by mrdimples December 2012
- Joo Won, the Good Son, the Good Dongsaeng
- Joo Won, the Actor
- Joo Won, the Hoobae, the “Dongsaeng”, the Oppa
- Joo Won, the Man in Variety
- Joo Won, his Real and Reel Loves
- Joo Won, the Anatomy of a Man
- Joo Won, the Boy, the Man and His Dreams
Part 7 – Joo Won, the Boy, the Man and His Dreams
Strange, I barely know you,
but yet I feel deeply connected to you
Crave, I never had you,
but yet I feel so lonely without you
Safe, I barely know you,
but yet I feel secure when I’m with you
Strange, I don’t even know you,
but yet I feel so strong and bold when I’m with you
My Beautiful stranger
I know it sounds a little strange
but it will never be the same
It’s like being locked up in a cage
It will never be the same
Nothing’s lost but I feel shamed
and there ain’t no one here to blame
well, do you even know my name
I was right there when you came
It will never be the same
I cannot pin point exactly when it all started. This obsession of mine with a man named Moon Jun Won. Recently, a fan made a MV on Joo Won. The song is so beautiful, it is “Beautiful Stranger” by Korean indie group Nell. When I listened to it, the lyrics just resonate with my feelings.
I cannot claim to know Joo Won personally, never met him in real life. Well, I do know about him, but only from what I read and observed on television. Other than that, he is a stranger. In this sense, I do not know him and neither does he know me. So why am I so deeply connected to him? When he laughs, I laugh. When he cries, I cry.
He has made a fan girl out of me, someone who never idolized any actor or singer however good looking or talented they are. I simply enjoy watching my favorite actor/actress act and my favorite singer sing and perform. It has never gone further. So it is to my utter amazement and sometimes embarrassment as to how this man has stolen my heart and made an ardent fan out of me. Because of him, I started to participate in blogs and forums. Because of him, I started to translate news and interviews from Chinese to English. Because of him, I started a photobucket album. Because of him, I started Twitter. Because of him, I started writing this.
I began this seven part series because I had read and translated many of Joo Won’s interviews. I wanted to compile all the information and also to express my own opinions. I have been following this man for slightly over a year now. I am still learning something new about Joo Won almost every other day and the more I know, the deeper I fall for him.
If I have to use one object to represent Joo Won, I will choose a magnet. There is this inexplicable pull that attracts people to him. There is something about this man that pulls you into his world and you simply cannot help yourself but love him. In an industry where good looks abound, there are some who possess the talent too. Then there are those who work really hard and through sheer determination, perseverance and grit arrive at their current status. Some are nice, some are less so. Rarely, does one possess all these qualities. Then, there came Moon Jun Won, a young actor who seemingly appeared out of nowhere and blew us away with his handsome looks, undeniable talent, faultless work attitude and endearing personality.
The Man and His Heart
Joo Won is someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. He is also, by his own admission, an expressive person. As a result, there seems to be no wall between the genuine Joo Won and us the fans and viewers.
I remember in the very first interview I read of him, I was impressed by his values and what holds dear to him. The thing that stood what was how he wanted to be a compassionate actor. It sounded strange as an ambition of a young man However, I always taken these interviews with a pinch of salt as celebrities are taught what to say and not to say. Even their personalities can be “manufactured” to a certain extent by their agency. However, as time passes and I got to read and know more about Joo Won, observe his interactions with colleagues and staff behind the scenes and on 1N2D, I realized that this is one of the most genuine actors I have come across and someone with a good heart.
Joo Won always creates a good impression with people he meets and everyone loves him. Be it a fellow co-star, a director, a scriptwriter, a production staff or a reporter/interviewer, many of these people are veterans who have been working in the industry and their respective vocations for years. So what is it about Joo Won that makes him so special, that draws people to him? I believe it is because most of them intuitively know he is genuine and he treats people with sincere affection.
Their experience could very much be like ours to a certain extent. First, you are taken by how good he looks. Then, he further impresses you with his respectfulness, his gentleness and friendliness. When he gets to know you a bit better, you will learn a new word – skinship. Maybe you like it instantly, maybe you don’t. Even if you didn’t, you find it hard to reject this adorable creature and soon something strange happens, you love it and you too practice it on other people. Park Ki Woong was the one who described how he went from a guy who didn’t like “skinship” to someone who now practices it on people around him.
