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Jung Il-woo talks about acting, fame, and the future

(…and yes, also his buddy Lee Min-ho.)

Many interviews of celebrities tend to focus on the same topics and therefore feel kind of interchangeable — actors are coached in polite responses and you end up getting a lot of careful, generic comments like, “It was a pleasure working with the director” or “Thank you for your support, I promise to try my best to bring you better work in the future.” Or they’ll talk about their “ideal woman” (or man) and list off some hobbies.

But I like it best when they talk about their work, as this following interview does with Jung Il-woo, star of the currently airing Return of Iljimae, which is a drama I am loving. It’s particularly interesting to take a look at Jung because he has managed to leapfrog, it seems almost overnight, from a lightweight teen idol into a budding serious actor, which I find curious and fascinating. This interviewer shares the same eagerness to get behind that abrupt transition.

Jung Il-woo: “Both Iljimae and I are
maturing out of chaotic events”

Published March 17, 2009 // From 10asia.co.kr

In early 2007, when I [interviewer Choi Ji-eun] first met Jung Il-woo, he was the rebellious high school student Lee Yun-ho in the MBC sitcom Unstoppable High Kick [거침없이 하이킥]. Though he was a first-year university student, his high school uniform seemed to suit him better, his pure smile captured the hearts of the nation’s females, and, perhaps unused to the spotlight shining on him, he was a little reticent and seemed shy. Two years went by.

During that time, Jung Il-woo stepped down as a teen star and took one of the roles among many leads in the omnibus film My Love [내 사랑], and returned as Iljimae in the MBC drama Return of Iljimae [돌아온 일지매], on which he spent more than six months filming in advance. Time goes by quickly, but Jung Il-woo’s steps are not hasty. What are the thoughts of this 23-year-old young man, who became a top star as a 20-year-old youth, and what has he learned? That was the reason I wanted to meet Jung Il-woo again, who had become an adult so suddenly through Return of Iljimae. And this time, the Jung Il-woo I met was no longer bashful.

SONG OF THE DAY

Return of Iljimae OST – “마지막 영웅” (Last Hero) by Shin Min-chul (of T-Max) [ Download ]

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“I just grab some equipment and climb the mountain to go shoot”

 

It seems as though your voice has matured in that time.

Jung Il-woo: Thank you. [Laughs] My voice has changed. Because the character of Iljimae is very cool and calm, I’d been practicing adjusting my tone to suit him, and my voice changed unintentionally. I wonder if it’ll change again in my next project as I try to adapt to that character.

I understand that Return of Iljimae is heading toward its ending. How are things progressing?

We’re filming Episode 23. There are a lot of location shoots — we’ve been to Gwangyang, and I think we’re going once more to Wan-do. Gangwondo, Jeollado, Kyungsangdo… We’ve been all over the country. Because I can’t get cell phone reception when we’re shooting deep in the mountains, there are many times I’ve just turned it off entirely, and when we get to mountain paths that won’t permit cars, I just grab some equipment and climb the mountain to go shoot. [Laughs]

Filming began on Return of Iljimae last summer. How was your first encounter with director Hwang In-roi?

He asked a lot of personal questions, like how I spend my time these days, or how my family is.

Until that point, you had been preparing for director Lee Yoon-jung’s drama Triple.

Although I hadn’t signed a contract, I had been preparing for about four months. I was cast as a short-track speed skater, so I had been training seven hours a day.

It must have been intensive training. Did you record fast times? [Laughs]

Women national athletes record one lap around the rink in about 8 seconds. I skated about a 10-second lap.

Considering that, it must seem such a waste for all the training you put into Triple when you took on Return of Iljimae instead.

Not necessarily. I think of it as something that may come in handy some day. It was a good experience.

 
“I don’t think becoming a hero is something that happens in one moment”

 

High Kick‘s Kim Byung-wook, Triple‘s Lee Yoon-jung, Return of Iljimae‘s Hwang In-roi… They’re all the top in their field. It seems you’ve been fortunate in meeting many talented directors. How do you feel about that?

To start with, all three share a somewhat short-tempered personality. They’re passionate and slightly quick-tempered. [Laughs] But when it comes to work, the three are at the top of their field, and really good people.

Did you read the original Iljimae comic before filming Return of Iljimae?

