DEFAULT Movie Interview Part 1 – Yoo Ah In: “The idea of a woman dealing with the country’s major problem is fascinating”

DEFAULT, starring Kim Hye Soo, Yoo Ah In, Jo Woo Jin and Huh Jun Ho, surpassed the 3 million ticket sales mark as of December 13.

The film has accumulated gross box office revenue of US$22.3 million, and total ticket admissions of 3,071,324 (hence reached the break even point of 2.6 million production cost) as of December 13 since its official wide release in Korea on November 28. The film recorded 3,710,657 admissions as of December 23.


 DEFAULT cast celebrated the 2 million and 3 million milestones respectively


DEFAULT, a.k.a “Sovereign Default”, was screened at the 3rd Macau International Film Festival at the Special Presentations on December 9, garnering recognition from overseas audience. The film was also previously screened at the 71st Cannes International Film Festival in May 2018. The film has been presold to 17 countries including Canada, Italy, Japan, China (Hong Kong & Macau), Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and the United States.

Director Choi Kuk Hee posted his photo from the MIFF red carpet via instagram with caption, “Macau Film Festival”. Yoo Ah In dropped a comment, “Kyaak!” 😀

Director of the MIFF, Lorna Tee, praised the film, “DEFAULT is a very solid economic thriller with an intense human drama that gives a deep insight into the veracity of the 1997 economic crisis”. She also praised all the cast, including Yoo Ah In, “I’m impressed by actor Yoo Ah In’s performance. He was a cunning and yet charming character who bet on the crisis.”

DEFAULT got warm welcome from critics and audience at Naver Movie Database as well.

Source: Netizentown

62% people rated DEFAULT 10 out of 10 points
Accumulated film critics’ reviews: 8.78 point
Accumulated netizens’ reviews: 8.29 point

Reviews are in order of upvote/popularity:

9/10 I am not from the IMF generation so I cannot claim to sympathize or understand what it felt to live in those days, however watching this movie I found the people who endured that time to be amazing

10/10 I was too young to understand the IMF so this is a 2 hour movie worth seeing to experience that time and think about it

10/10 I felt a lump in my throat throughout the entire movie… All the actors did well

8/10 While watching Kim Hye Soo you experience feelings of anger and it reminded me of my own pain

10/10 The actors were so good that it could serve as a history lesson for those like me who were too young to understand what was going on during the IMF. Also the economy right now is so difficult that I keep thinking a crisis like this might happen again. A movie that makes you think.

10/10 Kim Hye Soo and YOO AH IN were so good, it’s a solid movie with great acting, it’s been so long since I’ve seen a movie that was good from beginning to end

10/10 While watching I kept thinking “how can such people control the country”… Anyway this is a movie worth watching

10/10 20 years later, this is a necessary movie

10/10 I was completely immersed in everyone’s acting


During the lengthy promotion of the film from mid November to early December, Yoo Ah In was having a string of interviews with a lot of reporters from various media. Here are the first part of his interviews with them which took place on November 21st.


Yoo Ah In “DEFAULT” Media Interview Compilation Part 1

In DEFAULT, Yoo Ah In played an opportunist character Yoon Jung Hak, who bet on the crisis for his own financial gain. He’s one of four characters highlighted in the film, but the overall story focused on Kim Hye Soo’s character. In short, this is Kim Hye Soo’s movie.

To the question asking why he chose DEFAULT even though his character’s part was relatively small, instead of other films where his character could stand out, Yoo Ah In replied half-jokingly first, “Because we are all afraid of sovereign default?”, he laughed. He added, “The sovereign default impact on individuals and nations is interesting, and apart from that, we all know how it feels like if we live in a situation where money is everything. Isn’t it a story that everyone can relate? I thought participating in this film was meaningful.”

Yoo Ah In further explained, “For sure, getting an attention is something because I’m an actor, it’s my job. But it’s not my purpose. My purpose and goal as an actor is to be a part of a fun work or a work that attracts me, rather than getting an instant love and attention. There’s a comedy in me (laugh), that’s why I was able to play a character like that of Chu San Bak, who wore a wig in ELEGANT LIES (2013). If the character is in charge of making the audience laugh because it’s necessary to get the dramatic fun of the movie, then there’s no reason at all not to go all out for it.”

