A REVOLUTIONARY BOY
Drama <Sungkyunkwan Scandal’s> Yoo Ah In
A good actor’s face has the power to stop time. Very rarely, if the gods allow it, they seem to turn back the hands of time (not only because they are so good-looking). Recently, actor Yoo Ah In did just that through his portrayal of defiant Guh-roh Moon Jaeshin in the drama <Sungkyunkwan Scandal>. Those who became adults had just barely captured and nailed shut the box of their pure blue [T/N: young] dreams when they were loudly shaken awake. The mirage of an utterly young boy who wouldn’t have been noticed if he had brushed by the girls he couldn’t even talk to while walking in the street floats before the eyes of the girls, now women, who sigh with regret. The time that Yoo Ah In has been longingly stirring up may indeed by the idea of youth we never had the chance to enjoy.
In the entertainment business, most stars naturally act out roles representing youth, but it is rare to find the icon who fills the screen with the ‘light of a meadow’ [T/N: a metaphor used to refer to his deeply natural and three-dimensional acting] that truly feels expressive of what it means to be young today; a light that cannot be created simply by storytelling and machinery. Yoo Ah In has arrived at the spot once occupied by Jung Woo Sung and Ryu Seung Bum. Moreover, Yoo Ah In, who is a child of the generation for whom self-expression and living are synonymous, is an unprecedented type of young star who communicates through Twitter and Cyworld with the world that swarms his life. When fans who gather at filming locations press their camera shutters, he takes pictures of them through his car window and uploads them online, and when reporters take out tape recorders, this actor says, “It’s unfair. I want to record and use it, too!” The 21st century actor Yoo Ah In who insists, “I’m a netizen, too” doesn’t allow his fans to unilaterally project their desires on him or imagine what he’s like. He doesn’t give off the image of someone you can fill with whatever content you want [T/N: i.e. project your desires onto him, as many fans do to celebrities]; he is hard at work communicating his thoughts and emotions. He says [to his fans], “Your star is this kind of person; if we can, let’s go together and do our best.”
In a reality in which two-way [mutual] communication networks can simultaneously become fast-tracks to misinterpretation and misunderstanding, this is a precarious game. Yet his first film, <Boys of Tomorrow>, makes one wonder, superstitiously, whether the endless blending of life and acting might become Yoo Ah In’s destiny. The characters in the movie call Jongdae (Yoo Ah In) “my dream” without much explanation, and become fixated on the young boy, each in their own way. Rather than telling one story, the movie has the peculiar structure of first being centered on the existence of a young boy named Jongdae, and then branching out into different directions around him. Then 20-year-old Yoo Ah In wasn’t so much ‘acting’ as he was bowing with his entire body [T/N: introducing himself] toward the world called ‘movies’ that was to become his future. I’m planning on throwing myself at you; shall we give it a try? 7-year [veteran] actor Yoo Ah In said that he thinks about the roles he’s played—the boys Ah In, Jongdae, Yongtae, Kibum, Heuksan—and wonders what they might be doing, and where, if they continued to live today. If this kid [T/N: referring to the characters YAI has played] had grown up in a different environment for just a few years, might not he have become that [kind of] kid. Indeed, these incomplete life stories he has gathered are also representative of his own twenty-five years. “[Because] I don’t like to think that I’ve spent my life playing out the identities of strangers.” [T/N: Yoo Ah In is saying that he doesn’t think of the characters he’s played as separate strangers. Their lives continue; they were created from within him, and in a way, they are still a part of him. To think of them as strangers who have nothing to do with him would be too awful, because he has given so much of himself to them. Thank you to InK for explaining this point! If I have misinterpreted your words, please do let me know and I will edit this space again.^^]
Yoo Ah In is [still] in the process of becoming [himself]. Watching him confront his potential talents and [future] career as an actor will be even more beautiful to see than what he has already achieved. I once read an article in which <Boys of Tomorrow> director Noh Dong Seok said, “Yoo Ah In was looking at me. [Subject missing] was nervous.” [T/N: Because the Korean language often relies on implied, not explicit, subjects to create sentences, sentences like the above can become ambiguous. Here, it isn’t clear whether Director Noh is saying he, Director Noh, was nervous, or whether he meant Yoo Ah In was nervous, and the reporter exploits this ambiguity to make her point. Thank you so much to InK for explaining this nuance.] Though it is impossible to confirm to whom the subject was meant to refer in this quote, I [can’t help but] believe that the nervous party [was not Yoo Ah In] but rather the director. It isn’t because he’s good-looking or has the power of popularity. The nervousness Yoo Ah In evokes [in others] derives from his overwhelming honesty, and this young man who boldly believes that life can be made into another kind of art is one who gives mediocre adults the chills.
