[INTERVIEW] Yoo Ah In ESQUIRE KOREA Cover Story Part 2: “I hope people will find some sort of feeling through myself”

Hey, Sikseekers! After putting some articles on the back burner for some times because of Yoo Ah In’s activities and interviews related to the film “Burning”, we’re back to continue the translations of his interview from Esquire Korea, May 2018, as the first Korea’s Santos Man, the brand ambassador of Santos de Cartier. To refresh your memory, please reread the first part of interview before starting the second part. Now, here’s part 2 of the interview with Yoo Ah In.


Cover Story: Yoo Ah In, Uhm Hongsik and ‘I’
— The feelings of Yoo Ah In

PART 2 [Read PART 1 here]

Shin: I think Lee Chang Dong is one of the few directors in the Korean film industry who really thinks about what a movie is. Everyone just wants to use the medium called movies to be more interesting in storytelling and to win viewers with more gorgeous scenes. Lee Chang Dong constantly explores and concerns about what the movie itself is.

Yoo: It is the feeling after all. A movie does not exist as a text, you know. But the text does. [The text/writing can exist in the form of motion picture]. I also approach in this way when I write. I’m not trying to give some information and persuade the readers, but to communicate through feeling and raise some certain feeling out of them. Even if someone is opposed to my writing, at least the feeling that I want to convey can affect them. I think a movie also works the same way.

Shin: Lee Chang Dong tries his best to convey the feeling, moreover to communicate through movies. We can feel the same way too in your writings.

Yoo: I tend to write in such way, and I like it because the others don’t write in that style.

Shin: Since we’re journalists, we write articles based on facts and theories. However, Yoo Ah In wants to express not facts nor theories, but the feelings or emotion, and they’re like an abstract paintings.

Yoo: The word of feeling is so intricate and too abstract. Though we have distinctive feelings, but human being’s feelings are not so simple. 

Shin: Yes, even if we see a red color, everyone wouldn’t say in unison, ‘this is red’.

Yoo: But it seems that in this era everyone lacks awareness of their feelings, of the anxieties and reflection on today’s human image. We’re so good at categorizing and simplifying the human image and manufacturing the goods to be consumed, aren’t we? But we seldom recognize/aware of how human of this age breathe together, feel in their own way, and how people come together to form ourselves as the whole, and to create the future. Everyone seems to leave it in some place [everyone is avoiding the problem].

Park: And you want to face this anyway?

Yoo: I want to wake people up. I hope that people will find/can experience some sort of feeling through myself, and figure out their individual feelings on their own; whether they’re the loyal audience of my movie, people who follow me on social media, and even the (online) malicious commenters [keyboard warriors, SJW and what not]. I don’t care much about what others think of me or how they judge me now. I’m paying more attention to how I feel. Maybe, because of this thought, I feel more relaxed.

Shin: The Joan Cornella Exhibition planned by Studio Concrete must be very interesting. [T/N: Joan Cornellà Vázquez, born 11 January 1981, is a Spanish cartoonist and illustrator, famous for his unsettling, surreal humor and black humor comic strips as well as artwork. He was invited by Studio Concrete to hold his first Seoul exhibition from April 6 to 30, 2018. One of his famous works is North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s heart-finger comic] 

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조안 코넬라의 개인전, 《조안 코믹스 JOAN COMIX》가 2018년 4월 6일부터 4월 30일까지 한남동 스튜디오 콘크리트에서 개최됩니다. ⠀⠀⠀ 이번 전시를 통해 재치있는 그의 작품 세계와 신작들이 소개될 예정이오니, 많은 관심 부탁드립니다. ⠀⠀⠀ 《조안 코믹스 JOAN COMIX》 by Joan Cornellà 2018.4.6. ~ 2018.4.30. ⠀⠀⠀ Studio Concrete presents Joan Cornellà’s solo exhibition. ⠀⠀⠀ This exhibition will be introducing various witty artworks by Cornellà, from April 6th, 2018 to April 30th, 2018. We look forward to seeing you all! ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ #studioconcrete #joancornella #soloexhibition #joancomix #스튜디오콘크리트 #조안코넬라 #개인전 #조안코믹스 ⠀⠀⠀ @sirjoancornella

A post shared by Studio Concrete (@studioconcrete) on

[Photo: Yoo Ah In and Studio Concrete team had a meeting with Joan Cornella prior to the exhibition]

Yoo: Joan Cornella has no mercy on the SNS addiction in this age…

Shin: It’s a criticism

Yoo: No, it’s not a criticism. If you put some negative tendency into your work, it’s easy to be considered that you are critical underneath, but it’s not entirely true. He just made (this phenomenon) narrative. Even when he refers to human violence or the brutality of this age, it doesn’t mean absolutely critical or enlightening.

Park: Doesn’t he express just as it is?

Yoo: He shows there is such a thing and makes people startled. This is just a feeling too. His works don’t say what/who is right or wrong, nor agree on one part, nor divide the good and evil. I think he just extracts both of the opposite extremes of the equilibrium as they are.

Shin: You’re right. Joan Cornella takes off the social masks. If you criticize that they are wearing fake masks, they won’t reveal themselves. But if you just touch the people’s hypocrisy a little, the mask will peel off.

Yoo: Yes, indeed. He doesn’t unmask but makes people throw off their masks themselves. The moment when they sympathize with Joan Cornella’s works, they unmask themselves. It is not explained in text (book) and is not expressed by accurate narrative either. But it’s clear that there is repeatedly existing narrative simplified in his own style. But to sympathize with his works, the people who visit the gallery must have their own hidden/secretive world within themselves. Only when they have such root in their mind, they can feel the same thing. If they possess it, the sympathy itself becomes art, and his work doesn’t make people unmask but can make them throw off their masks themselves.

