It’s tough to say just when Yeon Jun-seok became one of the independent film world’s most talked about charming, young actors, but the twenty year old Chung-Ang University’s Department of Theatre, freshman’s performance in KBS2’s Monster, a small drama released earlier this year about a son of a politician that commits murder, is the stuff of which careers are made. Prior to Monster, Yeon Jun-seok, who began acting in his early teens, spent 10 years acting in a variety of different films. He starred in the much loved drama Shining Inheritance, as a child prodigy, playing the piano with autism and in the drama Shark as a teenager. But of late, he has been accruing a very different kind of reputation: the young adult who has a capacity to bring more depth than other actors can provide. The interview took place at a café nearby the school. Jun-seok arrived after his classes had finished. A few moments of awkwardness that is usually inevitable, the interview progressed just as if he were a normal university student, with much to talk about. Here’s what he told us;
CAH: First of all, congratulations on your acceptance into the Chung-Ang University Department of Theatre! You made your debut at a young age in 2005, how did you get your start in acting?
Yeon: I think I was very fortunate to be able to start acting, it happened by chance. I was ten when I was casted by an acting academy which was similar to an actor’s agency. The agency enabled me to start playing minor roles in lots of films. Acting really fascinated me because it was very fun for me when I was younger. This experience helped me become aware of the fascinating world of acting.
CAH: Since college is an institute with so many opportunities to experience diverse knowledge, you would have had a hard decision to make when it came to which major to choose. What made you apply for the Department of Theatre?
Yeon: There’re two main reasons that I thought about. Firstly, I thought it would be really fun to become acquainted with people who were interested in acting like me. It takes me some time to be comfortable with someone that I’ve just met. Since I didn’t have many opportunities to spend time with people that I shared an interest with, it was hard for me to relate to friends in high school who were interested in things other than acting. I wanted to exchange ideas with people that held the same interest as me as I believe it could have a huge effect. Moreover, even though I have experience in the film industry, having experienced being an extra in a film, to being a main role in movies, I’ve felt myself to be lacking in some ways. Seeing how actors like Son Hyun-joo and Park Geun-hyung, who are also graduates of Chung-Ang University’s Department of Theatre, bring a recognizable, reliable person to nearly every role, I wanted to follow their paths and gain knowledge and gradually build up my capacity in acting in the long run.
CAH: As a freshman, which lecture has been the most interesting?
Yeon: To me the fact that all the theatre lectures have no “right” answer is the most fascinating. I think that’s why they are more exciting than the other classes we take because we are more involved compared to other classes. The professor asks our opinions about subject matters and we are able to express our own ideas freely. It’s interesting to see such diverse ideas from different people about the same thing.
CAH: How has your experience being a freshman in college been so far?
Yeon: Well, I believe this is the same with other students, but, so far there have been so many events related to school that I haven’t had a chance to do anything other than school related things. (Laughter) I believe it’s the same for all students, but even though school life is pretty hectic with so much commuting and getting to classes with really heavy bags, I feel really grateful for having had the chance to meet so many great people in the Department of Theatre. There’s this sense of belonging that I feel exists in our department which I haven’t experienced before. And I feel really grateful to my friends that have really made my freshman experience great so far.
CAH: You mentioned in an earlier interview that you would like to spend your college life doing things that we can do in this particular stage in our lives. What particular things do you want to do?
Yeon: You know how Film Studies and Theatre are different departments? One thing I really like to do during my college life is I would really like to collaborate with the students from the Department of Film studies and produce short films being involved in the actual production process with them.
CAH: Through the movie ‘Goodbye Boy’, dramas ‘Shining Inheritance’, ‘Cheer Up Mr. Kim’, ‘Happy Ending’ and ‘Shark’ you have played a character with autism to a North Korean defector in such wide ranging roles. Which has been the most memorable?
Yeon: I think all of them are each really different and have left a big impression. The most recent works are the ones that I think about since I always observe things that I could improve on. The short drama ‘Monster’ was really different from the previous roles as the character was kind of twisted with all that was going on in his life.
CAH: Is there a particular role or character that you would like to play in future?
Yeon: I don’t really have one particular role that I would pick. Whenever I watch films I just appreciate the value of the work for its cinematic qualities and have never really been like “I want that role”. But, I would really like to be in an action movie or a melodrama in the future.
CAH: It’s been 10 years since you started acting, what are your interests other than acting?
Yeon: Other than acting I’m interested in interior design. I like going on walks around places I like and looking in shops. I also like walking around the campus between classes at school. I would really like to produce a film and I’m also interested in space design.
CAH: What does acting mean to you?
Yeon: Whenever I get given a role I find it really challenging every time. I always try my best to almost become the character that I’m acting. I would like to be really good at acting and want to challenge myself to play roles that might be out of my comfort zone. I’ve always had this theory that it’s important to play the roles that suit you at that moment you are acting. Since we cannot go back in time to become younger or how we were appreciating the state you’re in and reflecting that precious present state in film is really important when choosing roles. I feel very privileged to be able to have found something that I can be passionate about.
CAH: What do you see yourself to be in the future?
Yeon: I would like to be called a ‘brilliant actor and a genuine person’. Out of many ways that you can describe someone I think is the finest to describe an actor. In similar context, I don’t want to have a fixed image of myself that goes nowhere. I don’t think I would let myself feel content about a specific image and settle with it. I think a strong persona seems to allow for greater flexibility as an actor. Having a strong sense of who you are right at the moment, makes you more comfortable in a wide variety of circumstances and genres. And that in turn gives you even greater confidence and security as an actor. I would like to keep showing the audience various spectrums of my abilities in my work.
CAH: Do you have any short-term or long term goals that help motivate you?
Yeon: Yeah, I want to get my driver’s license really soon and travel to different places regardless of whether it’s overseas or around Korea. I really want to meet someone that I could love in the depth of my heart sincerely. When I was 19 I never really thought about love and thought that it would just be a passing phrase in my life when I was in high school. But since I’ve become 20, it’s officially understood that you are now free to experience whatever you would like to sincerely experience pure love. When I say that, I don’t mean to say that I want to rush into a relationship with the slightest feeling for someone, or exaggerate my feelings, but I really want to experience love in the near future.
CAH: Do you have anything that you would like to say to other students who want to become actors?
Yeon: I think that they should try if they really want to. The great thing about acting is that you are never too late to start in the profession. What matters is your passion towards acting and I think that if you have the talent then it’s definitely worth trying.
Jun-seok has just entered another exciting phase in his life where he is leading himself to live up to his expectations. CAH could feel his determination and love towards acting. There’s no doubt that if you see the intense, yet comfortable performances of Yeon Jun-seok’s films you will see something special. We most definitely wish him all the best for his future.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >