Uhm Hyun Kyung Thanks Yoo Jae Suk and HaHa
Uhm Hyun Kyung admitted she was another fervent fan of Yoo Jae Suk.
In an interview with eNews on September 1, she said, “Back when I was appearing on SBS’s ‘X Man’ every week as a guest, a lot of things were giving me a hard time but Yoo Jae Suk and HaHa helped me so much.”
Did you ever imagine you would see Song Seung Hun in a topknot, swigging makgeolli?
It seemed that the actor would always be the perfect man, but Song Seung Hun has finally set foot on real soil. He is the king of hallyu, and stands at the top of women’s dreams in the 21st century as a rich boy, tough guy and loyal friend, but this time, he’s about to become something completely different. He’s taking on his first fusion period piece in his life to become a ‘cold Joseon flower boy’.
He’s currently busy shooting for the upcoming MBC drama Time Slip Dr. Jin, which will air its first episode on May 26. Surprisingly, he′s gathering interest in the show and himself by revealing humorous photos through his own social network accounts. The photos are making issues, as they show him as a funny, short guy, or as a poor, traditional scholar - the polar opposite of his long-standing character.
Fans across Asia are going wild for these reveals by a hallyu star. Enews listened to what Song Seung Hun had to say before his comeback as the talented surgeon Jin Hyuk, who goes 150 years into the past to change the world with his medical knowledge.
Uhm first rose to stardom in 2006 with her role in MBC sitcom ‘Rainbow Romance’. Her popularity gained her a spot in SBS X Man, the greatest variety show at the time, but appearing in the show weighed heavily on her because she would always tense up in front of variety show cameras. Yoo Jae Suk captured how she would always freeze up, and made it into a new character for her: ‘The tense girl’. HaHa also took care of her by greeting her first as soon as he saw her.
Uhm Hyun Kyung recalled, “HaHa called out to me, saying ‘Oh, Hyun Kyung’s here,’ and that was the first time anyone called me by my name in the waiting room. I still remember the warmth I felt with that one sentence. Yoo Jae Suk and HaHa are both members of ‘Infinity Challenge’, and when I watch the show, it reminds me of how they were back then and I thank them inside. They are as good as angels and they deserve respect.”
When asked whether she keeps in touch with them, she said, “Actually, I haven’t seen them since I left X Man. After I left the show I starred in many dramas, but at one point it felt like I had hit a ceiling in my acting, so I thought maybe I should just quit my job altogether. I’ve been taking a long three year rest, and during that time I’ve been living life as a normal student, so I don’t keep in touch with any other celebrities, either. But if I meet Yoo Jae Suk and HaHa again, I want to thank them for looking after me so kindly.”
Yoo Jae Suk captured how she would always freeze up, and made it into a new character for her: ‘The tense girl’. HaHa also took care of her by greeting her first as soon as he saw her.
Interest from outside and inside Korea is being concentrated on the clash between the ‘Hallyu Kings’ Song Seung Hun and Jang Dong Gun in May. This is your first fusion period piece; why did you choose to appear in it?
“The reason I chose Time Slip Dr. Jin as my comeback piece is because I once saw the Japanese Dr. Jin drama in the past, and it’s a drama I liked. I was happy that the casting offer came to me after learning that Dr. Jin would be produced as a drama in Korea."
"The time slip subject and the setting that a doctor from the present travels to the past to heal people there felt new. Diseases that can be cured easily in the present become serious illnesses that can lead to death in the past. It was fun to see the ‘parallel universe theory’ at work, which states that there’s another person exactly like me living in another universe.”
The genius doctor Jin Hyuk has a unique character. What have you prepared for this role?
“Jin Hyuk is so talented he never fails in his surgeries, but because he’s so cold he doesn’t even start surgery on a patient he believes has no chance of surviving. He then travels through time to the past, and starts to cure sick people without any modern instruments. He just has to use basic instruments and his own medical knowledge. He feels that the name he made for himself all this time was a façade, and becomes more humane.
He is a doctor, but more than having to practice anything, the medical jargon is in English and isn’t seen much anywhere else, so it wasn’t easy to memorize the dialogue. (Laugh)”
You’ll be acting with the hallyu idol star Kim Jae Joong of JYJ, and you worked with B2ST for the OST of ‘My Princess’. Are you actually close with them? And do you have any K-Pop stars or songs you like?
“Because we work in different areas, I don’t get many chances to meet with singers. I like Gi Kwang, whom I appeared with in a drama, and I listen to B2ST’s Fiction a lot. Out of JYJ’s songs, I liked the song titled In Heaven. (Laugh)”
It was great seeing you communicate with your fans through social networks such as Me2Day.
“I’ve also started to communicate with my fans through Facebook and China’s Sina Weibo. The world has become a smaller place because many people from across Asia in countries such as Japan or China have started to show their interest [in Korea], and communication media has developed a lot.
It would be better if I could visit the countries in person and greet everyone, but because I can’t, I try to show how I’m doing and ask how others are doing through social networks. It’s so much fun. I read comments from a lot of people and get to learn what my fans think, so it’s great in so many different ways. I plan to continue to communicate with my fans through social networks.”