What Joo Won does is something that’s very basic in human interaction. Every human yearn physical touch and not just in a sexual way. It makes us connect and bring us closer. Research shows that premature babies who are touched frequently grow and thrive better than those who are not. Joo Won’s language of love is physical touch. And awkward it might have been to some who were not yet familiar with him, it is obvious that they soon overcome that and grew very connected with him. If you have seen photos of Joo Won’s fan meetings, you would have notice that he would always place a hand on his fans’ arms or backs when he takes photos with them or even as they walked past him after shaking his hands. When he shakes their hands, he does it in very sincere hand clasp with both hands. I’d like to think that he knew how long these fans have waited or far they have come for an opportunity to meet him so he will try to make it worth their while. Since “skinship” is his language of affection, he demonstrates it all the time.
Joo Won is the type who opens himself up to others, often to the extent that I wonder if he is doing the right thing. It is an asset because people around him take to him quickly and he endears himself to them. In the entertainment industry, celebrities feel the need to project a certain image and cannot totally be upfront on their views and be themselves less they be construed in a wrong way. They also feel the need to protect their privacy from the intense glare of the media. Thus, I am often surprised by how candid Joo Won has been in his interviews and how he seems unafraid to show his true self on talk shows and 1N2D. I had wondered if Joo Won was being too honest and do not know how to protect himself. Gradually, as I observed and put the facts together, I come to the conclusion that it was not so much of Joo Won not knowing how to protect himself but rather that he chooses to be present his true self. Save for some very private and personal matters which he should rightfully conceal, the Joo Won you see is very much what you get.
Any Joo Won fan will know that he is very close to Uhm Tae Woong. They belong to the same agency and collaborated for the first time on the movie Special Investigation Unit. Uhm Tae Woong is also the main reason why Joo Won chose to take the 1N2D appearance offer. And now, despite of his upcoming wedding, Uhm Tae Woong has joined Joo Won’s new drama 7 Grade Civil Servant in a cameo role. He said he did it to support Joo Won. Of Uhm Tae Woong, Joo Won said : “Uhm Tae Woong is very good. I like whatever he says, it’s very interesting. Although hyung may not feel the same but I feel that he is just like my real hyung. When we are together, we are very relaxed, our relationship is very good, it seems like there is no need to use words to express(laughs).” Although he has never really said in many words why he likes Uhm Tae Woong so much, I suspect it’s because Uhm Tae Woong’s personality is quite similar to Joo Won. He is one of the most unassuming celebrity, unpretentious and very hard working to boot. He is a nice, simple, honest guy who is adorably shy and awkward. But when he comes onscreen in dramas or movies, his charisma sweeps you and you’ll never suspect this guy is a dork in real life. In this aspect, Joo Won is very much like him. It may also be his down to earth personality, being genuine that attracted Joo Won to him.
Often, you can gather much from a celebrity’s real personality from the way he interacts with people and what they say of him. There can be a lot of superficial stuff going on, of course and in interviews, rarely does one hear of a bad thing said of the celebrity in question. But you can tell intuitively what is real and what is not, whether the compliment is genuine or a mere flattery.
One of the things I enjoy most is watching Joo Won interact with people around him, his relationship with his co-stars and people he worked with. I had the first taste of it when I watched the Baker King Special, he was so adorable on that show and he acted like a real son towards Jun In Hwa. To this day, she is the one whom Joo Won keeps in touch the most. Joo Won was also very close to Yoon Shi Yoon on the drama set. And they continued to display their friendship after the show as they went on many promotional events and trips. However, after that, there was no news and the cynic inside me thought that’s the reality of showbiz friendship. So I was very pleasantly surprised when on the Win Win show, Joo Won mentioned Yoon Shi Yoon as one of those friends whom he is close to in the industry.
In Ojakgyo Brothers, the actress who played his grandmother shared a tumbler of coffee with him and it was obvious they got along well. He also revealed that he kept in touch with the actors who played his brothers in the drama and would get together whenever they can.
