Joo Won -Long Run. That is why (It’s) Joo Won Part 1 in F.OUND Issue#43 March 2014

Interview >Coverstory

F.OUND ISSUE > #43 March, 2014   by F.OUND / 2014.03.17
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That is why (It’s) JooWon


Morning 9 am, although it’s not time for sun to shine in the studio, studio is bright.  On staff’s face who must have come in with not enough sleep in the morning, you would expect to see irritated faces but you cannot see that sign.  In front of the, there is JooWon.  He (JooWon) has this energy to make people happy.


#Ambitious Spirit with a Reason

When he was 23, he wore an apron and instead of making bread, made ambitious greed as ‘Gu Ma Jun’, he burned the audience’s living rooms in TV Drama <Baker King Kim Tak Gu>.   Although what this man, without any flexibility who struggled to have the world, wanted probably wasn’t living room theatre’s popularity but with the steadily rising ratings, JooWon’s popularity also went up.   In reality, for a chance like this to happen for a newly coming actor is like chance of winning a Lotto.  It’s not easy to meet a project/drama that can engrave himself with one punch.   Perhaps that is why there were oppositions from the staffs even before Joo Won was casted.  They were concerned of the negative impact it may cause by using the newly coming actor.  The one who had strongly recommended him was Kang Eun-Kyung, writer of <Baker King Kim Tak Gu>.    She was liked the courage of this man who answered “I want to do the role” without any hesitation to her question of “do you want to do the it (role),” thus, even with many staff’s dissuades, she casted JooWon with a threat of not doing the drama without him.  Many were envious and said to him what kind of luck were you born with to get hit with this lotto.  But was it really just JooWon who got hit with a lotto?  The new actors who appear like comets and going down faster than comets are found everywhere.  The one who can grab the opportunity is the one prepared with ready inner strength and deep efforts.  JooWon is precisely that actor.

#Skills polished from being on Stage

His mask (face), where an animalistic charm is hiding behind the boyish smile.  Actor JooWon, who is familiar like a brother but as soon as his shirt is off, he turns into a man.  His true value was first discovered by the ‘Noona’ fans who knew a bit about Musical.  With strong and steady vocal, with stable acting, with a charisma that takes control on the stage; watching JooWon on the stage who is like a fish who just met water, taking the audience up and down with him on the stage, makes you wonder what would have JooWon done if he was not on the stage.  The reason he is able to successfully go from small screen to big screen has much to do with the skills he polished on the stage.  Especially on the current musical <Ghost>, you can see all the skills he has been building up in one place.  Sam is a character who is tactless and says “ditto” to a woman he loves however discovers how precious that word was after his death.  He plays the character with sincerity and humor in the story which draws the story of love that transcends life.  If there wasn’t a comic work that could showcase JooWon’s comic act properly, this musical showcases such charm that makes you want to see his comical acting separately.  JooWon on the stage shines brightly which makes you understand the excited screams of noona fans that discovered him even before his screen debut.

# A Heart that beats at the rate of Enthusiasm

How can you do comic act so cunningly well?

Ah, did you see it? (laugh).  In fact, I want to do more.  Even in the movie, Sam is a humorous character even after his death.  So I agonized over it.  Does this hit accord with Korean audience?

From audience’s perspective, they can think ‘how can you be so calm when a woman’s life is in danger?’  This goes well with the overseas audience but may not move Korean audience, so I am adjusting by watching audience’s reaction.

(TV Drama) <Good Doctor> You went straight into Musical after the drama, were you able to concentrate well?

I was able to concentrate well but other things did not go well.  I was living as Shi-on just the day before and it was hard to change over-night.  But I did not force the change right away.  Since there were enough practice time, I thought I would change gradually during that time.

At times, I still have Shi-on’s habits come out.  (Looking at his right hand fingers) Just like the hand shape I am making just now.

What is the reason for choosing Musical at an important time when you should be receiving so many love calls?

Someone asked me the question long time ago.  “If they offer the same amount of money for doing the drama, movie, and musical, which one would you choose?”  At that time, I answered “I want to do Musical.”  “I don’t do it extraordinarily well, but it’s fun.  Also, I can sleep when I am doing the Musical.  (laugh).  That’s a big plus.”


