[INTERVIEW] Lee Jieun and Yeo Jingoo in the August 2019 issue of ‘Marie Claire’ (Part 1)
[intro about drama truncated]
Q. The drama “Hotel Del Luna” was a hot topic even before it started. That’s because actors Yeo Jingoo and Lee Jieun decided to work together for the first time. Was there anything both of you prepared before working together?
YJG: I checked out her recent works. But I still think meeting her personally, having a chat and reading the script together is still the best wat to prepare. So I always ask when we can meet. I feel it’s best to meet as early as possible and work on improving our chemistry.
LJE: I usually tend to check out the previous works of the actor I’m working alongside, but I’ve already seen many of Jingoo-ssi’s works. Many of them are big hits after all. Whether it’s the recent dramas like ‘The Crowned Clown’, ‘Moon Embracing the Sun’, or movies like ‘Hwayi, I’ve watched many of his shows, so there wasn’t really a need for me to search for his works.
Q. How was it like meeting each other for the first time?
LJE: I take a long time to warm up to people. Sometimes, I don’t manage to get close to the rest of the cast even by the end of the whole filming. But this time, I think my character is someone that doesn’t really need to be close to my acting partner. Even so, it’s great that Jingoo-ssi starts conversations with me, so we got closer quickly.
YJG: To be honest, it wasn’t easy. I tend to be shy around others too.
LJE: (laughing) That’s right. You tried really hard.
Q. When two introverts meet, the issue of who’s going to start the conversation is the key thing.
YJG: That’s right. This time, I started the conversation first. But after I did that, I felt there wasn’t much meaning to being first. Anyway, the person who talks needs someone to listen and respond to him. So I felt grateful too. I once felt uncomfortable when people tried to approach me and get closer to me quickly. I was worried she might feel uncomfortable like I did then, but I’m glad it didn’t turn out that way.
Q. In the behind-the-scenes, after trying out a scene together several times, Jieun said, “It’s different.” What did you mean by that?
LJE: When I’m reading the script on my own, when we practise the script together and when we’re actually acting it out, the way I act out the scene it’s all different. For a certain scene, I would think to myself that I should use a certain tone. But if Jingoo-ssi goes down a different path, I adapt to that and act in a different way. It’s a really amazing experience. It was during the first few episodes, but with one sentence from Jingoo-ssi, I was able to understand what kind of character he is. With that, I was able to have a better grasp of my character as Manwol too. With just one sentence from him, I was able to feel it, so I thought, “it’s different”.
Q. “Hotel Del Luna’ is set in a fantasy world rather than reality and other than Chan Sung and Manwol, most of the characters are ghosts. How does it feel to act out an imaginary world like this?
YJG: It’s not an easy task. I still get really amazed when I see the finished result of the scenes with CG in them. The scale is much larger than what I imagined. So I ask the director in advance what it will turn out to be like and that has helped with my acting.
LJE: Although it’s not easy because the story is not set in the real world, I think it’s fine whereever the story takes us. Nothing is cast in stone. It’s a really interesting drama with many different possibilities.
Q. Basically if you compare the two, Jang Manwol is strong on the outside but weak inside, whereas Goo Chansung is weak on the outside but strong inside. How do you interpret your own roles?
YJG: Actually, Chansung is a difficult role to understand and relate to. He is confident in himself, enjoys the work he does and is even good at it, so he puts on some airs, yet he is matured and reliable too. As you said, he’s weak on the outside, but strong inside, so I try to convey that through my tone and expression.
LJE: When I first read the script, I felt that Manwol is someone who is really trapped. But the director and scriptwriter have a slightly different perspective. When I asked the cast, they have yet another interpretation. So I felt that she could be a really multi-dimensional character. With that, I erased my preconceived notions of her being someone trapped and try hard to behave freely.
It was revealed on July 6 that IU’s China Fanclub ‘OnlyU-IU China’ (@onlyIUcn on twitter) sent a coffee truck, buffet catering service and many gifts to the set of Hotel Del Luna. OnlyIUcn then shared some details of the thoughtful presents that they prepared specially for IU, IU Team and Hotel Del Luna’s staff members.
