Interview with Im Soo Jung
My current obsession with MISA has me drooling over not just So Ji Sub, but also Im Soo Jung. I’ve always liked her a lot, seeing her in …ING and I’m a Cyborg, but that’s OK. Coupled with the recent lovefest with Duelist and Kang Dong Won, Jeon Woo Chi has become THE film to watch for me. I’m eagerly waiting for the local kvideo store to carry the film, and crossing my fingers for a NY release.
I’m absolutely in love with Eun Chae in MISA and find Im Soo Jung to be such a graceful actor: quiet, delicate, and full of life. She’s a sight to behold. She’s been on the interview circuit with the current blockbuster. (Jeon Woo Chi has sold over 3,000,000 tickets in 11 days.) Below the jump is a recent interview where she is quite frank about her professional and personal life.
Q: I’m curious about the process you took in selecting Jeon Woo Chi.
ISJ: I wanted to be in a movie with lots of actors and play a character with some diversity, different from what I’ve done in the past. And it was with Director Choi Dong Hoon. There was no reason for me to think about the decision. Jeon Woo Chi is the largest scale movie I’ve been in and I looked forward to working with Kang Dong Won. And unlike the other female leads in Hollywood superhero movies, I liked that my character Seo In Kyung is independent and focused on herself. As expected, shooting was fun and the teamwork was great also.
Q: An immature young widow, a stylist, and even femme fatale. Even though she didn’t have a surplus of scenes, she was a character who experienced a complete transformation.
ISJ: Even from the time I received the script, the volume of scenes didn’t really matter to me. I wanted to participate in a good project (whether short or long). It was short but I was certain that it would show a different image. It was a project where breadth was more important than depth, and in the end, I was satisfied. Jeon Woo Chi is a showcase for the type of character that the actor Im Soo Jung can and wants to do.
Q: During the press conference, you talked about how Director Choi Dong Hoon liked it when you became weirder, and in reality, it was difficult to determine the character’s next move. She could be the funniest character you’ve done til now and in one sense, they’re all characters with a loose screw. (Laughter)
ISJ: That’s right. None of them are normal. I think that’s the director’s inclination. (Laughter) He told me that whether it’s good or bad, it was alright as long as the character didn’t fall into the anything typical. He likes characters who have have some ambiguity, rather than one who’s perfect. So, it allowed me to enjoy playing a strange woman. (Laughter)
Q: So Ji Sub has talked about your calm, but also commanding nature. You had to act hanging off the railing of the 21st story building. There were lots of talk about your formidable ability, different from your fragile frame.
ISJ: I did hang on wires during Cyborg, but Jeon Woo Chi was the first time I did real acting on wires. There was unusually strong winds on the day that we shot the scene you mentioned. It was a really cold day. I was held on by a wire but I still was blown around so much. I was scared to death. The top half of my body may have looked elegant, but my legs were shaking like crazy. (Laughter)
Q: How much does Seo In Kyung and Im Soo Jung intersect in their desire to satisfy their yearnings?
ISJ: Right now, our only similarity is in that we keep our cravings beneath the surface. I can say that we’re different in how we express ourselves. Until now, I expressed myself and my desires in a slightly negative way. But these days, I think about how exciting it would be express myself freely without caring about others, just like Seo In Kyung.
Q: How was it to act with Kang Dong Won?
ISJ: He has the ambiance of refinement and elegance, but also has a side of him that seems like an innocent boy. He also can be unconventional. It’s the contrast from one to the other that gives him charm as an actor. He’s also quite a clever actor. Depending on the situation, he has the instincts to quickly catch whatever is needed. Just like Kim Yoon Seok says, he’s a “superior servant.” (Laughter)
Q: Choi Dong Hoon gave you praise for your voice and delicate acting. He especially talked about your ability to not drown out everyone around you, but still show your quiet charisma and harmonious presence.
ISJ: I think it’s important to be in tune with other actors. I tend to think about the whole movie, rather than just my character, so it probably seems even more like that.
Q: You have the looks to spur on the Lolita complex and also have an animation quality. You also have an ability to keep your characters from being fully immersed in reality. I personally like that about your acting.
ISJ: Well, I think that’s why many people remember me in more fantastical roles than realistic ones. It’s nice to hear that you like that aspect. (Smile)
Q: How would you rate the results of this project?