His body, which is so skinny it seems that if you turn away for one moment it will turn into a shadow, has until now moved and lived as if it doesn’t want to leave a trace. But once he started talking, the thoughts in his head came out in an overflowing torrent, and his limbs like winter trees stripped of leaves began to fidget. Min Kyu Dong, director of <Antique Bakery>, said this. “When I’m with Ah In and then we part, and he turns and looks back or goes farther away from me, for some reason I end up staring after his receding figure for a long time. The time doesn’t end sharply; it stretches out with a dot, dot, dot like an ellipsis.” I can understand what he meant. Meeting with this actor, filled to bursting with life, left with me a strange sensation of pain, as if my flesh had been cut with a thin blade. The drop of blood that slowly welled up in that place glowed red and beautiful.
Q. Many people suddenly came to know you through your debut project <Banolim>, and you experienced what it’s like to have a large, anonymous group of people pour their love toward you. And six years later, you’re experiencing a similar phenomenon in the aftermath of <Sungkyunkwan Scandal>. The situation is similar, but it must feel different.
YAI: During <Banolim>, I had no idea what was happening to me, and I didn’t know how to deal with it, so [the popularity] didn’t feel like it was mine. Now, I can handle it [better]. After <Banolim>, I [remember] thinking that I must not falter and collapse under the situation I was thrust into, and that I had to firmly take a step forward and wait. [What’s happened because of] <Sungkyunkwan Scandal> is something I’ve prepared for and waited for, [so to that extent] I think of it as something I’ve made myself.
Q. It seems to me that there are two main reasons you wanted the role of Guh-roh Moon Jaeshin in <Sungkyunkwan Scandal>. First, you judged that it was a character that would have broad public appeal, and secondly, he was such a typical character that you would ironically actually have greater room to interpret [the character and make it your own]. Isn’t it true that you haven’t ever played a character as typical as Guh-roh?
YAI: The synopsis actually [described Guh-roh as] ‘Chosun Dynasty’s beastly man.’ (Laughter from everyone) There are many ‘beastly men’ with good bodies–why, of all people, did this role come to me? I found that interesting. But in the planning phase [of the drama], the director who had cast me was replaced with current director Kim Won Seok. From the perspective of regarding typicality [of character] as important, he probably thought, “Why was this kid cast?” After the first [script] reading, I saw his uneasy expression and told him, “I don’t want to talk about the voice, rhythm, or facial expression that Guh-roh will have, yet. More than that, I want to talk about the kind of heart the boy Moon Jaeshin has. Then the expressions and rhythm will come out naturally.” When the tougher actors were passed over for Guh-roh and my thin, weak self was given the role, there must have been a fateful kind of reason for it. [T/N: What YAI means is that although the writer and director wanted Guh-roh to fit the image of the stereotypical beastly man, there must have been a fateful reason the role was given to him. It’s as if Yoo Ah In was the only one who could have played Guh-roh, because he redefined his identity and made him into someone more meaningful than just a stereotypical beastly character. Infinite thanks to InK, again, for her clear and thorough explanation!]
