Actor Joo Won [25 years old, birth name: Moon Joon Won]; he probably is the epitome of the description “He grew up well”.
A student of Sungkyungkwan University’s Performing Arts Faculty, he debuted via the musical “Altar Boyz” , starting from his first television drama Baker King  to Ojakgyo Brothers  and the recently aired Gaksital . The 3 dramas in which he participated in consecutively received good results. Adding this to his participation in the variety show 1 Night 2 Days, in the short span of 3 years since he debuted, Joo Won has become a National Star.
We met with Joo Won who recently finished filming for Gaksital with great success. His expression showed that he had lingering feelings towards Gaksital, which was filmed for 6 months. Joo won expressed his thoughts: “I started running crazily since March…for it to end suddenly overnight, it makes me feel very empty.”
In the drama, Joo Won’s character Lee Kangto is one who pledges allegiance to Imperial Japan. Lee Kangto and his brother [Shin Hyung Jun] who wears the bridal mask duel and later on, Lee Kangto follows in his brother’s footsteps and puts on the bridal mask, fighting for the Independence Movement. Imperialist Lee Kangto and National Hero Gaksital, no matter how one looks at it, these two characters are the extremes of each other. Before the fact that Lee Kangto was Gaksital was exposed, one can say that Joo Won was acting 2 different roles.
The moment that Lee Kangto put on the mask was also a moment of distress for Joo Won. “Kangto too, myself too, I felt “Do I really have to put on the mask? At the start when I first put on the mask, the reason for me doing so was not so clear and obvious. But as I moved towards my goal, it seemed that it was then when I started to realise why and as the drama progressed, I managed to immerse myself more and more into Kangto’s goals.”
What was the feeling like the moment when he finally put on the mask knowingly?
“At the start when I first put on the bridal mask, it really felt unnatural. Wearing it made me feel suffocated and pressured and I wanted to take it off as quickly as I could. But as time went by, the mask became park of my face, like it was just another part of my face. Even if I wore it the whole day, I still won’t feel uncomfortable.”
He only had one goal in this drama. That was to “relax”. “I wanted to get rid of all the burdens I had. to not care about “how will this look on screen”, I really used a practical way of thinking and so it seems like because of this, I cried even more and it left me with a lot of lingering feelings.”
Even after the director yelled “cut”, his tears could not stop. Joo Won’s sincere acting managed to express Lee Kangto’s raw emotions to the viewers. Unwittingly, praises such as “He acts really well” started to come his way.
Aside from this, in Korea’s relations with Japan, the moniker “Anti-Japanese Actor” was even given to Joo won. But Joo Won thought that, as opposed to feeling burdened, he felt more embarrassed. “I am also a Korean so our hearts are all the same. Thinking for the good of Korea, this kind of thinking is shared by all of us. Myself and the rest of the actors and other people, we are all the same. Just because I acted in this drama, I received the label of “Patriotic youth” it made me feel really embarrassed.”
What would it be like if he was really living in the era of Imperialist Japan’s occupation of Korea? Joo Won actually thought about this but he said “If I’m really living in that era, what type of decision I would make is really hard to say.” Vicariously feeling the pain of that era, somehow it makes one agree with his answer.
Through 1 Night 2 days and Gaksital, Joo Won has garnered many fans who are still in primary school. In 1 Night 2 Days, Joo Won is the cute magnae. In dramams and movies, Joo Won is a charismatic actor. Showing his many different charms, Joo Won has grown at a shocking speed. A little bit dazed, a little bit spaced out sometimes, Joo Won also surprises with his “beginner” mentality.
“Regardless of whether my future projects are successful or not, I will still be like how I am now, firmly believing that an ambitious heart is not correct. On the contrary, the moment you throw away all desires is also the moment when you will be able to have a bright future. This is what I feel. So, even though I have a lot of desire towards my acting, but having an ambition like “I definitely must succeed” is a no no. If I maintain the same thinking that I have now, as I grow with the passage of time, will I also be able, like my seniors, to become an excellent actor?”
