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[INTERVIEW] Gang Dong-won

2009/12/28 | Permalink | Source

Actor Kang Dong-won [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

It took some time to get used to talking with Gang Dong-won. And it is not because of his slow way of speech. Kang is one who will listen to a question, remain silent for a long time and give his answer just when you are about to ask another question because you thought he would not answer your previous question. He is an actor who will think over both the question and answer in his head thorougly, check how geniune his answer is and then speak. That is why we were able to experience 'sincerity' -- a value we thought existed only in letters -- from Kang who is the star of recent hit Korean film "WOOCHI" ("JEON WOO CHI : The Taoist Wizard").

10: You had quit smoking when starting to film "M" -- have you taken it up again?
Gang Dong-won (Kang): I failed (to quit). It's hard not to smoke while working on a film because you get stressed. And you also go out to drink a lot after shoots so I'd smoke once in a while when I do. I'm going to try quitting again next year.

10: You mentioned stress. Director Choi Dong-hoon used the word 'hell' to express what it was like on set of "WOOCHI".
Kang: I think the rough time the actors and directors have on set is different though. I simply got bruised here and there because the action scenes in "JEON WOO CHI : The Taoist Wizard" is all about speed. There are a lot of scenes where I dash this way and that, fall or ram into places, get beaten up and run away.

10: Working with director Choi must have been very different from working with director Lee Myung-sae of your previous films the "Duelist" or "M".
Kang: They have very different styles. They're both great at details but differ in their methods. Director Choi creates complex stories while director Lee goes with simple stories but uses a lot of detail in telling them.

10: This is also a commercial film in the traditional sense.
Kang: But I thought "Duelist" was also a very commercial movie. In the midst of filming some people had told me it's becoming too much of an art film but I and director Lee had claimed that it was a commercial film. Both of us had misjudged entirely. (laugh) I can, however, confidently say that "JEON WOO CHI : The Taoist Wizard" is a commercial film.

10: Then do you want to prove that you have the star quality necessary in selling many tickets this time?
Kang: I hope I do. I want one of my films to be a hit before my 20s pass. We'll hit the break-even point if we draw in 4.5 million viewers so I hope we breach that first and then I hope I get to see it become a big hit by attracting twice as many moviegoers. Acting-wise, I want people to see that I can pull off such roles too.

10: Such roles as in?
Kang: Playing a fun mischievous character? I do want to prove that I can pull off whatever character I take on. I wanted to show I can be a pure unmarried man living in the countryside through "Don't Believe Her", a high school student in "Romance of Their Own" and an assassin from the Joseon Dynasty in "Duelist".

Actor Gang Dong-won [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

10: And did you achieve what you had aimed for with all your films?
Kang: Honestly, I Don't Look Back on a movie once I'm done filming because I'll consider my job done. I start preparing for my next role hoping to do well at it rather than check whether I achieved a goal I had set for my previous movie. It's not that I'm irresponsible and don't care for how people evaluate me. I know, better than anyone else, in which parts I lack so I prepare myself for my upcoming role rather than regretting on my past. I think it's better. I consider my upcoming film done too although we haven't even started promoting it yet.

10: Then maybe that's why you have such a hard time while in promotion.
Kang: Yes, that might be why. I'm moving forward, thinking of what I should do next while also having to pull out what I think I'm already done doing.

10: There was a video of you once where you asked for the press release of your film before an interview.
Kang: It's so that I can explain the movie better since I'm usually bad at explaining things. I have to recognize in advance the difference between what I think of a movie versus what the promoters want to show the public about the movie. I don't want to get scolded in case I mess up. (laugh) The PR team will tell me I shouldn't have said certain things.

10: It seems you're very cautious. Do you not like saying things you aren't prepared for?
Kang: I don't like it because I might make mistakes. I'm okay with interviews like this one but I don't like making mistakes at bigger events like film festivals where the things I say could be misrepresented. Everyone makes mistakes but people say so much about even the smallest details. I don't like being talked about. Of course, I like it when people say I did well or I'm good looking but I really don't like hearing people say that I'm weird. Maybe it's because I'm the youngest of my family? (laugh) Because I'm so used to just being loved all the time?

10: Well you can't be praised all the time for a role.
Kang: Yes that's true. I guess I'm better at self-reproach in that sense. My brain knows what I need to do but I sometimes can't do it no matter how hard I try. Then I'll just pass, telling myself that it's something I can't do for now.

10: What didn't work out with "JEON WOO CHI : The Taoist Wizard"?
Kang: A scene where I tried to laugh heartily? I tried it for a scene where I think it would suit perfectly but it didn't work too well. There are several such minor scenes I hope had worked out better.

10: You seem to be greedy to do well with even the slightest details.
Kang: I'm a very detail-oriented person. A perfectionist.

10: You don't like to make mistakes plus are a perfectionist. What's more important between doing well and not making a mistake?
Kang: That's an important question. I shouldn't make a mistake... yet I guess doing well is more important. I think it's okay to make a mistake to the extent I can make a comeback later. But I should do well enough that it'll make up for my mistakes.