Of course I did. The first time, it was to get a sense of the character, then again to get a sense of the plot. As I read, I thought that although Iljimae is a hero, he wasn’t one from the moment of his birth. As a person, he’s pitiable and he’d undergone many misfortunes, but still he felt and changed a lot. I don’t think becoming a hero is something that happens in one moment.

Do you remember the first day of filming?

It was last year, July 23. We shot in Danyang, and the scene was of Iljimae training in the martial arts with his instructor, as part of his childhood years in China. It rained a lot that day, but the director just kept going, so we filmed all day. The suffering began from the very start. [Laughs]

Director Hwang In-roi is rather strict, and demands a certain level of acting from his actors. How did he draw that out while on the set?

He gets angry, saying, “Get it together!” [Laughs] But I discovered later that he doesn’t lose his temper with women. [Laughs] Particularly in the first portion, he told me to act not as Jung Il-woo but as Iljimae, which worried me a lot. In other words, that included not laughing while on set, or that if I hurt myself I shouldn’t make a big deal of it, but I took it literally and worked hard to become Iljimae. But lately, he doesn’t get angry much. He doesn’t give many instructions either; overall, he just says, “Try it like that.”

The character of Iljimae is extremely complicated and unique, and it’s not someone you can portray by following someone else’s example. He must be a somewhat difficult character to understand.

That was the biggest source of difficulty. Sometimes the director would tell me not to smile, sometimes he’d tell me to smile. But even then he would say to smile delicately, or “noncommittally.” [Laughs] Therefore, I think Iljimae was in the process of developing his character through episodes 13 or 14. Thinking about it, Iljimae wasn’t a hero from the start. He went through chaos and confusion and his character changed along the way, so I think I matured along with the drama.

 
“Iljimae is a bad guy to Wol-hee”

 

The drama contains a lot of action scenes. How was it, acting while incorporating martial arts from Korea, China, and Japan?

I practiced a bit of hapkido in the past, and prior to beginning filming, I spent a month in physical training. I trained seven hours per day, which included a 7 km run. Perhaps it’s because I enjoy exercise, but aside from when we had to work through the night without sleep, the action scenes themselves weren’t that difficult, and it was fun doing the wire work.

The drama between Iljimae and Wol-hee (Yoon Jin-seo) is just as important as the action scenes — what do you think of the emotions between them?

It was like that in the original comic too, but I think the woman Iljimae loves is his first love Dal-yi, who was beheaded and killed. To put it in a negative light, Iljimae may just be toying around with Wol-hee. [Laughs] That’s how I have to see it. Even after spending a few years together with Wol-hee, he talks with her when he’s lonely but then leaves, he brings up marriage but pushes that aside, suddenly shuts her away somewhere and doesn’t return. He’s a real jerk. [Laughs] That’s why Wol-hee even attempts suicide. The director says that Iljimae does like Wol-hee, but I don’t think so. Um, well… he does like her, but I don’t think it’s love. However, our drama is distinctive for not playing out those feelings in an extreme way, and I think that’s what the director wants. Even when the situation is dramatic, we don’t go to extremes.

In the original, one extremely significant part is the matter of Iljimae dressing in women’s clothing. I was very curious to see how the drama would play this out, and it turned out to be as a gisaeng*. [*female entertainer]

Acting is acting, so that part was fine, but wearing the woman’s hanbok itself was really difficult. The skirt tie runs across the chest and was pulled so tight that it was painful, the headpiece was heavy and uncomfortable, and the makeup took more than an hour. It’s an experience I wouldn’t ever want to do again. [Laughs]

When you weren’t shown full-body, it looked surprisingly good on you, although I’m sure it was rare in Joseon times for a woman to be 184 cm tall. [Laughs]

No matter how prettily we filmed it, there was no way we could avoid full-body shots. I was worried that it would ruin the effect if it looked that unattractive, but I was relieved that the response was, “It looks better than I expected.”

 
“In place of that cloud-like popularity that disappeared,
I gained more ambition for acting…”

 

As you enter the later part of the drama and Iljimae has become a skilled master, you said you’d have more leeway in showing his character. How are things now?

