InStyle Magazine 2014 June Issue interview

Joo Won’s Springtime of Life, Refreshing Acting

“Now at this age, wearing a uniform for filming, I guess this is the last time.” After perfectly digesting the role of Park Si On who is a doctor suffering from savant syndrome in “Good Doctor” in 2013, Joo Won has switched into a high school student Woo Ki Myung in movie “Fashion King”. He will be taking a new challenge by playing a chief conductor of an orchestra in drama “Nodame Cantabile” in the second half of this year. Again, preparing for another journey is Joo Won’s springtime of life with his refreshing acting.


Joo Won is a profound actor in viewer ratings and bonds. Surprisingly casted as one of the main leads in his debut project “Baker King Kim Tak Gu” which achieved more than 50% viewer rating, he started his acting life from the “peak of viewer rating”. “At that time, I never realized the burden of that sort of viewer rating. I didn’t even have the thoughts of “What, it is good, isn’t?”, I also didn’t realize popularity. Because it was my first project, I think everything was just simple.” After that, from “Ojakgyo Brothers”, “Bridal Mask” “7th Grade Civil Servant” and “Good Doctor”, all these dramas he played had taken the first place in viewer ratings in the same time slot. At this point, he has strength on his shoulders, on the contrary to “enjoy” his popularity, his seriousness is like a cow.

After drama debut in 2010, you have been progressing in many activities without a break. Within one year in 2013, starting from dramas “7th Grade Civil Servant” and “Good Doctor”, movie “Catch “me” and musical “Ghost”, you played all these projects.

~ There won’t be much difference this year. First half of year, I finished the tasks of “Ghost” and “Fashion King”, next half of the year, there are “Nodame Cantabile” and a Korean-Chinese joint-ventured movie”, so I don’t have time taking fresh air and pulling the rein.” When asking him “Don’t you find it exhausted?” He said “If I haven’t been acting, I would have been unemployed till now.” My doubt has disappeared after looking at his smile. His honesty is his biggest weapon and also the main reason why he still hasn’t started his real “peak”.

He arrived at the studio 15 minutes earlier than the scheduled time for pictorial photo shooting. It is really rare for an actor first arriving at the studio though.

~ Is that so? I am not the type who arrives just in time at any filming location, I go while staffs are preparing for filming. When filming “Fashion King”, because I was hanging around at film set when all the staffs were busy, director joked “Why don’t we just take Joo Won’s shots first?” (laugh) I was not rushing them, there was just nothing to do in the waiting room, so I went out to greet and chat with people. It was fun.

I heard filming of “Fashion King” was finished not long ago. What was your impression playing a high school student Woo Ki Myung?

~ The atmosphere was like my first experience. All actors are in the same age group. In the film set, director was treating us like his sons and daughters. Because of my age, I also thought “I guess I won’t be playing a role wearing a uniform anymore”. Even the character of “Fashion King” suits me better than others, it was very hard to wear this clothing as my clothing.

It seems you are not the one having too much interest in fashion. You don’t care your style? (laugh)

~ Normally I don’t talk to the stylist too much about colour of the clothes but I really did a lot of fitting for this project. It is really difficult to digest especially in distinguishing Woo Ki Myung’s fashion preferences. But now I know how comfortable leggings are. In the beginning, “Waa!” Its elasticity comes natural, I found it comfortable wearing them.

Most of the time, your female co-actor were older than you but this time your co-actors Sulli, Park Se Young are all young actresses.

~ I felt a bit awkward in the beginning but after a while, I became their elder brother naturally. In order to do much better in acting, Sulli sometimes was confused. In an occasion, I advised her “see if it is alright to try it out like this. Now I started to be able to see the inside which I couldn’t see before. Both of them are beautiful with good personality, we had fun in film set.

Your first movie is about school but you have big expectation as an actor. Other than too much anticipation, actually do you think it goes well?

~ When monitoring in filming location, it is my first time playing such an interesting project. After adding the edited music and computer graphics, I think it is very interesting. This project really has its unique colours.

You have been performing musical “Ghost” more than half of a year

~ I guess it is not easy to do movie and drama in musical at the same time.

Because you debuted as a musical actor, your wish to perform was really big but actually did you find it scary in the moment when you started the performance?

~ As for broadcast and movies, only the best scenes are shown to viewers but there is no such thing in musical. If the designated position has been changed, perhaps audience would have become disappointed, then burden was big. Even so, it is indeed interesting after seeing it.

Did you come across with the most problematic situation such as bad physical conditions during performance?

~ Yes. But anyway, I guess this is what I have to do. Thinking about audiences coming to see my performance, I think it would be fine even leaving it to other actors but some audiences actually come to see the acting of a particular actor. Normally we bow on stage after the performance, my waist naturally bowed to 90-degree angle on the day when I didn’t feel well (laugh).

When is the best time do you think you really did well in “Ghost”?

~ Thinking about it, I have my best confidence standing on stage and I am satisfied with it, I think I look impressive. This project itself is very good and audiences are very satisfied. To be honest, when looking at performing “Ghost” and filming movie concurrently, it is a pity that I didn’t have too much time spending together with other actors. However, performance teamwork was really the best. It would be good if they could be awarded with the ensemble prize at the award ceremony.

As an actor steadily striving the career, are you interested in other hobbies?

~ I used to play basketball with my elder brother but he got married……..when thinking about it, I don’t have any hobbies and interests in particular. I don’t like noisy place and I can’t drink alcohol. Sometimes, I drink coffee. While thinking “is happiness that far away?”, I feel bored in that moment. Recently rather than meeting female, drinking coffee and striking bowling with male friends is the happiness of my life.image 


What women say, when asking “what do you think about Joo Won?” Compliments are just overflown from everyone. They are the words from actresses who have been watching him closely.

