First page of the interview:
After the BOF’s great big hit, she walked an unexpected path. She published a novel, made a movie, and even had an art exhibition. Many thought she will soon return to her regular path but she is about to open her second feature movie and there is even a word that she is about to open a third art exhibit. At her private space, her work studio, we talked about art and love. (Reporter Choi HeeJin and Photographer Ha JiYoung)
We met at the Gallery Café in Seoul BanPo-dong; the café is operated by GHS’s sister. The café is decorated with her art. GHS mentions that she usually carries out her interviews at the café. At first I wondered whether she would use the interview to promote the café. But I find out that her work studio is located downstairs from the café. When she is not busy filming a movie or a drama, she would spend most of her time at her work studio. So, it is convenient for her to have “work” such as interviews at her studio. The interview started with the news about her upcoming art exhibit in the late August. She says, “If the first and the second exhibits are more of an event for the book and the movie, the third exhibit is totally for the sake of the art.” GHS was excited.
Art and Collector is the public relations firm organizing GHS’s exhibit. Its leader Kim Jong Geun describes GHS as, “she has many ideas for her art and is extremely wise.” When I relayed Rep. Kim’s evaluation about her, GHS made a dismissive waving gesture as if very embarrassed. GHS says, “I am not wise about living. Lot of holes with it. I don’t properly take care of things around me. Right now, my work studio is in a chaos.”
GHS’s art includes many oil paintings and abstract ball-pen drawings. So many lines link around flowers or hands, giving the shapes a feeling of abstruseness.
Reporter: Looking at the drawings make me feel a bit depressed. (She smiled knowingly.)
GHS: I think so too. I am a very optimistic person. Yet, strangely, my paintings are expressed in a rather heavily, depressed way. It is a bit messy, but would you like to go into my work studio and look at my paintings?
She then led us to her work studio which is off limit except to her film staff and friends.
A space that contains everything she loves: At the entrance to her work studio is her pet Gamja’s house which then opens to a cozy place of her own. Under the dim light, I saw one wall covered with books and CD’s and another corner a piano. A small room contained a movie editing system. Everywhere, as if indicating 무방비 (?openess? unfortified defense?), small and big paintings lay.
GHS: So messy, isn’t it? (She was in pins and needles from a sudden guest visiting her private space.)
GHS: It used to be a storage space. Then an art director whom I work with fixed it up for me. At times, it can get leaky with heavy rain and a bit damp, but it is tolerable.(smile) The drawings that you see here and there are my most recent work.
Reporter: Most are abstract but I see some faces now.
GHS: My family told me that they like the abstract paintings but that they want to see something more familiar in the drawings. So, I drew in faces and fish here and there. However, now they say they are afraid the pictures may appear in their dreams. (laughter).
Reporter: What is your style of work?
GHS: I do not have set hours. But sometimes I work on two or three paintings at one time. Usually I like to draw with 폔=?pen and oil, but recently I am very much into Indian ink. I went to Lee WehSoo-teacher’s home and saw that paintings that I gave him three years ago lost color/form (?-색 바랬다). I told him that the pictures have disappeared and he just plainly told me to draw with Indian ink. I am influenced by his drawings and I also really like the way my pictures are expressed through Indian ink.
Reporter: Did you ever have your paintings sold?
GHS: I have donated but never properly tried to sell one. I have thought about what it would be like to sell my paintings. But I think I will have a hard time letting them go. They are me in a way…it would feel like taking a page out of my diary and giving it away. Right now, these pictures have not seen their light and are merely hidden away in storage, but I hope one day they become my important record and our family’s property.
Reporter: Ha JungWoo-ssi (actor) once mentioned, while preparing for his art exhibit, that he felt as if he is exposing his inner flesh. That left me a deep impression. But, isn’t the life of a celebrity the same?
GHS: When one’s work involves making movies, dramas or paintings, they have endings which can bring up a big sense of loss. Sudden loneliness can take over. That is why there are many actors who suffer from depression after the completion of a drama. There might be misperception and misunderstanding about self-worth and uselessness. That is why I also immerse myself crazily in something new. I wonder, perhaps, that is why there are many actors who also draw.