I feel somewhat stable. Actually, yesterday I was acting in a scene with Park Geun-hyung seonsangnim [teacher], who plays [evil minister] Kim Ja-jeom. He’s a really good actor and I’d heard he’s also pretty stern, so I had been pretty worried. The script had come out a while ago, so I had rehearsed that scene starting two months ago, and I even went to [veteran actor] Lee Soon-jae, who’d taught me a lot in my High Kick days, to ask him for a favor to get advice from him. But yesterday, Park Geun-hyung treated me so well, and we rehearsed fifty times. He went over each detail with me, one by one, and encouraged me saying that it was fine if I made mistakes and NGs. I was so thankful to him.

 
“When I go to the filming location, I forget about ratings numbers”

 

Your image as Yun-ho in High Kick gave the impression that you enjoyed playing around, but it seems you’re closer to being a hard worker.

When I’m working, I tend to immerse myself in only that project. That way I don’t feel regret or disappointment once it’s over, so when it’s time to work, I like to put everything into that.

If you’ve changed at all through doing Return of Iljimae, what is it?

I think I understand now what acting is. That doesn’t mean that I’ve become a good actor, but that I’ve come to see what acting is, and to think of how things should be expressed. It’s not like I thought in the past, that it was enough to just read the script and memorize the dialogue perfectly. You have to become the character. The key isn’t to memorize the words, but to know what the most important point of that scene is. Actually, in the beginning of Return of Iljimae, I was determined to do well and put a lot of effort into memorizing every bit of dialogue, but Park Geun-hyung gave me the advice, “That way isn’t effective. If you focus on the most important lines, you’ll find it much easier.” Also, he said that if I speak the dialogue more slowly, it can come across less youthful, so I shouldn’t do that. In this way, learning from from Lee Soon-jae and Park Geun-hyung, actor-to-actor, is a different thing from learning in the director-to-actor relationship between me and Director Hwang.

As the main actor heading a drama, did you feel any pressure about things like audience ratings?

To be honest, I didn’t. Since we filmed for seven months before we aired, I’d forgotten about that. I was surprised that the ratings came back higher than expected for the first episode, but when I saw it on television, the pressure I felt was because of the many aspects of my acting that needed to be improved. Also, after the broadcast of the first episode, I talked on the phone with the director, who told me, “Don’t feel burdened if the ratings come out well, or feel depressed if they come out low. We will do what we do. We can make a drama that we will enjoy.” That’s why these days, even though ratings aren’t high, I forget about them when I arrive on the shooting location.

I heard that one of the things you discussed when you first met director Hwang In-roi was popularity.

After High Kick ended, seeing how all that popularity disappeared in one moment, like a cloud, I did go through a bit of a hard time. But it was my choice to take some time off instead of working, so I thought to myself, “If popularity can go up, it can also come down.” That’s why I told him, “I’ve decided to not be attached to popularity. If the project is good and I do my job well, it can always rise again.”

 

“I tell [Lee] Min-ho to enjoy the immense popularity of Boys Before Flowers”

 
Looking back now, your popularity in your High Kick days really was tremendous. What memories remain with you now?

It’s like a dream. [Laughs] When I was on High Kick, shooting was busy and my schedule was full, so I couldn’t really feel it that much. I could get a feel for my popularity when going out to eat and people recognized me, and also when I went to Chonan to shoot the music video for “오죽했으면” [by ballad singer Gu Jung-hyun] and saw that people had totally crowded the road. But it was so hectic that I couldn’t enjoy the situation, and I was a little confused whether it was High Kick‘s Yun-ho or me that they liked. Of course, I think it was really great that I got to experience that once. I don’t particularly miss it.

Your close friend Lee Min-ho is experiencing a similar thing with his role in KBS’s Boys Before Flowers. As the sunbae [senior] who experienced this first, what do you tell him?

When you develop popularity, things happen to you that you’d never thought of before, and sometimes Min-ho asks little things like, “What am I supposed to do in this situation?” But actually, that’s something I asked Min-ho back when I was doing High Kick. [Laughs] I just tell him to enjoy this now. Also, all of his actions are going to attract notice, so it’s a good idea to be careful. Naturally, Min-ho’s already doing pretty well with that. Right now, I want to congratulate him as a friend, and in the future, I think we can spur each other on in healthy competition. More than anything, it’s a huge support to have a friend to be able to talk with in difficult times.

As you continue acting and become more famous, what do you think you gain and lose?

There are a few things from my time on High Kick. For one, I had no personal time and couldn’t go about freely. But now, those things don’t bother me. This is my life because this is what I’ve chosen, and therefore I don’t think of it as having lost anything.

As an actor, what do you think are your weak points?

In the past, it was my enunciation. When I was doing High Kick, I was pretty bad at articulation, and I worked hard to correct it. I still get hung up on it a few times now, but it’s much better than it was then. Now what I strive for is to have a diverse range of facial expressions. Truthfully, Iljimae doesn’t have a lot of different expressions, but even the one phrase “looking coldly” can reveal many different subtle emotions. Because acting is an art through which you express one’s truth, I want to be able to convey more emotions, whether it’s through a facial expression or a look in the eye. Although I think I’ll need to age more to attain more force. [Laughs]

 
“I really don’t think acting is something that can be done halfheartedly”

 

If that’s the case, do you have something you’re grateful for, something you were born with that helps in acting? [Laughs]

Um… I don’t think so. It’s because acting isn’t something to judge based on doing any one thing well or badly; it’s based on how well you can embody and express the character you’ve taken on. Really, I don’t think acting is something that can be done halfheartedly.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to do in your life?

I’m sure there are a lot of things, but I don’t keep them bottled inside. There are a lot of instances that seemed truly dark and painful at the time, but once I passed that point, they became nothing. When I’m working, the work is what troubles me, and when I’m not working, I’m troubled because I’m not working. [Laughs]

When you’ve been working, have you ever felt afraid of something, or lonely?

I have. I did back with High Kick and I do now. Even when I’m working on a project, I have had times when I sank into a slump and felt extremely lonely. But those things work out eventually with time. At some point, there’s a definite turning point. And if it doesn’t appear, I seek it out. I’d felt a little depressed the past few days, but after acting with Park Geun-hyung, my feelings have suddenly improved. I try to relieve stress in ways like that.

Compared to two years ago when you were Yun-ho in High Kick, do you see yourself or your future more clearly?

Not clearly, but my attitude toward work has become somewhat more relaxed. In the past, for instance, I would be impatient when choosing projects, and if what I saw right in front of me didn’t appeal to me, I didn’t do it. But now, I’d like to take a more thoughtful approach to my work and the decisions I make. Also, when making a decision, I should put my feelings first. If I end up working on something I don’t 100% want to do, the results won’t be good. Because Return of Iljimae is a project I wanted to do so badly, I’m working that much harder.

Much farther down the line, what kind of project do you think Return of Iljimae will mean to you?

It’s a project that helped me realize a lot of things, as both an actor and as a person.

Via 10 Asia (Part 1), and Part 2

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I really enjoyed the interview.

http://www.IGotConverse.com

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this is an interesting interview, so different from others that are in english, this type of interviews I particulary I have no access to because I cant read korean... he indeed seems more mature and quite sincere with his feelings and what path he is choosing... like he mentioned even reading him makes you feel more relax Im looking foward for his nexts proyects

than you JB for this translation... and wanting to read the next recap.

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Sounds like a very reasonable person I'd like to have a conversation with, of course that would be with a bottle of wine, candlelight, and ......

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Absolutely love him! Thanks for the post!

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Thank you so much for this translation. I had actually been curious as to what Jung Il-Woo's feelings towards ROI's ratings and the drastic changes in his roles were. This is really interesting... Even if this is an interview where he is trying to promote his personal image, I feel as though he was sincere in how he described his feelings toward acting.

I look forward to what role he chooses next. The evolution of his roles could be very interesting...

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Wow...I love reading this interview.
Thank you so much Sarah.
Btw...I've been looking for you. :)

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um, the picture of him sitting in the chair is kind of hot. He looks like the bigger/manlier version of Joo Ji Hoon. I will try to catch up on this drama after BOF is done. He seems lovely.

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Thanks for the translation. Although I haven't been following Return Of Iljimae, I enjoyed this interview.

He seems to be really down-to-earth and wise for his age.