Q. Unlike typical rebellious kids who get into fights, Jaeshin’s movements aren’t sharp and angled; rather, he moves in a slow swagger. He’s a character for whom posture is more important than action.
YAI: He’s a kid who’s body is completely loose. I thought that real beasts would be like that. Nowadays, you see too many pet beasts. Beastly men who have been made to look pretty. Guh-roh is not like a puppy that was raised lovingly at home, but rather an abandoned dog that’s been thrown away on the streets. That’s why he’s as sharp as a knife when he needs to be, but the rest of the time he’s a beast without any strength in his body [T/N: that is, his muscles are relaxed].
A RESULT I HAVE PREPARED AND WAITED FOR, ONE I’VE MADE MYSELF
Q. Another stereotype of rebellious young men characters is that their eyes are either filled with fierce heat or sincere pleading, but Jaeshin was different. He slightly lowered his gaze and quietly looked on through his bangs or eyelashes. You could say that hiding his eyes only made one notice them more.
YAI: It’s something I had wanted to show for a long time, but it wasn’t until I met [the character of] Jaeshin that I was able to show that kind of expression in my eyes. That expression isn’t conscious of anything, and isn’t asking for anything, but you have to show that in your eyes in front of the camera, right? But [the challenge is that] you can’t be expressionless before the camera, either….
Q. Do you still feel uncomfortable acting in front of the camera?
YAI: It’s not that I still feel that way; I’m a kid who from the beginning never felt uncomfortable in front of the camera. But after <Boys of Tomorrow>, and as time passed, I became more and more uncomfortable. These days, I’m at the point where I see the camera, the lighting, and each and every staff member [while filming]. Still, when I act in something like a drama now, where everything is finely divided and shot [separately], the continuity [of the character and plot] remains in my head. What it means is that I’ve become much smarter. But to be honest, I don’t want to become smarter. Although it’s a bit of a grand statement, I thought that the moment I became conscious of [all] that, I would be crossing a river of no return. So in my next project I think I will have to experiment to see if I can return to that state of being unaware of anything [while acting].
Q. The lighting and cinematography in <Sungkyunkwan Scandal> probably contributed to drawing the viewers’ attention to your eyes. There were many shots that focused mostly on the actor’s faces, and the lighting brightened and emphasized the eyes to the point of being almost fetishistic.
YAI: Guh-roh especially had an exceptional number of extreme close-up shots that cut off at the forehead. [The director also told me], ‘Your shots are very tight so don’t move around too much.’ I can understand this, but I also think that fundamentally, under the objective of allowing the actor to emote wholly and naturally, the technology should be able to support [him]. Indeed, it’s a modern evil that humans are enslaved by technology. Puahaha.
Q. When I observed the way the camera follows the entire flow of Jongdae’s staggering around and running in the movie <Boys of Tomorrow>, you were able to naturally hold your own in long shots, and I thought to myself that it was a rare quality to see in a rookie actor. So I was curious as to your opinion, as an actor, about <Sungkyunkwan Scandal’s> filming style of closed and sharply cut scenes.
YAI: If I experienced the hardships of the drama system during <Strongest Chilwoo>, then this time I was much more aware of the constraints [of the system] and I was determined to find a way to get through it. It’s similar to developing muscles you’re not used to using. So I’m afraid that when I really and truly have to move like a human, I won’t be able to because my muscles are too developed. It’s only when you keep in mind that it isn’t always the right choice to act the way they ask of you on set that you keep from developing useless muscles. [T/N: That is, if YAI becomes too accustomed to the artificial environment of the filming set, he might end up losing the sense of true acting that is conveying emotions freely and genuinely, as if unaware of the filming set. Thanks, of course, goes to InK for this explanation as well=)] In any case, <Sungkyunkwan Scandal> was an important project [for me] if only because I was able to portray what I had wanted to portray. At every moment, I always think that I may never have another chance to show [myself through acting].
Q. I had thought that Guh-roh had [a good amount of] lines, but when I watched [the drama] again, I realized that there were actually many scenes where he didn’t have any lines. There were many times where the meaning [of the scene] was contained in Guh-roh’s silent reactions to Yoonhee.
YAI: I was sad that very important and emotional speeches had to be shortened to just a few lines because of the noisiness of the set. Because of that, it turned out that there were many long scenes without even one line. Every single one of the scenes showing the reactions of [students] just standing there during the Analects of Confucius class, or during the tests administered by the king, were shot in long takes. Everyone had a hard time, but those were the only long scenes I had, so I had fun.
Q. Jaeshin is a kid whose range of vision and understanding can be differentiated [from the other students]. Whether he climbs a tree and looks down from above or lies down on the ground, he is able to broadly see what others can’t. But it was interesting that there were almost no scenes where he directly tells other people what he sees.
YAI: That’s one of the deeper reasons I wanted to play Jaeshin. That kid, even when he climbs [a tree], he doesn’t go to a tree in the mountains, but climbs one in front of the lecture hall, and when he lies down it isn’t in a field but on the veranda of Central Room 2, right? Though he does everything he can to be far and high away because he can’t stick his foot fully in the inside, he’s a kid for whom the effort to remove himself [completely] from those limits and separate himself actually becomes meaningless. That’s also how I am as an actor.
Q. The timbre of your voice is thin and shakes easily. They’re both historical dramas, but there was a difference between the way you vocalized as Heuksan versus Jaeshin. Starting from the drama <The Man Who Can’t Marry>, the way you use your voice seems to have changed greatly.
YAI: Heuksan’s voice came from here (places hand on neck) and was a trapped sound, whereas Jaeshin’s voice came from a lower place. People say that people with high registers are usually good at singing, but that isn’t true. The strength to broaden the range of my voice and properly use it to act and play around [with different ways of vocalization]—-what I mean is, rather than showing off my voice, my voice should be an instrument I can freely use to express myself—-I think that’s important. Vocalization is the [area of acting] I’m most lacking in, so when I watch movies, I naturally hear the range of an actor’s tone and what kind of register they use at one point in the movie. If in <Strongest Chilwoo> I was only intent on following the character [T/N: i.e. immersing himself in the character of Heuksan], in <Sungkyunkwan Scandal> I felt that if only my vocalization was prepared I could have yelled my head off, but it wasn’t ready and I couldn’t go forward with big strides. I felt extremely regretful because of that. Everyone says I did well, but (in an undertone) that’s not good acting, is it? While I was recording for the DVD commentary today, I thought, “That’s what people were complimenting?” and I wanted to hide. Vocalization is a big problem I have to overcome. It’s difficult to talk about one’s own shortcomings, but if I know it, and other people know it, then that will be a reason to change, won’t it? So I would like this shortcoming to stick out obviously rather than being hidden away.
Q. Similarly, there are areas that are basic fundamentals for an actor. Have you ever thought about taking [acting] classes?
YAI: Well, during <Boys of Tomorrow>, I had less technical skill than I do now, but all the sounds came and went naturally. That’s why I want to know whether vocalization is actually related to technique, or if it’s something that happens at the moment I let go of myself.
THE LONELINESS I FELT UNTIL MY EARLY TWENTIES BECAME MY ROOTS
Q. You wrote on your mini-hompy that on your coming-of-age day in the year you turned twenty, you spilled tears [T/N: Coming-of-age day is on the third Monday of every May, and in Korea represents the day that everyone who turns twenty years old in that year becomes an adult].
YAI: Looking back, I think it’s cute I had moments like that. The feeling of wanting to make that kind of drawing and stick myself inside it. Like I was the star of a movie or something. Keuhaha. Even though it wouldn’t be a very good movie.
Q. You decided to become a celebrity and left your arts high school in the middle of 10th grade and came up to Seoul by yourself and became independent. It’s not common that 17-year-olds have those kinds of experiences. [T/N: Counting in Korean age, 17 is the normal age of 10th graders–it’s equivalent to 15 or 16 in ‘regular,’ non-Korean age]. How did you process/cope with that experience?
YAI: (Thinks) No matter how hard it was, looking back, it was a time that needed to happen, and the difficult times that swept me away are already over, now…. (Thinks) For me–if I’m born with a bump on my chest, I’m not the kind of person who hates it so much I go crazy; I’m the kind of person who puts pretty clothes on the bump and does whatever I can to make that into an asset. A beautiful scar? That’s right, that kind of thing. I really hate it when artists say, “Pain is my fortune,” but it’s true that the loneliness I felt during my late teens and early twenties became the roots of my adult self.
Q. Are you different because you’re lonely? Or are you lonely because you’re different?
YAI: I’m lonely because I’m different.
Q. (A different question was asked, but Yoo Ah In keeps thinking of the former question.)
YAI: Still, I think I’m a more positive person than anybody else. People think of me as very negative, but isn’t even just the strength to keep living even while burdened with that negativity a powerful positivity? I’m someone who can’t have just an ordinary amount of positivity. Puahaha!
Q. If I look only at your face, it’s bright, but before you endured the time you just spoke about, you played the role of a boy whose heart will be broken in <Banolim>. From the first episode in which ‘Ah In oppa’ [T/N: the name of his character] appears, it’s obvious that Okrim (Go Ara)’s heart will only see him as a best friend [and nothing more].
YAI: After finishing <Banolim>, I thought about the fate of [the characters I play]. A character in a drama or movie has an already-determined fate that’s unconnected to the flow of [real] life. But to me, a course that’s determined from start to finish like that isn’t interesting. Although I knew how <Sungkyunkwan Scandal> would end, even in <Banolim> I wondered if Okrim might wind up with me in the end. (Laughter) But I saw about 80% of it coming. Like Jaeshin, Ah In oppa is an outsider [both] inside [and out], because he’s the only high school student among junior high students [Thank you to InK for fixing this translation^^].
Q. Whether you’re playing Guh-roh or <Strongest Chilwoo>’s Heuksan, and even including modern-day projects in which you have action and fighting scenes, the sight of you being hurt is much more spectacular than when you impressively injure others. Is this by chance, or do you personally pay attention to how to express those parts?
YAI: It’s not by chance. I haven’t yet released the urge to express through acting, “I’m sad, I’m a hurt kid.” I know it’s not sophisticated; it’s like wanting to take your depression medication in front of other people. Though there was a time when I went around trying to purposefully find only healthy parts to play, on a basic level it’s easier for me to act in pained or sad roles.
Q. If I were to give you my opinion, I would say that arrows fit you quite well. (Laughter) If you look at religious art, the Christian saint Sebastian, who is executed by being shot with arrows, is depicted as a very young and beautiful man.
YAI: Keuhaha. In <Strongest Chilwoo>, too, the scene where I was shot by an arrow and bled everywhere while saying my lines received a lot of positive reactions. I guess there’s an excitement to the appearance of a collapsed and bleeding man.
WRITING IS, TO ME, ANOTHER JOB [T/N: He doesn’t mean that it’s tedious; simply that he takes it seriously]
Q. Your name is frequently associated with the word ‘youth’ and you have also spoken of it often. Do you ever worry that this will cause ‘youth’ to become a meaningless word?
YAI: I think it’s the easiest way for people to describe the combination of my confusion, foolishness, and ambitions in one word. So I think of ‘youth’ as the word that was chosen because I couldn’t do a good job of explaining my whole self to the world.
Q. Your writings on your [Cyworld] mini-hompy have recently decreased, but you have until now consistently poured your energy into writing as much as you have your acting. One gets the feeling that you take care of your mind and spirit like other actors take care of their bodies.