Ivy during her interview said she was happy as she feels like she’s been hired as an employee.

Ivy noona’s manager said he wants Ivy noona to do the musical forever.  (laugh)  Although Musical exerts more energy and exposure to public is limited compared to Movie or Drama, as an actor, it is more interesting.  You also feel the pride.  It makes me feel like I’ve become more interesting person.

I guess you have many gains from being on the stage.

(Jung) Woong-in hyung does a play each year.  At that time, I told him he’s really great.  Because you can earn more money by doing the dramas and movies however you are sacrificing all that to be on the stage.  I felt that he was trying to keep the integrity of being an actor.  So I wanted to be on the stage soon too.

After the debut, you keep working, don’t you want to rest?

I do want to rest but there is a saying that person who played(rest) knows how to play (rest), for me, I am not sure.  (laugh)  I was at home all day not too long ago.  I was at home resting in a really long time.  But I didn’t know what to do.  I came home 10 am after filming the movie all night and slept until 3 pm, after that, I didn’t know what to do.  Inside I told myself ‘yes, I should have a day like this’ but I think I should select things to do when I rest in the future.

There are actors who keep working because they don’t know what to do when they are resting.  Then JooWon, when do you feel like you are having fun?

For me, I do not have many ups and downs on emotion.  Even if I am having fun, I am not the type to get hyper/up.  Mmm…these days, I like joining drinking party.  I don’t drink but you know, after all the performance and events are completed, you gather with the people who worked hard, that kind of a party place.  I still don’t talk much at that time but I enjoy listening to this and that story.  I didn’t realize meaning and fun of this kind of gathering until lately.


Everything he does turns into a big hit.  Even if it doesn’t turn into a home run, he’s an actor who turns it into a run.  What’s surprising is what he’s throwing are the breaking balls instead of straight balls.  The mask he wore after taking off the evil character was (TV drama) <Bridal Mask> which was JooWon’s first title role drama with heavy subject matter.  It was just 2 years since introducing his face on screen.  Especially the character of Park Shi-on on <Good Doctor> who was struggling with autism allowed a chance to re-highlight actor JooWon.  It was a character who was suffering with a disability and it could have easily turned into a dislikable character therefore the actor’s sincerity was important.  If he tried to act out that character with just understanding from head without understanding it from the heart, the actor himself would have noticed the fake heart first before audience picked up on it.  It made me think while watching the growth of Park Shi-on, ‘this cannot be done by anyone but only by JooWon.’

#Ever changing and challenging Lotto

What standard do you use in picking a project?

I just do the things I like.  It may look boring to others but I just do it.  I don’t have the affection towards the projects I don’t find it interesting.  How boring it would be if I am working on the project I don’t like.  I just read and find the ones I find interesting.  If it’s a project that’s challenging to an actor, even better.

Do you like the challenge?  You seem to do really challenging projects after doing trendy projects.

Ah, (Movie) <Fashion King>… That was one of the reason I decided to do the project.  It’s something I cannot do later unless it’s now.  I am acting the role of 3rd year in High School, and it’s 10 years different than my current age.  If I put on a school uniform later in the age, it would become a topic of conversation.

So you can handle the 10 years difference?

With the younger looking hair style, I think the student look is coming out.  Is that old looking High School student? (laugh)

I should look at that part closely. (Laugh)  I guess it is fun doing a character you have not done before.

I think any actor would want to try all the available characters.  But when you actually try to do it, you cannot choose because it’s difficult to do.  I think you shouldn’t just do one kind of acting if you want to act for a long time.  But that is very difficult in reality.

You are doing all genres, Musical, Drama, Movie and Variety but you don’t have any character that’s stuck.  Do you think this is an advantage as an actor?

I think it’s okay for now.  And until 40.  It could be a good or bad thing for an actor but in our country, your character is almost always decided.  When I look at foreign actors who do variety of characters in different genres, I become envious.  Perhaps it’s due to difference in system but I think it’s good that changes could look so natural.  Foreign film’s mellow have both sad ones, and pretty ones but our country’s mellow is all crying ones.  For now, I want to keep not having a set character but I am not sure how it will work out.

