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Im Shi-wan: “I had to take Misaeng”

Four years after debuting in idol group ZE:A, Im Shi-wan is having his moment: He took the Everyman character of office worker Jang Geu-rae in Misaeng (or Incomplete Life) and turned it into something extraordinary, with a standout performance as the guy almost every viewer could relate to. It wasn’t his first role (he had appeared in The Moon That Embraces The Sun, the film The Attorney, and Triangle), but it was a career-defining one.

Misaeng was a ratings juggernaut (it received the all-time second-highest number of viewers for a cable show in Korea), and tvN rewarded the cast and crew with a celebratory mini-vacation in Cebu, Philippines. Im Shi-wan was interviewed immediately after his return, by a crew of reporters itching to hear more about his take on Misaeng and his future projects.

At an early press conference, you had said that you lost some of your confidence. How do you feel now?

“I feel much more comfortable. Back then, I felt like I was in a place where I shouldn’t be. I felt burdened because cameras were flashing in front of a bunch of actual corporate workers, but now, I’m used to the sound of typing.” [Laughs]

Who is Jang Geu-rae to you?

“At first, I thought I was perfect for Jang Geu-rae. But as the show went on, I found that viewers read even more into the character than I did. It wasn’t me, the actor, who the viewers were sympathetic towards; the vast majority of viewers identified with Jang Geu-rae because they had been him at some point in their lives. That’s why I can’t put myself out there as Jang Geu-rae, because I feel apologetic to the real Jang Geu-raes out there. Even more so than me, I believe that the viewers who identified with the character were the real Jang Geu-raes.”

“At first I thought I was a perfect Jang Geu-rae,” you said. In what ways did you find you were alike?

“When I first started appearing on TV, I often felt, to use a baduk analogy, like a useless stone, a person whose existence wasn’t crucial — it didn’t matter if I existed or if I didn’t. And I also had doubts, ‘Is it okay for me to be here?’ In those instances I felt similarities to Jang Geu-rae. I thought to myself that I could rehash those experiences to identify with him, and I felt that those memories were aligned with Jang Geu-rae’s past, so that it would be easy to relate to him. However, I realized that the viewers came to identify with him even more strongly.”

If you could give yourself a score on your ability to synchronize with Jang Geu-rae…

“At first I thought I was close to 100%, but now I couldn’t dare say that. However, if I look at the four months — five months including the prequel — if I were to take a look at the five-month stretch and give myself a score, [he imitates Superstar K’s jury panel] ‘My score is…’ Still, I would like to give myself at least an 80.” [Laughs]

You were Jang Geu-rae in the Misaeng prequel, and you were him in Misaeng. Was there a reason you had such an attachment to the role?

“Because I believed that I had lived a life like Jang Geu-rae, when I received Misaeng‘s synopsis, I had the strong thought, ‘I have to do this’ rather than, ‘I want to do this.’ While the yardstick for measuring shows isn’t just ratings or viewership, I was relieved that in those areas it performed well. However, even if the ratings weren’t high, or even if it didn’t succeed, it was a project where I felt satisfied because I was able to bring Jang to life.”

During casting, actor Lee Sung-min (who played Department Chief Oh) said that a good-hearted, nice actor needed to play Jang Geu-rae. Why was that the case?

Misaeng is thoroughly a drama about those living their lives. To portray the characters, the actors need to have an air of humanity, and I think that’s why sunbae-nim said the person chosen needs to be good-natured and kind. I think they wanted an actor who gave off the sense of being a real human being.”

You probably haven’t experienced life as a corporate worker, but you probably experienced some feelings that were new to you while shooting episodes at One International.

“When I was a pop star trainee, like Jang Geu-rae, I thought, ‘If you work yourself to the bone, you can accomplish anything.’ But I learned that it’s not enough for the ordinary worker just to work hard. Sometimes you have to turn a blind eye to what is right, and sometimes you have to be conscious of appearances while you work. I think work life within Misaeng demonstrated that thoroughly. Previously, I used to think, ‘What if I went back to what I majored in and started working in the corporate world?’ Now, if I think about it, I have no confidence. I have to take the current opportunities that have been presented to me and try hard.” [Laughs]

You must have identified with people who have truly lived “incomplete lives.”

“My father and friends are all corporate workers, but I hadn’t had a chance to witness that lifestyle myself. I had the vague idea, ‘It must not be easy,’ but through Misaeng, I’ve been able to visualize similar joys and sorrows, and through the direct and indirect experience, it’s been pounded into me that it really isn’t an easy life. It’s hard for me to even dare say now that I identify with certain parts of that life.”

