Back with a great interview from 10Asia with our Lee Min Ho, I can see a mature, witty Lee Min Ho answering the questions. Our boy has grown in a good way. This is one of my favorite articles. Please enjoy!
Last, a superb thank you to the wonderful Soompi team, translators @PinkMonster87, @Zinnia & @Pixie0622 for the compilation. Thank you guys, without you, how to learn more about him? I am so grateful.
Please don’t forget to mantain the credits if you share or copy. Thank you.
“I will not make efforts to get rid of the ‘star’ title on purpose.”
Maybe all that is needed is just a strong blow. For an opportunity to wear a crown being called ‘a star’. The drama ‘Boys Over Flowers’ was the strong blow for Lee Min Ho in this case. And he has been a star since then. [What he needs now is] a springboard to jump on so that an actor who has been consumed as ‘an image’ can be read as a ‘story’. Watching ‘Gangnam 1970’ directed by Yoo Ha, I[the interviewer] thought Lee Min Ho already found the springboard for him.
Q: You mentioned that your face always gets bloated in the morning, so it should be bloated now. But I don’t see it.
LMH: I have lost some weight (chuckled). During the promotion and interviews, I have many things on my mind and as a result, I shed some weight.
Q: Yoo Ha said, “It will be great if Gangnam 1970 can become an introspection of the distorted capitalism.” In a way, the entertainment industry is a representation of capitalism. Being part of it, how can you, as an actor, convey this kind of message through your work?
LMH: You’re right. Actors can be viewed as products/merchandise in capitalism. For myself, I always try my best in my work due to my sense of responsibility. For example, if I got a $1 billion won CF, it is not simply about making $1 billion won. The most important thing is how to deliver results that are worth $1 billion won. I think this requires a sense of responsibility. And I try not to think I’m [a hot item or too valuable] just because I get a great deal of money. The director wants to deliver a message related to capitalism and as an actor, I have to focus on showing the feelings of people. The director once said, “What I want is a story about clothing, food, shelter (i.e. basic necessities).” In fact, that is the desire to live a better life. It is the same for people living at that time and now. I always have this kind of feeling in my heart.
Q: You just said that artists can be regarded as products. Even if this is the case, is there anything you still need to protect/defend?
LMH: I think an actor’s ideas should be involved a lot in working projects[meaning dramas and movies]. How to unfold the story [as it is] meant to be told is up to a director, and how to show it convincingly is up to an actor. After all, to show a character in his [or her] own style is up to the actor’s talent in my opinion. On the other hand, commercial films are different. As CF is a work [about] creating images, I think it’s okay to perform within a fixed[given] frame. CF is a little different field from acting projects where I should keep my values and self-esteem.
Q: Many people commented that the level of the expression in the movie was rather strong.
LMH: Ah, really[?] On the contrary, I felt it was quite normal. (chuckled) In fact, before the final editing, the bed scenes and violent scenes were more explicit. After I had already watched them, I thought it became a little bit bland. My bed scenes that were edited out were not as explicit. I was only sitting on the bed (topless) smoking and talking. Since it is not too crucial to the main story line, it was edited out. Of course, that means the only scene that shows me taking off my top is gone! [chuckled]
Q: Does it mean the most commercially valuable shot is missing [laugh]?
LMH: Hahaha, I worked hard with my trainer because of that scene. I remember soon after I filmed that topless scene, I quit all the workout.
Q: Many actors became famous after working in Kim Eun-sook’s drama (e.g. Lovers in Paris, Secret Garden, The Heirs). And many flower boy actors turned into real actors after working with Yoo Ha. You worked with both of them and you should be considered as a pretty smart actor.
LMH: The examples you brought up were not choices made strategically. Of course, during the selection of a project, you would want to pick one that can be regarded as a masterpiece. However, more important is the content of the script. Ms. Kim Eun-sook is very intellectual and always writes lines that are memorable and yet very straightforward. I am also a straightforward person and therefore I like it a lot. Director Yoo Ha’s works always have serious messages to convey and this film (Gangnam 1970) is even more so. In order to deliver the message, there are many violent scenes in the film. I personally like scripts that have special meanings and I am very glad I can work on them.