ISJ: After the VIP screening, I heard commendation from directors, actors and filmmakers, who said, “Even though we haven’t seen you like this, it fit you well. I want to see you like this again.” Just hearing words like that gives significance to my involvement and makes me think that I’ve succeeded.
Q: I heard that Kim Yoon Seok, Yoo Hae Jin, and Kim Sang Ho took Kang Dong Won out drinking every night to lead him into the “world of light”. How about you?
ISJ: Not often, but I attended occasionally. After shooting, there was a nightly call to the motel room to come down for a drink. (Laughter) When you join them for a drink, it’s fun to listen to the older actor’s stories and laugh with them. I usually don’t like to drink while shooting, but it was fun to just sit with them even when I didn’t drink. Kang Dong Won and I both tend to be guarded, but being with seniors like them made us become closer quicker. (Laughter)
Q: I know that you joked about your initially confusion and disappointment, being next to Kang Dong Won’s beauty, even though he’s a man. But I heard that Director Choi Dong Hoon and Kim Yoon Seok formed the “Im Soo Jung Love Committee” while filming and started a new ahjusshi fan club. (Laughter)
ISJ: They did. I heard they formed it without my knowledge. (Laughter) But they’re no longer accepting any new members, especially anyone younger. I joked that I didn’t get treated like the only woman on set, but that was expected. I didn’t have a lot of scenes, so I only went on set from time to time. I was initially bewildered that Dong Won received more attention from the senior actors, but later it became fun to watch. (Laughter)
Q: So that’s why Kim Yoon Seok’s confession that he enjoyed his kiss scene with you seemed so honest.
ISJ: If you see the senior’s previous projects, it’s rare that they act with a younger female actor. They seemed tense at the scenes, but I think that was because of their concern for me. If anyone was shy, it’s more normal that I was shy. I do sometimes think about how things would have turned out if the seniors were more forceful in their interactions with me.
Q: Director Choi Dong Hoon said that he needed to work with Im Soo Jung to advance to the rank of distinguished director. You’ve worked with Korea’s most famous directors, Kim Ji Woon, Park Chan Wook, Heo Jin Ho, and Choi Dong Hoon. What’s your secret? (Laughter)
ISJ: Director Choi told me that I’m an actress he wants to unmask. In reality, there are dualities within me. There’s a bright and a dark side, a fun and serious side, a tendency for opposites to coexist. But, I’ve never asked any of the directors why they choose me for their film. I’ll have to ask them sometime. (Laughter)
Q: Through various interviews, you’ve talked about your desires to work with Bong Joon Ho, Director Choi, and Song Kang Ho. If you think about it, others may complain that you’re being selfish when you’ve already been blessed looking at the list of directors and co-stars from your previous projects.
ISJ: Well, I haven’t met any actors who’ve been forthright with their jealousy. Is that really true? (Laughter) It’s true that I’ve been blessed to work with the best actors and directors. I would have no other desires if that continued for a long time. (Laughter) It might be my selfishness as an actor, but I’d like to work with Director Choi again and play a character who gets deceived, deceives, and has to use her head. I also really want to work with Director Bong Joon Ho and am interested in his next project, Snow Piercers. (Laughter) As for Song Kang Ho, it seems like I mention my desires to work with him a little too much. (Laughter) It seems like I’m getting thicker skin and want to aggressively express my desires.
Q: I heard that you tend to develop long lasting friendships with actors you’ve worked with. So Ji Sub and Rain both came to the VIP screening to support you.
ISJ: I try to keep a good relationship with the actors whom I’ve worked with. But it’s hard to see them often since we’re all so busy. I’m thankful that they were able to come to the screening even though they must have been really busy. I didn’t think they would be able to attend, so it was really comforting to see them there.
Q: Along with Son Ye Jin, Lee Na Young, Ha Ji Won, Soo Ae, you were all known as the New Troika. If you think there is something different about Im Soo Jung, what do you think it is?
ISJ: I think I can create a variety of images. There are still lots of images within me that can’t be currently conjured up by anyone.
Q: When you look at your filmography, which would be the turning point?
ISJ: I want to say that it’s A Tale of Two Sisters. It allowed me to go from an unknown new actress to an actress with potential, and on a personal level, it taught me a lot about what it means to act.
Q: More than actors, actresses in their 20s tend to get typecast into a defined image and end up getting chosen rather than selecting a project. Did you ever feel unsatisfied?