“As soon as IU confirmed her role in ‘Hotel Del Luna’, our staff members started preparing for this fansupport which took us months of effort. Previously, we predicted that they would kick off the production in April so we prioritised IU’s birthday gift first (in May). Other than organising charity events, we chose GUCCI’s A Kiss from Violet perfumed oil from ‘The Alchemist’s Garden’ collection. This perfumed oil is said to emit the purest, nonirritant and long-lasting scent due to its significantly lower alcohol content as compared to other perfumes. Since this collection has yet to be launched in China, South Korea and Japan, so our Uaenas from ShenZhen travelled to Hong Kong to purchase it for IU. We chose this perfume because it’s violet scented and also symbolises our ‘flying kiss’ to IU.
The second birthday gift was carefully decided after taking Man Wol’s character into consideration, which is Diptyque’s limited edition ‘The Legend of the North’ series’ candles. We purchased Sapin de Lumiere (Pine Tree of Light) (Green) and Baume d’Ambre (Amber Balm) (blue) candles and candlestick to match with Man Wol’s aloof aura ^u^ What’s special about this series is that the candle jar is deigned by HERMES’ scarf designer.
Sapin de Lumiere (Pine Tree of Light) Candle – Green – This is a staple in all Diptyque Christmas candles. It carries the unmistakeable green scent of pine, warmed and evoking crisp air, pine cones and a freshness of pine needles.
Baume d’Ambre (Amber Balm) Candle – Blue – A warm, spicy scent of benzoin, lavender and vanilla. Not too strong, with a freshness of lavender.
‘A Kiss from Violet’ and ‘The Legend of The North’ on set~
Our certificate of making donation, including common ingredients and necessities to the Welfare institue of Xuchang, Henan Province.
“To Miss IU Lee Jieun:
We have received 544 baby pampers, 100 box of colored pencils, 100 drawing blocks, 35 big bags of rice, 35 packs of flour, 24 bottles of oil and a total of 6092.40 yuan from your China fans.
We hereby express our gratitude for your act of kindness!”
When will the moon be clear and bright? With a cup of wine in my hand, I ask the blue sky. I don’t know what season it would be in the heavens on this night. I’d like to ride the wind to fly home. Yet I fear the crystal and jade mansions are much too high and cold for me. Dancing with my moon-lit shadow, It does not seem like the human world. The moon rounds the red mansion stoops to silk-pad doors, Shines upon the sleepless Bearing no grudge, Why does the moon tend to be full when people are apart? People may have sorrow or joy, be near or far apart, The moon may be dim or bright, wax or wane, This has been going on since the beginning of time. May we all be blessed with longevity though far apart, We are still able to share the beauty of the moon together.
Note: This is a famous Mid-Autumn lyric written by Sushi(a poet in Song Dynasty) for his brother Zi-you(1039-1112) when the poet was away from the imperial court. According to some commentators, “the palace on high” might allude to the imperial palace and therefore, after reading this lyric, Emperor Song Shen Zong said that Su Shi was loyal.
Q. Please introduce Park Dong Hoon’s and Lee Ji An’s characters.
Lee Sun Gyun: Park Dong Hoon is a structural engineer. He prefers stability and peace, he is serious and somewhat sorrowful.
IU: Since Lee Ji An has grown up in a hostile/ unfortunate environment, she can not trust people and feels despair at the state of the world. A young character who is trying to protect herself by creating walls around her.
Q. I think you must felt the pressure of working with Kim Won Seok PD who has hit dramas like <Misaeng> and <Signal>, but what was the main reason for you to take part in this drama?
Lee Sun Gyun: I think the director felt more pressure than we did. The reason why I decided to appear in this drama was because I had always wanted to work together with Kim Won Seok director. It was an honor for me to receive an offer from him. The filming process was also fun.
IU: Although it can’t be compared with the director’s, I also felt the pressure that “as a part of the drama production team, I shall not become a hindrance.”
Q. During filming, have you ever felt “It was a good decision to choose this work”?
Lee Sun Gyun: I always felt that during filming. It was also memorable since I was able to meet and act out alongside these co-stars, I also feel happy that the work was finished as what we wanted it to be.
