Ok this has been a particularly challenging interview to translate (and I seriously hope I got at least the gist of it…) and I’ve been busy with some seriously mundane stuff in real life, so I hope that explains the lapse in entries…
THE DEFINING POINTS IN MY LIFE
How did you spend your life as a public service officer?
I spent almost all my weekends travelling. Like going around the country to take photographs. I wasn’t late for work and I worked hard so time just passed like that. As for my days off, while people usually spend their days off getting drunk and sleeping in, I didn’t. I don’t think this is being diligent, I think that should naturally be the case because I’ll be able to rest then. I visited Spain, went to Japan twice, and traveled within Korea, to Jeju, Jeongeup, Muju, Sokcho, Seosan… Gangwon-do, Jeolla-do, Chungcheong-do, Jeju-do.. I went around with a junior from work who enjoys photography, we ate and took photos. It was really interesting.
Just like what we heard, you spent your time as a public service officer very earnestly.
I think being a public service officer is really not too bad. I seem to prefer a routine life. Because I haven’t been able to live a routine life before, so I like it even more. I realised that I have insomnia because I sleep too much. Since I would get tired, my insomnia disappeared. That’s why I’m trying very hard to lead a more regulated life even now. I only drink on weekends, and I get up before 10am every morning.
For the human being Kim Dongwan, was military service a big momentum?
I think so. I started to like living regular hours. All my worries about trivial matters disappeared. Aren’t there thoughts like “why am I in this state”? Something like a hidden jinx behind one’s self-confidence. This is a worry that everyone lives with, but I used to think that it only happened to me and I suffered a great deal because of this. There were times when I felt these things.
Moreover, I realise that although the life of an artiste is very stressful, on the other hand there are many advantages and benefits too, and I’m appreciative and grateful for that. We can rest on weekdays and if we want to we can play without being stressed. I can make plans according to my wishes too. I didn’t know it but these are really great benefits.
I can really feely that you’re different from the Kim Dongwan before enlistment. Can we say that you take things easier now?
Back then I really wanted to enlist as soon as possible. Because everything was stressful. And I was having doubts about being an artiste. There’s a line from Gong Jiyoung’s essay collection “I Was Alone Like A Raindrop” that reads, “There are cowardly heroes and loyal hypocrites”. There are many cases where things that we anticipate are wrong, not everything that we work hard for turn out well, and not everything that we gloss over don’t turn out well. Well I don’t exactly live in moderation, but I think I don’t get obsessed over things anymore.
So you mean you were very obsessed with things in life before?
I was obsessed with everything. And by obsessed, I don’t mean just following things. Life can’t be calculated, but I always wanted to calculate it. If there’s anything I don’t know I’d put down everything else to find out about it, and as a result it was really difficult for me. But if I were to live diligently, ignore things that I don’t know and forget about things that I’ve lost, somehow I’ll find them again, isn’t it?
DON’T THINK THERE’S ONLY ONE SIDE TO KIM DONGWAN
Lately, when I watch television variety shows, I get the feeling that Kim Dongwan and the other Shinhwa members are all “free souls” (laughs). At the same time you have an extremely honest and clean-cut image.
That’s because when compared to the others I look like I don’t play that much and I look like a good man. If I really do any nice things, it’s because I do it on purpose to show people, that’s why (laughs). I play a lot too. When I meet drama writers, they say to me, “Dongwan ah, you should go on dates, drink a little and play a little, then you’ll develop more charm.” When I hear that, I think to myself, “No way, you want me to play even more than I am doing now? Why are you saying that to me?” (laughs)
I’m not really a good boy. If I was, I wouldn’t have been able to decide to take up this role. To be able to play this role, there are many things to know. Coquettish gestures, and scenes where you need to be able to tell the story of switching sexes in a witty and touching way. I didn’t think about whether these things were particularly difficult, when I showed other people the script they said, “How are you going to do this”? When I get reactions like that, I’m glad that I played hard.
Although compared to other groups Shinhwa already seems friendlier, but this could be the turning point in changing Shinhwa’s image as “idols”.
Ah, it does seem that way. There are exposure scenes too. I’ve heard stories about Kim Da Hyun (who was cast in the 2007 run of Hedwig) and it scares me. After he announced his marriage, all pre-booked tickets were cancelled. Of course those things don’t matter now and he’s getting on fine. But I want to leave behind that kind of popularity. I’m not who you imagine me to be, and I want to leave behind the kind of image I’ve been showing. Although I’m grateful for everyone’s love, but I often think about whether they get disappointed because I’m not what they expect me to be, thinking to myself, “this is who I really am, then what do you want me to do”?
There must be a lot of concerned attention given towards a singer’s performance in musicals.
We’ve always been receiving lots of love, haven’t we? Of course, Shinhwa fans are most known for reprimanding their idols, but they do so because they like us to begin with. Right now because there is this kind of discouraging concern, it seems like an opportunity that will push me to develop and improve further. Regardless of whether I succeed or fail. Now I’m practising with (Kim) Jae Wook, and Jae Wook is really masculine. Although he has injected feminine elements, he is still completely masculine. He’s off the wall and special. He’s truly going to portray a Hedwig with a completely different feel. He’s someone who people will see as a transgender, and I’m someone who is already sticking to that opinion (laughs).
I hear that Shinhwa will be regrouping next year.
Come 24th March next year, we’ll be celebrating our 14th anniversary, and we’re all discussing about reuniting for a concert or album then. Before that I’m just thinking of concentrating on acting for now. But since I’m prone to adapting to my environment and the things around me, I may take other paths too.
At this moment, what’s the one line from the script that comes to mind?
“If you really love me, then love this thing of mine too.” This works for me even as Kim Dongwan.
Credits: PlayDB + Absolut Shinhwa