The last time Uhm Hyun Kyung was seen acting in a full-length role was three years ago, in the 2008 KBS2 drama ‘Kind Woman Baek Il Hong’. After the drama, she dropped out of Dongduk Womens University, and was newly admitted into Konkuk University as a Film and Arts major, to study film production and acting.
She commented, “Because my first ever role was the main role in a sitcom, I didn’t get a chance to learn what acting really was about. Trying to go through a stressful schedule without any rest with that kind of basis was very exhausting. I tried out many different things like production in college afterwards, and only then could I learn what a hard time the staff have when filming too. I felt a thirst and thankfulness for acting rise up in me again, and I decided to start off again as an actress early this year.”
She joined her current agency, GNG Productions, and showed she was still as sweet as ever in the CF for kiwi brand Zespri. Recently she made a guest appearance on MBC FM ‘This is Blue Night’s Jung Yeop’, and showed she was also still very much off-the-wall.
“I heard that Kim Hee Chul, who starred with me in the sitcom ‘Rainbow Romance’, would be entering the army, so I said goodbye and wished him luck in a video message. Jung Yeop asked me on his radio what role I would like to take up in the future, and I said I wanted to be a chimpanzee from ‘Planet of the Apes’. Everyone laughed at that one.” The unpredictable girl blushed as she said this.
You’re one of the original hallyu stars. You must feel more responsible now that the Korean wave has become even hotter.
“I used to believe that the Korean wave is a phenomenon that came into being in Japan, China and Southeast Asian countries through Korean films or dramas. Now, I feel great that K-Pop is also being loved not only in Japan, China and Southeast Asia, but also across the world. I’m proud as a Korean that many people are interested in the Korean language, Korean culture and Korean foods.”
Do you remember any specific Korean wave fans?
“I remember a letter I received from a fan a long time ago. The fan wrote that she was touched by my pieces, and she started to take an interest in Korea and Korean culture. She said she’s studying Korean these days. She also added that there are many people who became interested in Korea after being moved by such pieces, so I shouldn’t just think it’s my job, but be thankful about my job as I live my life."
"After reading that letter, I realized that I shouldn’t just make decisions on my own and treat my job lightly. I started to feel more responsible about everything. These days, I’m often surprised because so many people greet me in Korean and send letters in Korean also. I am, of course, very thankful.”
Kim Tae Hee, who you partnered with for ‘My Princess’, is gathering interest in Japan as ‘the next Ji Woo hime’ through the drama ‘99 Days with a Star’. Your best friend Kwon Sang Woo is also venturing overseas a lot with Jackie Chan. Are you interested in going overseas?
“It may be too grand to say ‘overseas ventures’, but I’m always open if there are any great pieces overseas. I acted with Shu Qi and Mok Man Wai in the film Virtual Weapon in 2002, and I also starred in the Asian version of Ghost, Ghost : In Your Arms Again, with Nanako Matsushima. (Laugh)"
"I’m always pressured about the language barriers, but last year when I filmed a Japanese piece I started to feel a desire to learn Japanese, and regretted never learning it before. Whenever I go on overseas promotions I feel a desire to learn foreign languages, but it’s never easy to find the time. I’m always working hard, though, so that I can participate in a foreign piece if I receive an offer for a good one.”
[This article was written with cooperation from the Korea Foundation and the Korea Times.]
This is a part I of an interview with Song Seung Hun. Part II can be found here.
Photo credit: Dr. Jin, Song Seung Hun’s agency
With the return of her ambitions came a disappearance of her fear of variety show cameras, and she will be returning to the small screen on September 18, 11:15 p.m., with KBS2 drama special ‘Strawberry Ice Cream’ (Script: Ha Mu Su, Production: Ji Byeong Hyun). She will be appearing as the heroine Jun Kyung, the lover of Kim Young Hoon. She previously met the actor five months ago as a partner in KBS2 drama Crime Squad.
She said, “Five months ago in ‘Crime Squad’, (Kim) Young Hoon was a psychopath who even had to strangle me at one point, but now he has to be my lover. We both had a good laugh at that. We had to work hard not to laugh during shoots because we were such close friends, it felt awkward to be acting like lovers, but because the script was so sad and because I could relate to it so much, I could act out as many crying scenes as I wanted. I hope many people will see how much I have changed.”
The motif of Strawberry Ice Cream is the Daegu Subway Disaster； the melodrama was born from the question of what kinds of messages people leave with their loved ones in their last moments of life.
Uhm Hyun Kyung said, “The scene that really lingered was the one in which I go to a bridge and try to stop my overflowing emotions after my boyfriend dies of a car crash. Regardless of whether I’m good or bad in the drama, I hope a lot of people watch it and tell me how I’m doing.”
Uhm Hyun Kyung’s agency said, “After her new start she seems to have developed a new strong passion toward acting. She made a cameo appearance in MBC drama ‘Hooray for Love’ as a girl who tries to seduce Lee Tae Sung, and the staff must have liked it because they asked her to come back to film another scene next week. We believe that the invitation to come back to film more scenes is the same thing as praise for her acting. Please tune in to see how she appears in ‘Hooray for Love’ next time.”
Translation credit: Erika Kim