Just like his character Jo Tae Oh in VETERAN (2015) that the public touted as his “life time character”, Yoo Ah In said, “The same is true with Jo Tae Oh. There’s no reason not to play an extreme evil character if it’s necessary in the movie/drama, hence I was able to play as a villain in VETERAN who was loved by a lot of people. Since VETERAN, there have been a lot of characters like Jo Tae Oh appearing on TV and he became a trend. I think I made that trend (laugh)”.

Yoo Ah In added that the idea of a woman dealing with the country’s major problem is fascinating. “I found DEFAULT very attractive and tempting in that the female character is dealing with the major events of the country. I was not the center character of the story, but it was worth it.” 

Despite relatively small, he knew his role had a contribution too, “In this film (DEFAULT), I believe that I have faithfully played a role that brought the viewers close to the feeling of anxieties and to the values of the story itself.”

So, which one is more important when he chose a project; the characters or the scripts/scenarios? Yoo Ah In answered, “I can choose either one of them as long as I’m fascinated by the story or the character. Even if I don’t completely resonate with the script and yet I’m able to relate to the character, I’ll be willing to participate in that work. And if I can balance these elements, the size of my role in the film is completely unimportant.”

Yoo Ah In has always taken on the characters who have nearly similar beliefs as his own in the previous works, except for VETERAN and DEFAULT. He said, “Someone said it’s a difficult choice to act as people who are not entirely yourself, but for me it’s a self-reflection, which is why I think I’ve made a comfortable choice to play in this film.”

“Yoon Jung Hak is definitely a different character than that of villainous money and power hungry Jo Tae Oh from VETERAN. While pursuing money, Jung Hak is also a person who expresses complicated minds in the inside– he’s a person who can reflect on what our reality is, what my values and beliefs are. He’s not portrayed as someone who feels the absolute happiness even though he finally achieves his desire. He’s got some human aspects and one whose conflicts inherent in us,” he said.

Yoo Ah In contemplated, “I have Yoon Jung Hak’s heart in my mind too. I’m also an opportunist. I want to have more than losing, to hold rather than missing. There are many moments where my choices don’t make me feel entirely happy, pleasant or good either. Sometimes it’s the feeling of guilty, regret or dissatisfaction. The same with Jung Hak, whom I wanted to express in a plain but realistic and humane way.”

In contrast to his character, Yoo Ah In doesn’t really care about finance at all. “I’ve met many many people, sometimes rich people who own a few buildings, houses and business, and yet they still feel dissatisfied. Meanwhile, I am just happy if I meet someone with whom I can share my mind and feeling. I’m happier to share my mind than a bad story or gossiping other people. They just make me feel sick when I go to bed.”

He added, “I’m not really good at managing money. My agency helps me doing it oftentimes. And, sometimes I’m worried about how to have fun when I do business [in his art gallery Studio Concrete] more [than about making money].. haha!”

In her interview earlier this month, Kim Hye Soo, who played the role of Han Si Hyun, expressed her gratitude for Yoo Ah In’s participation in the film despite being the “side story” or “overshadowed by a woman”.

Yoo Ah In said that he had no scene with the other lead cast in the movie at all. However, he felt that he got a lot of energy from Kim Hye Soo, Heo Jun Ho and Jo Woo Jin. “I didn’t play alongside them, but I often met Kim Hye Soo and Huh Jun Ho sunbae-nims in the film set because we incidentally had the same filming schedule, not because we had one scene together. And then I saw them through the movie,” he said.

Yoo Ah In gushed, “It’s not that I didn’t admire them before– I extremely respect and admire them, but after I saw them in this movie as an audience, I felt like they showed me what strength and experience were all over again, and I had a lot of empathy for them. Especially Heo Jun Ho sunbaenim, who expressed his feelings just by his eyes, I take my hat off to him. Also my respect for Kim Hye Soo sunbaenim, who threw all her mind and body playing her role, and Jo Woo Jin sunbaenim who played his role so keenly that I was able to understand and feel this person.”

