December 9, 2020
Good morning! A very cold one here in Boston today at -2 C. To warm up, I will be sharing images of Jung Il woo in green plaid or tartan. As a bonus I am including a few interviews with them from their time… enjoy!
Interview with Actor Jung Il-woo – 2009.10.30 by 10asia.
It was early 2007 when I first met Jung ll-woo. He was playing Lee Yoon-ho, the troublemaker high-school student in MBC sitcom “High Kick”. He was actually a freshman in college but he, who looked better in his on-screen school uniform and captured the hearts of female fans around the country with his bright smile, said few words and was a little shy, as if he was not used to the sudden spotlight. Two more years passed. During that time, Jung Il-woo stepped down from taking on teen heartthrob roles and appeared as one of many stars in the omnibus film “My Love” and came back as Iljimae in MBC’s “Iljimae Returns”, which went into production six months prior to airing. Time flies by fast, but Jung Il-woo doesn’t rush in his steps. What is he thinking and what has he learned, from being a boy who became a top star at 20 and growing up be a 23-year-old young man? This is the very reason I wanted to meet Jung Il-woo, who has matured quite a bit through “Iljimae Returns”. And the Jung Il-woo that I met again was shy no more.
10: Your voice sounds better than before.
Jung Il-woo (Jung): Thank you. (laugh) My voice did change. The character of Iljimae is very cold and composed so it seems to have also changed while rehearsing. It’ll probably change again in my next role.
10: I heard “Iljimae Returns” is nearing the end of its shoot. How is it coming?
Jung: I’m shooting the 23rd episode. We have a lot of on-location shoots, so a few days ago I was in Gwang-yang and I think I’ll be going to Wando one more time. Gangwon-do, Jeolla-do, Gyeongsang-do… there is no place that we haven’t been to in the country. We do a lot of shooting in the mountains, so we turn off our mobile phones often because it doesn’t work anyway. When we can’t drive a car into the mountains, I carry an equipment too and we climb the mountains to shoot. (laugh)
10: “Returns” started shooting last summer. How was your first meeting with director Hwang In-roe?
Jung: He asked me a lot of personal questions. Things like how I was doing, what my family was like.
10: Up til then, I heard you were preparing for “Triple” with director Lee Yoon-jung.
Jung: I didn’t sign a contract but I had been preparing for that role for about four months. I was going to play a short track skater, so I skated for seven hours every day.
10: That must have been hard. Did you get good records? (laugh)
Jung: If it takes female skating champions eight seconds to do one lap, I got about ten seconds.
10: Then you must have felt like you wasted all that practice when deciding to do “Iljimae Returns” instead of “Triple”.
Jung: Not really. I think when you do something, you’ll be able to use it someday. It was a good experience.
10: Director Kim Byung-wook of “High Kick”, Lee Yoon-jung of “Triple”, Hwang In-roe of “Returns” — they are all top directors in their fields. You have worked with many good directors. How do you feel about them from your first-hand experience?
Jung: First of all, what they have in common is that they are all short-tempered. And they’re kind of explosive too. (laugh) But as far as work is concerned, all three are the best and they are really great people.
10: Before you started shooting, did you read the comic books “Iljimae” which is the basis for “Iljimae Returns”?
Jung: Of course I did. The first time I read it, I focused on the character and then I focused on the story. After reading it, I felt that Iljimae is a hero but he wasn’t born a hero. He goes through so many difficult and miserable experiences as a man, and he feels a lot and changes through those experiences. I don’t think a hero becomes a hero in an instant.
10: Do you remember the first day of shooting?
Jung: It was July 23, 2008. We were shooting in Dan-yang and it was a scene where Iljimae is training martial arts with his master during the Ching Dynasty. It really rained a lot that day but the director forced us to shoot all day. It was trouble, from day one. (laugh)
10: Director Hwang is pretty strict and requires a certain level of acting from the actors. How does he bring that out on set?
Jung: He gets angry. He says, “Do it right!” (laugh) But I found out later that he doesn’t get angry with women. (laugh) In the beginning, he said that Iljimae, not Jung Il-woo, has to come out so I worried a lot about that. For example, he told me not to laugh on set and not to make loud noises when I got hurt, things like that. And I took in all of that literally and tried to become Iljimae. So director Hwang doesn’t get angry often these days. He doesn’t give me many instructions either, just general stuff like, ‘Try doing it like this’.
10: But the character of Iljimae is incredibly complicated and unique. It must have been hard to understand because the character is so unique and impossible to copy off from anyone else.