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i love this interview
it's very truthful
and he really conveys his feelings
and explains things as best as he could
he seems like a very sincere person
that has a great attitude towards his profession
it's refreshing to see someone who works this hard as an actor
when you look at american actors/actresses
you wonder where after the fame they lose themselves
people such as lindsy lohan
i wish jun il woo the best of luck in this
and i hope he continues to put his best efforts forward

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i like this kind of interview - you get to learn more about a celebrity's thoughts as an actor, not the usual slum book type questions one can read everywhere else. thanks Javabeans! enjoyed reading this!

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Thanks for posting this interview! I really really enjoyed it ^^

"I’d been practicing adjusting my tone to suit him"

I like how he even takes into consideration to this things.... it shows what kind of actor he is and how he does take into consideration such details ^^

I love his portrayel of iljimae.. one of the best dramas so far, but even great dramas can be dull if the lead actors were lacking.. but he (to my surprise) was better than I had first imagined (Never expected him to play this role after seeing him in high-kick)

I can honestly believe he'll really be a top actor in the future ^^

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he sounds like a really good egg, doesn't he? :)

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His eyes look so sad...

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ahahahah i love him!

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He does seem to grow up. It's very insightful. Wish the best for him as an actor and as a human being.

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Thank you so much for translating this interview, javabeans. :) Not knowing Korean, I've always felt deprived that I can't understand the in-depth celebrity interviews in Cine21, Film2.0, Magazine T, 10asia, etc.

Loved how Jung Il Woo came across--thoughtful, well-spoken, down-to-earth, and serious about acting.

I wish him well.

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very nice read...thank you for such delicate translation. i wasn't sure if he's a very thoughtful and intelligent speaker, or if part of it came from your knack with language ;D have yet to see ROI. perhaps it's time to put on for size?

i wonder now that jo in-sung's away for 2 years, who'd director yoo ha pick as his "alter-ego" next? ju ji-hun, jung il-woo seem to possess similar qualities of someone he can mold, while attracting young female viewers to theaters.

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Jung Il Woo seems so delicate (?)... :P

Reading this interview made me want to check out Return of Iljimae.. Period drama is not really my cup of tea, but the way he explained his role made me curious to see his acting..

Thank you Javabeans, it's really interesting interview!

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Thank you so much for translating the interview with Jung Il-woo! That was so interesting and gave a very insightful look into his personality. He seems like a really cool person. I'm definitely keeping an avid eye out for this actor ^^ Wish him the best of luck in the future!

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Thanks so much for this post!
Jung Il Woo's dedication and hard work shows in his performance. I'm truly glad that he took on this role. After seeing the BTS pictures of him rehearsing with Park Geun-hyung, I was curious to see if there would be more details about his experience. Wow, rehearsing fifty times!
He's got some great mentors, Park Geun-hyung and Lee Soon-jae, to give him advice, and I look forward to what his future career holds. He's definitely off to a fantastic start! :D

And to those who haven't checked out Return of Iljimae.....hurry up and start watching! :P

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Absolutely enjoy reading the interview. Thank you JB.
I've never watched any drama of Jung Il-woo, but he seems to be really down-to-earth and serious about his acting career.
Your praise on Return of Iljimae is enough for me to watch the show.

#20 hjkomo, hey, the sub for Ep.1 was released, thanks so much guys, I saw your name there <3333 Can't follow the show right now, but will definitely watch it asap.

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I haven't seen this drama as of yet, but I liked what you said drama bean, that this interview was refreshing and different. I felt that he was sincere, and he love acting. Much success to him in the future. Hope I can see this drama with english sub.

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I like how he's so young, yet his answers are so mature and poignant.
He's a hard worker and I love the attention to detail he pays when looking at his own acting. I'll have to catch up on Iljimae after BOF ends also :)

Thanks for sharing this interview!

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This was an absolute pleasure to read! Thanks so much for posting it!!! :)

People, you need to be watching "Return of Iljimae"! :o

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Very insightful interview indeed... I've even more respect for him now. Love Jung Il-woo!

(And thank you so much once again, Javabeans!)

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thank you so much for putting this interview up, i really enjoyed this interview, it's very interesting especially for an ilwoo fan. i loved how he responded humbly and nicely in all interviews. thank you javabeans!

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Thanks!