Was there someone like Chief Oh to you as there was to Jang Geu-rae?

“I’ve heard this before: Chief Oh’s existence itself is a fantasy. [Laughs] On my cell I have a group text going with some friends; they say that one of the detriments of a show like Misaeng is that all of their supervisors think of themselves as someone like Chief Oh. Hearing the supervisors talk of themselves like that makes it really difficult for them to bear. [Laughs] Actually, I think it would be difficult for someone like Chief Oh to exist in real life. However, if someone like that existed, to me it would be Lee Sung-min sunbae-nim, Kim Won-Seok PD, Yang Woo-Seok PD [of The Attorney], and Song Kang-ho sunbae-nim. I think it would be someone like them. And it’s true that these people have had the largest influence on my life so far.”

We almost forgot to ask you about the celebratory vacation. Talk about some of the laughter-filled moments of the trip.

“It was the first time I’d ever been on a reward vacation, and none of the others had gone on many reward vacations, either. I’m not sure if that’s why, but we were all extremely excited, just about the fact that we were going. We were overjoyed that we weren’t all heading abroad together for work, but for play. Once there, we followed Baudelaire’s Be Drunk poem to a T. When we drank together, we would recite, ‘Be drunk, you must always be drunk,” and drink accordingly. [Laughs]

I think the person who received the strongest impression from that poem is Jeon Seok-ho sunbae-nim, who played Assistant Manager Ha. I think the poem really left a deep impression on him. [Laughs] Also sunbae-nim really set the tone of the trip. He was popular with the female staff members, and he plays hard. He’s kind of a bohemian. He was the first to make himself at home in the new surroundings, almost like a local, and due to him, I laughed a lot.”

There’s a palpable bond among the Misaeng cast, especially between the four newbies. Do you communicate through another avenue?

“On our phones we have a group text going for all of the newbies. However, it’s not put to use that often. We have met offline quite a bit. Even during filming, we would meet to chat briefly and met often. For Sales Team 3, Lee Sung-min sunbae-nim doesn’t use the group chat service. So naturally Sales Team 3 didn’t have a group text going. But as a result, there were a lot of texts and phone calls, and we spent a lot of time together.”

What are your plans for 2015?

“Like I have up until now, I don’t want to get greedy, but want to take things slow and steady. I hope this year will be like this last one, but I think that might be difficult. Haha! I hope the year passes as tranquilly as the flow of water.

I’m not a critical baduk piece, yet, but I do have a sense of security that, ‘At this spot [in my life], there are things that I can do.’ And that’s a relief.”

Via Dong A, Ohmy News

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Misaeng Season 2, pretty please!

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ONLY if they get the full cast back though, and if it's as good as Season 1.

(no need for a bloated ratings-baity sequel/spinoff, I liked Answer Me 1994 ok but Answer Me 1997 was much better......don't want the same thing to happen to Misaeng!)

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In my opinion Misaeng is a type of project that any actor would be honoured to add to their filmography. I bet most, if not all the actors will be happy to return for season 2, as long as it remains as truthful to source material as Season 1.

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I think most actors would be proud of it, yes, but actors also get bored of their roles and also want to expand their filmography and move on to the big screen or maybe other dramas and such (ex: Kang Haneul) and like they said it'll take 2 years at LEAST. That's a lot of time so I wonder if people will change their minds and such. I wish for a season 2 but if it doesn't happen, I won't be too angry.

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I thought 1994 was just as good as 1997 if not better. It had more established and experienced actors in the lead roles and had more memorable characters. It was funnier too in my opinion. I would think that it will be more difficult for Misaeng to be as good as season 2 because it's a direct sequel unlike Answer Me 94.

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Frankly, I thought 1994 was bloated (it did not need 21 episodes to tell that story, and it couldn't carry 70 minute+ episodes nearly as well as Misaeng, the drag was palpable and even the humour couldn't quite save it) and dragged out the who's-the-husband thing for way too long.

Misaeng 2 will take a while in the making if it does happen, because Yoon Tae-ho has to write the web series first. Which actually gives a second tv season a better chance of being good.

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I agree that it didn't need that many episodes. It received an extension because of its popularity right? Kudos to Misaeng's PD from preventing an extension. I don't think the who’s-the-husband story really mattered like the who's-the-married-couple. This series is more about the characters and how they interacted. In my opinion, 94's episode extension was minor flaw and didn't suffer as much as other shows and their extensions.

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Honestly, even 20 episodes was too much - the one-episode extension just compounded the problems, and each episode was longer than 1997.

It was a good show, but I'd say 1997 was fresher and better-executed, 1994 got the ratings it did at least partially because of the viewer goodwill associated with 1997.

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I'm agreeing with Pogo on this one. I really really REALLY wanted to love Answer me 1994 (and I really did adore parts of it). I thought the ensemble of characters and the college campus setting had the potential to make an even better drama than Answer Me 1997, or at least one that stood on it's own as being just as good, if for different reasons.

But, for me, the execution and all the bloated dragging really took away from my love for the show. Did I love the characters? YES. Characters are usually what's most important to me in a show and I can forgive a few flaws if I'm invested in them. But with Answer Me 1994, it's like I liked the characters TOO MUCH to accept that the show...idk, wasn't living up to them? I actually had a hard time finishing it because it actually depressed me that a drama that should have been my favorite of the year...kinda disappointed me.

And I say this actually liking the drama...just not loving it (like I do AM97). Still think of it as a fairly good sequel.

But, yeah, once Yoon Tae-ho writes the web series, I would love to see a Misaeng 2. I think that will give it very high chances of being a successful 2nd season.

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I would have liked 1994's story to have been told in 1997's time-length.

Nothing's wrong with 1994's story or acting, but it was like watching 21 full movies and not many people have that kind of patience. A return to the past can be beautiful nostalgia but if one stays there too long, it just becomes crude self-indulgence. It's like 70-year-old Uncle Albert reciting (and most probably repeating) the awesomeness of his twenties for six hours on each day that you meet him.

I felt like 1997's popularity simultaneously pressured and also caused 1994's production team to become over-eager-to-please, leaving 1994's execution to become over-bloated, bringing down it's enjoyment level for most people.

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I guess I'm the minority then ;) To me 1997 was nothing to write home about but 1994 was really touching to me. Characterization was done much better in 1994 IMO.

And apparently in Korea quite a few ppl were having this kind of patience too...

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@So3. I also loved 1994 way more. I mean, I fully recognize that 97 is better executed and in a lot of ways better qualitatively. But 94 had better characters, and a story I could actually identify with--I may not be from Korea, but I'm a small town kid that went to college in a huge city, so I connected with their struggles very strongly.

@Peeps. I don't know, I do think it's a bit much to call it "crude self-indulgence" (btw, just to check, this is a euphemism for masturbatory, right?), or compare it to a doddering old man recounting his glory days (but then again, I love old people, and would probably egg the theoretical Uncle Albert on and ask questions). It was as much slice-of-life as it was nostalgia--that is, as much as it was a look back at all the music and trends, etc. from the 90s, the characters and their stories were situated within that world, so in the end all the nostalgia tripping lent a richness and texture to their daily lives you don't often get in dramaland settings. I mean, I think it's totally legitimate for you to have reservations about the nostalgia genre, and to think 94 went too far in that regard, but at the end of the day imo getting into it offers a pretty limited critique.

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Actually I also felt more attachment to 1994 than 1997. I couldn't relate to the first one in the same way that I did the second. Maybe that's why the long episodes and extensions were only a minor annoyance to me. I would definitely re-watch 1994 but not 1997

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@juniper: WHAT? NO! Oh my god...

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I skipped AM1997 because I felt I could not relate to it. Then I watched AM1994 and loved it! So, I then went back to watch AM1997 and thougt it was okay, but not as good...keep in mind that I love Seo In Gook and Jung Eun-ji.

94 was bloated and dragged out but I loved it all the same.

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@juniper: Anyway, now that I've calmed down from my shock... honestly, what I meant by "crude self-indulgence" was for one to be immersed so deeply into something that one ignores all the rules and structure and declares it to be the best product/experience ever. Take for example, music. To me, crude self-indulgence is like a pianist playing Beethoven's Pathetique or playing The Bumblebee and drowning himself in waves and waves of of the notes and music without regards to the rhythm, the timing, the specifications set by the composer, playing loud when it should be soft, playing four notes in one beat rather than three as it should have been. It's like purposely playing music to satisfy himself and then expecting others to enjoy it as much as he did. There is no restraint, no subtle-ness. And in my opinion, 1994 was "crude self-indulgence" because it had no restraint in terms of time and honestly, many things therefore fell flat for me.

As for Uncle Albert, I do like hearing stories and I very much welcome people telling me of their experiences, especially wiser people with a wealth of experience. It's just that, some people like the tell you of their achievements... and then pound you on the head with their many opinions of how great they were (which tend to be exaggerated). And I never said Uncle Albert was "doddering". You said that. :P And you know, 1994 was the latter kind of person for me.