Reporter: When you do so many things at once, don’t you ever suddenly lose steam/blow a fuse?
GHS: Someone once asked me if I am living an enormously pressured life. But, to me, this is like playing. Even when I see friends, I like to talk art. Actually, I only have just one person whom I can call a friend. Of course, I am close to people in a general way. But, there is just one friend whom I can share and reveal just about everything and she is actress Suh HyunJin. I express through my works and she expresses through her body in dance. I respect my friend as an artist.
Reporter: I thought you are a ?마당발(=someone with a wide and big feet; I guess someone who knows a lot of people; someone who get around?). But I guess not?
GHS: I do have a cell phone but there are only about 10 people with whom I continuously stay in touch. I am told that I am not like today’s person. I don’t even properly exchange greetings during the holidays and New Year.
Reporter: I see that you have a bed in your studio. You must sleep here if working till dawn? I guess it is the actress’ privilege when not bound by needing to be at work at certain time?
GHS: When I am not doing a drama, I do use my time freely by working during the hours of dawn. My days and nights are basically switched. I have a tendency to become totally absorbed in whatever I am doing. Basically, I work till I collapse into sleep.
Rooky movie director who undergoes battles with her staff: GHS entered the movie-making world by directing movies that she herself writes. She has recently finished editing her second feature movie, Peach Tree, and is waiting its opening in October of this year. She says she was also up late last night making the trailer for the Peach Tree. What? A director makes a trailer? GHS laughs and says that her film company is not in any position to hire others to do the work. GHS showed us the trailer: A tree stands in a prairie field. A peaceful beginning unfolds into more dramatic scenes . Jo SeungWoo and Ryu DukHwan appear as Siamese twins and Nam SangMi as their object of love.
Reporter: Siamese twins as the theme is very unique.
GHS: Originally, I wanted to make a movie about mutants. But, I knew that I cannot get too philosophical so opted for something more familiar to the public. The person in the front covers the person in the back and carries out a pretty normal life. The person in the back always lives a life in isolation. As time passes, the person in the back accepts his reality, however, the person in the front becomes more askew. I have always thought about the possibility of existence of people inside the people. It is a story requiring great, important acting skills and I am fortunate to have big-name actors to work with me.
cr: Cheerko – Soompi
Second page of the interview:
Reporter: You cast Jo SeungWoo-ssi. Is he an actor who held your attraction from the beginning?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
GHS: Actually, I never had any type of connection with him before. This is very embarrassing but, because I hardly watch TV, I did not even know what kind of acting work he did before. I think he perceived my ignorance because, at our meeting, he asked me, “Director-nim, why in the world did you decide to cast me?” (laughter) But, I think it was better that I was not familiar with his previous acting. That way, I was not bound by the actor’s past roles; rather, we were able to work with more fresh emotions and reactions.
Reporter: What type of director are you on location?
GHS: Inevitably, my staff and I undergo battles on location. Even if the staff and the actors may understand my script well, there is a limit to that understanding unless they are able to peer inside my head. However, I try my hardest to not to hurt the feelings of the people whom I work with. I tell myself to do my best to go soft and flexible. Due to the need to save and budget, I did make the staff and the actors suffer way too much. People ask me if I am able to communicate better with actors because I am an actress turned director. However, on location, I don’t think it works so well. (laughter)
Reporter: Are you anticipating a DaeBok?
GHS: Peach Tree’s breakeven point is 150,000 movie-goers. If 1,000,000 people watch the movie, it would be a super Daebok. People say that, these days, many movies are easily seen by over 1,000,000 watchers. But, still, there are many movies these days that easily disappear without a sound. Even if the movie is made with great actors, the real difficulties still remain. Distribution/circulation and communication seem just as or more important than the movie, the music, the drawings and the contents.
Reporter: The fact that one is well-known does not help?