ISJ: I somehow have turned into an actress in her 30s, and luckily, I receive scripts on a regular basis. I haven’t really felt unsatisfied to this point. Does it sound like I’m boasting? (Laughter)
Q: Was there a time when you were in a slump as an actor?
ISJ: As a new actor, I really had a fervent hunger to act. It’s the same way now. I worked really hard during that long time. And then it happened after Happiness. For 2 years, I had a slight slump, felt melancholy, discouraged, and lonely. I don’t think people knew I felt that way. I think it might be from thinking too much. I would be bright on set but would experience a flood of loneliness when I returned home. It’s gone now. Going through an experience like that has made me even more confident in myself.
Q: It must have been around the time when you spoke about your desire to take a rest, after completing Heo Jin Ho’s Happiness. I know you desired to live everyday as the normal Im Soo Jung, and not as actor Im Soo Jung. Were you fully content in living as the normal Im Soo Jung before starting Jeon Woo Chi?
ISJ: I filmed Lump Sugar, I’m a Cyborg, but that’s OK, and Happiness in succession and felt a keen need for rest. For about 6 months, I took a vacation in NY, learned things I wanted to learn, and had a good time. And then I chose Jeon Woo Chi soon after and started preparations. I wanted to rest longer, but became restless. (Laughter)
Q: What were you like as a child?
ISJ: I was a timid girl. Didn’t talk much, was introspective, and was embarrassed to be in the limelight.
Q: As you said, there were talks that you have a tendency to be introspective and don’t like to spend time with others. But there’s talk amongst reporters who interviewed you about your bright disposition and fun nature. (Laughter)
ISJ: I’m glad to hear that the reporters have affirmed my disposition. (Laughter) I do think I’ve changed a bit. I’ve become brighter, more forward, and talk more now. When I’m alone, I still don’t talk much and have a tendency to be closed in. But I’ve now become used to being with people and have become experienced with it as well. I’ve always talked a lot during interview though. You can say that I speak a year’s worth during them. (Laughter)
Q: Reading past interviews, you talked about not wanting an extreme lifestyle, even though a little is needed as an actor. How does the normal Im Soo Jung want to live?
ISJ: An independent one. Is that too vague? Besides that word, there isn’t another one that comes to mind. I want to be able to live honestly and openly without too many obstacles, without getting in the way of others.
Q: What is Im Soo Jung like in love?
ISJ: When I start meeting someone, it lasts a long time. Sometimes I get so involved that it affects my work. But when it ends, I don’t think about it. Because it seems like a waste of time.
Q: Do you dream about being independent and honest even in the face of love?
ISJ: Of course. Because my exterior is stiff, men don’t usually approach me. From now on, I plan on approaching someone if I like them. (Laughter) I’d like someone I can talk to and who’s intelligent. As for the physical appearance, I’m starting to like “ggot mi nam” (handsome face) more and more. (Laughter)
Q: You turn 31 in Korean age. When you look back at your 20s, what do you regret the most and what makes you the most satisfied?
ISJ: From a work standpoint, I don’t have too much that I regret. Because I feel like I worked hard. I sometimes think I may have focused too much on work until now. Working so hard during my 20s has made my personal life diminish to nothing. I don’t know how to do anything else besides act. So I now want to work and love as much as I’d like. In my 30s, I want to try something that’s frightening also. I’m going to strive to develop a full personal life for the normal Im Soo Jung. I think this is why I have more worries about my personal life than work.
Q: It doesn’t seem like there are too many projects for actresses in the coming year. The focus is on thrillers and war blockbusters and there aren’t too many female characters of importance. I heard some actresses joke that it’s the year to do dramas.
ISJ: My selfish wish is to play characters who are contrary to my image. One who’s stronger, more provocative, and more explicit. But it does seem like the coming year is filled with male films. It’s becoming difficult to find female films. How are actresses to suppose to live? Maybe the female actors should unite like the male actors. After Jeon Woo Chi, I’d like to do one or two more movies, but there isn’t anything definite as the next project.
Q: Lastly, if you had an aim as an actor…
ISJ: Not sure. An aim as an actor? I’m not sure. Just later on, after time has passed, I hope that everyone will know what kind of an actor I was. Even if that’s something I don’t know now.
Interview by Jo Eun Young
Via MK Korea