As a person, I strongly believe that people should remember the past, live in the present and work for the future and I think 1994 felt bloated to me because it felt like it was going to make you actually live in the past, it was making you relieve the joys, the uncertainty, the heartbreak, the hope AND the very dull moments in which nothing much really happens and which you kind of forget in 2 days. For me, nostalgia is when people remember the times that made them feel excited and agitated, the peak or the troughs in their emotional statuses if you will, which is why people tend to remember "the good ol' times" and 1994 was giving the whole damned graph, in 1:1 scale. Of course, that stupid "who's the husband?" question that lasted more than 2 months was not fun at all.

Anyway, if you preferred 1994, good for you. As for me... well, like Chandler said, I liked it, but I didn't love it. (Which was kind of (actually, very) disappointing when they set the bar so high by stating that 1994 was supposed to be was 1997 was and I had LOVED 1997)

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@pogo thank you for recommending to watch Misaeng (on a Pinocchio post a long time ago!)

And I agree that Answer me 1997 was better than 1994! Even though 1994 was the best year of my life.
Answer me 1994 focused on Korea political, cultural and economic facts. As a non korean I had no idea what they were talking about.
Answer me 1997 focused on more global stuff like dial up internet, tamagochi and boys band!
And I loved more the relationships in 1997! (not only the romantic ones! But family, siblings and friends relationship were amazing)

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I thought the relationships were better in 1994. There were more interesting characters, better bromance, and surprising romances like the one between Samcheonpo and Yoon-Jin. Also, I thought 94 had superior acting. Apink's Eun Ji was surprisingly good in her debut acting role, but Go Ara was brilliant. There were more breakout actors like Baro, Jung Woo, and others.

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@fate, I agree about the leading ladies! Eun Ji is very charismatic but Go Ara was better.
But what I liked more about 1997 were:
- Yoon Jae and his brother relationship! The older brother gave up so many things (university, his successful company, his wedding day) just to help his younger brother!
- The brothers relationship with Shi Won's parents! I think they treated them better than real parents because after losing their parents they valued them more and recognized how good Shi Won’s parents were for loving them like they were their own children.
- In the 1994 I couldn’t understand how Trash was so caring with Na Jung parents but neglected his own family.
- Kang Joon Hee was just perfection! In my country gay characters are usually stereotyped in dramas as loud, funny, a bit evil and that go hunting every good looking man. And if one of them declares his love for his straight friend, the friend runaway disgusted. This doesn’t contribute to create a more tolerant society at all.
- I liked the girl’s friendship better in 1997.
- I loved Sung Dong Il in 1997, but in 1994 I thought he was a bit annoying yelling all the time. The scene (in 1997) when he was looking at a picture of his family and Yoon Jae's family… He showed the amazing actor he is. His mouth was smiling but his eyes were so sad. I felt his sadness was real, because that’s the way it’s in real life! After some time you can’t mourn the death of your loved ones anymore. You have to keep going smiling with a hole in your heart.
I don’t like to write in English to much because the more I write more mistakes and more misunderstands. But I wrote a lot… I think this show how much I really like Answer me 1997! Lol

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So articulate! Loved his answers. He has always been one of the idol actors with huge potential and I'm so glad he and his band mate hyungsik is starting to shine. Personally I haven't seen Misaeng but I enjoyed his other works. Very very happy for his success and I hope 2015 will be even better for him :)

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yeah I really like Park Hyung-shik too. I'm glad his weekend drama is doing well!

(any boy who can hold his own in the same frame as Lee Jin-wook, playing a teenage version of the same character as Lee Jin-wook, deserves respect as an actor)

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Amen! He held his own.

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arhm... hyungsik admitted in happy together 3 that they get interview questions like this in advance so yeah he should sound articulate

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Not everyone manages to sound that articulate and intelligent, though, even with advance notice. (but in my experience, good actors usually do)

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Siwan is indeed intelligent. He is the brain of ZE:A. He is almost as intelligent as Kim Tae Hee. He is also witty.

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Doesn't really change how well-spoken this interview is. I don't care if he spent hours pondering the questions, these answers are something else and that just goes to show how he must have taken extra care in forming them because not all actors give interviews like this one, at least not in my experience.

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You can tell he's at home in front of the microphone. Those answers come off very charming, sincere, and humble.

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Awww... season 2! Yes? YES!

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Such an articulate, intelligent, humble and talented kid. I've seen him in a lot of stuff before this but he never made an impression. Truly a career-making role.

That picture of Sales Team 3 with their ranks on their shirts and Geu-rae's with "Our Kid" on the back gives me LIFE.