GHS: From my experience, things do not necessarily work out easily just because I am well known. Of course, I am more a familiar person. However, there can be more misunderstandings as well. When I wrote a book at age 25, more people reacted with, “Why suddenly now”? It was like that at the art exhibit opening as well. People did not know that I have been working at my art since childhood. It showed to me that I have been too reserved and passive about letting people know about me. So, first, I felt that I needed to do the work that revealed the real me. I felt that if I reveal anything and everything, things can change for the better. Of course, I would then need a good producer.
Reporter: So, did GHS-ssi meet a great producer?
GHS: Yes. Because I met a good distribution company like YG Entertainment, I feel I was able to concentrate more fully on my multiple projects (laughter). (After making her first short film, GHS knocked on many production companies to support her new movie endeavors but to no avail. They were not interested in a newbie. So, ultimately, she went to her Agency’s president for movie production. At first, he nearly flipped backwards after hearing that there are 80 film staff. President Yang agreed to produce the movie on the condition that he is not responsible for the cost of GHS herself.)
Reporter: Did President Yang HyunSuk again invest into your movie this time?
GHS: No. A difficulty arose after an investment came in. We had a confirmed investor who suddenly experienced a problem just one week before the crank-in. It was an extremely difficult situation. I stressed over the problem until I realized that I may not have the chance again to work with actors like Jo SeungWoo, Ryu DukHwan and Nam SangMi. So, I decided to produce the movie myself. The actors did not even properly receive any guarantees; we agreed to share any profit together if the movie does well (laughter).
Age at which security in love is her dream:
To GHS, love has always been the topic of conversation. She experienced fire-hot love; she searched for good people; she even tried very hard to maintain the relationship. At one time, she was all for love. She says, “At that time, I think I loved me more for loving another person. I realized it approaching age 30.”
Reporter: President Yang is married and has a child already. Aren’t you envious?
GHS: I am very envious. But, right now, I have so many things to do. Also, marriage is an institution created by the society and I do not want to make stress for myself because of it. I may say that, but, of course, I may suddenly marry tomorrow if I meet an OK person. (laughter)
Reporter: You are not dating?
GHS: Even now, if I hear of other people dating, I would think, they must be happy. How come I am not getting a boyfriend? But I am happy and good now. If something does not seem to fit logically, I am a type of person who has a real hard time following through with my behavior. However, love is not logical; it is something that one falls plump into. That is why it is hard for me to date. Just yesterday, I was asking my sister whether it might be impossible for me to marry since I do this and that. I have not dated for so long that my sense about dating is gradually being buried. I rarely feel loneliness. At this time, my point of view about love is confusion. (laughter)
Reporter: What kind of men are you looking for?
GHS: When I was young, I liked without a thought. As I approach 30’s, I look for good people. But it seems that all the good men are married already. (laughter) The person’s disposition/temperament is very important to me. I especially believe that if a person makes a mistake, he will continue to make same mistake repeatedly. If a person makes an inappropriate statement, I believe it is because the person actually has such thoughts inside of him. That is why, even if a person has all the great conditions and even has the look of Jang DongGun and Won Bin, I completely lose interest if he carelessly makes an inappropriate statement. Rather than attraction, I think I am searching more for security.
Reporter: Aren’t your parents worried that you have not dated for so long?
GHS: My mom actually says why one has to be married to have a child. Half jokingly and half seriously, my mom would at times say that her greatest regret is having children. I also think that when a woman has a child, her own life disappears. Of course, happiness can be found in motherhood. But, isn’t it OK to enjoy one’s life more? These days, I am reading Tolstoy’s Marriage. A husband’s murder of his wife is comically woven and solved in the novel. The theme of “worrisome children” is often talked about in the book and I think many women will identify with it. I am enjoying the book very much.
cr: Cheerko – Soompi
Third page of the interview:
Reporter: You are not even married. How can you sympathize with lives of home-makers?
GHS: I may not be a feminist but I do think a lot about women’s rights. Have you ever heard about ?miznet community? I visit it frequently. Inside, there are stories of “seaworld” to complaints about husbands, etc. It is so interesting. (laughter) Women post about why they earn an income, raise kids and also clean the house. When the working mothers vent about their stress, I also feel myself become angrier and angrier. I feel like I am just gossiping too much today. Right? (laughter)
Reporter: This year you attended SKKU’s Film School. Did you get your grades yet?