IU: I was happy to see My Mister being broadcasted on TV, I felt it was very rewarding and I thought once again that it was a good decision to take part in this work.
Q. Have you both ever felt the synergy during acting?
IU: I tried to rely on Lee Sun Gyun, but as the filming progressed, I could only see Sun Gyun as Dong Hoon. That’s why when I read the script I could not understand how to portray it but when I was in front of Dong Hoon, I was able to become Ji An, as if the switch was on. The reason why I acted it out with my heart without thinking too much on “I would like to portray it this way” was because Lee Sun Gyun was my partner.
Lee Sun Gyun: I am also thankful that my partner was IU, she helped a lot. Although Dong Hoon and Ji An have different environments and different ages, they both share one common thing which is not good at communicating/ conveying their feelings to others. Furthermore, both of them are disgusted by the world and themselves, feeling troubled, both were able to sympathize with each other. I think that the synergy was shown through filming process. Also IU is a very excellent actress. I also learned from her about how she made extraordinary efforts to keep Ji An’s image.
Q. Dong Hoon and Ji An were both characters with few words. In order to get into the roles, did you usually keep a distance with people around you? Please tell me if there is an episode about role making.
Lee Sun Gyun: The first day of shooting was the company scene. IU was the only person away from us, but in this scene Dong Hoon was close with his subordinates on set so when I was on standby I communicated with other actors. The reason why I was able to portray the role comfortably was all because of the director’s and co-stars’ trusts. Drama is something that everyone makes together. Thanks to the people around me creating a good environment, I was able to immerse myself in acting.
Q. Was IU not feeling lonely when acting?
IU: As we got into the second half of filming process, I got closer to Jung Hee, Hoogye family, and people from team Safety Assessment 3 (Dong Hoon’s team in My Mister). I felt happy as Ji An was filling up her loneliness. The 3 brothers’ (Dong Hoon, Sang Hoon and Ki Hoon) relationship was good, good enough to be misunderstood as if the three of them were dating.
Lee Sun Gyun:
There was no such misunderstanding (LOL).
Q. How was it acting as three close brothers?
Lee Sun Gyun: Our chemistry was perfect. Three actors’ different personalities gave synergistic effect. The three brothers’ descriptions in the script were so unique, I was worried that the mood is going to be a little awkward but when we acted it out it was strangely matched well. The scenes with Dong Hoon’s mother, Yo Soon, were often heartwarming that made me remember of my late mother.
Q. The scene of Ji An and her grandmother, Bong Ae is impressive, but how was it acted out?
IU: I met Son Sook when I went to learn sign language. She is so beautiful that even the word “elegant” is not enough to describe her. However when I went to the shooting place, I met poor Bong Ae which was completely different from my first impression of Son Sook. During filming, Son Sook always gave me gentle hugs as if I’m her real grand daughter, that’s why Bong Ae’s death scene was painful and heartbreaking. Being in the same space with Son Sook drawn me into the world of Bong Ae and Ji An, I am grateful that I was able to took part in this.
Q. Dong Hoon is the second son and the main lead. Have you ever had any trouble doing it?
Lee Sun Gyun: There was nothing special about it. I can’t say much about it but I thought it was my job as the lead actor to enliven the mood during filming, I tried to create a mood that would make others feel relaxed.
Q. Did you not feel frustrated with Dong Hoon’s role?
Lee Sun Gyun: Of course I did. I knew that Ji An and Dong Hoon were the type that suppressed their own feelings but I received directions from the director to “suppress the emotion even more,” at first I felt uneasy. However as the story went on, I was convinced that the Dong Hoon’s character I portrayed at first was correct. I was so impressed by Kim Won Seok director that I called him as “the best director.”
Q. Did IU also feel frustrated with Dong Hoon?
IU: It’s a difficult question. I don’t think I did. When did Sun Gyun feel frustrated?
Lee Sun Gyun: I often thought “I will not do the same thing as what Dong Hoon did”.
IU: I was frustrated when he pretended not to know about his wife’s affair. It is Dong Hoon’s action but I can’t understand why he destroyed the evidence (public phone number) of his wife’s affair (episode 5-6).