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I watched a couple of interviews with Im Shi Wan and find him a very prepossessed, natural, down-to-earth person, open and honest about himself. He's such a pleasure to watch, especially since seeing how good he is already, how he is intent on growing (but without being greedy), we know that he will, if given the opportunity, keep becoming better.

Im Shi Wan-sshi keep it up and I'm supporting you!!!

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*OT*

If Misaeng is the 2nd highest cable drama when it comes to ratings, what's the 1st?

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Answer Me 1994.

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there's a video in which siwan talked about his life so far..about the student im woong jae and how he turned into im siwan, the singer & actor. he said if he ever feels that he's high and mighty because of all the praises he got, he reminds himself of the lines his character, heo yeom, said in the drama 'moon embracing the sun'. it's something like:

"There are two important things for learning.
One is you have to lose the arrogance that you know the answer to everything, and the other is answering the questions from your pride and bias. That pride and bias is making Your Highness's eyes, heart, and everything dark."

that's why siwan believes that every time he acts, he should think himself as a new student, learning from every one..no matter how many projects he had done, he still thinks himself as a lowly newbie. that way, he can keep himself grounded and learn more in the process. and for that, i respect this young man.

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I've had faith in this kid's abilities for a while now, ever since Anticipate Love, but he really justified it in spades here, the whole drama did.

And I do like that he had such a thoughtful approach to his character and engaged with it so fully - interview responses to questions about acting are more telling than many of us think. (and awwww @the question about the real-life Jang Geu-raes and who was most like Chief Oh to him!).

also: that picture with the tshirts is too adorable! (it has the three sunbaes' job titles, and the back of our duckling's shirt says "our kid", how perfect) .

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Thanks pogo. I seen from other articles that it said "Our Kid" on the back of his shirt, and geez... starting misting up again. But I wondered what the others said. Glad to know.

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i got misty-eyed whenever i saw anything on misaeng. stills, footage, posters, the OST mvs.. pathetic, huh? i mean, how could photos of 4 men wearing t-shirts and that said 'gwajang', 'chajang', 'sawon' and 'daeri' makes me sniffles? and the back of siwan's t-shirt..i actually cried!

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i also want a second season but that is just gluttony.

watching and enjoying misaeng is good enough.

If there is a misaeng 2, please use all new characters and a different company. No jumping the shark.

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Aww... such warm fuzzy feels from this interview. :')

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Misaeng 2? it would be better if they make Misaeng the movie or Misaeng Special. S'th like a spin-off.. but SS2 is no need imo

Not many dramas will successful with SS2 and i like how SS1 did it perfect!

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Lol, it is so true that Chief Oh is a fantasy though.

If you have such a person in your life, its a miracle and be sure to treat him well.

For most people, Chief Oh's either a culmination of many different influential people to their lives, like Im SiWan says, or he's really just another dream character.

I'm always of the belief that people need mentors in life to make it big and successful (that does not have to mean having loads and loads of money) and that we actually need more mentors than just teachers nowadays. I mean, teachers just teach but mentors guide. For you're a teacher, why not aim to become a teacher-mentor instead? It's going to be very much harder, but the change that you can make in another person's life and the reward of seeing that blossoming potential is beautiful beyond description.

I think the biggest lesson from Misaeng that it never touched upon was: When at work, gain a good mentor. He/She can lead you very far and guide you to the skies.

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Good luck with finding such a mentor. Many people don't even have a father fuguire in their lives nowadays, leave alone some all-knowing, professional, kind and helpful mentor. Would we have so many male criminals of ALL races in society, if they would have a father AND a mentor to guide them?!

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That's why Chief Oh is a fantasy.

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I guess I'd have to attest that Chief Oh isn't just a fantasy…and I do feel immensely grateful for their existence in my life. Yes, plural…I've had five of those mentors, four of them appearing at exactly the same time and place when I was interning in a corporate company. I guess I'd want to share this just to encourage those who are still in school, that it is possible to find people like Chief Oh. I pay them back by paying forward, I've been a mentor for a greater part of 14 years. I think before wishing for one, we can all try to be one first…be it to your younger sister or neighbor. Everyone can use a bit of of a guide...

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Let it be known that you are so darn lucky. Treasure your mentors.

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And he did an OUTSTANDING job!! Glad to see him in something I could watch!!

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aww, OUR kid Geu-rae!! *snifflesss*

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The vibe that I got is that out of the 3 male actors he seems to be the quietest. I saw a few videos from the Taxi special and both KHN and BYH were doting on him. KHN even attempted to faux bite him which was quite adorable - it could prolly be that he's the maknae out of the three so he can be cute around his hyungs, heh.

