Yoon Eun Hye conducted an extensive interview with Naver, the largest portal in Korea, for My Black Mini Dress. The interview was featured as cover story for issue no. 942 of Naver Movie. Yoon Eun Hye discusses a wide range of topics such as her decision to do a movie after so long, the movie’s themes, the characters, her perfectionist personality, malicious/inaccurate reporting, her past dramas, and more. ‘My Black Mini Dress’ opened on March 24, 2011 and is currently playing in theaters. The full interview:
Days That Still Require a Lot of Homework
The 20′s are strange days. These are days when things end up becoming more complicated as you try harder. Just as you’ve barely made it through the stormy high school days, you face cruel days filled with even bigger waves. The movie ‘My Black Mini Dress’ is a story of four friends who bear through the “nothing comes easy” days with friendship and jealousy. And Yoon Eun Hye has become a common person in her 20′s for a change. She’s not a crown princess, a cross-dressing girl, a selfish city girl, or a lady of a conglomerate family. She’s an intern writer who becomes lost after being torn from the reality. For someone who acted such a character, what would her own 20′s be like?
“I experienced society earlier at the age of 16.”
Q: It’s been 5 years since your last movie. It seems like ‘My Black Mini Dress’ is the first movie you were determined to film since your debut project ‘Escaping From Charisma’ (2006).
Yes, because ‘Escaping Charisma’ was even before drama ‘Goong’. It was a movie filmed when I really didn’t know anything. It was a project that I did after considering turning it down. I’m very feminine and I wasn’t confident in playing a boyish high school girl in ‘Escaping Charisma’ as my first project. I ended up doing it because the director kept telling me that I fit the character well. But I realized it then that I had to find projects where I could perform better. I was not suited to play a character that didn’t share even 1% of my real image. So, little by little I played characters that I could add my real image to, and ended up doing ‘My Black Mini Dress’ 5 years later.
Q: ‘Goong’ (2006), ’1st Shop of Coffee Prince’ (2007), and ‘Take Care of the Young Lady’ (2009) have been successful, so didn’t you get many offers to do movies?
There were 2 or so movies that I was planning to do while filming dramas. But I had many concerns when I thought about doing movies. I don’t have any problems with showing emotion even if the scripts are given to me scene by scene (rushed, partial scripts) on location. But it’s actually harder for me to save all my energy and emotion and use it in small portions. I like to let out all of my emotions within 2 to 3 hours. But in movies you would film for an hour, then spend an hour to set up the next scene. You have to reserve your emotion and express it later, which I wasn’t really good at. So I told myself that I had to wait until I was better prepared. I thought it would take me a year or two, but it ended being 5 years.
Q: You thought movies were difficult, how did you feel this time around?
We filmed it at a faster pace than I expected. It’s because the opening date was already set (laughing). I wondered, what kind of territorial bias would exist in the movie industry? Would they see me with a preconceived view? How can I act more intelligently? I began filming with many concerns. But I met a very good director, actors, and staff members. Director Heo In Moo later said that this movie was an immensely valuable experience for him, regardless of box office results. He said it makes him look forward to his next movie more and he feels he’s already gained everything he wanted from the movie. Ah, but I’m not saying that the box office results aren’t important (laughing).
Q: The movie depicts the friendship between 4 women in their 20′s pretty realistically. They are close, but jealous, then they comfort each other. I assume the actresses would think about and discuss how to make the friendships realistic.
I’m really not good with strangers. The director asked me as a favor to approach the others first. He said we aren’t supposed to be just average acquaintances, but best friends. He said if I open up to others first and move closer towards them, they’d also come closer to me. Really, if you maintain human relationships just close enough, you won’t get hurt too much. I was worried this time because I had to really give my heart to others, but we became close quickly because the three friends were so nice.
We each tried hard and were able to create a natural aura. The emotion from the movie scene when Soo Jin (Cha Ye Ryun) gets angry and yells at Hye Ji (Park Han Byul) was only possible because we were close. And I would think about the little things, such as what my character would eat and what products she’d use before filming, in an attempt to become my character. This was same for the three friends as well.
Q: It’s really not easy to become close to someone through work. In addition, actresses have strong personalities. This could be a preconceived view, but just as the friends in the movie had an invisible wall, there must have been many who thought that you’d compete with each other.
People around me worried a lot. They worried that having as many as four actresses together would cause too many opinions, problems, and fights (laughing). And that there would be scars involved.
Q: You must have had people try to stop you and encourage you to do a movie with only one actress as the main character.