Jung: That was the hardest thing. The director tells me not to laugh sometimes and to laugh sometimes. And even when I’m supposed to laugh, when it has to be subtle, he tells me to laugh ‘ambiguously’. (laugh) I think it took up to 13 to 14 episodes to establish the character’s identity. But when I think about it, Iljimae was not a hero from the start but he changes as he goes through a lot of confusion and experiences. So I think I’m growing with the drama as well.
10: The drama has a lot of action scenes. What was it like to play a master who had mastered all the martial arts from three countries — Korea, China and Japan?
Jung: I had learned hapgido in the past and I went through basic physical strength training for a month before we started shooting. I worked out for seven hours daily, including running 7 kilometers every day. I love to exercise so the action scenes weren’t that hard to do, except when I didn’t get much sleep or had to stay up all night. The wire actions were actually fun.
10: The melodrama between Iljimae and Weol-hee (played by Yoon Jin-seo) is as important as the action. How do you think Iljimae feels about Weol-hee?
Jung: Like it is in the original comic books, I think the woman that Iljimae loves is his first love Dal-yi who was killed by the government. To be blunt about Iljimae, maybe he was just playing with Weol-hee. (laugh) That is the only explanation I have. He was with Weol-hee for several years, but when he wants to see her, he comes to talk, hang around and leaves. Then he talks about marriage and takes it back. He abandons Weol-hee somewhere and doesn’t come back. Really, he’s a bad guy. (laugh) So that’s why Weol-hee even attempts suicide. The director says Iljimae likes Weol-hee, but I don’t think he does. Um, that is.. He does like her but I don’t think he loves here. But it’s a unique characteristic of the drama where the feelings don’t flow from one extreme to the other. I think the director wants it that way too. The situations may be dramatic but it doesn’t hit rock bottom.
10: One of the most important subject matters in the original story is Iljimae’s disguise as a woman. I wondered how it was going to be shown in the drama. What was it like playing a gi-saeng?
Jung: It was just acting so it was okay, but it was extremely difficult wearing a woman’s han-bok. The skirt strings are tightened very firmly around the chest area so that hurt, and it was uncomfortable wearing the big wig. Even the makeup took over an hour. It was a once-in-a-lifetime, painful experience. (laugh)
10: You looked pretty good as long as it was a full shot. Of course, standing 6 foot in height would have been rare for a woman or a man during the Chosun Dynasty. (laugh)
Jung: The full shot looked bad, no matter how hard I tried to look pretty. I was worried that people would be turned off by it if I looked too unattractive, but the response was like ‘Hmm, better than I thought’. So that was a relief.
Photographer : Chae ki-won email@example.com
Reporter : Choi Ji-Eun firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor : Lynn Kim lynn2878 @asiae.co.kr, Lee Ji-Hye seven @10asia.co.kr
ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved
Interview with Actor Jung Il-woo – 2009.10.30 by 10asia.
10: You could seem like the type who likes to play because of your image as Yoon-ho from “High Kick” but you seem to be more of a hard-worker.
Jung: When I take on a role, all I do is concentrate on it. It’s better to just be crazy about the work that I’ve been given because it’s the only way I won’t have any regrets or feel bad afterwards.
10: But what has changed since working on “Iljimae”?
Jung: I think I’ve finally started to know what acting is about. I’m not saying that I’ve become better at acting, but I’ve started to think about what acting is and how to express myself. Before, I used to think it was about memorizing the lines perfectly but I now know it’s about actually becoming that character. So the important thing is to know what the point is in the scene I’m shooting, not memorizing an extra word. In the beginning of “Iljimae”, I wanted to do well so I emphasized all of my lines but yesterday, Mr. Park Geun-hyung told me that it wouldn’t help bring out my lines. He advised me “Your acting will look much more stable if you emphasize just the important lines.” He also told me not to speak my lines too slowly because it would take out the young feeling from me and may make my acting look loose. The things I learn actor-on-actor and producer-on-actor are different.
10: Did you have any pressure about the ratings since you played the main character?
Jung: I actually didn’t. I had forgotten about it because we had been in shooting for seven months before it started showing. I was surprised when the rating for the first episode came out higher than I had expected though, but I also realized I had a lot to change about my acting so that was what I was pressured about. And when I called the producer after the first episode aired, he told me not to become too proud of myself if the ratings are good and not to become dispirited if they come out low. He said we would go our own way and that we would only be able to make a good drama by enjoying it ourselves. So I forget about the ratings these days when I go on set.
10: I heard that the first thing you talked about with producer Hwang In-roe was popularity too.