Q: It[Gangnam 1970] is definitely in the opposite position from that of ‘Boys Over Flowers’ which made Lee Min Ho known to the world. I think it will be a turning point for Lee Min Ho.
LMH: I am not the type of person that eagerly seeks recognition from others. If I have that desire, I would have chosen a film as my next project right after BOF and I may not have picked “The Heirs”. The same applies to “Gangnam 1970”. I did not have the thought “It’s about time for me to play a manly role” on my mind when I picked this project. At that time I felt it was the right time for the big screen and I met Director Yoo Ha. Because I believe in him and trust him, I decided to accept the offer.
Q: This is called the final film of the “Street Series” trilogy and is there any expectation or pressure on you?
LMH: I watched ‘Once upon a time in high school’ when I was a high school student. It was said to be a movie that truly reflected how high school students think and feel. I still remembered I felt so good after watching it. I watched “A Dirty Carnival” in my early 20s. That was when I was interested in male friends more than females. At such age how did I feel watching a movie about betrayal between men? As a pure audience, I thought the movie was great and cool.
Q: That was how you felt about Jo In-sung and Kwon Sang-woo. Now there are many people looking at you and think you are very cool, right?
LMH: Haha, first of all, I can no longer be an objective audience. Therefore, I do not think myself being very cool in the film. But about the very moment when I looked back at the mud fight scene… I thought ‘this is a little bit cool.’ (chuckled)
This film is not meant to be cool. There is a clear message that the director wants to convey. After filming this movie, I am very grateful to be living in this generation. Young people feeling hopeless at that time had no way out to break through the suffocating situation. I think we have more ways now to live a better life and pursue a brighter future. I hope young people in their 20s can get this message.
Q: Your remark ‘youth with no way out to break through’ is impressive because Lee Min Ho has an image of being successful all the time.
LMH: Though I was not as desperate as Jong-Dae, there were times when I also had that hopeless, depressing feeling. It was when I was in my early 20s before BOF. It was a very dark period for me and because I have experienced that feeling, it is not hard to understand the character in the movie.
Q: “Gangnam 1970” is about friendship. Have you ever been betrayed by a trusted friend?
Q: You flatly denied.
LMH: Really, no. Maybe it seems that I avoided those people who might hurt me in advance. (chuckled) I don’t know if by any chance there were some people who got hurt by me, on the other hand. However, I like kind people and fortunately, I have many around me. Therefore, I have never been hurt. If one day I was betrayed, it would probably be a great blow to me.
Q: “Land Jong Dae, Money Yong Ki” is the line from Kim Rae-won. Between land and money, which do you prefer in your personal investment?
LMH: Investment is something you need to put a lot of time and effort in order to do it right. If I spend a lot of time on it, I probably won’t have time to do my job properly. I would rather focus on my job as an actor. I feel that now is the time for me to move forward.
Q: You are now approaching 30, what do you think about being 29?
LMH: Ahh… (deep sigh) really, I really don’t want to say goodbye to my 20s.
Q: I heard some actors said that they wanted to get old quickly.
LMH: I don’t want to lose the boyish side of me. In my 20s, I can show both my boyish side and my manly side. However, once I pass 30, as a grown-up, I have to take more responsibilities about what I say. If I joke or fool around now, people would think it is not a big deal. However, if I am still like this in my 30s, people would say something like, “How can you still behave like this at this age?” (Minho ssi, we like Lee 3-yr-old very much!!). Therefore, because of how others might think about me, the burden of being older, and the worry that I may not be able to show the real me, I am a bit anxious.
Q: By the way, you are different from what I expected. You talk better than I thought…
LMH: Hahaha, did you expect that I would talk poorly? Like arrogant Gu Jun Pyo? (everybody LOL) [I don’t know if foreign fans are aware of it, but Gu Jun Pyo had a trait that he made a mistake in speaking, especially when he tried to quote a proverb or something like that.]
Q: The Lee Min Ho in people’s eyes and the real Lee Min Ho, are they very different?
LMH: Very different. Strictly speaking, the audiences rarely saw the real me. I think that because they saw me only through my works, they think I am somewhat decent, humorless, and self-centered. (No no, Minho, we think you are funny, adorkable, caring and a bit clumsy) Therefore, I often hear “Little did I know that you’re funny like this” from people who meet me for the first time. In a way it is not a bad thing because it means I portrayed the characters in the drama so well that people have that impression. I tend to think positively.