YAI: In the past, I probably would have said that writing was a way to take care of myself as a human and was one of the basic elements of being an actor, but now I consider writing as another job [T/N: He means he takes it seriously as a job or occupation, rather than doing it just for fun or as a hobby]. I don’t write so I can act well or to make my fans happy; writing is another job–[the only difference] is that in acting, I’m a professional because I’m paid for it, whereas in writing, I’m an amateur because I don’t receive money.
Q. Do you think that expression is meaningless if no one reads it or sees it?
YAI: It depends on what purpose that expression is for. For example, if you’re a performer or entertainer, there’s a nuance [to your performance] that makes the audience or listener the subject [T/N: as opposed to the performer]. In Twitter, conversation is the main goal, whereas my mini-hompy is first and foremost a space for me to express myself, even if I’m cursed out for being a crazy bastard and nobody understands me. But if I act, and [the audience] can’t understand what kind of acting I’m doing, then that’s a problem. Nowadays, [social] media like blogs, mini-hompys, Twitter, etc. have increased, so I’m able to match the different identities I have within myself to each social medium, which makes things easier. Though I’m sure there are people who really pretend/show off [T/N: that is, act like they’re cooler than they really are], why do people call the desire to become a better and more admirable person showing off? Isn’t it similar to dressing up in [nice] clothes when you go out? As long as it’s not packaging without any substance underneath, then packaging is something we need. Otherwise acting, writing–all of that just becomes showing off.
Q. It seems like everyone these days is uncertain how public or private Twitter is. For example, there are some people who suspiciously ask why someone would go out of their way to have a public Twitter conversation with someone about something they could have discussed through text messages. Business between only person A and B can be interrupted by person C, who sticks himself in the conversation and extends it….
YAI: What you’re saying is why would you show your conversation to other people, but what I want to ask is, is it so necessary to avoid showing that? Isn’t society formed when our lives collide with another person’s, and then by accident yet another’s?
Q. When I read your writing, I repeatedly get the image of some liquid substance inside of you that you then release through body fluids or vomiting. I see your urge to throw up the debris inside of you, even if you have to stick a finger down your throat to do it, and return to a clean and clear state. In real life, do you actually vomit often?
YAI: When I drink. You could say that the words I write on my mini-hompy are my way of vomiting through writing when I can’t throw up all the alcohol I drank the night before. To put it crudely, it’s taking a shit. I want to empty myself. My writing isn’t wisdom or enlightenment; I want it to give a feeling similar to that of standing in front of a painting in a museum. I think that even ‘writing as excretion’ has positive aspects. I become a passageway. On one side is the life I’ve picked up and swallowed, and on the other is the life I’ve spit out. If I take on the role of a passageway I can refine/purify well, then it’s not just something I’ve vomited up–I can make and put forth something new.
Q. How do you decide which writings to reveal publicly and which writings to keep private?
YAI: Indecency or shock value, hahaha! I don’t reveal writings that might prevent me from expanding into other areas of acting. Even if one says that writing and acting are different things, in the end they interact in ways one can’t see.
BECAUSE I’M ALSO AN ARTIST OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC, I SHOULD BE A CULTURAL LEADER
Q. Yoo Ah In-ssi, [you] aren’t someone whose existence is fixed around the general public or your fans. You seem like a star who thinks that depending on how you communicate [with your fans], people’s thoughts toward you may change [and that’s okay]. Once in a while, you reveal through your [Twitter and Cyworld] that you drink alcohol, or you express your opinion using curse words, or do other behaviors that are usually taboo for celebrities. It feels like you do this to get your fans to accept, “The star I like is this kind of person.”
