The First Wave of Korea Speaks of Asian Wave [interview part 1]
Source: Maeil Economy Star Today, Reporter Cho Eun Yong
Translated into English : gaulsan (Quilt)
* This article contains most part of the interview BYJ had with Korean press after completing both events. Some part are introduced in other articles, and some are not.
He looked tired. He has been working so hard for a long time. Sepsis caused his body temperature go up to 40'C , but he couldn't rest properly due to the events planned ahead. While leaning on the effect of medicines he was taking, he flew to Japan and finished two large events that was held on September 29th and 30th without accident. On 30th, He had a meeting with Mrs. Miyuki, the wife of Japanese Prime Minister and discussed on cultural exchange. Now the name BYJ came to mean more than an actor who played the leading role in WLS. It is natural that every step he leads has huge impact on cultural industry and the way Japanese understand Korea. Is it because of such position? BYJ was prudent enough to ask reporters to use the term "Asian wave" instead of "Korean wave". However, once the dialogue came to his personal life, he often joked and led the interview in a pleasure manner.
Q : Now you've finished two major events. What do you feel by meeting your fans after one year?
A : As a matter of fact, I always think that I am not a talented person. I was able to do my best to accomplish things because my Family gave me that energy to do so. (BYJ always calls his fans Family.) If it were not for the energy they gave me, I wouldn't have been able to write a book, nor planned this event. I am always thankful for them.
Q : You've been admitted to a hospital due to sepsis. You still look very tired. Don't you think you strain yourself too much? It often seems that you put too much energy in your projects.
A : That's because I am not smart enough. I just have to do my very best(smile). Frankly speaking, I've worried that I might not be able to finish these events. My body temperature went up to 40'C for two days, and the [BOF] staffs worried that I might not be allowed to enter Japan. Luckily, the diagnosis was not the swine-flu but mild sepsis. While staying in bed, I've thought a lot. I had time to look back upon myself, and to contemplate on what made me stand here in this position? I have not recovered, yet. I still have fever. I am taking medicine, and my face got swollen because of that. (laugh)
Q : Your writing is quite different from your essays that you've wrote in your early days as an actor. Some informations were very professional. What was the most difficult part in preparing this pook?
A : If I count from studying and collecting data, it took one and a half year.
I've read over 150 books on various subjects. Sometimes the data from one source was incompatible with that from another source. I've asked those part to the masters, and I trusted their answers without any doubt.
On the other hand, writing was a hard nut to crack. I didn't know that expressing my feeling and thoughts would be so difficult. I barely slept for three months, and I was under huge stress to meet the deadline.
As you may know, when one stays up all night, one might feel sick, feel like throwing up. Sometimes, I've sent messages to staffs, "I'm going to sleep now. I feel like throwing up" or "Yuck." (laugh) Because I failed to meet the deadline, the editors had only three days to proofread and correct mistakes. So there are several mis-spellings left in my book. (smile)
Q : It was interesting to see your personal life, such as your eating up the oysters that was prepared for making Gimchi.
A : As you know, I am not a professional writer. I couldn't write this book without exposing myself.
Q : Do you have any plan to publish English version or another series?
A : First, I don't have plan to write another series. I am considering of making English version and braille book. The braille book will be donated. I feel awful that the braille book cannot show the photos.
Q : Do you have any plan to make carrier in writing?
A : I've once thought of writing a short novel. If I find good writings, I use to write it down or collect it. But now I don't know. As I am so exhausted after writing this book, I came to think that if I do make another book, there will be less words and more photos in it.
One thing I regret in this book is about the photos. As I started writing after I've collected materials, some of the photos didn't match the feeling of the words I wrote. I needed new photos that match the words, but I couldn't go back to take photos again because I was short of time. So the photos were not as diverse as I've planned.
Q : I've heard that you've took over 5,000 photos for this essay. Was that still not enough? (laugh) Anyway, I can feel your affection and ambition toward photography.
A : I took a lot of photos, but I didn't actually count them. (laugh) The photographers I've met often told me that I own more cameras than professional photographers. So I think I do have affection toward photography. On the other hand, I always think that technique is not the most difficult part. It is the 'sensibility' that matters.
