He might have made his debut in a boy band, but these days, Park Yoo Chun seems to be getting more recognition as an actor than an idol. Since he shot to superstardom in the acting field in 2010 after the success of Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Yoo Chun has clinched at least one acting award every year—a testament to his acting chops.
After a critically-acclaimed performance in movie Haemoo, the actor has returned to the small screen through The Girl Who Sees Smells as Choi Mu Gak, a young man who lost the ability to smell, taste and feel pain following the brutal murder of his sister.
The 28-year-old JYJ member clues us in on the difficulties he faced acting in the drama and his instinct to make the people around him laugh.
Yoo Chun, you play a character who has no feelings or emotions. Is it difficult to portray the character?
It is very difficult; I have to act but I can’t express it through my facial expressions. There was a scene where I got hit and it hurt so much, but I had to pretend that it did not hurt. I could only show the pain after the director shouted ‘Cut!’ cos it was really painful.
How does it feel being the center of attention since young?
I am not someone who seeks unnecessary attention. To be honest, I would prefer to live a quiet and normal life.
Would you ever consider revealing your relationship to the public?
I would, but that is [only] if I was deeply in love with the girl. Also, I think she would have to be ready to be in the spotlight as well.
Why did you decide to become an actor?
I have always wanted to act since young. I think it is fascinating to live someone else’s life. I want to be an actor who is not just ‘fancy’ but with substance. A close friend of mine told me that when you continue acting, you will want to act more. I didn’t understand it back then but now I get it. I like that momentary, electrifying feeling you get when you act.
What type of shows do you normally watch? Do you have a preferred genre?
I am not that particular about the genres, but I am not a big fan of melodramas. Recently, I have been watching mainly action, thriller and science fiction [shows]. I like shows with unusual plots, like falling in love with aliens or a girl who sees smells. (Laughs)
What outdoor activities do you enjoy?
Fishing. The only place my dad brought me out when I was a kid was fishing. It is the biggest memory I have with my dad. That is why I always go fishing. Fishing starts with a bottle of soju. (Laughs) There are times when it is troublesome and boring, but just sitting there and spacing out is great for meditation. There are people who read when they want to think about something, but when I want to meditate, I fish.
Do you cook Maeuntang (spicy fish soup) with the fish you catch?
No one cooks for me and it won’t be delicious eating alone.
You seem like a good drinker. Which is your favourite alcohol?
I don’t have a preference. I do know a bit about Western alcohol but nothing beats drinking soju with radish kimchi. Just recently, I had a craving for soju, so I drank it with whatever I had at home – seaweed, chonggak kimchi (mini radish). It was really delicious. There are many types of nice and delicious alcohol but there’s really nothing like soju.
Do you go drinking with other senior actors?
I do, but it was scary. The way they drink is too amazing.
Why do you choose to go out drinking with your seniors?
We get to talk about more silly things. (Laughs) Those silly talks are about their life stories. Although I don’t meet them up or contact them very often, it feels great whenever I see them.
Seems like you get along better with older people…
I do enjoy spending time with older people. I have problem ‘breathing’ when I’m with young people in their early 20s. (Laughs)
Do you think you are a born-actor?
I could be born with it. (Laughs) I am just kidding. I read an article where a critic wrote that I was born with a stable tone of voice with clear enunciation. But I was never conscious about these when I act. Maybe because I find acting interesting and really enjoyable. I have done acting so far without much bad reviews. Not that I did well, but I do see some growth in me.
Do you go on holidays after the dramas or movies wrap up?
These days, when I travel, I like to just be still and not do anything. I go on trips without deciding on what to do there, and that is what I really want to do on a holiday.
According to a variety programme, your shoulders’ width is apparently 10cm wider than normal guys. Did you know about this?
Actually I knew about this since my debut. My fans were the ones who told me. At that time, I didn’t have many clothes and always wore the same thing over and over, so I have never thought about whether my shoulders are wide or narrow, whether my clothes are suitable. I do have an inferiority complex too: The bones of my jaw are less protruding than others. Because of that, whenever I gain just a little weight, my jaw lines immediately disappear. My jaw line is ‘directly linked’ to the amount of alcohol I drink. (Laughs)
Don’t you miss dancing? Since you don’t dance much lately…
Actually, I am not confident about dancing. I always try my best to catch-up with Junsu although I am not even half as good as him. I’ve since concluded that I should use the time to do something else instead. I love dancing though!
What is your favourite dance move then?
I would move my neck back and forth. I would put on a song by Michael Jackson and dance to it while driving.
You seem like someone who is always looking around, searching for things to joke about. Is this your instinct?
I was an introvert as a kid, without much self-confidence. My family wasn’t wealthy and there was always not enough of something. There’s nothing I could take out to show people. In contrast, my personality is the type who wants a lot of attention by telling jokes and making people laugh. This has become a part of my personality. Too much talking is bad, so there were times when I feel stressed, I would laugh it out.
Do you make people laugh during filming too?
Yes, but they are really harmless gags. I would just throw out jokes without thinking too much. When you do that, at least people will laugh right? Laughter bridges distance between people so it makes my work easier. I can’t tolerate awkward or strained atmosphere for long.
What is Park Yoo Chun going through right now?
I would say it is a period where I discover more about myself, where I learn to manage myself. I want to be someone of substance. A lot of new things will come my way and I want to know myself even more than before. In the past, I was afraid of admitting to things that I don’t know but now, I will. There’s so much more to learn in life.
The Girl Who Sees Smells premieres 6 May on ONE (Channels 513, 604, 514/605 (On Demand) on SingTel mio TV; Channels 124, 820 and 823 on Starhub TV) at 8.55pm, every Monday and Tuesday.