GHS: Ah, that…It was better than I expected; I came on top. Even my agency was considering sending out the information to the media or not. (laughter) I do feel a different type of responsibility since I entered school after having worked first. I scored some points in attendance because I was never absent or late. Compared to my younger fellow students, my study skill lags behind.
About misperception and rumors as an actress: Few months ago, GHS appeared in KBS’s Star Life Theatre. Wearing T-shirts bought off a mart with no make-up and using the subway to go to school, GHS created news. In reality, GHS has very little interest in making herself look pretty. For our interview, she appeared in jeans and shirts and said that she took good effort to appear presentable. Unlike an eye-catching and sprightly image, GHS is often referred to as “stuffy youngster” or (person who looks older than her age) by the people close to her. She is far from the generally accepted image of actresses.
Reporter: You received much attention because you use the subway and because of your free and easy style.
GHS: I do use the subway a lot to go to school. But, if I am busy, I take the taxi too. But, people still ask me about becoming too conscious of the people recognizing me because I am an actress. When I carry the 5 monwon used bag, people ask me the same question. I do it because I like it and enjoy it. When people constantly link what I do with my being an actress, it becomes a bit uncomfortable.
Reporter: Do you have any discomfort because you are an actress?
GHS: A lot of people actually ask me why I have short hair when I am an actress. I do often ask them back, why I have to grow my hair. But, I am honestly very curious about their reasons for such an idea. Misunderstanding can occur because of the work I do. You know how sometimes it is no big deal to talk about it but it becomes a big deal when it comes out in print? What I joked about is written seriously in print and then people start to view me as 4-D or as someone with mental problems. After experiencing these incidents often, I realized that misunderstandings happen. Many people still comment that it is impossible that I do variety of work (netizens must accuse her of cheating and others helping her with her work??) So, my conclusion is that I just need to consistently show what I do for the next 10 to 15 years. Of course, there is no need to live with such pressure. But, I feel that it is better to show directly than to make any excuses.
Reporter: Maybe that is why I felt that you were extremely cool about the rumor with Suh TaeJi and you. (my comment: The reporter actually used the word ‘cool’ in her question to GHS. I realized that Koreans in Korea have a slightly different take on that word. “Cool” seems to be used in Korea as, being objective and temperature ‘cool’ in dealing with situations.)
GHS: Of course, I suddenly got up from sleep when I heard the news: “What is this! I never even met him!” I was angry. I immediately wanted to refute the rumor. But I realized that, albeit a simple false rumor in my case, it is a critically important issue in those two people’s lives. I agonized over the problem a lot.However, even after some time, the rumor refused to subside. At least, I felt the need to reveal my truth. Even so, I did not ever mention their names as I was worried that some other types of talk may ensue. Not that there is anything to hide, but I also felt that there was no need to bring it out either. (The rumor made GHS the central character in the Suh TaeJi and Lee JiAh’s divorce. Among the netizens, the rumor continued to proliferate. GHS tweeted her position: “It seemed like a story from another world far away that I merely watched over and prayed from far. It is a matter that belongs to the two of them only. It is about their lives. Only the two of them can take care of it. We all must admit that the issue belongs to them only.”)
Reporter: Don’t you feel victimized?
GHS: I believe that explanations are made when one has actually done the wrong. At age 20 when I just made debut, I explained everything. There were so many misunderstandings popping up here and there that I felt I had a mission to reveal the truth. But, it only created even more misunderstandings. I realized that what is needed is time. For now, I need to look at it as some other person’s incident. Whatever happens today becomes tomorrow’s past. When I enter my basement studio, it is forgotten.
Repporter: Like drama characters, you seem to be brave and strong.