In Bridal Mask, he hit off with Shin Hyun Joon right from the start. He said that Shin Hyun Joon was very kind to him at the script reading and offered him advice. Knowing Joo Won, he must have lapped it all up like some eager puppy, and Shin Hyun Joon tucked this adorable young man under his wing in no time. Soon, we were treated to BTS of “Kangto” and “Kangsan” goofing it up on the set of Bridal Mask. After he left, Shin Hyun Joon exchanged tweets with Joo Won often and even visited the set, treating all to a nice dinner. In the recent KBS Entertainment Awards, it was touching to see how close they hugged each other.
I think one of the reasons why Joo Won loves being on 1N2D so much is that he enjoys being with his hyungs and it is obvious that the hyungs love this maknae as well. Of course they tease him sometimes especially when it comes to general knowledge quizzes which are Joo Won’s bugbear. But they shower him with a lot of love as well particularly Kim Seung Woo, Sung Shi Kyung and Uhm Tae Woong. Remember how the exhausted Joo Won fell asleep on Seung Woo’s chest and how Shi Kyung “fought” with Tae Woong over Joo Won? He gets treated like a baby sometimes by his hyungs and knowing him, he thoroughly enjoys it.
In tonight’s KBS Drama Awards, many fans are rooting for Joo Won and Park Ki Woong to win the Best Couple Award. So am I. For a while, I was torn between supporting Joo Won and Jin Se Yeon versus Joo Won and Park Ki Woong, because the KangDan couple meant so much to me in Bridal Mask. It would be totally hilarious if they were tie for the award. But if I had to choose one pair, it would be Joo Won and Park Ki Woong. Their friendship touched me more. I remembered some time ago, I wrote that in the BTS, Park Ki Woong looked a tad uncomfortable initially when Joo Won hugged him on the Bridal Mask set, and I was right about Park Ki Woong. However, as time went on, one could see the two men getting closer and closer in the BTS. By the time, Bridal Mask ended, it was Park Ki Woong who couldn’t let go of Joo Won after hugging him in the forest shoot. It was evident on Win Win show where Park Ki Woong appeared as Joo Won’s special guest that they had fostered a close friendship. The way, he jumped and hugged Joo Won when he went on stage, the way he spoke of Joo Won and the way they looked into each other’s eyes really touched me.
Even people who just got to know Joo Won likes him. Bird PD said that in his first meeting with Joo Won, he immediately took a liking to him and decided to cast him because he felt it was more important to have a member who is likeable than one who can make people laugh. Recently on 1N2D, guest star veteran songwriter Yoon Sang took a shine to Joo Won and openly declared his liking for Joo Won. Park Ki Woong mentioned on Win Win that although he had worked with director Yoong Sung Shik for the 4th time, it was Joo Won who got closer to the director. And this same director praised Joo Won for his outstanding performance in Bridal Mask. He said Joo Won is in real life a very sincere and kind person and everyone likes him. Watching or reading how these people love Joo Won, it makes me proud of him and happy that we are not alone in our adulation.
The Man and His Love
For the longest time, fans only knew that Joo Won had 2 girlfriends in the past and not much else. Because he always portrayed a man in love so well especially his turn as Hwang Tae-hee, one of the sweetest and best boyfriend kdrama has ever produced, many wondered or fantasized the type of boyfriend Joo Won will make in real life. Given his gentle and sweet nature, we already expected that he would make a wonderful boyfriend. But he blew us away with what he revealed on the Win Win show. Turned out that he was even more loving and dedicated than we can ever imagine. He would wake up before his girlfriend and gave her “morning calls”, he would not go to bed till she has slept. Except for sleeping time, he had wanted to spend every moment with her. He would tell his girlfriend very often how he missed her and loved her. But perhaps he did it so frequently that she thought he couldn’t be sincere about it and didn’t mean it, she got tired and dumped him via a text message. This girl probably never understood the type of person he was. If she did, she would have never thought that he was insincere. Yes, often words like “I Miss You” and “I Love You” could be used without meaning them or to placate the other party. After all, most men are guilty of not saying them enough. But if a guy says “I Love You” often and means it, isn’t that the most wonderful thing unless you are not in love with him?