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Question:

How to watch Return of Iljimae (MBC) and Iljimae (SBS)? Which to watch first, if you have seen them both? If you HAD to choose only one version, which would you choose? Will watching them "out of order" (I guess chronologically, since they are in different universes) mean that we will be biased against one or the other?

I want to keep at open mind about both versions, because I hate being tainted by preconceptions.

-Samsooki

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@28: Two different series, totally unrelated. They have nothing to do with one another at all. I recommend you watch Return of Iljimae. It's excellent. :)

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Samsooki, there's no need to watch one Iljimae before seeing the other. As Jill4675 says, they're totally unrelated, two interpretations of the same character done in completely different ways. It's definitely possible to enjoy both dramas, but they are so different that I think they appeal to different groups of drama-watchers (or at least different sensibilities within the watcher).

To put it simply: At its best, the SBS (Lee Junki) Iljimae will entertain you with its fun, its goofiness, its action scenes, and Lee Junki doing his best hero swagger. (You may have to put up with some subpar acting and frustrating writing, but those who love the drama feel the entertainment is not dimmed by this.) At its best, MBC's Return of Iljimae will make you catch your breath, marvel at its beauty, and perhaps make your heart hurt, but in a good way.

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It's a tough call, and I guess I won't know the answer until I watch.

It is also tough call whether to like Lee Jun Ki or not. His martial skill was evident in My Girl, and I suppose we get to see more of that in Iljimae. I don't know much about Jung Il-woo except that he is 6 feet tall and weighs 140 lbs (data from drama-wiki), which means he better not stand behind any birthday cakes before the candles are blown out. Which to watch first....

I guess my point is that if you watch the SBS version first, then watch the MBC version, maybe you can appreciate both for what they are. Goofy and fun to get into the Ilimae story line, and then the artistic emotive version to get the full flavor of a k-drama. BUT, if you watch the MBC version first, and then the SBS version, maybe you won't like the SBS version because the goofy version will seem silly or stupid.... these decisions are real ones for us because we buy the DVD sets and they can cost upwards of $60-$90 per set...

Btw, this is kinda off-topic, but my wife thinks it is wrong for Lee Jun Ki to be prettier than many of the female actresses that he stars with (maybe I am putting words in my wife's mouth again). It is hard to characterize Lee Jun Ki in terms of his physical "style."

There are the good looking guys that everybody can agree on. Hyun Bin. Oh Ji Ho. Kwon Sang Woo. And then there are the funny looking (sorta) but still good looking guys that most people would agree upon. Lee Dong Wook. Bi. So Ji Sub. Won Bin. And then there is the pretty boy guy, Lee Jun Ki, in a category by himself. Is it he good looking? What if he doesn't wear sparkly earrings and heavy foundation? Then is he STILL good looking?

-Samsooki

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Thanks for posting! What a great interview! And I loved the photos... it is a great atmosphere. I'm planning on hunting down Return as soon as the roller coaster known as BOF is ended....

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this makes me want to watch the drama... I haven't watched a drama in a while, so Iljimae might just be it... "A star's lovers" left such a bitter taste in my mouth that I stopped watching anything for awhile... and BOF is totally not my thing.. I got turned off after I saw the saw episodes... anyways, Iljimae it is...thanks for the translation, you are so dedicated....

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All the photographs of him are very beautiful. I like the facial expressions...

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pwahahahahaha.... I really like Samsooki's comment saying "it is wrong for Lee Jun Ki to be prettier than many of the female actresses that he stars with"

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He seems like such a cool d2e person

I enjoyed readin that, thanks

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Thanks for sharing the interview news... I enjoy reading them...
and actually I would like to ask the similar question that Samsooki have asked... Gladly I read it first.. Sometimes I would feel dilemma in which to watch first, I'm planned to watch them after BOF ends... but I'm not sure which one is better. I might be watching both of the versions if I have time later. So for those who have watched both of the versions, which plot and stories is better ? I'm just curious and would like to know for most of the drama lovers, which version do you like better ?

I also would like to ask our javabeans this question, could you help me answer this as well? Thank you.. I always enjoyed reading your comment and summaries of each dramas that you wrote. hehe...

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Reading the profound and non-standard interview of this actor encourages me to watch " Return of Iljimae" plus the fact that Javabeans is recapping it.

I have yet to watch a K-drama based on legendary/mythical characters and this could very well be my first.