He reminisced the time when financial crisis hit the country, “My father had a lot of hardships at the time of the IMF crisis. I was only on the fifth grade of elementary school, and ‘crisis’ was unfamiliar word to me but I knew it to some extent. Actually, my father’s business has already suffered just before the IMF crisis hit. I remember moving to a smaller house (laughs).”

When he watched actor Heo Jun Ho acting in DEFAULT (as Gab Soo, a common man running a pottery factory), Yoo Ah In said he really felt a pang of sadness because it reminded of his own parents. “I wonder what my parents’ feelings were like, and so I thought that everyone had to know this story. I feel sad that we are not interested anymore in these similar stories circulating on the news today. I chose this work because I thought I could play a part in delivering this story to my generation and the younger generation.”

Especially about Gabsoo’s ending story, Yoo Ah In talked about the change in Huh Jun Ho’s eyes and attitude which turned out completely different by the end of the movie. [Note: if you are curious about Gabsoo’s story and don’t mind the spoilers, read Shamrock’s Mom nice review here]. He said, “The scene was very interesting, and I think we need to understand why he turned out that way. As we can see nowadays, young people in Korea hold a grudge against the old generation and many things that they don’t understand. It’s not that the older generation has grown up to become such a generation [like Gabsoo] for no reason. When their past was inevitably clinging to money, there is a side of their mind that we, the younger generation, need to understand while living together side by side.”

He further explained how he studied his character, “I’m not strong in economics subject, I don’t know anything about financial terms, and when I was shooting this movie, Bitcoin was becoming a big social issue in our country, so I watched the news related to it. But since Yoon Jung Hak was not just a financial man, but a person who could foresee and penetrate the economic crisis, I tried to understand the people’s emotions and the national circumstances in such situations rather than just a simple phenomena.”

Yoo Ah In said he did the financial presentation in DEFAULT more like a religious leader did, and practiced the speech in front of his acquaintances from different background and occupation before he took the scene. “I’ve never sold investment products like Yoon Jeong Hak did, but I’ve also been in the process of persuading people to work together while doing my business (Studio Concrete, a multi-cultural arts support organization).”

He also said that he was very careful about the fashion in order to get into the character. “I figured out the exact sizes and styling of the character before the filming, and then I went to the first shot, but I just realized I lost weight too much (laugh). I felt like a kid in a dad’s suit.” [Note: Yoo Ah In shed his weight down to 57 kg for BURNING]. “I thought if I didn’t care about the clothes, I wouldn’t be able to immerse myself in acting.”

Besides practicing his financial presentation in front of his acquaintances, Yoo Ah In admitted that he had watched several documentaries from the 1990s background on YouTube. “It was only 20 years ago, but I just realized the tone of speech was very awkward. I was quite surprised by the very formal talk back then. I can’t believe that Seoul has become so different now…”

In the DEFAULT press conference and her interview, Kim Hye Soo said that she felt sorry for Yoo Ah In because he didn’t have someone to make an acting par in this film, and that he seemed to be alone. Yoo Ah In responded to her remark in this interview, “Kim Hye Soo sunbae said I was lonely [in this film], but actually I was not lonely at all. I’ve met Ryu Deok Hwan,” he referred to actor Ryu Duk Hwan (Ms. Hammurabi) who played a small part in DEFAULT. Both Ryu Duk Hwan and senior actor Song Young Chang (The Drug King, The Fortress) were always in one scene with Yoo Ah In.

“I got a lot of help from Ryu Deok Hwan,” Yoo Ah In laughed and praised him, “He stimulated and inspired me. Ryu Deok Hwan is only a year younger than I am, but in terms of career he’s my senior. He’s more accomplished than I am since his rookie days. He showed a good acting skill and the passion of a young actor. It was really fun hanging out with him. After he finished shooting, he went to my gallery [Studio Concrete] and we hung out there.” Yoo Ah In also mentioned that his favorite film from Ryu was Like a Virgin/Cheonhajangsa Madonna (2006).

