Jang Dong-gun back on TV
Jang Dong-gun (Taegukgi, Friend) made a television appearance on the inaugural December 14 episode of the new talk show Park Joong-hoon Show on KBS. The reason this is noteworthy is that Jang has eschewed broadcast appearances and hasn’t been seen on a talk show in eight years.
His last drama appearance was in 2000’s All About Eve (co-starring Chae Rim), and he’s been keeping a low profile in recent years. He hasn’t been very active in the Korean entertainment sphere for the past three years, mostly because he’s been working on the Hollywood production Laundry Warrior (co-starring Geoffrey Rush and Kate Bosworth).
In the show, Jang was uncharacteristically open and frank about his life, including his early days, his career, his romantic experiences (and failures), and yes, how it’s awfully lonely up there at the top.
So here’s the rundown:
- Known to be a good student in his youth, he’d failed his college entrance exam because he’d suffered from pneumothorax (collapsed lung) in high school. He underwent surgery for the condition.
- After failing to gain college acceptance, he’d thought himself quite unlucky. When he was discovered for his first ad job, he decided to pursue the actor’s life in earnest.
- He got that first gig when he’d been working various part-time jobs around his neighborhood, and was discovered in a “street casting” for a print ad.
- Host Park Joong-hoon asked about the rumors of Jang’s plastic surgery. Jang maintains he’s 100% natural, and that the reason his cheekbones seemed much more prominent in his Typhoon days was attributed to drastic weight loss — more than 10 kg.
- He currently weighs 72-73 kg, a “comfortable” weight. Right before Typhoon, he’d done Taegukgi, where he was his heaviest at 80 kg. That made his drop down to 67 kg for Typhoon that much more noticeable.
- Often asked about his height, he gave the exact measurement, 181.4 cm.
- Is he tired of hearing comments like “You’re so handsome”? Answer: “I’m not tired of it. To be honest, I feel good whenever I hear it.”
- Is his absence from television was because he’d wanted to retain his mystique? Jang answered that it’s partly due to his personality (he doesn’t feel comfortable appearing in front of people) — and partly due to his belief that he would rather show himself through his acting instead.
- What does he do in his spare time? Jang doesn’t have particular hobbies, but he likes to travel. Because he so often talks to reporters while promoting his projects, discussing his achievements and work, he begins to think, “I don’t know who I really am.” When those feelings build, he goes away on a trip, to rediscover himself.
- However, he’s been feeling lonelier lately, as he grows older (he’s 37, or 36 by Western counting): “When I was younger, I enjoyed solitude. These days, I’m really lonely. A lot of nights, I can’t sleep well.”
- Sometimes he comes home from drinking with friends in the early morning (2-3am) and is hit with feelings of despondence. When he mentioned this to fellow actor Kim Min-jong (Woman of Beauty Park Jung-geum) recently, who sympathized, Kim gave him a sudden hug and handed him his own rosary.
- Jang’s loneliness is such that there have been times when he’s lain awake in the middle of the night (2-3am), drunk a few cans of beer, and thought to himself, “If I get a call from a woman within 20 minutes, I’ll marry her.” (And… following this interview, Jang will suddenly be inundated with midnight phone calls…) He explains, “I have a lot of good friends, but it’s a void that people can’t fill.”
- About dating: He’s only ever dated a couple women “seriously.”
- He’s gone on a couple blind marriage dates, but “obviously those couldn’t work out” — “the other person knows too much about me, and holds prejudices about me” while he would know nothing about them.
- He attributes his failed dating experiences with the inability to do normal things — other people get to know each other as they go out to eat together or watch movies, but he can’t do those things.
- The hardest thing about being a star: “missing the ordinary.”
- In the past (earlier in his career), Jang wanted to live a normal, ordinary life, but he’s realized he can’t have that. “I’m okay with that now, but the process of coming to that realization was difficult.”
- He thinks that perhaps later, “when I think back to my 37-year-old self, I’ll regret living too seriously.”
Tags: Jang Dong-gun