Do you have a character you especially want to do?

Originally, I wanted to do difficult things like (Musical) <Jekyll and Hyde> which goes from one extreme to another.  But I changed from a certain time.  At one moment, I realized “Did you eat?” this line is really difficult.  I can do it as I’ve been doing but it became hard to do.  I want to do everyday role well.  At <Fashion King>, director told me he won’t let me act, so I am acting the not acting.  (laugh)

If you are on every project then you will become too familiar to the public.  Doesn’t that bother you?

Not sure… (thinking very hard) getting tired of … me?

(Laugh) Not getting tired of you but they can get too used to you so showing the new side of you in acting might become difficult…

That might be but it’s showing me on Movie and Dramas.  Since I ended <Happy Sunday 1N2D Season 2> fans keep wanting to see me.  It’s because they cannot see how I am in everyday life.  While I was on the show fans used to say I am different on <1N2D>  than when I am acting, and now you can’t see that anymore…  maybe they will get less tired of me?  (laugh)  I think for now it’s okay to show much of me.


Many say that you’ve appeared like a comet.  Is it surprising to be a star all of a sudden?

Yes it was surprising.    4 years ago, I was an actor only doing the musicals but through <Baker King> I received chances to do even more projects.  Back when I was a musical actor, it was meeting fans after the performance and having a conversation with them and then going home which was the routine.  And then I saw myself on TV and it didn’t seem like me.  With that (seeing myself on screen), I still feel like that.  When people see me and scream I always think ‘why do they like me’.  I am not sure when this thinking will go away but I think I will always wonder about that.  Especially when fans overseas recognize me and even come to see my performance, that is really surprising.

You don’t understand why you are liked?

Because I am on TV…

A Person on TV is correct.  (laugh)

Mmm… maybe it’s because I am not made up too much.  Should I say friendly/familiar.  Perhaps the <1N2D> had much influence on this.  I am without a veil and I am how I was seen on  <1N2D>.  While I was doing that show, I really let my real self show.  I tried to act the way I do towards the brothers (hyung) I like.  I guess these came close to the audience.  Just like a TV persona who you become affectionate.

When looking at other actors at your age they want to play characters with rough charisma and many do play those characters.  But looking at JooWon, you don’t seem like that.

That is true.  I need to look cool/charismatic but I guess it doesn’t come naturally at this time.  Maybe when I am older I might become like that?  (laugh)  I do get scripts like that now and if I do it, I guess I can do it.  But I think I will have to force it.  I guess it’s because it’s not the area I should do now.  When I am in 30’s I think I will become cool and charismatic from within instead of having to pretend to be one.  I want to do a really awesome project at that time.  For now, I think I should be doing the things I want to do and what I can do.

Perhaps that is why when you did a boyish character you shone.

That could be.  Since I now have the side that is childlike instead of a grown up adult, it may look more natural.  It really worries me that I will still be like that even when I am in 40’s.

You will become a character at that time then.  (laugh)

Yes.  Especially because men do not change easily.  I feel that even more these days, men do not change.

They are the same even when they are big ~ (laugh) but you are with wrinkles at that time.  From long time ago, I like the wrinkles that are on Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.  Everything gets explained from that.  Perhaps I will also change with time.

Don’t you want to play an evil character again like in <Baker King>?

I want to.  Ah, mom was watching <Baker King> on TV these days.  It’s really funny.  I thought about how it would be if I play it now; I probably will not do it as I’ve done before.  Of course that was my best at the time, but I want to play a proper evil character.  One that’s really hard core.

As natural as flowing water that matters not of its heights, interview with JooWon also flowed naturally like flowing water.  The interview where he calmly stated his opinions decidedly was more like sharing each other’s opinions and sympathizing with the responses than straight forward Q and A.  Besides the Editor who was doing the interview, staff members who had questions also asked any questions they were curious about, which added the flavors to the interview by adding the right questions at the right places.  While watching this process I was able to see the relationship/connection with Joo Won and Staffs, which made me understand the reason this interview flowed like water.


Translated by

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JooWon| Continued in Tree Growing with Love Part 2

you can read part 2 in this blog at…e43-march-2014


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