I’m… not the type who gets overwhelmed by others so… (laughing). In any case, everyone says it’s amazing that things ended as well as it did and the movie was completed.
Q: ‘My Black Mini Dress’ deals realistically with the concerns of women in their 20′s. Was one of the reasons for selecting this project that you wanted to leave you own image of the 20′s in the movie?
I did have similar thoughts as that. While I can wear a school uniform at age 30 if asked to, I don’t think I’d be able to express the innocence of a teenage girl’s emotions. Because of such thoughts, I thought I may regret it in the future if I didn’t select this project.
Q: Do you look back to your past, when you were 24 years old, as you watched the 24 year old main characters?
It’s difficult to compare their experience at 24 years of age and mine. The times were different when I first entered the society. Because I debuted at 16, I think that was more like their experience of being 24 years old. I’ve had that confused, ‘run over and knocked down’ experience during my middle and high school years. Everyone faces hardships when they first step foot into society. Although it’s little different than what the characters faced in the movie, I also experienced such troublesome times. And as I empathized with friends who had worried about getting jobs, I tried to put it into my character, the sensibility of women around that age.
Q: The movie tries to capture the image of women in their 20′s who “don’t like to be labeled as a ‘dwen-jang-nyu’ (girls who love expensive brand labels and lifestyles), but wants to be treated as one”. There are some parts that may not represent an average women in their 20′s, when you consider the environment of the main characters. Such as the way they party and the way they spend, for example.
That’s why there’s an expression in the movie that goes, “It’s ironic”. It’s because they aren’t in the position to act that way but they still do. The word ‘dwen-jang-nyu’ is somewhat sensitive, but it contains a meaning of being fake, having pretense. Not everyone is like that, but we expressed the mentality of an average woman who relaxes her mind when she is facing handsome men and nice gifts. I think it’s good if you can think that we expressed women who faced a lonely fight within such a reality.
“There are reasons for being an absolute perfectionist.”
Q: Against our expectations, of the 4 characters, you played the one that is most similar to an average woman in their 20′s, an intern writer named Yoo Min. On the surface, you must have related better with Hye Ji, who is cast from the street or Soo Jin, who is trying to become an actress.
I wasn’t given the role of Yoo Min at first. It was another character. The director had thought that Yoo Min could be too obvious of a character for Yoon Eun Hye. After much thought, I told the director that I wanted to challenge myself in making the obvious Yoo Min more comfortable and natural. It ended up that the other characters had actresses who fit them very well. It’s amazing how everyone fits their characters so well. And because I’m the type who can’t see anything else once I’ve fallen deeply for it, I tend not to look at other things. So I don’t think I had the luxury to consider other characters later and say “Ah, I’ve also had those moments.”
Q: It’s beyond our expectation that Yoon Eun Hye is a person who doesn’t like to show faults, when Yoo Min from the movie and the characters from previous roles all had and made many faults and mistakes as their charm.
People around me say that I’m a perfectionist. Of course I lack many things and make mistakes, but I do get upset at things like that.
Q: When did you start being like that?
It was when I began facing more things that I had to be responsible for. I wasn’t like that in the past. I wasn’t very ambitious when I was young. I just worked diligently on what was asked of me… it’s still like that today. But I never wanted something that belonged to someone else, or felt jealous. I never thought “Ah, I should have done it” or feel jealous if a project I turned down goes to someone else and becomes a big hit. After all, I didn’t do it because I wasn’t confident about it in the first place. I guess with my personality like this, it makes me try to become more perfect. It’s because I know that no one’s going to create an ideal situation for me and no one else can be responsible for me.
Q: It’s seems like a defensive position that you will never make a mistake. Doesn’t that make it too hard for you?
I die after interviewing for 10 hours like that (laughing). I think they get annoyed sometimes because I don’t show any faults as you’ve said. In the end, they just ask me a point-blank question and it ends up being the only thing that appears in the news. For example, I didn’t use the word ‘explosion (burst)’. But then it comes out in an article as if I said it, and I’d be thinking “Uh, what’s this?”.
The most embarrassing situation is when someone comes with an already completed article and tries to get me to say things that support it. But I’m not someone who shows that types of faults (laughing). But my situation becomes awkward when something I didn’t even say becomes news. I had said that I wouldn’t do advertisements for certain products because I felt I couldn’t be responsible for it (having not used it). But the news article released later would quote me as saying, “I wouldn’t do that kind of advertisement even if they paid me a million US dollars (an article actually carried this as a title).” Then what do I become, in the eyes of my colleagues and seniors who are doing the advertisement?
Q: You must have worried after getting home.