GHS: No, not really. But I realize that the very fact that I am affected (allow self to become affected) by such situations hurt my pride and self-respect. Since very young age, I had very little interest in clothes. My mother once bought me a 5000 won ?-쫄=jjol?pants from a street vendor. I wore that pants for 365 day, I wore it so often that holes had to be patched up. Suddenly one day, I became extremely embarrassed by that jjol-pants. But, what is so interesting is that when I met these childhood friends as an adult, nobody remembers my jjol-pants. It was just me who was embarrassed. It is the same now. Whatever happens to me is not that important to other people. We may gossip today about someone divorcing and then such news also passes. So, I deal with the situations by telling myself that “People are busy living their own lives. This will just be for now.”
Criticisms about acting: In one way, it is a good feeling. Few months ago, her drama, Please Captain finished up with regrettable ratings. After BOF, GHS acted in few “candy-character” roles. But now, the issue of her acting talent is up on the cutting board. The reason is that her expressions in acting are the same as before. Although she may do many other things, her original job is an actress. Shouldn’t such criticism give her stress?
Reporter: Is it disappointing to hear that your acting roles after BOF are similar?
GHS: If the public finds it hard to understand/ sympathize with the acting roles that I played, then it is my fault. If the actor was not able to concentrate on her drama character, it means that the actor allowed herself to emerge. I get confused too. Do I want to live as GHS or as an actress? But I do want to say that it is possible for the actor herself and the character to coexist. In one way, people’s criticism about my acting kind of makes me feel good. They may not have cared as much about my eye movements or behaviors as a rookie, but it means that they know me very well now. I am not that upset that people refer to my other roles as similar to Geum Jandi. Geum Jandi is a role of a life time that does not come often to actors. Many dramas become DaeBok, but it is rare for the actor to become a big news in association with her character role.
Reporter: Daring nudity is receiving much attention among actresses. Are you thirsty for any image change?
GHS: I don’t have any big desire to change. It may not be obviously noticeable, but I do make appropriate and fitting changes for each of my role. It is hard to ignore the limit of one’s face. I do have to live with one face and one body for the rest of my life. (laughter) If there are actresses who dazzle the audience with their beauty, there are actresses who are like me as well. Nudity for acting is still uncomfortable for me. Those actresses who can must find it fitting for their acting. I applaud them. However, it is not right to say that one is not an actor just because one does not do nudity in acting.
Reporter: You have a radiant skin. As you age, do you find that you have to take care of it?
GHS: Yes, I do. I feel it in my skin as I age. But I have not thought about taking care of it.. I normally do not exercise regularly and am kind of lazy. It might be nice to maintain youthful beauty as one age, but I also want to be natural. When I see Yoon YuJung-teacher (actress who played her future mother-in-law in Pure Heart of 19) I realize that women are not beautiful just because they are young. 20’s beauty in some part comes from the sexual appeal. The older and experienced actresses have that ?범접할수없는?=inimitable beauty. That is what I want to resemble.
Reporter’s comment: Exemplary GHS has an unexpected part of her that I did not know before the interview. She seems to be a bit of a skeptic who does not get too hung over by everything that happens to her. On the other hand, she also seems like a cute ajuma. After the interview starting the next day, her tweeter became busier. She announced her school top ranking even though she was embarrassed by it in the interview. She also announced that she plans to give her scholarship away. She also announced that she plans to write a script that not only is she going to direct but also appear as its actress. She is a 29 year old who has a lot to show. She is busy as usual.
My 2-cent: I think I felt sad for her when I read this interview because I realized that she really has dealt with a lot. She gets angry and frustrated and depressed like the rest of us. I am guilty in thinking that GHS is so tough and wise that no negativity can affect her. But, I see that it does affect her. She is, after all, a human being. But she deals with all the negativity like a super duper tough woman and with such patience and wisdom. That is what I want to resemble. She is also searching for ways to find balance and to clear the confusion about men, relationship and marriage and having children. Contrary to what the reporter said, I don’t think GHS is a skeptic. I think she looks at the world with careful analysis, logic, detailed observation and so much understanding for the human condition including herself. Bravo! She made me laugh and cry and be inspired all over again. Thanks meow13 and Bambi for giving us access to the magazine article!!
cr: Cheerko – Soompi