YAI: I think of it as wanting to receive love because I rightly deserve it. I don’t want to one day suddenly receive more love than my accomplishments deserve, or to be someone who longs for and desires love so much he trembles from fear at the thought of losing it. To begin with, I don’t think the way to maintain the love one receives is to smile prettily and say, “I also love all of you;” rather, it’s to stay one step ahead. An actor is simultaneously a person who acts and a person with the most influence as a popular culture artist, no? Then, [actors] are supposed to lead culture [forward], but it’s frustrating that in reality, they only jump on the bandwagon of [trendy pop] culture. Though it may seem a bit dramatic, I think [actors] must focus on [improving] themselves and make a new style [for the general public].
Q. When you think of your fans, what kind of people do you think they are, specifically?
YAI: Outsiders who can’t mix with others, but people who [aren’t as fortunate] to have the advantages [T/N: i.e. benefits, convenience, etc. deriving from his status as a celebrity—thanks again to InK!] I enjoy. I think what they most want from me is a sense of empathy. I think the reaction against the mainstream is something that’s occurring socio-culturally, as well. I feel friendship toward my fans.
Q. Have you ever felt afraid that you might continue to live [only] as a minority actor? [Explanation from InK: A minority actor plays roles that aren’t from the mainstream. Yoo Ah In’s roles from the past, like Jongdae or Yongtae, were born or raised in socially difficult environments. In the US, for example, minority acting would represent racial minorities as well as sexual and religious minorities. Yoo Ah In has spent his career playing minority characters (street kids, outsiders, psychologically complex characters) despite his handsome good looks that would make it perfectly possible for him to play romantic heroes or anyone from he mainstream. Yoo Ah In knows that he’s a minority actor and purposefully chooses those roles, though he keeps the door open to majority/mainstream roles, as well.]
YAI: Yes. However, even if I remain a minority actor, there’s no rule saying I have to pick [only] minority projects. Haha. What I mean is, at the very least, my looks are compatible with the mainstream. The way [I] look can make things easier for [me]. Like how the girl who comes out in <500 Days of Summer> is favored by others in ways she doesn’t know [simply] because she’s pretty. I’m not an actor whose looks would prevent me from taking on a majority role; however, I have other deficiencies that have to be filled, so I think I can go back and forth between the mainstream and non-mainstream, or I can reveal some minority aspects within major [mainstream] projects.
Q. You’re soon turning twenty-five [T/N: in Korean age]–is there anything you’re nervous about?
YAI: When I’m twenty-five, I’d like it if my real self, my uniqueness, was known by not only myself [but by others, too]. To be honest (smiles) I wanted this to happen a bit sooner than twenty-five. Opinions about me are always preceded by the phrase “given his age.” Because instead of the opinion, ‘Oh, so that’s what he has’ when I’m twenty-five or thirty, being able to show that in my early 20s would have been more impressive. Haha. [T/N: YAI is saying that articles and opinions about him say, “given his age” he’s a good actor; he’s impressive; he’s excellent, etc. But he doesn’t want to be told he’s good “given his age.” He wants to receive in his early 20s the praise he will get as a ‘full,’ adult actor when he reaches age 25 or 30, without the precondition of “given his age.”]
Q. Have you now received what you’ve waited for?
YAI: Recently, people have been listening to my story seriously, which is both strange and something precious that I didn’t have before. It makes me wonder if they are truly looking at me coldly [T/N: objectively], or whether they’re being fooled by the words of someone without much of a career to speak of and packaging me as some rare and amazing kid [I’m not]. Ironically, it makes me suspicious as to whether I’m really somebody who has something special. I don’t have enough time to [think and] be objective [these days]. It’s not that I’m just tired and need time to rest; I need more time to purposefully turn around and reflect on things.
Written by Kim Hye Ree
Photographs by Song Hong Joo
Translated by jaeshinah
Parts of this were quite difficult for me to interpret and translate. Though I’m ethnically Korean, my native language remains English. If any native speakers (I’m looking at you, InK & ancientkingdom^^) can tweak my translations to make them more accurate or point out mistranslated/misleading/inaccurate parts, I would be most grateful!