It took me more than two weeks to work on this translation due to lack of time (and because his answers are so complex), I’m glad it’s finally done!
Seo In Guk, I Remember You
What did you do after your drama ended?
I met up with friends and drank a lot of alcohol. To be more specific, we drank Asahi black beer (laughs). I often went to the noraebang (karaoke) too. There are noraebang members; I often go with Junhyung from the group 2Bic, actor Ji Chang Wook, and another hyung. I also tried wakeboarding for the first time in my life.
You seem to like noraebang.
Actually, I got close to Chang Wook after going with him to the noraebang. I first got to know him while drinking coffee at a cafe, but we got close after drinking alcohol and going to the noraebang (laughs). He sings really well. Especially songs by senior Kim Gwang Seok.
A singer will sing his own songs when he goes to the noraebang. So do you get 100 points?
There are two different kinds. A person who will only sing his own songs, and a person who refuses to sing his own song even if he dies. I belong to the latter. I won’t sing my own songs even if I die. Strangely, I think my songs are the hardest songs to sing in this world. Honestly, I am better at singing other songs (laughs). It is also embarrassing to sing my own songs.
Looking at your past interviews, you did mention many times that you will drink alcohol after finishing a drama.
I really enjoy eating. I’ve always been exercising very hard, but the reason why I exercise that much is so that I can eat delicious food. The reason why I work so hard is also for my dream of course, but it’s also for me to eat delicious food without hesitation (laughs). I work hard to eat delicious food, and I exercise because I eat a lot of delicious food.
Although you speak like you are joking, Seo In Guk is also an actor who is more recognised and hard-working than anyone (laughs).
This is not something that I’m doing for anyone else, but because I wish to feel some self-respect myself. That’s why my personality seems to become very strict whenever I work. Although I can’t say that it’s perfect, I’m trying hard to be perfect. I don’t know about the staff’s perspective, but the Seo In Guk who is working is not such a fun or good person. If it’s a no, then I’ll say no; I’m the type who will express my opinion straightforwardly. Instead, I will release (stress) with a glass of soju after finishing all the work. Looking at results, the staff seem to prefer this too. Even though people may not think much about a certain matter, I think it is unprofessional to avoid it just because of my image.
In other words, this is your sense of responsibility as an actor.
If a production is affected because of one person, I think there is no greater sin in life than that. Because a production contains the investment of many people. If you consider the hundreds of staff and even the audience, that responsibility has to be borne by the actor of course. The only time when anything you do is okay is when you do it at home. I enjoy playing games at home, and it doesn’t matter whether I do that while drinking or smoking when I’m at home. But it’s different if I do these when I’m outdoors. Even when having a meeting with someone, or even now when I’m doing this interview, I think it’s my responsibility if I ruin the mood here.
I’m a viewer who followed the live broadcast of “I Remember You”. I had no Monday blues thanks to that. Because “I Remember You” airs on Mondays (laughs).
It was tiring for me such that I even had inflammation in my mouth and I was dropping hair (laughs). Although it’s not to the extent of being “crazily immersed in the character”, it was difficult for me as my understanding of the character grew deeper with each passing episode.
The profiler Lee Hyun, who was level-headed on the exterior but bore continuous doubts about himself within him, was a very charming character. Which aspect made it tough for Seo In Guk?
Instead of hardship, the catharsis was two times bigger. I had an amazing experience during filming this time. There’s a scene of Lee Hyun, Lee Joon Young and Lee Min seated at the table eating together with the line “You now go in and out of my house like it’s your own home”. Actually, not as an actor but as a human, Seo In Guk is unable to understand this situation. How could he possibly sit with the person who killed his father and separated him from his brother, and even eat the rice served by that person? But Lee Hyun has a daily conversation with a rational mind. Even if he got up from his seat immediately and asked “Why did you do that”, it is too inadequate. Once that scene was over, I felt like I was being hit on the back of my head. The rise and fall of temperature between the actor Seo In Guk and the human Seo In Guk was tiring. Because I had to break free from the morals and manners that the human Seo In Guk had learnt and live like that.
Even when he knew that Lee Jun Ho is the murderer Lee Joon Young, he maintained a risky relationship with him.
That kind of thrill is the greatest exciting point of “I Remember You”. Not just the drama, the point of the character Lee Hyun also had that kind of riskiness. That’s why I always tried to act with a mix of suspicion and a look of apparent interest in my expression. When he finds out the truth of a case, rather than the thrilling feeling of “Yes! I’ve gotten a clue!”, I acted with the feeling of curiosity towards the culprit who couldn’t help himself from committing the crime. I would feel dizzy each time with every scene I finished.
Being so tiring to that extent, it is probably because there is no convergence between Lee Hyun and your actual self. No matter which character you act, Seo In Guk is separate from the character.
I act by understanding the character. In the case of Lee Hyun, there were no points of similarity at all. I can’t be so intelligent to that extent, and I can’t hide my feelings either. More importantly, he is also pitiful because he is a character who is always suspicious about whether he is a monster.
There are actors who say that they find it hard to break away from their characters even after the show has ended.