About acting alongside Song Young Chang, Yoo Ah In said, “Song Young Chang sunbaenim played as my father in VETERAN (as Chairman Jo) and a friend’s father in TOUGH AS IRON (Kkangchuli, 2013), so we’ve known each other for several years. He told me a lot of interesting stories around the IMF crisis”.

To the question asking “what thing that actor Yoo Ah In keeps most in his life?”, he answered, “I think the keyword of my life is ‘balance’. I have various qualities, feelings, emotions, thoughts, and desires. It’s important to keep a balanced life, not a bias on either side. It’s important not to pursue the ‘most’, the ‘best’, or the ‘first’. If we pursue only the absolute thing, there will be a shame that comes from it. I think we have to open up to all possibilities and live in this moment.”

When asked what kind of qualifications he wants to have as an actor, Yoo Ah In simply answered, “I want to be an actor who doesn’t look awkward with any casting types.” He elaborated, “A while ago my close dongsaeng told me this: ‘Hyung, sometimes you’re wild, sometimes tame, sometimes realistic and sometimes idealistic, sometimes secular and sometimes you seem to live in another world. I can feel them’. I was very happy to hear that, because everything about me can be felt. That’s what I want to be as a person, and as an actor who’s able to express any kind of characters naturally– as if my work is not only one, not only for today and not only on this moment… I wish to be an actor whom people can have a lot of expectations from and look forward to.”

While telling the story of his close dongsaengs, Yoo Ah In was smiling warmly. He is proud of his friendship with them and they’ve been very helpful during his filming DEFAULT. When he practiced the financial speech in front of his friends who worked in various fields, what were their reactions? Yoo Ah In recalled, “It was like a blade. They said, ‘it’s okay, but try to make it fresher’, ‘isn’t it too obvious?’. I’m much more stressed by their advice/judgment. They’re the audience with a colder look than anyone else. I’m very grateful for their advice so that I could play better.”

Yoo Ah In isn’t quite sociable in the entertainment world. He admits he doesn’t have many actor-friends. It’s uncommon for him to have a drink with his acting colleagues or spend time with them outside the film site. But he has many non-actor friends. “I feel that my friends have played a great role in my acting by telling their experiences, showing their lives and characters, and giving me advice. I can say that their advice is the base of my acting.”

Yet he has other worries too. Yoo Ah In said all that time he had been certain about the kind of work and activity he wanted to do, “But now I wonder how to make it more fun than what I’ve done before. I feel it’s time to choose something creatively. I am an actor, a performer, and I think about how I should perform for the public in a different way than I’ve been doing before and create meaningful moments.”

He continued, “A lot of different scripts being offered, but an offer of a TV talk show is also one of my alternatives, and I’m inclined to that option. I’m not allowed to talk about that now, but it’s a program where I can fritter away my worries and communicate with viewers directly, and I’m taking part in the planning process too,” he revealed his future project. [Note: he was talking about his new KBS talk show program “Dool – Ain Going All Directions” that will broadcast from January 5, 2019]

Finally, to the question asking about his health problem, Yoo Ah In said, “Unless I give up my job as an actor, I don’t think that I should stop acting [note: he meant to say that his bone tumor won’t stop him from doing what he loves]. I’m taking care of my health by doing Pilates constantly and regular therapy too.”

To be continued to Part 2. 


Translated by Admin007 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.


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3 Responses to “DEFAULT Movie Interview Part 1 – Yoo Ah In: “The idea of a woman dealing with the country’s major problem is fascinating””
  1. Dee says:

    Thank you for translating these. What a lot of hard work! Appreciated much!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] the interview part 1, Yoo Ah In explained that the idea of a woman dealing with the country’s major problem is […]

  2. […] ranging from his role in the film to his personal life and SNS. We’ve posted interview part 1 last December and part 2 in January. So now without further ado, here’s part […]

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