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KHN is the maknae. BYH is an '86, Siwan is an '88, and Kang Ha Neul is a '90. I think it is funny that everybody keeps calling Siwan a kid, when he is 26 yrs old. But he looks so young and sweet it's hard not to look at him that way.

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the thing is..siwan looks younger than haneul! i can understand that yo-han looks slightly older than siwan coz he IS older but haneul is much younger! i was surprised when i found out abt that..i mean, haneul looked his age but siwan looks like he's still in high school!

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oh my gosh! what a sweetie! And true humility, not the kind of rehearsed sincerity one hears from celebrities. Thanks so much for this.

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Thanks for the translation, awcoconuts.

Now, THIS hurts, when one can read between the lines: When I was a pop star trainee, like Jang Geu-rae, I thought, ‘If you work yourself to the bone, you can accomplish anything.’ But I learned that it’s not enough for the ordinary worker just to work hard. Sometimes you have to turn a blind eye to what is right, and sometimes you have to be conscious of appearances while you work.
*sigh*

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Yeah, but I love how honest he sounds, based on the interview.

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Because that's how the reality rolls, and it sucks.

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I still haven't seen Misaeng and I've not seen him in anything...but honestly this is a fantastic interview.

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He's certainly one of the better ones of his generation, and has a gift for subtlety in his acting.

None of the roles he's taken so far have been the conventional kdrama lead, and the experience has served him well - if you do want to check out what he's like, you could try either The Attorney or Anticipate Love, those are just about 2 hours long and a good showcase of what he can do even in a supporting role.

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Omg, that answer to "Who is Jang Gue-rae to you?" is wonderful. Really everything is beautifully stated. I can't wait to see what he does next!

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Lovely interview. Did you guys see the followup of Misaeng, there were two specials, it is behind the scenes and interviews. The actors and actresses give excellent answers like this one.

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Yes, and I agree -- the specials are well worth watching. Many touching moments, and not just with the cast and crew. The man-on-the-street interviews were wonderful. I also gained much technical insight into just what made Misaenge so special.

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Oh, I saw the specials and I was so thrown by the fact that they had 2 practically duplicate sets, mainly I gather so that the scenes where we can see out the window actually show traffic and lighted buildings. I am so impressed at their attention to detail.

And I take my hat off to the staff doing those rooftop scenes.... there were so many rooftop scenes. The equipment that had to be carried up and down each time and the unforgiving heat or cold, in the night or day, that they had to put up with over 4 months of filming. I do not think I'd have such fortitude!!!

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hear, hear! i maybe determined but i don't think i can survive being a crew to this drama!the weathers were killers too! i pity the cast and crew but it's kinda cute that the director apologized to them towards the end of episode 2. and no one wants to admit they're tired but you could see on their faces. they really do deserve all the good things that come rolling at them.

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Even if Misaeng 2 doesn't materialize, I'll watch anything Im Shi Wan appears in.
He did a fabulous job in this drama and is so memorable. Kudos!

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Okay Siwan, I'll pick up Misaeng and finish it.

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What an awesome portrayal. He should be rightly proud.
I remember watching JGR on my screen worrying that a puff of wind would break him and blow him away. It amazed me that the actor could imbue his character with palpable frailty.

He was so pitiable and pitiful stumbling blindly through his first days at One. His transformation, or rather, the slow appearance of his hidden strength blew those thoughts away, instead. It was amazing to behold.

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What is the Misaeng prequel that was referred to in the interview?

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They aired a 10 min short clip for some of the main characters, in 2013 I believe? They told their back story. It is with different actors the only one tha it is the same is ISW. They are in YouTube, also if you go to viki in the misaeng page under clips maybe they are subtitled I haven't checked though.

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Sorry for the typos commenting on a phone is a pain.

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Thanks Blueribbon, I will check it out.

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One part of the prequel got subbed ^^ http://youtu.be/hCwqPtKYClw

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I can't wait for his next project. The first time I saw him was in
TMTETS, then misaeng and I have to say that after this show I am now a fan. He seems like a very humble down to earth person. In the episode of TAXI he even went an gave a hug to an audience member. I have also read interviews from the other actors KHN, KSR, and they all gave wonderful answers when it came to portraying their character. I will also be waiting for their next projects. Also have any of you seen the episode of MISAENG-MUL? I loved the cameos. I will be watching again with subtitles.

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What is MISAENG-MUL? Was that the parody?

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Yeah it was a two episode parody by the cast of SNL Korea.

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Thanks!