Jung: I had a bit of a hard time and thought a lot after seeing my popularity disappear quickly after “High Kick” ended. But it was my choice to take a break rather than take on a new role so I concluded that there will be times my popularity will go down, if it had been going up. So I told him I won’t dwell on popularity anymore and that I believe it will go up again if I do well.
10: Now that I think of it, your popularity during “High Kick” was immensely high.
Jung: It’s like a dream. (laugh) When I was doing “High Kick” though, I actually didn’t feel it that much because I was busy shooting and had a busy schedule. I realized I was popular when I went to eat at restaurants and people would notice me and when I went to shoot a music video in a provincial area and the intersection became packed with people who were there to see me. But I wasn’t in the position to enjoy it because I was always in such a frenzy and I was a bit confused whether they liked my character Yoon-ho or whether they like me. Of course, it was great experiencing it.
10: The explosive popularity that your close friend and main character of TV series “Boys Over Flowers” Lee Min-ho is experiencing is similar to your experience. What do you say to him about it as already having been there?
Jung: When you gain popularity, the most unexpected things happen sometimes. And Min-ho sometimes asks me what to do in some situations. But those are actually the same things I asked him when I was doing “High Kick”. (laugh) I just tell him to enjoy it. And that he should be careful because every little move he makes is at the center of attention. Of course, Min-ho is already doing a good job of that. Right now, I want to congratulate him as his friend and I think we’ll be able to compete in good faith in the future. More than anything, it really helps that I have a friend I can speak to who knows what I’m going through during hard times.
10: What have you earned and what have you lost while acting and gaining popularity?
Jung: I thought there were a couple of things when I was doing “High Kick”. I had no personal time and I wasn’t free to go wherever I want. But I’ve learned to give up on it to an extent. I’m living this life because I chose to, so I don’t think it’s a loss.
10: What do you think is your shortcoming as an actor?
Jung: I used to think it’s my pronunciation. My pronunciation wasn’t good while doing “High Kick” so I tried to fix it. It’s still not perfect but better than it used to be, and now, I want to be better with my facial expressions. Iljimae is a character who actually doesn’t show much through his face, but I have to be able to express various types of emotions with a single concept. You have to act from your heart but you have to have the skill to do it so I want to be able to deliver more emotion through my expressions or eyes. Although I will have to become older to be more charismatic. (laugh)
10: Then have you ever been thankful for being gifted in ways which will help your acting?(laugh)
Jung: Hmm… No, I don’t think I have. Acting isn’t about you not doing something well and doing another part badly. It’s about how well you express your character. Really, acting isn’t something you can get by with doing a so-so job of.
10: What has been the most difficult for you in life up till now?
Jung: There have been several moments but I don’t dwell on them. Times which seem awful sometimes turn out to be nothing later one. Basically put, I think I have a hard time when I’m acting because I have work, and have a hard time when I’m not because I don’t have work. I think that’s how it is. (laugh)
10: Then do you ever feel scared or lonely while working?
Jung: I have. I felt it during “High Kick” and feel it now too, but I sometimes fall into a slump that isn’t really a slump and sometimes get extremely lonely. But time resolves everything. You come across a turning point and if you don’t, you look for it. I had been depressed recently for a few days but I’m feeling very good now after acting with Mr. Park Geun-hyung yesterday. I try and resolve my stress in such ways.
10: Compared to the person you were two years ago, while doing “High Kick” as Yoon-ho, do you have a clearer vision about yourself or your future?
Jung: I’m not sure if anything has become clearer but I think I’ve become more relaxed. In the past, I used to be in a rush to choose a role and sometimes ended up not doing certain things at the last minute if I didn’t like it, but I’ve decided to take my time and take more consideration in making my decisions now. I also believe my heart is what is most important in making a choice. If I do something that I don’t want to do 100 percent, the result will be bad. I’m doing my best at “Iljimae” because it’s a drama I really wanted to take on.
10: Then what sort of drama will “Iljimae” be left in your memory as?
Jung: A drama which has made me realize a lot of things. Both as an actor and as a human being.
