The Package, Jung Yonghwa
Though there is more than one road in the world, there's something admirable about someone who keeps advancing toward one direction. Jung Yonghwa came all the way here with that kind of perseverance. At a place where mountains are afar and hearts deepen like the oceans, we looked back at the road Jung has taken.
What do you like the most in Vietnam?
No one had to tell me the reason why Halong Bay is a vacation spot. I'm not thinking about my work at all. I tend to work on my music when I'm at my hotel room abroad, but there's no pressure to do so here. It's like I'm turned off like the "airplane mode."
Right. After we finished the photoshoot out in the sea on a cruise, we just kicked back and relax. And it didn't feel guilty at all. Are these kinds of leisure and romanticism a luxury to you?
Just 1-2 years ago, I lived without knowing what complete rest was like. For a long time I didn't have such a break. Right, it was luxury to me. Rather, I tended to think, I should work when the others rest. But when I reached the end of my twenties, at age 29, I changed my mind. Now, I want to welcome some level of leisure in my life.
Exactly one year ago around this time, we met before you went to France to film 'The Package.'
Compared to back then, I feel much more comfortable now. I used to equate my work with personal happiness. No matter what I did, I couldn't get it off my mind until I finished that job. Nowadays, I try to separate my work time from break time. If I'm going on a trip to take a full break, I'm gonna try to just take my clothes and nothing else.
You must be confident about going to islands for a trip, right? You're experiencing new things through 'Island Trio.'
I'm good at adjusting on set and I like to stand in front of the crowd, but it really worried me lots going to the islands for the first time. I wondered if I could really adapt to such a foreign environment. But at some point, I began to enjoy the set. I don't even realize the cameras are on when I'm having fun on the islands with Hodong hyung, Heeseon nuna, and the guests. I'm not even greedy about my airtime. Whether I excel or not, I'm just being who I am. Before, I couldn't be this way.
The pressure was huge. People would expect, "Jung Yonghwa will do well." Nowadays, on 'Island Trio,' I realize that I'm a bit different.
What did it for you?
I don't think there's any particular reason for it. I've done a lot since debut and have experienced the extremely busy phase. Just as one passes puberty and enters adulthood, it's natural change in the flow of time.
How would you evaluate your life so far?
In one phrase, I'd say it's such a happy life. I almost want to live as me if I'm born again. For instance, it's a nice experience to come all the way here to Halong Bay on a cruise to do a photoshoot. I've done all that I can do. Sometimes I talk about this with my parents. What if I had a different job? I just can't imagine.
What did your friends from childhood say?
When I was a student, many would say "you'll do great as an entertainer." I would sing well at noraebang, and my friends thought I had a knack for it. But becoming an entertainer still felt something far from me. Since I was born and raised in Busan, Seoul seemed very distant from where I was.
You've gotten this far after one audition. Do you think you've chosen a compatible job? Or did you have to try hard to adjust your life to this job?
Come to think of it, I guess I was preparing since I was little. My mom says she sent me to get classical vocal and piano training because I was so bad at singing at age 6. Later, I even learned how to play the clarinet. These experiences are the assets that led me to become who I am today. This is on a side note, but I couldn't wake up early in the morning before. But I'm doing this job wholeheartedly even when I can't sleep much. Seeing it this way, it seems like this job is very compatible with me.
It's already been 8 years since you've debuted with 'You're Beautiful.' Where do you think your position is at the moment?
I'm at a point where I must improve what I'm doing, rather than try new things. I don't think I've fully shown the different appeals I have. I want to be a capable romance actor, who can also do well in the comedy genre, as well as recognized as a completely different person when I'm on stage as a singer. I know it's difficult to be recognized in even one field, so this is a big challenge. I want to reach the peak as an all-around entertainer.
You're greedier than you look. You already have the image as a multi-talented person.
Since I was little, I had a strong desire to be "perfect." But I try not to show it. The priority is for me to work hard.
Is there someone who's your junior that shows similar qualities as you?
May I be honest? I want to be an irreplaceable person. Which means, there can't be someone with the same characteristics (laughs).
Is there someone you'd like to be recognized from?
I'm the one who sets the standard. If I feel that I'm ready, I might be at a level that other people would recognize. I don't want to beg for recognition when I'm still lacking. If I keep going my way steadfastly, with the thought "When the time comes, people will know," I believe more and more people will take a look at me. Instead of hoping for luck with an empty pocket, it's wiser to have more than what they expect and show them '+1'.
I always admire your confidence. But sometimes you also encounter the circumstances that don't reward your hard work. Isn't it tough?
Certainly, there are times I'm disappointed or dismayed. The fans who've followed me for long know this, but there aren't many stages where I can fully show my capabilities except for my concerts. But I don't lament my life or blame it on someone else. It's much better to speak out my dream goal instead of complaining about what doesn't work. I don't have a single song that complains or grunts.
You've done as many things as you can. Adding what to your life would make it a bit more perfect?
I don't really have a hobby other than snowboarding, which I've been doing since childhood. It was a bit awkward to say that when someone asked what my hobby was in the summer. I can't say it's a hobby to watch American TV dramas on my sofa. I'd like to have many hobbies, so I learned how to surf last summer. Surfing in summer, snowboarding in winter. Sounds pretty neat (laughs).
Which foreign TV drama are you into these days?
That's a tough question. I watch almost all American dramas. It's difficult to pick one...
On your social network, you often showed your love for 'Game of Thrones.'
It's such a masterpiece.
In what way?
The 'Game of Thrones' series are full of philosophy on life. Watching the show, I thought human life is the same everywhere. There's no limit to human greed, and it's important how to deal with the situation that arises from it.
Speaking of which, what's your own life's philosophy?
In the end, the good person wins. No matter how hard it is, those who don't become corrupt, don't depend on others, and continue doing what they're doing are the ones who survive. But the ears must be kept open. Blocking out others' opinions from your ears might make you trip even if you were doing well.
Let's talk 'The Package' too. How's the role of San Maroo? I remember you anticipated it because it's similar to your own personality.
That's what I said back then, but I still had doubts because I'd only seen the script. But after filming it, it really felt like I was wearing clothes that have a perfect fit on me. He's a healthy character who never despairs. The director and the senior actors all remarked, "Yonghwa, we didn't know you'd be so good at portraying such a humorous and witty character." That's why all of my attention is focused on the premiere date. I can't wait to see the feedback. I'm curious if the viewers also think the role suits me well.
Aren't you afraid?
If I'm praised for doing a good job, I've found one more thing I'm good at. If not, I'll realize what I need to fix.
It seems like you're well suited to do things that come with evaluations. How would you like to be evaluated 10 years later?
I want to hear, "Jung Yonghwa leads a fascinating life."
How do you picture your life at that time?
I wish I'm doing well in music, acting, as well as variety shows. Even better if I enjoy what I do.