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I think he's the first idol actor that I kinda liked watching. Really changed my perspective of him after Equator Man. He was really good there and I feel deserved the role in his own right, rather than just to grab his fanbase. I didn't watch anything else with him after, except a tiny bit of Standby

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Wow really interesting and sweet answers! Thank you awcoconuts for translating them!

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Awcoconuts, thanks for the translation! Awesome to read it.

I was wondering.if anyone could tell me of the ending of the manhwa is the same as the shows? Did it stay true to the story?

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To the several people above who said they have yet to watch Misaeng and are going to start (or pick it up again), I hope you'll have the wonderful experience that I and many others did.

Many years ago I saw an interview with the Chilean novelist Isabel Allende. In it she asked the interviewer if he had read the book One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. He answered no. She then said "I envy you." and explained further how wonderful it is to experience it the first time.

So, I envy you. :-)

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True. Envy them.

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lol. Please, this isn't Shakespeare, calm down already.

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......wow, someone's feeling bitchy today.

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Thanks so much for this! My feels are overflowing from seeing our Geu-rae again!!!! <3 Im realy happy that Im shi wan feels some measure of success and assurance for his future from this role and that the cast is so happy!!!

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Yeah well just to add...to those who want to watch him in dark morally conflicted bordering pshycho character - Equator Man(just the first few episodes since he just play the teenage ver of Lee Joonhyuk but the adult part of the story...i found all the characters to have less depth/dimention than the teenage characters...sadly) and for sitcom - Standby(he's one of the main so there are lots of his scenes - highlight, i would say his love-hate relationship with Go Kyung Pyo-in that drama Kim Kyung Pyo but that's just me...lol, also the father-son r/ship with Ryujin) he also has a merely seconds cameo in Reply1997(probly due to him being from Busan though i think he plays someone from Seoul in there) and he also did drama special, Waiting for Love with Daniel Choi, Boa, Kim Jiwon.

Just thought the rest of his dramas could be added if the nothing-to-shout-about The Moon Embracing the Sun is mentioned(though i acknowledge it's the drama that started it all for him....but it's pretty overrated imo) and also...Triangle-the drama that probably wasted everyone but Kim Jae Joong...tsk

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i agree about triangle. the first few episodes were good, especially when lee beom soo's character went ballistic and beat up that gangster guy..koo something.. then..they started to focus too much on kim jaejoong and it went downhill from there. what's so triangle abt it when the only character that's "alive" is the second brother? both beom soo and siwan became nothing but shadows. ugh. i dropped it like a hot potato.

waiting for love..siwan is nerdy cute there..hehehe. he's also in 'pure love'..as the young woo-sung, a popular kid in college. also, check out his samsung wave cf with IU.

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That was such a great interview. I've loved him Im Si Wan since Equator and I'm glad that he's progressing. I knew him first as actor before finding out he's an idol.

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Just wathced Cold Eyes few days ago, and i found Byun Yo-han (as Han Seok-ryul), as on one of the villain, the driver of the robber team to be precise.

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At the risk of sounding troll-like I must say that I am really befuddled as to why there is so much love for Im Siwan's acting. It seemed ok to me, but not great. I thought for the most part, his character could have been described as impenetrable, or alternately, wooden. I did see growth in his character, but largely because of the script and the skill of the writers. If I had to rely strictly on Im Siwan's interpretation of the script for that information, rather than the dialogue of the actors playing characters around him, I would have not seen much character development at all. I do value subtle acting, but this was not it. Perhaps people are blinded by idol worship and the huge star making machinery behind it.

To me, Lee Sung Min was the star, and Im Siwan a supporting actor. He (LSM) really carried this show. Granted, his character was bigger and showier, but within that there was a huge range of emotions displayed, often with just a look. You could tell what Chief Oh was thinking before the words of dialogue came out of his mouth. It seemed like the other actors were being challenged to rise to his level of skill, while he gave them space to do so. That is what made this show great.

I hope that they don't do a second season. After such a great show, anything else would disappoint. But I do like that Kdrama writers are doing more slice-of-life shows. It was a refreshing change to not have to watch this show deteriorate into a love line centered drama.

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Lol dramabeans is one of the harshest sites when it comes to judging idol acting, people here would complain hard about Siwan's acting if they really found him wooden or lacking.

So accusing us of being "blinded by idol worship" is silly. Is it really that hard to accept that a lot of viewers think he actually did well as an actor, not just "for an idol" but genuinely?

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I had no intention of accusing dramabeans readers of engaging in idol worship, (well, apart from a few :D),: when I said "people" I was referring to the public in general and the media in particular. I should have been more clear.