LMH: I always want to fall in love. I started paying attention to the opposite sex when I was a teenager. However, the goal for this year is to work harder than ever. My schedule for this year is already full-packed. Even though I said I wanted to date, with my packed schedule, it would only hurt the girl involved.
Q: Love is not something you can plan ahead. What about an unexpected love?
LMH: Yeah, so it is still possible? Hahaha!
Q: What have you planned for this year?
LMH: I always have one project every year. However, because of the postponed release of the movie, I didn’t have anything for last year. Therefore, what I want to do this year is to have one movie and one drama. Though nothing has been confirmed, but I hope to film a movie during mid-year and a drama in the latter half of the year.
Q: What do you think is the most important personality that a man should possess?
LMH: I think a man should have a sense of responsibility. This includes many different aspects such as responsibility as a father, responsibility to your loved ones, responsible for what you said and what you did.
Q: Based on these standards, do you think Kim Jong-Dae is a real man with a sense of responsibility?
LMH: Yes. He surely ran away [to seek] out for his better future, but he never forgot his family. Yong-Gi was the character who sought the near [or easy] money, but Jong-Dae was the one who sought the faraway land. I saw it was refreshing.
Q: What about Lee Min Ho? Do you think you have a sense of responsibility?
LMH: My sense of responsibility is “SU~~PER STRONG”. (Everyone burst out in laughter again) It’s true. The reason I work so hard is because of it.
Q: Why do you have such a strong sense of responsibility?
LMH: To put it simply, I think it is mostly because there are many people watching me. One person knowing my story is very different from 100 people knowing my story. Only by having a sense of responsibility can I be more convincing and be closer to those 100 people. If only 10 of them are happy with me and the remaining 90 are not, it will be very shameful. I intend to keep a sense of responsibility to be an honorable person to myself.
Q: Being a superstar loved by so many people, other than a sense of responsibility, it’s also easy to have a sense of superiority.
LMH: I don’t think I have any sense of superiority. For all that, I don’t think I should be humble all the time, either. I try to be humble basically, but I try not to lose self-esteem and self-confidence at the same time.
Q: Being a star, you have to exercise restraint as there are many people watching you. Recently, the public is very sensitive to the ethics and integrity of celebrities.
LMH: Actually, it is not possible for me to give up everything. I can’t live like that. Because I’m a human being, too. I go to a club once or twice a year when I want to have fun. I have a notion that I will relieve [the stress] as much as possible within a line I draw. Nevertheless, I can say that I am somewhat stricter compared with others of my age. I have a notion that I should try my best not to make any problems and that I should avoid anything that can cause troubles. However, life is anything but predictable. I don’t know what will happen to me in the future. Therefore, I can’t say that I will be able to be 100% spotless continuously.
Q: A very frank answer. By the way, you are a classically good-looking man. So I’ve always been curious why young people are crazy about you. [smile].
LMH: Haha, I think that’s all because of the characters I had in the drama. But I think there are a lot of young people out there that are not too fond of me. My look is either you like it or you don’t like it. It’s not a face that suits 2015. [Everyone burst out in laughter again] “My look is not very trendy” is what I think of myself. I found it funny that when I filmed CF in Southeast Asia, I looked like someone from Southeast Asia. When I filmed CF in China, I looked like Chinese. If you put me back to 1970s, I had that 1970 look too. In a way, this is a good thing for an actor. Anyway, I want to appeal to young people continuously.
Q: Like the line “Land Jong Dae, Money Yong Ki”, how would you like to present yourself?
LMH: I don’t think something like ‘a flower boy’ is appropriate. (chuckled) Rather, I want to hear people say that I’m an attractive [or charismatic] actor. A beauty image? That is something I have to maintain. Therefore, I can keep CF contracts. (Everybody LOL) I will not make efforts to get rid of the star title on purpose. As much as the audience gave me the title of star spontaneously, I believe that they will begin to see me as an actor rather than a star [after a] certain period of time. I’m still running with the belief that the moment will come.
- TENASIA interview/ 2015-02-01
- ENGLISH translation by @pinkmonster87 and @zinnia (Soompi Forums)