Reporter : Choi Ji-Eun email@example.com
Photographer : Chae ki-won firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor : Jessica Kim email@example.com, Lee Ji-Hye firstname.lastname@example.org
<ⓒ 10Asia All rights reserved>
This one is from 2011:
Also from 2011:
These coming up are from November of 2014:
Same coat at the airport…
Interview from Mwave. By: Ko Hong Ju Translation Credit : Yeawon Jung 2014.11.09
Actor Jung Il Woo Talks Taking Lead through His Third Sageuk
With three sageuks, he has filled his filmography with various projects as he enters 9th year of acting. It′s the result that has come from hard work. Drama The Night Watchman’s Journal ended with a happy ending. Taking on the role of ghost-seeing prince Lee Rin, Jung Il Woo became king in the end, making his dream and love come true. The past four months were not easy for Jung Il Woo. Not only did he suffer injuries from action scenes but he also had to fight against lack of sleep due to straining schedules. He said, “I had to film by pinching my thighs. Filming itself was a mental challenge.” The evidence of Jung Il Woo’s consistent efforts were shown through the project. Debuting with the film The World of Silence in 2006, Jung Il Woo acted out various characters in Highkick, The Return of Iljimae, 49 Days, Flower Boy Ramen Shop, Moon Embracing the Sun, Golden Rainbow and more, expanding his acting spectrum and made another leap through this project.
Q&A with Jung Il Woo
# How have you been since the drama ended?
“I’ve been keeping myself busy. I visited Jeju island and traveled to Sokcho with the production team and cast of The Night Watchman’s Journal. I have a tight schedule, including overseas activities and interviews.”
#How do you feel? Does it feel like the project is over?
“In a way it feels like everything disappeared all of a sudden. I think modern pieces definitely linger in my mind longer. Modern dramas are about things that might happen in real life and I wear modern clothes so sometimes I cannot easily get out of it even when it’s over. On the other hand, when I film a historical piece I feel like I travel to the past using a time machine. It feels empty once it’s over.”
# It was a journey of four months, which is not short.
“I filmed by poured in my everything for four months. It would be a lie if I say I didn’t get drained of energy. I think it’s time for healing.”
# It must have been physically challenging?
“I really had to act by pinching my thighs (laughter). No matter how physically fit you are, your concentration level falls if you act without sleeping for six nights. There were times when I had to stay up all night, take a shower and go back to filming. I remember fighting myself by pinching my thighs. I fiercely worked hard in order to not lose my consciousness.”
# Is there a reason you prefer fantasy-related genres?
“I think they suit me well. The Moon Embracing the Sun was a fusion sageuk and 49 Days also included fantasy elements. When I work on such projects, I feel like I’m in a game. I felt the same when I was trying to catch the monster serpent in The Night Watchman’s Journal. (laughter)”
# Was there anything tough about acting out a character who can see ghosts?
“It was a character that went through changes as he became a ‘night watchman.’ It was hard catching ghosts in every episode. The ghost appearances meant I had to film all through the night. This is the first time I had such a tough time filming.”
# Did you get injured while filming action scenes?
“I was injured everywhere including my face, feet and hands. I had to rush to the hospital once while filming an action scene. Although I have scars everywhere, I think of them as scars of honor.”
# You’ve filmed three sageuks already. As an actor, what is so charming about sageuks?
“It a genre that portrays very delicate line of speech and emotions. Of course if differs by characters but I think sageuk characters have charms that differentiate them from others.”
# Did you have a large responsibility as the lead actor, leading your junior actors?
“That’s what I was careful about. In my case, I always ask, ‘What do you think?’ as I try to adjust myself according to the others. Even though I’m sunbae, the hubae actors have certain characters and acting direction in their mind, so I tried to act by respecting that. Acting has no answer so it’s hard to say you can teach someone and since there is no answer, it’s always difficult.”
# You’ve proven yourself as a trustworthy actor.
“Is that right? I’m still lacking and have a long way to go but I was just lucky. Time goes by really quickly. I will be 30 soon.”
# You’re entering your 9th year of acting already.
“That’s right. The director tells me to act however I like since I’ve acted for almost 10 years. He really didn’t gave me any direction until the end and respected my acting style. I think I was able to concentrate more because I felt like he had his trust in me.”
# Has anything improved compared to before in terms of acting?
“If I was in the process of finding my color before, I’m definitely more relaxed now. I personally feel like I’ve improved in terms of pronunciation and vocalization.
# Finally, is there anything else you want to say?
“I will be wrapping up this year with an Asia tour. I would like to greet you with my next project without taking a long break. I don’t know which project I will be working on yet but I’ve narrowed it down to either romantic comedy or a completely dark character. Please continue to show your support for actor Jung Il Woo’s growth.”
2016: from his 10th Anniversary Japanese Book:
And these two teddy bears were made by Ilwoo’s mom… do yo remember in what drama he acts with them? the answer will be at the end!
The End! But…
…tomorrow…it will be Red-Green Plaid! ^^