Thanks for your interview translations.

Cheers!

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Iljimae was fun and Lee Junki truly entertained me there (I've been his fan since) that I just had to watch Time Between Dog and Wolf and The King and the Clown (and a host of his song and dance clips at Youtube). He's an accomplished actor inspite of his androgynous look.

Jung Il-woo has great potential as a serious actor and The Return of Iljimae is a wonderful drama and a good showcase for his acting talent/skills. His good looks and height are bonus enough.

Both Iljimae dramas are worth watching and they're available online. Iljimae is complete so it's practical to watch it first. The Return of Iljimae is still ongoing so it's being updated weekly online.

Thank you for posting this interview. It shows that JIW has depth not only as an actor but as a person as well.

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P.S.

I, too, dislike period dramas before ILJIMAE. But I acquired the taste and currently enjoy my weekly dose of THE RETURN OF ILJIMAE, lol!

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he really has matured from his high kick days :) and he's a bright actor!

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Thanks so much fot the translation!!! I`m interested too in finding out how he cope with this drama...it`s a tough job but he does it really well! These days ROI is the only kdrama i watch (despite being unsubtitle yet...).

I like to share a few of my thought regarding with Iljimae and Return of Iljimae....I myself saw Iljimae (Jun Ki) first and totally hooked . I`m such fans of comedy...and this drama it`s funny especially relationship with IJM and his father, also Bong Soon (is it?i forgot already) and her father. But ROI is one of the kind! I`m so loving this drama! Although it seem a bit gloomy compare to Iljimae -Jun Ki, but the plot, the story, the actors & actress(all of them but of course especially Il Woo!), and the scenery. I love the love relationships all the couples in here..So sad it`ll come to an end very soon...

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wow il woo has matured a lot. thanks for this sarah.
i enjoyed reading this. il woo's thoughts.. his perception on his popularity then.
i can definitely see how much he works for this drama. his effort and all.
he really is developing into a good actor not just the face.
im glad he learns from all those experiences.
and does the drama to be good and enjoyable.
im happy that he learned early on about ratings and such.
well even if they still it's important...
i hope his next project will be the same.

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This was beautiful and inspiring. I love how honest he was.

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thank you for posting this!
i love the way he spoke.

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Great interview, great translation, thanks so much!!

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I <3 Jun Il Woo.

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jung il woo is endlessly wonderful :)

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That was a good interview. Frankly, I was a bit turned off by the tons and tons of self camera pictures I've seen of Jung Il Woo. They just make him look a little superficial or vain. Yes, I am judgemental that way. But this interview and some others I've read of him sound so refreshing and insightful. I'm watching and totally loving RoI at the moment. I'm looking forward to see what kind of project JIW would take next.

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I have to admit, the main reason I start to watch and really draw to “the Return of Iljimae” is because of Jung Il Woo. Young but mature, witty but thoughtful, at the tender age of 21, Jung transforms himself from a teenage star to a serious professional actor. This startling image alteration sets him apart from other actors of his age group (in my opinion). His translucent portrayal of Iljimae makes me forget the fact that ROI is merely his first leading role. He totally immerses himself into the character, and beautifully captures Iljimae’s strength and weakness.
Born under the sign of Virgo, Jung is a hardworking lad, who has shown a tremendous passion and devotion for his work. He seems wise and levelheaded despite of his young age, eager to learn new things, a perfectionist, which reminds me a lot of Bae Yong Joon, who is also born under the same sign and receives his stardom in his early twenties. In order to show Iljimae in a realistic light, Jung drains himself to the point of exhaustion that lands him in a hospital quite a few times. The result of his conviction, however, is stunning, heartrending, truthful and memorable.
A star is not made in a day. Thanks to PD Hwang, who is willing to take a chance on a young talent, Jung Il Woo, and gives him the opportunity to shine (it entails lots of courage to trust a 21 year old, a not so well-known actor with such daunting task, especial the story is so popular and loved.).
For me, personally, I think this version of Iljimae is the best one so far: the script is superb, the acting is genuine, the sceneries are breathtaking, the music is beautiful, and the lead…well, how should I put it? Jung Il Woo is definitely unforgettable. This drama touches me in a way that I think I too have matured as the story of Iljimae unfolds.

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