremely personal judgments.” THIS!

  3. Kyi Kyi Soe says:

    Not because of a little less lucid actor and a little less obvious Hongsik but also of Your good translation (I think the paragraphs in red font are Your own research SikSeekers), I have learned more about Korean War. That is a history that makes Director Lee Chang Dong always sad, imo. Thanks a lot SikSeekers. I feel it and I mean it.

    • Furbabe says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Kyi 🙂 Yups, the T/N inside the parentheses stands for “Translation Note” , which is a note from the translator ^^

  4. Mari says:

    Yoo Ah In said that, along with this piece of work, he became “a little less lucid actor and a little less obvious person”. I think he always evolves. When I looked back 8 years ago he’s so much different now, in a sense that he’s more mature and open up about his feelings a lot. Thank you for, as usual, the excellent translations, girls!

  5. Yasuyo says:

    Thanks for the translation and notes in detail! This event was prepared since a year ago. Nobody predicted this year’s historical affair of North and South Korea and the shooting of ‘Burning’. The festival, the photo-shot place, ‘Burning’ and YAI were doomed to gather coincidentally. Surprise!!! And bravo!!!

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