It seems as if Joo Won has become more matured. Starting from Baker King to Ojakgyp Brothers and then Gaksital, every drama was a huge success and he became the “Ratings Man”. His shoulders have become stronger but his humble attitude is no different from when he first debuted 2 years ago.
With the conclusion of the 6 month marathon filming for Gaksital in which he gave his all, he smiled and said “It was my good fortune.”
Putting aside ambitions, every project will be successful
He always hanged around the set and it was only after filming ended that he personally experienced his popularity. From the beginning when he only had adult fans, through 1 Night 2 Days and Gaksital, Joo Won has also managed to gain a huge number of teenage fans.
“Last month I participated in a fan meeting. Just the fan’s screaming alone was very different from the past. The screams made me feel like I became an idol. Hahaha. But everything around me is still the same, so is my family and the cafe near my house. If I had to say something was different, it is that I’ve earned a bit of money and more people know about me, can I say it like that? If I can earn even more money, the thing I want to buy most is a house.”
He said that the secret to every project’s success is the script and luck. “The most important is the senior who possess excellent acting skills because they’ve help me in areas where I’m lacking as the lead actor.” He pushed all the credit to others. He also said “Although I will have my ambitions, but it seems like ratings are not something that you can control. So, if I am able to push aside that desire, I will be able to do better.”
Fellow sufferer Ki Woong Hyung gave me a lot of strength
Putting on the mask and satisfyingly punishing Imperial Japan’s Korean lackeys, Joo Won, who acted as Independence fighter Lee Kangto, seems as if he was still unable to get out of character. the bridal mask which at the start caused him much discomfort became a part of his face and taking it off left him feeling empty. Adding on the fact that his biological clock [*Ahem, no moaty thoughts here people!!*] has gotten used to the filming schedule and surroundings, now that filming has ended, Joo Won is still used to sleeping in a fetal position and even if he doesn’t set his alarm clock, he will naturally wake up early.
When we asked him what he got out of this drama in which it was his first lead role, he answered that he gained more fans and the sense of responsibility that a lead actor had to have.
“Because the filming atmosphere depends on my mood, even if I’m in extreme pain or totally exhausted, I cannot show it. I felt restricted physically and mentally but this is something which I had to deal on my own. But it’s not just me. I know that everyone else was also having a hard time so when we are on set, I would still ask after people kindly and smile cheerfully.”
Park Ki Woong who acted as a Japanese Imperialist – because they were both suffering similarly, he was a source of strength
Joo Won expressed his deep friendship with his hyung: “Although in the show we are enemies, in reality our relationship is so close to the point where people might even mistake us for lovers. Even though we just met each other, we hugged and we took care of each other more than the female actresses so the staff would always joke and say that the both of us should just start dating.”
1 night 2 Days is a breath of fresh air for me.
He plans to spend precious time with the 1 Night 2 Days members. “The members would always get together after filming ends and previously I was too busy due to filming so I could never join them. Last month, after filming for the drama ended, I was finally able to join them for a meal and I ate a lot of meat heartily~~~I was really happy.”
In this show, being together with Kim Seung Woo, Uhm Tae Woong, Cha Tae Hyun, Lee Sugeun, Kim Jongmin and Sung Shi Kyung is like receiving rain after a long drought for Joo Won. “When I was filming the drama, once every fortnight, to be able to laugh and chat with everyone and play games, somehow the hyungs became my source of strength. The members cheered me on and were a great help to me. Also, although when we filmed for the drama I could sleep in the car when I wanted to sleep, here I could lie down and sleep so it was better hahaha.
up until now, Joo Won has been taking on roles where the characters were either older than his own age, or the drama required solemn acting. this is why he said about his wish to act in a light hearted and relaxing romantic comedy. “It is the hardest to act about love.” He shyly said, showing the passionate and youthful side to him “I hope that in every project that I take on, I will be able to grow and mature a bit more.”
Chinese translation by minidadalove @ baidu
English translation by mojobobo @ soompi