Lee Sun Gyun: I don’t feel that way. I won’t do the same thing as what Dong Hoon did but I understand his desire to protect his family.
IU: This scene frustrated me.
Q. There were a lot of scenes where Dong Hoon and Ji An eat together, for example at Jung Hee’s restaurant, but what kind of meaning did it have in the drama?
IU: I think it was a scene that has important meaning. One meal for Ji An means survival. Eating scene between Dong Hoon and Ji An, eating scene between Dong Hoon and his brothers. Eating scene between Dong Hoon and Jung Hee. Each has different vibes. I would say that eating is life. To live reluctantly/ inevitably. To live as human being. To live a life. The word “live” has various meanings. I wonder if this drama showed fragment pieces of “eating” to describe ways of living.
Lee Sun Gyun: Not just eating but also exchanging conversations and expressing anxieties, I think those scenes express profound acts of sharing joy and sadness.
Q. For Ji An, Dong Hoon is a ray of light in hard life, but what is Ji An for Dong Hoon?
Lee Sun Gyun: The first impression I got from Ji An was “abandoned kitten.” I could feel that Ji An who shut herself in her shell and didn’t want to get close with other people had a big wound. Dong Hoon couldn’t help but sympathize with her.
Q. What is Dong Hoon for Ji An?
IU: I think he is a moonlight rather than sunlight.
Q. There are many famous lines, but is there any line that people in their forties like Dong Hoon and Sun Gyun also IU in her twenties could sympathize with?
Lee Sun Gyun: For me when I got stuck in my life, “It’s OK, It’s no big deal” became a sentence that can make me move forward whenever I told that to myself. No matter how harsh the world is, it’s rare for all of us to live without compromises. This drama reminds us about the ideal adult image that has been forgotten that’s why it is very popular among my friends in the same generation as Dong Hoon. Hoogye family is also very popular. For the scene when I got hurt, I was told that they could sympathize with how friendship could bring comfort. This is the first time my work had these kind of reactions from friends, some high school classmates called me while crying after watching the drama.
IU: There is a line that Ji An said to Hoogye family member “I want to get to your age as soon as possible. I bet life won’t be as hard.” Of course it’s wrong, but I know what Ji An felt when she said it. Yu Ra also said the similar phrase to Hoogye member and I can relate to it.
Lee Sun Gyun: I have only talked about Kim Won Seok director but the scriptwriter is also full of talent. I am overwhelmed by Park Hae Young writer’s writing ability.
Q. I think Ji An is a difficult character like never before, but please tell me the secret your brilliant acting.
IU: I don’t think it’s because of my effort, I think it’s because the power of the script and great production/ direction. I portrayed Ji An’s role as described in the script, my heart hurt when she was sad, I cried when she cried, I was angry when she was too, and I was delighted when Dong Hoon was happy. There were many times when I had disagreements with scriptwriters (talking about her other works), but it didn’t happen this time (for My Mister). Even though I have never called Park Hae Young writer by phone and never met her during filming, when I saw her that day at drama release for the first time I felt that she seems familiar to me. I could portray the role fearlessly because I trusted the script and Kim Won Seok director’s directions from the bottom of my heart, I think that a good work has been completed. I am very grateful towards Park Hae Young writer for writing excellent script.
Q. It must have been difficult since Ji An had to use sign language while saying her lines and acting. The viewers mentioned that the scene where Ji An told Bong Ae to be happy is impressive, was it difficult to portrayed?
IU: It’s difficult to act out while focusing on sign language, furthermore it was a difficult scene where sign language could become awkward if I portrayed it too emotionally. I remember every time I tried to portray it, I got confused and failed. I think the reason why it was able to hit viewers’ hearts was because that scene gave me such a hard time during filming process. Sign language is a daily conversation between Bong Ae and Ji An and I am satisfied with sign language scenes because it is essential to describe on how the two of them have spent their life in the past years.
Q. Bong Ae is a hearing-impaired person, did you get any information from the director in advance?
IU: There was no particular explanation but during the meeting the director casually said about it. Because I am a singer, I was thinking about a scene where Ji An sings for her hearing-impaired grandmother, but I heard the writer put that scene on hold and finally it didn’t make it to the drama.