It’s not merely worrying, but going crazy. I didn’t even say such a thing. I cried a lot. I’d say that I was too lacking in order to teach newer actors during the script reading, but an article is released with a title that says, “Yoon Eun Hye doesn’t agree to script readings easily.” If I say that I tried to get advice from senior actors to fix my shortcomings and they advised that it’s best to find the answers on your own, the article title would say, “Yoon Eun Hye, she doesn’t study acting (from others) but only studies on her own” with a quote, “Self studying is best for me (laughing)”.
It’s really upsetting. I end up becoming someone without thoughts or ideas. There are even some fans who say things like, “Yoon Eun Hye’s problem is being too honest. I don’t know why she says everything in her mind honestly and have words like these released in articles.” This makes me even more upset because instead of “Yoon Eun Hye wouldn’t say such things”, it becomes “Yoon Eun Hye makes mistakes like this sometimes”.
Q: You do tend to have more articles like those. Why do you think that is the case?
It seems that they are offended because I don’t show many faults. They come with thoughts that I’m fit for a light article, but things don’t work out as they had planned. It’s true that I notice some people misunderstand me while I talk. So I’ve changed the way I communicate. I’d tell them first, “I’m going to talk very honestly right now, but I think I’ll end up talking with my mind closed if you keep interpreting it like that.” Then there are some who open up after hearing that (laughing). It’s hard, really. Of course, I’m sure I’m not the only one with such issues. But it’s hard that I have people misunderstand me because of my light (not serious) personal image.
Q: It seems like your broadcasting image from the ‘Baby V.O.X’ days still has some effect.
I really can’t even remember that I said “Why do they only play soccer/football during early morning hours in Greece” at the World Cup Special broadcast. So I thought about why this story came about. I was very young at the time, and I think there were many remarkable, ad lib statements, and scripted lines that represented my generation. But the mood in the broadcasting location wasn’t “Wow, what’s up with her?” (laughing).
I think I did say something about being tired because we were doing it in the early hours. But I didn’t know what to do when people started saying, “Wow, that dummy. Stupid.” I didn’t know that it would spread everywhere. I became a dummy since that day (laughing). So I got through the situation by saying, “I don’t think I ever said that”, and it became even a bigger problem as they said, “Why are you denying what you said?” (laughing). I thought, “Gosh, I can’t say anything”, but then I decided that I really have to be careful of what I say.
Q: So that event is still relevant to our discussion now.
I’m very careful now. A TV program had once recreated the event, and I was definitely one of the characters in the program. I came in 3rd place overall as a person who had said something most ridiculous, “In Greece, why do they play soccer only in the early morning hours?”, covered with mosaic and all (laughing). They even recreated a scene where the people around my character made faces and said, “Wow, what a dummy”.
Then all of sudden it said ‘Incident Part 2′, and my character was beating someone up. I cried a lot then. I think I was okay with the dummy image, but I don’t think it was right that they made me look like someone would beat up others and curse. I’m not a person who is that clueless.
“I have to be more consistent because of what I lack.”
Q: So your perfectionist nature must have hardened more.
I wanted to hear praises or words that I did well… and I wanted to do well for people to see. So I selected dramas that I’d watch. And during ’1st Shop of Coffee Prince’, I thought I had to change from head to toe. I realized that I’m not a person who can go on slowly, I had to be good no matter what. I wanted to improve step by step, but I wasn’t in the right situation. Of course, it’s also true that I can’t complain since I became a lead female character of a drama without any preparation.
Q: Are you saying that you began ‘Goong’ without any preparation?
Yes. If you aren’t prepared, it’s right that you should do a small role. I actually went to the ‘Goong’ audition for a small role, and ended up becoming the main character, Chae Kyung. Director Hwang In Roe thought that I was like the character. That’s when I thought, “He wouldn’t have chosen me without good reason, so I should be able to do this if I try hard from where I’m at. I’ll show him.” But later on, I began thinking, “Ah, this isn’t it. I have to show everything and be responsible for everything.” It was with ’1st Shop of Coffee Prince’ that I really began to immerse myself into the roles, study the characters, and become more focused.
Q: So ’1st Shop of Coffee Prince’ became the important turning point in regards to popularity and acting.
I’ve never had a project that I fell for like that. It wasn’t just my effort, but it was because of the director, actors, staff members, and everything else that made it fit, which produced something more than I was capable of. If I were asked to do Eun Chan again, I probably couldn’t. I figure some day, when everything falls into place again, then such images could be possible again. I know this is something irresponsible for an actress to say, because it’s correct that I should do well under any circumstances, but it’s become important that I meet people who can draw out more than what’s inside of me.
