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Yoon Sang-hyun: 'I Wanted to Be a Singer Before I Met Tae-bong'

2009/06/15 Source

While back in spring it was the "Gu Jun-pyo syndrome" that took the TV scene by storm, with the arrival of summer it was Tae-bong who received the baton. When "Boys over Flowers" was in full swing, its dashing characters seemed to be invincible. But that turned out to be wrong. While the "Gu Jun-pyo syndrome" was powerful and intense, the "Tae-bong syndrome" took longer to take off but in no time it spread all over. Tae-bong's sweet voice also added to his popularity. We met with actor Yoon Sang-hyun, who rose to stardom by portraying Tae-bong in the MBC TV drama "My Wife is a Superwoman", which ended on May 19. Though the drama has ended, Yoon still exudes Tae-bong's charm. During the interview he would say, "Eh?" just like Tae-bong did in the drama.

Here's the interview.

-How have you been recently? Your life must have changed.

I can't go outside as freely as I want. I went hiking last Saturday, forgetting that it was a weekend, and I almost got into trouble. (Laughs.) I like hiking, so I went to Mount Gaman for the first time in a while, but it was crowded with people. I thought nobody would recognize me because I was wearing a mask and glasses but women who were passing by recognized me in no time. I climbed as fast as I could without looking back but once I reached the peak there was another group of women who also recognized and approached me. I was hungry but I had to skip my meal and descend the mountain as soon as possible. I almost ran. I wonder how they recognized me with my face covered. Now I can't even go hiking. I should probably go hiking on weekdays when nobody is there. (Laughs.)

-You've been receiving many offers to appear on TV commercials. How many TV commercials have you appeared in?

Five or six.

-You're appearing on many variety shows these days.

I only have one show left. Last time, I was embarrassed to see myself appearing on two shows simultaneously on different channels. When I saw myself telling the same story on different shows, I told myself that I should probably stop. I've been receiving many offers since "My Wife is a Superwoman" ended, but I had no idea how scary the showbiz world was.

-You rose to stardom 5 years after your debut. What is it like?

You can't have your cake and eat it. To be honest, I liked the way things were in the past. Few people recognized me even when I appeared in TV dramas, and I could go anywhere I wanted. Many viewers even get the titles of my dramas wrong, like for instance, instead of "Fireworks" they say "Candlelight". I felt more at ease when people didn't know my name.

-You must have wanted to become famous someday…

I had no idea I would ever become a star. Before I was offered to appear in the MBC TV drama "Winter Bird", I was going to quit show business once my contract with my agency was up. I just wanted to do business. I never felt comfortable acting. It was like wearing clothes that don't suit you. Going to tapings was torture for me. Back then, I tried to find Solace in drinking and smoking. I didn't have any friends among actors and it wasn't fun whatsoever. Somehow I debuted as an actor but I never dreamed of becoming one. If I played the part of, say, a manager, all I did was just look cool and drive a cool car, plus there were few lines for me to say.

-Did the role of a "mama's boy" in "Winter Bird" change your views on acting?

At a glance, Ju Kyung-woo of "Winter Bird" is a typical mama's boy, but the director of the drama told me to make him look cool. I was wondering what that meant. (Laughs.) I pondered a lot about my character and I persuaded the director to make my character fun to watch because the mood of the drama was too gloomy. Luckily he agreed with my opinion. I was elated. i devoted three months to studying my character and that's when I discovered the fun of acting. That was the first time I realized what acting was about and what it's like to act with other actors. Actress Park Won-sook, who played my mother in the drama, congratulated me on Tae-bong's popularity. (Laughs.)

-How was Tae-bong created?

At first, the director told me to act like Park Shin-yang and Hyun Bin did when they portrayed CEOs. But I couldn't do it. As a CEO, Tae-jun is a meticulous and fastidious guy but once he becomes Tae-bong, he is completely different. I couldn't find the break-even point between those two personalities. So I just portrayed Tae-bong as close to my real-life personality as possible and the director didn't mind that. Portraying Tae-bong was real fun. And working with Kim Nam-joo was also easy. While acting as Tae-bong, I wanted him to remain undercover as long as possible. When his real identity was revealed, I felt sorry for him. (Laughs.)

-What did Cheon Ji-ae (Kim Nam-joo) mean in Tae-bong's life?

She was a very unusual person. I liked how she sacrificed herself for her husband and always tried to look upbeat. That's not what love for a person of the opposite sex should be like. Even if Ji-ae had divorced her husband, Tae-bong wouldn't try to achieve anything with her.

-What kind of love is there in your real life?

I feel love only when my heart flutters. Though Tae-bong was supposed to be a playboy, he wasn't one. He just turned his eyes to other women because he failed to develop any feelings for So-hyun. But he never cheated on her. He simply wanted to give up on her. So-hyun was a good woman but she failed to move his heart.

-What was your dream in the first place?

As a child, I wanted to be a scientist, but when I was in high school, I wanted to become a singer. But I failed all the auditions. No matter how well I could sing in karaoke bars, strangely enough my voice failed me at auditions. When I didn't have a place to practice singing and did it in my room, people called me "crazy". When I was in my mid-20s, my mother told me to stop singing. (Laughs.) And I never thought of acting. The agency that had promised to make me a singer offered me only roles in TV dramas. It was frustrating.

-Are you still dreaming of becoming a singer?

No. Now I'm all into acting. I have ambitions as an actor. It's fun for me to be on filming sets and I'm not scared of acting anymore. I want to try my best. My next role is in a TV drama that will air in the fall. I want to take a comical role, which I'm good at. I want to give joy to viewers before I take on a different role.

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