Q. I heard that Hoogye members’ actings were mostly ad-lib. Who was the NG King?
Lee Sun Gyun: The anecdotal interactions/ actions that Hoogye members did while drinking and playing were ad lib but the lines were not. Moreover, it was interesting because the content of the ad lib was different every time. The NG King was Song Sae Byeok.
IU: I agree.
Lee Sun Gyun: Se Byeok was nervous because it was his first drama appearance. The cleaning car driving scene is the most interesting one. He was not good at driving manual car, he caused engine stall several times. All of us were nervous, I was at the sidewalk and I thought that we would all die. Even though we were really pressed for time, he was told not to worry about it because if he make a small mistake it will lead to an accident.
Q. Did the actors actually get in the car for the car overturns scene?
Lee Sun Gyun: I was in the car but there was a device to safely overturn the car.
Q. Whom would you like to choose if you could portray other characters (including Dong Hoon and Ji An) in My Mister?
Lee Sun Gyun: I want to portray Ki Hoon because I am the youngest child. Of course I like the relationship between Dong Hoon and Ji an but I also love Ki Hoon and Yu Ra couple. Ki Hoon is the type who expresses everything positively, I felt frustrated and jealous since that positive attitude couldn’t be found in Dong Hoon.
IU: I would like to portray Joon Young if gender is not relevant. Kim Young Min’s performance was excellent, but it was also a role that I want to challenge my self as an actor. A sly and coward cute villain which is also somewhat humane that people can’t hate.
Lee Sun Gyun: Young Min is also a cute person.
IU: There’s a line saying “What did I do wrong?” when he really did not do anything to Ji An. It’s cute that he even felt sorry for Ji An. I want to act out Joon Young, a cute and attractive villain. I personally like the pure and honest Yu Ra. Many of Yu Ra’s lines stuck in my heart, especially the line saying “I wish AI (Artificial Intelligence) era will come soon.”
Q. What is the meaning of “My Mister” for both of you?
IU: It became a masterpiece for me. I think that I will continue to appear in many works in the future but when I look back on my life as an actress, My Mister will no doubt be the most memorable drama.
Lee Sun Gyun: For me, My Mister is a work that was able to make me grow as an actor, and it has become the standard of what I should aim for in the future. I think it would be difficult to surpass this standard but it was a drama that reminded me the meaning of acting.
We were informed that the staff would have their dinner around 6PM, so our members departed at 3PM. Upon arriving at the filming set around 4:30PM, there was a coffee truck right in front of us.
Initially, we thought it was sent by another fansite but the logo was nowhere to be found. So we asked the coffee truck owner and found out it was sent by IU, and we instantly went:
We also noticed a few new unseen photos of IU and took many pictures of them. We wanted to share with other uaenas but the staff told us not to leak it as for now (to prevent spoilers), so we could only…
Since we were kind of late to the set, so we proceeded to pack the 100 gift bags for the staff members while scanning the set from time to time to look out for IU’s arrival.
While waiting for the clock to hit 7, one of the staff PDs saw the gifts we prepared and exclaimed “Daebak (amazing), there are bucket hats too!” while trying out one of it. He took a dozen of it away and told us that he would pass on the remaining hats to staff from other teams.
One of our members then saw a white van coming from afar and wondered if it was IU’s. Turns out if was indeed hers as Hyeseon and Hanteo got down from the car, and closely followed by IU in her tracksuit and mask with no makeup. (looking so smol)
She greeted us first and said she would be right back after putting on her makeup.
While waiting for her, manager Hanteo tried to put on the bucket hat but failed as the size didn’t fit his head. He also greeted us and asked whether we had the coffee (by IU) or not.
Around 7PM, actor Yeo Jin Goo got changed (clothing) and had dinner with most of the staff members. Some of the staff knew we were Chinese fans and expressed their gratitude too.
At last, IU finally came out after the makeover!!! She looked so elegant in her black dress (a bit see-through) and long curly hair. She greeted the staff and headed to the buffet section.
