This interview is comprised of three stories. The first is the story of the actor Kim Jaejoong, the second is the story of JYJ group member Kim Jaejoong, and the last story is the honest confession of the man Kim Jaejoong.
The weather was unsusually hot on the day that I met with Kim Jaejoong. Because of that he was a little sweaty when he walked in. He had just finished filming for his MBC weekend drama “Dr. Jin” and he was dressed in a sleeveless shirt, which I thought was typical for a youth of 26 to be wearing. “Hi. I am Kim Jaejoong” he said. ‘Won’t his exeptionally fair skin burn in this heat?’ I wondered. Kim Jaejoong went around the room and told everyone that he was glad to meet them.
“Dr. Jin” is Kim Jaejoong’s first historical drama. In the beginning, Jaejoong confessed that he faced a great amount of fear. He said “At first I was afraid and shaking because [acting in this role] seemed much too scary. Before you begin filming you cannot gaurantee whether you will be good at playing the character or not. But as scared as I was, I tried to eat well and did not think too deeply about things.”
Kim Jaejoong’s character is not an easy one. He is Kim KyungTak, the man who is forsaken by his parent, friend, and lover. Kim Jaejoong talked to me about his experience of acting as KyungTak. “The other characters all have very large ambitions. Lee HaEung and his group have large desires and dreams, and KyungTak’s father Kim Byung Hee has a high level of intensity and greed. However Kim KyungTak is the only one who lives in order to serve the people around him, not wanting to fail ‘his people’. He does not have any ulterior motives nor greed. Though the people around him fall apart or act cruely, Kim KyungTak in the end is the person who is looking out for them”.
And then there were the tears. “At first I had a cyncical feeling [about the crying scenes]. However during the second half of shooting, the tears came. It was a mix of the character grieving, being tired, and having consumed all of my energy earlier. Soon all the continuous crying became physically painful.”
I pointed out that at first KungTak’s voice was a little awkward. I wondered if perhaps the fear of acting in a historical drama made the power of Kim Jaejoong’s voice trickle at first. “How to come up with a historical character? I thought a lot about what to do, not knowing if doing a certain action would be too much or not. I had to act as the character of a powerful and charismatic police officer and build this character just from what I heard of him, not from any example. As an actor, on the drama sheet it just said to be ‘powerful and charismatic’ so I tried to do those two things, however I would monitor my actions after they were filmed and think ‘maybe that holster should have been removed’ or some things like that.”
Kim Jaejoong told us that it was “foolish” to try to classify him as only an idol or actor. Jaejoong said he realized that the stage for a singer and the stage for an actor were very different. “I never want any part of either of these to leave me. Though I am now working as an actor, I debuted as a singer and I never want to discard that part of me. Right now I think ‘I want to look really awesome when I am crying’, but the need to sing well is also something I will not throw away.”
Kim Jaejoong, on watching his acting in the SBS drama ‘Protect the Boss’, “It is something that I will never regret. This was one of the first times I was truly stepping away from the realm of being a singer to act. On the stage as a singer, the audience expects you to show a cool look. Your internal feelings or ‘inner look’ is not very important, and that thought is something I had to learn to abandon. Your character will have many shortcomings and though it is beneficial in the end, it is something difficult to tolerate at first. But making your character have empathy is a good thing. It is something I needed to understand before I could move forward.”
Looking at Kim Jaejoong objectively, showing himself in this role with his relative lack of experience takes much courage. The courage that Kim Jaejoong showed was quite impressive. “There were many questions such as: How do I act properly? How do I cry properly?” Jaejoong said, “But through the process of my progression, the audience has been extremely supportive and for that I am grateful.”
And as an actor, Kim Jaejoong has a simple yet sincere wish. “I do not need to have a starring role, but I would like to act in diverse roles with interesting and diverse casts. I would love to show my singing and dancing to an audience, and then also have that audience watch me as an actor”.
(The story of the music of singer Kim Jaejoong will be told in Part 2)