If it is that easy for me to become Lee Hyun at the moment when I’m acting, and revert back very naturally to the human Seo In Guk once the director says “cut”, then I wouldn’t get stressed and my hair wouldn’t drop too (laughs). Ignoring the 29 years of my life that I’ve lived thus far, and when I return again to myself who has lived for 29 years, I think of all the difficulties as “after effects”. It’s also amazing on the other hand. Rather than “I am Lee Hyun”, it is the after effects or the character’s habits that remain. If I’m suspicious and cynical about everything like Lee Hyun, everyone will see something as red in colour, and I’ll say “No, this may be red in colour but it is probably mixed with other colours inside” (laughs).
The romance aspect is lesser in this drama.
Personally, I find that a pity. Seo In Guk’s kissing scenes are famous to the extent that there are even compilation videos (laughs). The most important thing in a kissing scene is the “story” that solely belongs to the two people. I think a beautiful kissing scene can be created when you have sufficiently understood the story that you share with the other actor.
Looking at how natural the scenes were, I guess you must have communicated a lot with the other actors at the film set.
The most important thing to me is the communication with the other actors who are working with me. If you are uncomfortable with each other, then how can you face each other and act? Fortunately, there hasn’t been such a person yet.
How was the atmosphere like at the set?
The show itself was continuously tense. The director may be someone who has worked on many difficult shows before, but his actual personality is very interesting. The relationship between actors was also good. Because Nara noona is also the type who does not like to be serious, so she matched well with me. And senior Choi Won Young is a really pure and fun person. Even though he looks like he has daggers in his eyes when the camera is rolling, he becomes fun again once the director says “cut”. Everything was good, really.
Seo In Guk is famous for having good chemistry with fellow actors. This time, there was good response on the internet as people said you were compatible with actor Park Bo Gum who played the role of your brother.
I’m not the only one who played a role in this. The word “chemistry” itself means a chemical reaction. In other words, it’s not possible if the other party is not receptive. Before Bo Gum was revealed to be my brother, he was very cold towards me when he was Lawyer Jung. He will ask “Shall I be more heartless here?” and we discussed a lot beforehand. When he was revealed to be my brother later on, even without saying a word, people will be able to see how hurt the two of them had been, and why they had been like that all this while. The story of them both can be explained just by expressions alone.
There was no dispute over Seo In Guk’s acting since the time you first started acting. Are you the kind who works hard secretly or are you a born genius?
When I first started acting in “Love Rain”, it was a really tough situation. I debuted as a singer and got used to the entertainment world, but I was skeptical. There was no one I could speak to, and I was very protective of myself. I started acting while being filled with such emotions, and the moment I recited my first lines of the script, all the feelings that had built up within me were released at once. Everything that was pent up within me during the 2 years were released in one line. That feeling was very amazing and good, so I slowly ended up going deeper into acting unknowingly.
But even then, that’s because you had a natural talent for acting.
Looking back again at how I was when I first tried acting in “Love Rain”, calling me a genius is really overdoing it (laughs). I had a fear of acting, but I had fun the next 3 months after saying my first line. I don’t know if I’m the hard-working type or a genius, but I think of acting as something that fortunately came to me at an important moment of my life.
Comparing now to the time when you first started acting, you seem to have grown more used to it.
That’s right. If I’m still acting like how I did in “Love Rain”, that’s not basic but a foolish thing. Your mind can have the same intentions as it had at the beginning, but your words, actions and other things you show on the outside must be mature and professional.
Do you have an acting rule that you will keep to, or a view on acting?
No. This is what I told myself not to do. Not to set any restrictions for myself. That’s the rule.
The characters played by Seo In Guk are all very memorable. There’s a feeling that Yoon Yoon Jae and Lee Hyun are probably living somewhere out there in this world.
I’m very happy to hear that. Yoon Yoon Jae was also a character that I liked a lot. If I were to pick, he is the most similar to me. Because he’s a character that is most human.
What’s a character that you wish to portray in the future?
There’s so many. I want to play a doctor; and because I got to play a rational profiler this time, I want to play a more instinctive homicide detective also. Zombie shows are probably interesting too.
You probably have a thirst for music. You don’t have plans for an album?
Maybe because I only show myself as an actor on the surface, but I’ve always been working on my music. I took guitar lessons, and I compose lyrics and songs too. If we look closely, I may always seem to be acting in shows, but it is music that I’m more closely connected to in daily life. Although I haven’t made concrete plans, I want to try producing personally this time.
What’s your new worry these days?
Before I move on to a new project, I’ve been happily worrying about “How should I play to make good use of this time?” I’ve been checking with my friends’ schedules to decide what to do together, and I’ve made plans too. This morning, Chang Wookie sent me a message on Kakao Talk again. He said we haven’t been going to the noraebang these days (laughs).
You are about to turn 30. When you evaluate yourself, how were your twenties like?
I did a lot of work. I seem to have gained much more than what I lost. When I think of my thirties, I wish to give myself a big score for having done so many things in my twenties.
If you were to pick the best and the most regretful thing you’ve done?
The best thing I’ve done, is continuously working without rest. On the other hand, (I regret) playing idly during the times when I can play (laughs). Because I’m a homebody. I used to only play computer games at home, but I’m trying to change that so I’ve been more active now.
What does Seo In Guk think is the criteria of an “awesome man”?
A person who only works is not awesome, but I’ve always thought that a person who works but has time for leisure is awesome. I wish to remain as such a person in the future.
Please credit when sharing. Please do not copy and paste my entire translation elsewhere. Thank you.