Jin Se Yeon

Drama (Bridal Mask)

“He is really a passionate elder brother from the beginning till the end. He worried about me whenever I was doing my action scenes. He is nice to me, I want to say Thank You to him.”

Moon Chae Won

Drama (Good Doctor)

“Determination is necessary in taking up this challenging role, he definitely grasped the centre of the drama very well. He must be a good actor as I thought. An awesome actor.”

Park Se Young

Movie (Fashion King)

“There was a dancing scene in the movie, he led us very well. He always approaches us first and is considerate, a totally charming and well-mannered man.


It is a boring life! Open the front door and enter his home, from actor Joo Won returning to a ordinary person Moon Jun Won at home, are there many significant changes?

~ There are not many at home. Practically, I drink coffee on my own.

What do you do while drinking coffee?

~ Ah, recently I watch that a lot. I watch tvN’s variety program “The Genius”, the simulation of “If I go out, what can I do”, all elder brothers circled around rapidly with their backs. Kim Pung in “The Genius” came to play in “Fashion King” film set, a very surprising artist whom I had taken an “authentication photo” with.

Recently, I am feeling male actors in their 20’s are very solid.

~ When seeing actors in my age group like Kim Soo Hyun, Yoo Ah In, Lee Min Ho, Kim Woo Bin, Lee Jong Seok, I have thoughts like this. It becomes stimulating and I also get anxious. This is also what I thought while drinking coffee (crack up laughing together). My colour is a bit different from them.

In what aspect?

~ They succeeded due to the character they played in their projects. After that, they have been doing good tasks steadily. But my success is based on the project rather than the character. If my preference is on a task rather than a character, the standard of selection is different. Honestly speaking, I am also interested in playing a trendy project like them, I guess I have to raise my view in reading the scripts.

Amongst actors in their 20’s, what do you think about your own colour differentiation?

~ I am an acceptable actor. When a character comes to my mind, I have to learn because I don’t have a typecast image, I think it is good that I can blend in this and that with colours. I wonder if my strength is good at applying different colours for acting. Fortunately, there are people who can check this out for me. If I do good projects steadily, I think a trendy side of me will naturally come out.


You already have plan for second half of this year and you have decided taking drama “Nodame Cantabile” as your next project.

~ It is really hard to select projects. “Nodame Cantabile” is the best of best scripts explained to me, so there are many preparations I have to do for portraying a character which has a big difference from what I used to play. I look forward to taking the course, because its original version was very popular, I passionately hope to see it doesn’t go wrong against its anticipation.

Because you played different characters such as a hero, national intelligent service agent and profiler with unique colours, so you don’t want to accept an ordinary character?

~ I wonder if the colour comes out if I am given to play an ordinary character. Obviously even I am going to look for one, I don’t think it can be made up normally.

Speaking of which, the character of Park Si On in “Good Doctor” was surely coated with Joo Won’s colour.

~ Up to now, there is no reference I can refer to in playing a character with savant syndrome in a medical drama, it made me worried. I met with many people who have autistic symptoms, they are mostly not attached to the community. By the way, Si On makes contact with people because he is a doctor. There must be differences in the beginning and latter part of the drama to match the changes of the character, therefore it was very difficult to match it right. Because of hunchback during filming, my waist and neck were very sore and I couldn’t speak Si On’s soft voice without a hunchback posture, it was really hard but I was satisfied after finishing it and it was good that I received awards at the year end.

Comparing the time when you made your debut, you obviously set your view point on your ideal type.

~ At that time and even now, the person who understands me well is the most important. Because I am busy and cannot live a regular life, it is possible that I cannot be contactable. My thinking has changed a little bit. Previously I thought “it is alright as long as we love!” but now rather than a passionate love, I think I prefer a person who I feel comfortable with.

You were brought up in a harmonious family, what is your fantasy of a family?

~ I don’t know if I am being conservative but it would be better if my wife is more considerate to my parents than me. My parents are like that. My mom is very considerate to my grandma and my dad looks after my mom’s mom. I am not a person like my parents, therefore I hope my ideal type is like that. A clever person who listens well to elderlies.

To Joo Won, what kind of work is it as an actor?


A vocation. (translator’s annotation:  he means vocation or mission or calling or divinely appointed work in life)  Translator guesses he does it wholeheartedly with his gifted talents).

I can’t even imagine if I have to do other work

~ Previously I said to my mom “Would I be unemployed if I didn’t take up acting?” If I don’t act, I have nothing. Before I was standing on the crossroads to decide if I should give up acting, somehow I am lucky (laugh). Certainly, it is not always fun but I think it all depends on how you accept the problems. Even it is hard, I will continue doing it passionately like now while enjoying the situation.

His Best 3

Joo Won did his own review on the three valuable projects which brought him the most inspiration and passion in his acting life.

“Ojakgyo Brothers” 2011

“I gained a lot from this project. It was a lengthy weekend drama but it was filmed in an atmosphere really like a family. I received lots of help from teachers and seniors good at acting. I gradually found acting more comfortable.”

“Special Investigation Unit” 2011

“At that time, actors Ohm Tae Woong, Sung Dong Il, Jung Jin Young, Lee Hee Jun, Kim Jung Tae, Jeong Man Sik and others played this movie. Seeing such a big group in the film set, I instinctively learned how to act from them.”

“7th Grade Civil Servant” 2013

“Up to now, it is the best team of solidarity. I experienced my first time that viewer ratings were falling from the middle stage of the drama but co-actors said “Let’s don’t worry too much” and we enjoyed filming. Because this project had many night filming, I didn’t have the right sense of mind for two days, then broadcast came out.”


English translation by manyearsago @ soompi using Korean-Japanese Google translator, please note the English translation posted here might have some discrepancies from the original Korean article.


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