Joo Won does not like to date casually, he is thinking of long term when it comes to relationship. I think he is the type who invests so much into a relationship that he finds it hard to withdraw. Just like how he opens up to people around him and the friendship and bond he develops with them, you can multiply that many times when he is with the girl he loves. This is a man who as a boy had a vision of the type of love he wants and the family he will have. If you are familiar with Joo Won you will know that he is someone who has thought through many things, more than your average 25 year old guy. On the same Win Win show, he shared that he had an ideal of love. Ever since he was young, he wanted not to be calculative in his love for a girl and to accept the girl without thinking of her attributes or whether she fit him. It was something that meant so much to him that he felt he could let go of his other ideals but this was one that he sought to protect. However, now that he is grown up, he realized that he had let his dream go without even knowing it. Love came and he started to be calculative, he was not looking at the person for who she was. Goodness knows how many times I read what he said concerning this. First, I could not understand what he meant by calculative in love. It took me a while, it is best to put it like this: it is like drawing a list of some one’s good points and bad points and how this or that aspect of her matches your taste or ideal type. So Joo Won basically wanted not to look at the girl’s flaws or which part of her does not match his ideal when he is in love. To me, that sounded idealistic. Then I realized this is one man who has ideals and dreams not common in this generation or in this world where pragmatisms rules. In a way, he is like a breath of fresh air in a world where people are disillusioned and jaded. Although, he has “lost” his dream of achieving his perfect idea of love, I am touched by how this man sees love and puts love and family in the center of life.
The Boy and His Dream
I remembered that when I post my translation of Joo Won’s interview “I am Boring, Not Handsome”, the piece got re-blogged on various blogs and drew criticisms. The critics felt that Joo Won was being hypocritical when he said he was not handsome. I think they misjudged him. As readers on these blogs are English speaking, I wonder if the misunderstanding arose due to cultural difference. As a Chinese, I see many similarities between Chinese and Korean culture, values as well as social norms. I presumed that just as it is for a Chinese, it is also rare for a Korean to speak praises of himself. In all likelihood, he will be extremely humble and modest about his positive attributes, often to the point of denying them. In a westerner’s eye, this is false modesty or worse, hypocrisy. But to a Korean, agreeing that he is handsome upfront is like boasting of oneself. In addition, Joo Won spoke of his lacking in these departments in the context of comparing himself with other artists. Everyone knows that in Korea, you have an abundance of good-looking people in show business. Joo Won has also been acutely aware that he does not possess an “interesting” or lively personality. He always says that he does not how to make jokes or contribute much to a conversation. Even his family had to remind him to speak up more when he appeared on variety or talk shows. Hence, in context, when Joo Won said he is boring and not handsome, he meant that he was no more extraordinary than the multitude of talented and good looking actors in the industry. From the very start, he did not bank on his looks nor talent, he just knew acting was something he loved to do above all else and he was determined to excel in it. Not only did he work very hard, he made sure that he worked harder than anyone else. He became so focused on acting that he said he became ignorant of other things, he only knew how to act. Often, when I watched him fail miserably at trivia games on 1N2D, I would remember this. I think he gave up a lot during his adolescence for his pursuit. He has such an unwavering stand and passion towards acting. It was the only thing and time in his life that he decided he was going to pursue regardless of his parent’s stand on it. Although, his parents were reluctant, his mother understood him well, gave him her blessings and told him that since this was his decision, he must not have regrets and work hard to succeed. Joo Won must have lived with his mother’s words engraved in his heart. In Korea’s showbiz where industriousness is almost a given, it is even more awesome that Joo Won’s work ethics and dedication to his art has earned him the respect from his peers and even his seniors. To many aspiring young actor or singer wannabes, fame is foremost on their minds. For Joo Won, his dream is to be an actor.
The Man and His Passion
Although he has only appeared in 3 dramas so far, he has risen to stardom very quickly. What is even more important is that he is known for his acting ability, rather than for his looks. I can think of numerous “Flower Boys” in kdramaland but very few can hold a candle to Joo Won’s acting ability. There are many popular actors around Joo Won’s age but only a handful can act well. When I watched them act, I will laud them for their good acting skills. But for Joo Won, it’s like another level. When I watch him, often I forget that he is acting. I cannot see Joo Won the person but only the character that he is portraying. Such is his skill that many viewers get so caught up with the characters that he played. On screen, when he loves, we think that he is really in love with his co-star. When he is hurt, our heart aches along with him. I wrote in the earlier segment that Joo Won is a “Thinking Actor”. He puts in a lot of thought into not just a particular scene but the entire characterization of his character. Thus, each of his drama character was unique, right down to the way the character walks, talks, sits, eats and even tics. Often, it was so different from his real personality. Those who did not know him before and watched him on Bridal Mask and 1N2D, were totally bewildered that this is the one and the same man. Park Ki Woong who has been acting for over 7 years said that of all actors he has seen thus far, Joo Won is the most different from what he is in real life and his onscreen persona.