I take picture with cameras, but it is my heart that makes me press the shutter. I take pictures to hold that specific moment, the moment that my heart permits. Thats why I feel training my own sensibility is important. Maybe that's why I prefer film camera over digital camera. When I use a digital camera, I tend to press the shutter easily, thinking 'there must be at least one good shot.' I don't like to take photos like that. (smile)
Q : Personally, what did you gain from writing this book?
A : As a matter of fact, since I've started my career as an actor, I don't remember when I've gone on a journey. Thinking back, what did I do in 2002? Winter sonata. In 1999? 'Have we really loved'. My work was occupying my life. While writing this book, I went on a real journey. I've seen, learnt, and felt a lot. I came to meet so many nice people, and my mind has opened up. Personally, I've made lots of good hobbies.
I was planning to go to Chooncheon by myself to take photos of beautiful autumn scenery, but I couldn't go because I was sick. I've never planned to go on a trip alone before.
Q : You became the Ambassador of 'Visit Korea Year' and you are praised by so many government staffs, and the same with the masters who helped you on writing your book.
A : I think everything has its own time. I was proposed to be an Ambassador while I was writing this book. I thought that now I could properly do that mission and accepted it. I think the most important thing in meeting people is 'trust', isn't it? I try not to miss that point. There are several staffs of BOF in this pIace and we know each other very well. We had this relationship for a long time, sometimes over 10 years. I am thankful that I have many people around me whom I can trust. It is the same with the masters. I didn't press upon them to learn from them. The karma led us step by step like a chain.
How I've met Mr. Jeon Yong Bok is an example. I was searching for information about lacquer painting, but it was hard to find such information, and even if I found some, they were difficult like theses. Going to bed, I thought it might be difficult to find proper information. In the next morning, there was a news covering Mr. Jeon Yong Bok on the newspaper. The karma works in such a mysterious way.(laugh)
Q : What person are you to the staffs who've worked over 10 years at BOF?
A : If I think it is needed, I tell them what I want straightforwardly. If they make a mistake, I tell them right away. If they make the same mistake again, I often scold them. They might be afraid of me, but I think they trust me as well. (smile)
Q : I've heard that you gave your books to people around you. I've heard that Choi Jee Woo carries that book all the time.
A : Jee Woo told me that the book was interesting. I recently met her and it was such a long while since I've met her before. She is still a very kind person.
Q : Do you meet your friends often?
A : I like to talk with people. Usually, I invite them to my home. We have tea together and talk about culture, acting, politics and so on.
Q : It seems that you are imposing a kind of duty on yourself as the ambassador of Korean culture.
A : I think something is leading me to that mission. Sometimes, my Family leads me. When I visited Japan for the first time, a Korean living in Japan held my hands, crying, told me that she was thankful for me. At that moment, I realized that there were something that I could do for both countries.
Q : You've met Mrs. Hatoyama Miyuki, wife of Japanese prime minister, who is interested in Korean culture. What did you talk about?
A : As Mrs Miyuki was interested in Korean culture, we've talked about the cultural exchange between Korea and Japan. She spoke some Korean during the conversation. I was startled by her proficiency in Korean.
Q : Some say that there will be no Post-BYJ. I had an impression that you have a unparalleled stature in Hallyu.
A : I think the public opinion can change by how the mass media report. For example, I've asked you repeatedly not to use the word "Hallyu". Once the term is used in Korean media, reporters of other countries will use it, too. Such one-sided term can hinder the free exchange of culture between countries. That's why I've asked you to use the term 'Asian flow' instead of Hallyu. However, I've found it's not easy to make a change.
Q : In Japan, BYJ became more than an actor who played the leading role in WLS. Many Japanese see Korea through the new scope named BYJ. It might put weight on everything you do. You might feel stressed.
A : I would take it in another way. I've mentioned about my desire to become a farmer at the press meeting for "the Beauty of Korea'. What did you feel when you heard my word?
Q : Are you really planning to make a farm?
A : That was the first time that I've spoke to the press of my dream, but it was not an instant idea. I've started to think about it 5 years ago. I've often told about it to people close to me. I don't have a concrete idea, but I am reading books and studying on it. If there is a thing I want to do, I tend to tell it to people around me, and eventually turn it into reality.
(Photos provided by BOF)
[From Tokyo, Mail Economy Star Today, Reporter Cho Eun Yong]
Part 2 will be translated soon.....