Since there were quite a handy of seats being occupied by the staff, so we waited patiently for them to leave before joining IU for dinner. IU waved her hands passionately and told us to “come quickly!”
Upon finding out that we had yet to take our dinner, she urged us to get some food and join her for dinner. We were taken aback as IU exclaimed “好吃!” (yummy in chinese)
IU tried her best to speak in Chinese since there were two members who didn’t understand Korean. She was worried that we waited her for too long in the cold weather and told us to be careful not to catch a cold (so thoughtful). Even looking at her from such close distance, her face was only this small…
She wore moon-shaped earrings and necklace, and red nail polish. She was so tiny and thin that she could pass being a skeleton (lol)… Her outfit was slightly see through and that made us a tad bit shy…
IU was touched upon seeing the poster made up of pictures of C-uaenas writing “We are with IU” and told us to thank everyone who’s contributed in it.
As IU read through our donation certificate, she told us that she’s impressed by our dedication of donating trees for the past 3 years to help the poor and said she would visit the place one day when she’s free.
We also let her have a look at her 10 years worth schedule book that we had previously compiled as well as the fan made calendar. She flipped through each page thoroughly and gasped at how young she looked back then. She also complimented us for our creativity and thoughtfulness.
IU was fascinated by the tea biscuits that we gave her and did the ‘hammering’ action with her hand and asked whether that’s how the biscuits were made (LOL)
One of our members was preparing the bucket hats for the staff and IU said the hats looked lovely but she couldn’t wear it since she’s got her hair done for the shooting. We reassured her that it’s fine. But when we explained to her that both sides of the hat are usable, she reached out for the hat almost immediately to put it on, but was fortunately stopped by us lol. We told her to wear it next time.
She also told us that the bottle with ‘Hotel Del Luna’ printed on it was so pretty, and would bring it everywhere with her to show it off to her fellow staff members on set (with her arrogant yet dorky face… like this:)
We prepared Fujian (Hokkien) white tea as a gift for the director, but since he wasn’t there yet, so the staff said they would pass it to him on behalf of us later on.
Q. How did you hurt your arm?
IU: (pulls up the sleeves) that’s the scar from a previous injury. I recently caught a cold so I went to get an IV drip. 不要感冒! (don’t catch a cold)
Q. Do you have to shoot all night for today as well?
IU: We’ll probably have to film till late night, but we wouldn’t pull an all-nighter today since we have some scenes to film early in the morning tomorrow.
Q. How do you usually learn Chinese?
IU: Mainly through listening to Chinese songs and translating the lyrics to Korean. Normally, I try learn pronounce the Chinese words based on Korean (pinyins/ romanization)
Uaena: Your mandarin skills are great!
IU: You’re complimenting me for my mandarin???! (SHOOK)
Q. You said ‘新年快乐’ (happy new year) early this year, how did you know that?
IU: I learned it previously and kept it in my mind.
Q. Do you usually enjoy listening to Chinese songs?
IU: These days i’ve been working on preparing my new album so I wouldn’t really listen to other songs. But you can gather some opinions from C-uaenas and let me know which Chinese songs you guys want me to sing~
Q. Will you hold concerts in China this year?
IU: We’ve been trying our best to contact organisers in Beijing and Shanghai, but it’s not as easy as it seems.
Uaena: C-uaenas haven’t seen you in a really long time, so we always attend your domestic and overseas concerts in Seoul, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
IU: I know lots of C-uaenas came to watch my Seoul concert last year. I’ll probably cry or get emotional/teary if I hold concert in China now since I haven’t seen you guys in a really long while.
(looking forward to it)
Though manager Hanteo told IU to get ready for the shoot, IU still took her time and signed for us patiently, her pinyin skills were great (as though a grade 4 student in elementary school)
She let IU TV PD and Hyeseon took pictures of her with the fansupport. She also told us to have some coffee before she left to get ready for the shoot.
“Dear EunKnight ♥ Hao Chi (yummy)!! Thank you very much…♥ I miss you guys Becareful not to catch a cold! ♥♥ From IU Jieun”
Bonus by EunKnight: Since some members don’t understand Korean, so IU told others to translate for them since they seemed very curious about the conversation.