Q: While you may have had many worries, it is true that you’ve had many good projects since debuting as an actress. Goong’s Chae Kyung, Vineyard Man’s city girl Ji Hyun, Coffee Prince’s Eun Chan, Take Care of the Young Lady’s Kang Hye Na were all energetic and lovely characters. If there’s a character that you love especially, who is it?
Honestly, I didn’t like any of the characters during the filming days. It’s because I couldn’t give myself good grades. I can’t even remember what my thoughts were while filming. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t calculate the details of the performance, but the character on the screen always looked like someone else when I watched it later. I’d wonder, “How did I make that kind of expressions at the time?” It’s amazing.
Even so, I consider 1st Shop of Coffee Prince’s Eun Chan somewhat more lovable, since I lacked more in other projects. Instead of thinking the characters are lovable, I would think more along the lines of “Why do I lack so much? It’s embarrassing.”
Q: Looking back, you did have quite a different debut as an actress. Your debut didn’t include any unknown days (no name actress days) and you rarely had auditions.
I never quite had a full script reading done at an audition. So even today, I’m not really good at rehearsals and script readings. Hence, I’m very lucky that I’m still acting. For the strangest reasons, I never had a director who asked me to read the script. I feel as if I’ve only had conversations with directors when I was cast.
Q: Since it was like this for all your projects, you must have attracted a surprising amount of envy and animosity.
Really, it didn’t make sense. For ‘Goong’, I wasn’t even able to read the original manhwa (manga) before the audition. I had just heard that it was a TV drama, went to the meeting, and had conversations with the director. “I was raised in an average family, I like to draw, I’m sort of an unruly girl when I’m with people I’m close to, I’m a little uncomfortable with strangers, bla, bla, bla, this and that…” When I looked later, that was so similar to Chae Kyung. I had makeup on that day and all of sudden the director said that he wanted to see my face without it. I’m not the type of person who’d say, “I’ll show it to you next time.” So I told him, “Hold on a minute” and ran out like a crazy person to buy a cleansing product, and showed him my face after I took off the makeup.
I guess he thought highly of things like that. If I look back now, I think all of the directors that I’ve met in the past have considered such things. Even when I was a singer, I thought “I’m not that pretty. I can’t sing or dance, how have I become a singer?” Then I’m not supposed to become a singer, right? But how did I become an actor when I wasn’t even good at acting (laughing)?” I think I just jumped into it. Just because I wanted to do it. Of course, I now know that there’s more to acting then just my desire.
Q: Compared to other actors around your age, you especially had more controversies with your pronunciation, acting, attitude, etc.. Do such controversies motivate you to do better?
Honestly, it does. It may be a small thing if others make mistakes twice, but it’s a really big thing if I make mistakes twice. Directors would laugh and say, “Eun Hye, since we are close, I understand what you’re saying.” They joke like this and it’s upsetting. But I know that while I may be weak on pronunciation, they don’t think that my acting performance is bad. In the end, it’s homework for me to supplement my acting skills and improve.
Q: You must be hoping that there won’t be any controversies when you film your next movie or drama.
That is right. But the thing that’s upsetting and makes me angry is that I caused it myself. I tell myself, “You’ll do well someday, right? Let’s gain a lot of experience and the experience of failing as well.” You know, I really think I try just as hard as anyone else, if not more. I also want to do many small roles as well. But they won’t give me any roles like that. I guess they think that I wouldn’t do it.
Q: I’m suddenly curious. What did you want to become when you were a child? Did you really want to become a singer or actress?
Not even close. I wanted to draw and become a designer. My face is somewhat average compared to other entertainers. I had ‘street casting’ experiences even as a member of Baby V.O.X. It was that they failed to recognize me (laughing). So I thought about it. Why? And what was I thinking that led me to where I am today? I think I just wanted to take on the challenge. I figured that I can draw even when I’m older (laughing).
Q: Since filmed a movie that deals with the youthful 20′s, how would you like to spend the remaining days of your 20′s?
I heard a phrase, “You can’t beat someone who keeps working hard”. These words are extremely helpful. I want to be someone who keeps working hard. It’s not that I want to maintain a current status in acting, but that I want to keep running after everything. So when I look back 10 years from now, wouldn’t such experiences help me become mature? I also feel that acting criticisms will decrease as I do more projects (laughing). There are still many things that people don’t know about me. And I’m happy about that since I have many things I can still show them.
Source: Naver Movie, The Place to Meet Movies for the First Time
Writer: Kim Hye Sun (Movie Journalist)