Shin: Isn’t it an artistic moment when one unconsciously produces/approves the same empathy?

Yoo: The moment you feel the same empathy, you will recognize/acknowledge yourself, which also means that you acknowledge the society. We watch TV everyday and live with the hope of finding a dream and looking for a better world. But the reality is we see how ugly the world and human being are, how double-standard and hypocritical they are. We eventually see that the world is not always beautiful. But even so, I still feel something beautiful. The society and human beings are very complicated and get twisted from all angles. It’s very interesting to see how Joan Cornella unties the rope wound around such a society.

Shin: I guess among the Studio Concrete members, Yoo Ah In was most fond of Joan Cornella’s exhibition.

Yoo: At the first view of his works, I also approached it as fun, aggressive, or critical. But the more I looked into it, the more I felt that this was not the artist’s intention. While I was appreciating the works, I was looking into myself too. So, I think that Joan Cornella just wanted to show you how to feel.

Shin: Yoo Ah In seems to be an actor who takes initiative to put on a mask himself but wants to take it off. Is it because you can feel yourself wearing a mask and so is everyone?

Yoo: Maybe because we are all hypocritical and pseudoevil?

Shin: I thought Yoo Ah In chose pretending to be evil rather than being hypocrite in front of the public?

Yoo: We all live acting as oneself. Even from the moment I walked out of my house, I felt that I played some role. Even when I’m alone, I feel that I’m acting, and people think that I ‘don’t have oneself’ [as if his true self doesn’t exist]. Once I went home with my friends and gracefully sipped the tea while listening to the music. When I looked at my friends, I burst out laughing, like, aren’t we acting right now? Rather than acting, I think we are playing roles.

Park: Is that inconvenient?

Yoo: Sometimes I also feel strange toward the mask I wear. Even when I keep taking it off I still wear another mask underneath. Many people approach the concept of ‘my true self’ by taking off the mask or put on another one. Artists produce creative work through it. However, the more I’m getting closer too being my true self, the farther I am (from my true self). The more I seek, the farther it goes apart from me. I just feel awkward. I feel like I’m standing in this city awkwardly. I feel that others are as awkward as I am too.

Park: When do you feel most comfortable/less awkward?

Yoo: I think it’s in the moment when I fall into a certain realm of selflessness? It comes when watching movies or TV shows, or when I am absorbed or get caught up in something.

Shin: At that moment I really forget myself, which means I forget the awkwardness between the world and I

Yoo: That’s right. On the other hand, I can encounter my more distinct self. What has made me feel more difficult recently is that people react too strongly to my existence. Even if I just cough, people in the same space as me [internet-sphere] will take it seriously. There’s nothing to do about it, because an actor is such existence. I feel that my existence gives a burden to the others, so these days I hardly meet my friends and rarely go outside. I feel a bit more inconvenient. There was the time when I wanted to have the power to change the world with the least motion/activity, and created a situation that I favored just by lifting one finger. But now, it cannot make me feel at ease. It makes me feel awkward.

Shin: You feel too awkward and think that you might make people feel awkward too.

Yoo: I feel awkward. The world is an awkward existence, and everyone has more or less their own awkwardness, as if we are living with awkward acting.

Shin: Some people may not realize that awkwardness, because without any doubt they believe the mask they’re wearing is their real face.

Yoo: I’m now cautious even of talking about this. I used to talk with unrefined words. Making such safeguard and hiding in ‘there is no correct answer anyway’ or ‘I’m in a state of confusion’, I talked irresponsibly. But now I became more cautious about those things. I want to communicate better/more accurately and make people feel much better. I don’t want (to get the response) like “Yoo Ah In shouts at the podium that way”, not even “he’s very loud but attractive”, not like this. I just want  to focus more on how to express my feeling much better.

Shin: Do you want to be truly genuine?

Yoo: I actually feel guilty. Looking back at myself, everything was made from a desire to feel satisfied. I wanted to be conservative too. Just like this era [T/N: he means to say that he used to be like everyone else in this modern society, who pursues wealth and material possessions to feel satisfied]. To tell the truth, I don’t know why I’ve lived to the utmost extent. Why should I do well? Why do I have to play the main character (in a drama/movie)? Why should I keep on building my house bigger?

Park: This guilty feeling can also occur when I pursue my desire, or when I instill the desire into others/when I make people accept my desire. Is that so?

Yoo: As people continue to look at me while I’m doing my job, I got the celebrity disease [because of all the attention]. It’s hard to not fall for it but it’s a torture for me, too. I used to want to break the prejudice that others had about me by disturbing their sights and shoved my real face on them. But these days, I don’t want to get in touch with people that much [T/N: he doesn’t want to confront the prejudice people have about him nor affirm his desire to others now; he just takes things easy]. Whether I’ll make you wearisome or not, whether you will despise me or not, this is who I am. 

Part 1 | Part 3


Translated by BabymoonYasuyo of Yoo Ah In International Fans Community|Editor: Furbabe

© 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: Esquire Korea, May 2018

4 Responses to “[INTERVIEW] Yoo Ah In ESQUIRE KOREA Cover Story Part 2: “I hope people will find some sort of feeling through myself””
  1. Mari says:

    Another superb deep intelligent interview from YAI. Thanks for the translations!

  2. Laura says:

    Thanks for translating his awesome interview, guys you & Yoo Ah In rock!

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