Besides the thinking he puts into his drama, the secret to Joo Won’s acting is that he loses himself totally to the character. He “forgets” that there is a camera in front of him, he gives his all and does not hold back when he is acting. I think if it were not for the fact that he survived on very little sleep on Bridal Mask and the shooting went live, he could have done even better. But as it was, he was still fantastic as Lee Kangto. I always find Joo Won’s scenes worth repeat watching, it is because he takes care to put fine details into his acting which you may not always catch when you view it the first round. Many pointed out Kangto’s wailing scene at his mother’s deathbed as one of the greatest scenes in Bridal Mask. The one that stuck in my mind was a small scene when he was caught and tortured in the police station. After he was whipped a few times and his body must have started to burn like fire from the lashes, he did not make a single sound nor over exaggerated facial expression. Yet the subtle sucking in of breath and the look on his face was one of endurance and stoicism. I think those critics who always blast him for overacting are totally missing this part of Joo Won, he can be the most subtle when the scene calls for it. After watching Joo Won, I start to find that the many other actors seemingly “sleepwalk” in their roles. Then I will chide myself for losing objectivity because I am a Joo Won fan girl. However, it is difficult after being spoilt by Joo Won’s expressive eyes which can emote one hundred and one emotions, to see “blanked” or “glazed over” eyes.
After the success of Bridal Mask, Joo Won was nicknamed “Patriotic Youth. He said it made him embarrassed. He was upfront about why he accepted the role that other Hallyu stars turned down: “I only saw the magnificence of Bridal Mask that’s why I made the decision. I only learnt of other actors’ reasons for rejection during the press conference. It was something I never thought of.” He was candid in admitting that he chose to take up the role, not because he was patriotic but because he saw the potential of the drama from an actor’s perspective. This is a serious actor who places art and an opportunity to learn and challenge himself above image, popularity and ratings.
Another of Joo Won’ strength is his versatility. Indeed, he has proven to be very versatile in his acting ability in his 3 dramas. His characters, Ma Jun, Tae Hee and Kang To are all starkly different from one another. Even if you have not watched him in all these 3 dramas to appreciate the difference, just compare him in Bridal Mask versus 1N2D. It’s not difficult to see why many are lauding his superb acting skills when they see the way Joo Won slips into a character. In Baker King, Ma Jun was a hateful character but with just a few scenes where Ma Jun showed his hurt and vulnerability, Joo Won managed to gain sympathy from the viewers and even had some rooting for him. Portraying an antagonist in your debut drama is surely not in the formula for popularity. It is to Joo Won’s credit that he was able to “humanize” Ma Jun and made him to be a misguided young man who yearned to be loved by the people he cared for but never received it. Being a highly popular drama, Baker King had many BTS and even a Special, all these helped in boosting Joo Won’s popularity. Most viewers were shocked that the ‘evil Ma Jun” could be such a sweet, genuine young man in real life. Most actors who play the antagonist role are of course not like their characters, however in Joo Won’s case, the difference seems starker. So people ended up gushing how different he was compared to his character.
In Ojakgyo Brothers, although the character Hwang Tae Hee is nowhere as intense as Ma Jun or Kangto, it is not an easy role to portray. It is one which could easily end up bland and meh. Hwang Tae Hee is a taciturn man who has difficulty expressing himself. Joo Won did a beautiful job playing the outwardly highly competent police officer and responsible son but inwardly a man whose emotions were stunted by his mother’s abandonment. There were no ‘melo’ scenes or theatrics and Joo Won delivered a superbly controlled performance. Beneath Tae Hee’s silence, you can feel the undercurrents of angst, hurt, yearning to be worthy of love and the stirring of a heart who has was suppressed for a long time. For a man who didn’t know how to express love for a girl and had the courtship skills of a kindergarten child, Tae Hee melted his way to viewers’ hearts as the adorable and sweet man in love. Words become unimportant when you see love expressed in every action, every movement of the body and most of all, in his eyes.