My statements reflect my sense as I was watching, that I really had no clue what Jang Geu-rae was feeling most of the time. And I would ask myself, is that a part of his character the writers intended? That is, to imply that hiding his thoughts and feelings was a tactic he had learned in his Baduk traning, because if it was, it really was not made clear in the flashbacks to his lessons. Or was it just the limitations of ISW's experience as an actor? There were plenty of close up shots of his face and eyes, and every time I would think that he looked nice but wonder what was really going on inside his head.

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I can only speak for myself, but I thought Im Shi-wan was actually quite good at expressing whatever was going on inside Geu-rae's head using just his facial expressions and body language. There's a fine line between inscrutable and wooden, and imo, ISW is the first actor I've seen since Song Joong-ki who was this good at keeping on the right side of that line.

And the character is not an expressive or demonstrative one by nature - he represses a lot, but imo it's really not that hard to read him even when he's deliberately on the quieter side.

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True. I think he is one of those actors who are good at introspective acting. I agree that Lee Sung Min is the big old tree that almost the whole drama relies on and of course his performance showed the best of him, but we are looking at his character through the introspective eyes of JGR, and basically Chief Oh is just not an introverted character so most of the time we see through what he was thinking.

OTOH, Jang Geu-rae is a quiet, introverted and inexperienced person who had been isolated from society for such a long time, there are a lot of layers going on at the same time inside this character, but SW did a good job portraying a seemingly fragile but intrinsically iron-will Geu-rae. I think one of those factors that make for a great actor is the ability to portray a distinct quality and style to one's acting, and I sense that in SW. Some people may argue that it's typecasting, but IMO one only needs to master one thing in his life to become great. Not everyone can be versatile like Gary Goldman the great.

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I don't think your additional comment makes any difference.
Sure, everyone has his/her own opinion and obviously you are not impressed by Im Shiwan's acting in Misaeng.
It's O.K, but it doesn't necessarily mean that "the public in general and the media in particular" are blinded.
It's just illogical, and doesn't make any sense.

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His idol life was almost the same as his character in Misaeng.

If you have a time, please, watch him on Empire Kid Return:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCaQ-3Z84VeeQbMOf968JTngUwBHUIZ4J

I am sure all of people here will agree with me. Please, watch him there.

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Please don't take this the wrong way, but this is a site about dramas. Spamming a post with so many comments about Siwan's idol activities and things not related to his acting......people might not look at it positively.

Just be happy he is getting positive comments for his acting, this is not an idol fansite and people here do not care that much about any idol's non-acting activities.

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Ok, sorry what I mean is actually the title of this article is related to Siwan. He said that he had to take this role. If you watch the link I give, you will understand why he had to take this role.

I am sorry again for this uncomfortable situation because Siwan's activitities as idols that I post here.

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I honestly don't see why you are bombarding us with comment after comment about Im Shi-wan's idol group, using the excuse that his name is in the title of an article. And that was after leaving complaints in other threads about why we don't call him Ze:A or whatever.

I've seen you leave comments like these across multiple articles, and frankly, it's not only borderline off-topic and unsolicited, it's rather rude.

@pigsnout is right, no one here cares that much about any idol, and this is not the place for you to spam with that stuff, especially when no one is asking for it.

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You can watch his leadership here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqYTr6RX5ks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjTP6_2rBag

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE4Y8GylzAb9Jtd1OcPfneA

What Siwan said is true, his life and his members life are the same as his character in Misaeng.

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The old videos are precious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ew5cyQcm5E4

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Through all these hardships, this is what makes our ZE:A special. ZEA fighting!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG2HRD1TXG0

[ZE:A Cut] ZE:A's wingcar performance got stopped by the police

Maybe all of you do not know that ZE:A had to perform wingcar performance before they debuted. They ate only ramen each day and had to share with 9 members.

In this video, they started to have wingcar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udBdBlbmtF0

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Siwan even said that he starving to death. Poor him.

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For someone who has never worked in corporate world, he has played Gue Rae so well,like a glove. I think this drama shd be watched by all who work in corporate office, incl newbies. Wldnt it b wonderful to get at least a heads up

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Loved this interview. You can tell he's very sincere and eloquent based on the way he answered those questions

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This is one of the most enjoyable interview i've ever read. Meaningful questions matched with intelligent profound answers.

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It's rare for me to say "wow". But I did after the first paragraph.

He is really humble. Cute.

I feel for the times he felt that he was something but being put back in place, just like Jang Geurae.

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I had no idea about who Im Shi-Wan is before, but after Misaeng, I must say that he really left a very good impression on me. You've done well. All my praises*

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