Actor Kang Dong-won [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

10: You're like an actress in the sense that you receive absolute support from fans of the opposite gender and are someone who we are unlikely to see in our daily lives. You used to talk about playing games and reading comic books but you've become even more of an unrealistic being for us after saying that you like to make furniture and like to go in the woods.
Kang: But I think I really did. I spent about a year just making furniture.

10: What is it about making furniture that attracted you so much?
Kang: There's a huge sense of achievement in making a piece of furniture in the design that I want. It feels great oiling my piece and seeing the texture of the wood come to life at the end of the whole process. And you can save quite a bit of money to making your own furniture. It costs about 400,000 to 500,000 won for the wood that goes into making a table but this is nothing compared to trying to buy a piece of furniture.

10: If you had shot some TV commercials as actor Gang Dong-won during that time...
Kang: Yes, people around me told me to do something else instead and just buy furniture with the money I make doing that. But I'm someone who likes to go after what he wants.

10: But no matter how hard you look to do something you enjoy, isn't there a point it becomes work?
Kang: Yes, that is true. I started doing photoshoots because it was fun but it started becoming a concern and a hassle after having to prepare a dozen different articles of clothing everytime. You do have to end what you have started though. And there are times I feel proud after putting up with all of it. No matter what, I try my best to do things I can have fun with and if it isn't, I try to make the best out of the situation.

Actor Kang Dong-won [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

10: Then how do you try and enjoy your work as an actor?
Kang: I love competition. I only play against one other player when playing the game "Winning 11" at home too. This may be a sensitive issue but when I'm working on a film, I set other actors or the director as my competition and enjoy that competition alone.

10: Then what stimulated your competitive spirit with "JEON WOO CHI : The Taoist Wizard"?
Kang: First of all, the great cast. My personality is a bit twisted so when I'm filming with great actors, I think of how I can catch up with them rather than trying to learn from them.

10: And did you win?
Kang: It doesn't matter whether I actually did lose or win. I just hope I can become better than them some day. Such thoughts heat up the competition and makes everything more fun.

10: Did you not get hurt shooting the action scenes? The martial arts director praised you during an interview for pulling off even the most dangerous action scenes without a double.
Kang: I learned modern dance for about five months to shoot "Duelist" which helped me to act without tensing up my body so I didn't get hurt too much. I actually didn't have a personal trainer for "JEON WOO CHI : The Taoist Wizard" but focused on basic physical training and played soccer at action school. (laugh) So my experiences from "Duelist" helped a lot. My body had gotten used to creating curves. I think wire action is closer to dance than martial arts.

Actor Kang Dong-won [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]

10: Do you have plans to make appearances on variety shows to promote "JEON WOO CHI : The Taoist Wizard"?
Kang: Actors have to talk about themselves a lot when they appear on such shows but I don't like talking about myself too much. I appeared on KBS' "Happy Together" a few years ago and I think that suited me the best because all I had to do was sing.

10: Then are there any variety shows you enjoy watching these days?
Kang: I've been watching "Two Nights and One Day" from KBS' "Happy Sunday" and MBC' "Infinite Challenge".

10: Would you not consider making a guest appearance on "Two Night and One Day"? I have a feeling it would suit you.
Kang: The producers of the show actually called me before shooting in Changwon because it's my hometown but I didn't go.

10: Do you have any thoughts to return to dramas?
Kang: None. My fans have been asking me to but I've told them I won't. And it's not because I don't trust the producers but I don't believe in the system of how dramas work. I don't like the fast tempo on set. I work slowly -- I'm the type that needs a lot of time with my acting but it's hard to do that while shooting dramas. I've never thought of appearing in dramas since "Magic".

10: Do you enjoy watching TV?
Kang: I watch it but only the sports channels. Always channels number 501, 503 and 506. (laugh) I watch mostly soccer and baseball.

10: The Premier League for soccer?
Kang: Yes. But I'm having a rough time trying to watch Park Joo-young's matches since he moved to the French league because of the time difference. The matches for the Premiere League will air at 10 P.M. in Korea sometimes but it's very difficult with the French league because they usually air at around 3 or 4 A.M.

10: As much as you like soccer, you must have some things to say about the World Cup drawings. Is there a team you hope wins other than Korea?
Kang: I usually root for the teams that have players I like. I hope England does well since they have players like Steve Gerrard.

10: Do you have any fashion tips for guys being the fashionista you are?
Kang: You just have to invest a lot of time and money in clothes. You have to study it a lot, do a lot of shopping and read fashion magazines. But there's a small number of magazines for men so if you want to learn more, you should read foreign publications or even look at books with collections if you're even more serious.

10: You're mindset is changing as you age but why doesn't it show on your face?
Kang: I could tell (I changed) when I monitored myself on screen. I used to look young for my age in the past, like a kid. But I think that changed this time and the director said so too.

10: It's a bit unique to see someone as good looking as you speaking with a certain dialect. Would you consider changing it?
Kang: I would like to. I talked to Song Kang-ho about it since he talks in a Gyeongsang Province dialect but he said I should speak however way I want. I'm still thinking of changing it though because although he is correct in some ways, I feel deep down inside that it's not right for me to speak with a dialect.

Actor Kang Dong-won [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]


Reporter : Wee Geun-woo, Yoon Hee-Seong
Photographer : Chae ki-won
Editor : Jessica Kim, Lee Ji-Hye
<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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