I have told the story of how Joo Won ended up on Baker King although the director and producer did not select him. It was the scriptwriter who stuck to her guns and insisted he played Ma Jun otherwise she will pull out of the show. This is one person whom I will always be thankful to, for allowing us to enjoy the talent that is Moon Jun Won. Another person whom I am grateful to is the one who cast Joo Won as Lee Kangto. Jang Hyuk was reportedly offered the role and rejected, and they were others who considered alongside Joo Won. I would like to think that they are all renowned actors with experience or at least star quality to head a 10 billion won production. Although he may not be the first choice, the Bridal Mask team must have seen something in this young man who has all but 2 dramas and 1 movie in his pocket. They wanted him so much that they had to “pull” him from MBC’s The Moon That Embrace The Sun”. I am so proud that Joo Won did not let them down. I was already a big fan of his acting after Ojakgyo Brothers but I must say in Bridal Mask, Joo Won far exceeded my expectation.
With age on his side, Joo Won brought youth, charisma and raw energy into the role. But he did not stop there; he was able to display the mental fortitude, courage, stoicism and ability to lead as the hero. He succeeded in convincing the viewers that Kangto is the hero whom the nation pinned their hopes on. To top it all, he had to juggle a whole gamut of emotions as he struggled with choices, love and hatred, gains and losses. Lest it be forgotten, Joo Won also pulled off the fighting scenes with panache. I loved watching Chinese martial arts movies. Save for a couple of actors with real Kung Fu skills; I know how difficult it is for an actor to pull off these kinds of scenes. In my personal opinion, Korean drama fighting scenes pale in comparison to the Chinese ones. But then, action scenes were never a staple in kdramas anyway. So, I was utterly amazed that Joo Won could really “fight”. I was impressed by the way Lee Kangto fought Kimura Kenji in the prison cell in Bridal Mask episode 2. That was a sign of better things to come as the drama moved along. I love the scene in episode 27 when Kangto fought with Shunji with his bare fists. It was pure adrenalin and nothing was sexier and more satisfying than watching him pull the punches.
There were many things that Joo Won did that made Lee Kangto come alive in the viewers’ eyes. In the end, I think the thing that got me was his eyes. Who could forget the desperate rage in Kangto’s eyes in the opening episode when he failed to catch Gaksital? Who could forget the vulnerability in Kangto’s eyes as he held on to Kangsan’s back in episode 4? Who could forget the childlike fear in Kangto’s eyes when Kangsan breathe his last. Who could forget the terrible shock in Kangto’s eyes when he beheld his mother’s lifeless body? Who could forget the love and gratitude in Kangto’s eyes when Mok Dan vowed to be with him no matter where it takes her to? Who could forget the tears of rage and sadness in Kangto’s eyes when he had Shunji’s throat in death grip? Who could forget the utter despair and loss in Kangto’s eyes as his beloved Boon Yi died in his arms? Indeed, who can forget Lee Kangto, beautifully portrayed with such strength and intensity by Joo Won?
The Man He Wants To Be
In this “Eavesdropping on Kim Seung Woo & Nam Joo interview”, what Joo Won shared about his admiration for his hyungs in 1N2D also shed light on the type of person he wants to emulate and aspire to be. For example, he mentioned Kim Seung Woo as the person he most wants to emulate because of his great leadership ability. Often, we see the ‘maknae’ side of Joo Won because he is usually the youngest in the group. However, in this maknae’s mind, he is already thinking ahead in the future of what type of man or sunbae he wants to be. And leadership quality is something he wants to have. I would say he has already demonstrated it on the set of Bridal Mask. As he was the lead actor, he felt that he should “lead” the cast and set the mood. No matter how tired he was, he would put on his smile and never show his frustration even when things got difficult.
Of Shi Kyung, he said “Shi Kyung hyung is a person who can clearly distinguish what’s right from wrong…He is someone who knows better than any, how to respect elders, he is an upright person, someone who stands for social justice. For example if he see that someone does a bad thing, he will not just sit there and do nothing…But he is someone who is more principled than any, he is the man among men.” This speaks volume of the fact that Joo Won is someone who also has a clear sense of justice and he has laid for himself a set of principles very early on, to which he is determined to stick to despite how fast things around him have changed. Sometimes when I see him acting aegyo and all, I forget that behind that cute face is one of the most mature and clear headed man I have ever come across.
I have read of Joo Won saying that he was afraid to get injured especially on Bridal Mask set since there were many action scenes. I initially thought he was probably the type who has low tolerance of pain. But I realized that to him, injury may mean an end to his career. In many people’s eyes, Joo Won has arrived, he has succeeded. But to him, he knows this is just the beginning, the success and fame he enjoys now is temporal. It may be here and gone tomorrow. There may be some things that are beyond control, but making sure that he is fit and able to work is important so that’s the reason why he is afraid of injuries. But other than this, Joo Won is an actor who is not afraid to challenge himself. Even if it means failure, he will risk it to perfect his art. Now I understand why he always says that he prepares himself for the day that his drama does not do well. For him, taking the risk, challenging himself, taking on roles to help him grow as an actor are more important than choosing a drama which will score in ratings. It is with abated breath that I await his upcoming drama, 7Th Level Civil Servant. It was clear that he did not pick this drama to score another killer in ratings or hope for an award, he took on this challenge simply because he wanted to play a character in a romantic comedy, a genre he has never tried before. That is what I admire about him. He does not allow himself to be pigeonholed and he is solely focused on expanding and enriching his experience as an actor.
The Man and His Dream
When Joo Won was asked about how he sees himself in 10 years’ time, he said he thought of a type of life where he would wake up with his family in a house that’s filled with sunshine, eating a delicious breakfast together, driving to work where he will be both acting and teaching. This is the Joo Won I adore, the man who takes delight in simple things like enjoying a meal with friends and loved ones. His current pastime is having coffee with his friends at the coffee joint near his home. His ideal of a family life is one which is full of love, harmony and cheerfulness. This is no doubt influenced by the environment which he grew up in. It is heartening to see how he describes his dream with characteristic simplicity and warmth.
I also find it interesting that he aspires to teach. As he has learnt from his sunbaes, he also sees himself one day imparting knowledge and experience to his hoobaes or students. In fact, he added he will also learn from them at the same time, how humble is that? As the maknae Joo Won, he is now all ears and attentive to his sunbaes. As the sunbae in the future, he will be imparting his experience to his hoobaes and yet at the same time keeping an open mind for new perspectives and knowledge.
As to the type of actor he wants to be in the future, he said he will like to be an unpretentious actor who is able to express his emotions naturally. His dream is to be a compassionate actor. This last line I am very familiar with as I have translated it many times and struggle with it. I believe the English translation does not fully convey the meaning of the phrase in its original language. Also, he is not describing it as a single quality like one would say a skilled actor, a hardworking actor or a charismatic actor etc. I think he means that he is an actor but first a man who is kind, benevolent and has qualities which essentially make one a human.
Before Joo Won the actor, is Moon Jun Won the son, the friend. When asked how he will change in 10 years’ time, he said : “Ten years later, I may be a “Star” or I may be an “Actor”. If I could be like Lee Byun Hun sunbae and become an actor with a unique star quality, it will be good. I will work hard to become a good actor and try not to change too much. Not long ago, friends told me “You are still our friend, it’s really good.” When I heard it, I teared. I hope I will not lose my original aspiration.”
As his fan, I have learnt so much from him besides admiring his talent and good looks. Because of him, I am more conscious of the way I treat people around me. I remind myself to be kind, polite and respectful. I also see how his parents’ upbringing instilled solid values in him and the powerful influence a mother has in her son’s life. It inspires me.
Tonight, as he walks on the red carpet to the KBS Drama Awards 2012, I fervently hope that he will be recognized for his excellence in acting. As his devoted fan, in my heart, whether he wins the award or not, Joo Won is the Best Actor. But, it will be an icing on the cake if he is recognized by the industry and the powers that be. I will be screaming and clapping my hands behind the computer screen as will be many of Joo Won’s fans in Korea and all round the world.
To Moon Jun Won, who entered our hearts and change our world forever, we love you for the man you are and the man you want to be
picture credits: coolreborn, stearly, various korean fansites, Joo Won Bar on baidu