“Record of Youth” is one of the k-dramas that Netflix recently added to its collection and quickly gained prominence and became one of the favorites among K-Drama fans.

One of the drama’s characters that has been gaining a lot of attention and instigating the audience’s curiosity is Kim Jin-woo, played by the actor Kwon Soo-hyun. In “Record of Youth”, he plays the role of a young photographer who also is childhood best friends with the characters played by Park Bo-gum and Byeon Woo-seok.Soo-Hyun’s role gained spotlight in k-drama, for portraying issues that we can relate to our daily experiences.

Considering this and the actor’s work as a whole, K4US brings to you an exclusive interview with Kwon Soo-hyun! We talked about his current role in “Record of Youth”, as well as his preparation process for acting in other k-dramas and movies. Check it out!

Your character in “Record of Youth”, Kim Jin-woo, is always dealing with important issues on screen. One of these moments addressed a situation of authority abuse at work. For you, what is the importance of showing, in the mass media, that one should not submit to some situations in the workplace?

Before answering, first, thank you for saying that Jin-woo is dealing with important issues in the play. I think there is a person at the top of everything. After all, it’s what people do, and I think that people should be respected to achieve everything. Just as Jin-woo endured a lot of things in the play and was eventually ignored and exploded 🙂

Beyond exploitation at work, another situation relevant to the k-drama that is part of the script for Soo-hyun’s character is his relationship with Won Hae-na, Hae-hyo’s younger sister. Unlike how k-dramas normally deal with a romantic relationships, “Record of Youth” shows, in a very real way, the maturing of a relationship and the couple’s decision to take a step forward to their sex life. This decision is made when Jin-woo agrees to take the HPV vaccine.

These situations are still taboo, not only in South Korea. They are barely presented to young people, nor shown how they can be treated and prevented correctly, in addition to condom use. In the k-drama, there is the scene where Jin-woo calls his two best friends to accompany him to the vaccination clinic, and they both end up getting the vaccine too, making the scene even fun to watch.

The fact is that even though it is a relaxed scene, it still contains a very dense subject to be debated, and they managed to do it in a light way. About those situations, we asked Soo-hyun:

Another interesting moment in the drama is that about HPV vaccination. We heard that there was a very positive reaction from the public about this scene. Do you believe that the universe of k-dramas and films should take responsibility on informing about important topics such as sex education and the prevention of STDs?

As far as I know, it has become a big issue. Well, I think there are many opportunities to teach people because it is a job that is exposed to the public rather than to have a sense of responsibility. I thought it was necessary to expose them a lot and alert people.

The scene where Kim Jin-woo drags his two best friends to take the HPV vaccination with him.

Throughout the k-drama, we were always in contact with the pre-recordings of the TV and movie productions. How was that process in “Record of Youth”? Did you audition for the role? Can you tell us about how you came to be Kim Jin-woo?

After a few meetings with the director, I played the role of Kim Jin-woo, who I saw was bright and cheerful, and loved his family, friends, and girlfriend. Perhaps he is the person who is most closely related to ordinary youth who are living in this era and who is always next to us. So I tried to express it not too much and not too short.

On social media, the cast of “Record of Youth” looks super close and seems to be very friendly with one another. Did you already have this kind of relationship with your companions and stage mates? What was it like working with them during that time?

It’s very lucky to be with good colleagues and good staff while making the same work together. In addition to “Record of Youth,” I always feel like I’m working with good people such as “Abyss” and “100 Million Stars from the Sky.” Thank you every time.

How is the mood behind the scenes of the k-drama? Do you have any funny or unusual stories that you can share with us?

Hye-jun, Hae-hyo, Jin-woo, and Jeong-ha are friends of the same age. But in reality, I’m the oldest and there’s a big age gap, so I’ve been meaning to meet often, eat together, read scripts, and try to be friends. That’s how we got so close to each other, and I’m glad that it shows well on the screen. Even after the shooting, I keep in touch with them and I’m doing well.

What is it like for you, as an actor, to work on a drama that portrays the backstage of the entertainment industry? Have you ever felt identified with any specific situations on the production?

I look a lot like Hye-jun in the drama. I’ve been working hard on my own since I played a small role, and I’m still running. Seeing Hye-jun grow up, I felt a lot of sympathy and cheered for him.

In addition to “Record of Youth”, actor Kwon Soo-hyun is also known for his prominent role as an antagonist in “Abyss”. Also available on Netflix, the drama mixes supernatural themes with police investigation and in the plot Soo-hyun plays the role of a villain named Seo Ji-wook.

Soo-hyun also made films and other cameos in k-dramas and one thing we cannot deny is his versatility in interpreting such opposite roles and also in different production styles, such as cinematographic. We know that preparing an actor for a role can be challenging.

In “Record of Youth” you play a more captivating and relaxed character, but in other roles like Seo Ji-wook in “Abyss”, the character generated distrust and negative feelings in the audience. How is this process of playing characters so divergent in their personalities? Which one you prefer to play: a character more like the comedy kind or a villain? And which is the most difficult? Tell us a little about your preparation process for these interpretations.

It’s always difficult to reach out to the person in any work, but this process is attractive and makes me think a lot. So when I study characters that are in contrast to my previous work, I think I’m more happy because I feel like I’m being introduced to a friend with a new personality. They talk to the person or ask questions. He must have lived a different life than me, so he [the new character] tries to be close to me. 

So it’s not easy to prefer a role or a role that’s more difficult. Just as I have a new friend and a good or bad curiosity, I try to find favor with all the characters I have to play and find charm.

Still about interpretation and its creative process, we know that in addition to Korean dramas, you have also participated in cinematographic productions, as in “The Age of Shadows”. How would you describe the difference in the mood between recording a movie and a k-drama? Is there one that is easier? Tell us a little about each one’s challenges.

Movies and dramas must have different media personalities, but they are similar in making a path to a single story. From an actor’s point of view, the speed and atmosphere of every scene may vary slightly, but as I said before, working with good colleagues is always exciting. Nothing is easy. I think a lot about the character in any platform and try to reach that character.

Of all the performances you’ve done, if you could choose a character that best represents your true personality, which one would it be? And one that has nothing to do with you?

I don’t think I’ve ever met a character who looks a lot like my real personality. But I try to characterize some parts of me. So all the characters are a bit like me and a little bit different. Of course, the character who was the most distant from my real personality is Seo Ji-wook of Abyss. He’s a murderer… I love all mankind.

Who or what are your inspirations for acting or develop some new technique?

Well, I watch a lot of documentaries when I rest. It’s a real story that the documentary didn’t make up, so it’s very helpful to save the reality of the character in the work. And my family, friends, and colleagues who worry together are great inspiration to me and a motivation to be a good actor and a good person.

It’s Game Time!

If you had to choose a location in Brazil for Kim Jin-woo to photograph, what would it be?

Kwon Soo-hyun talks about 'Record of Youth' and his acting process

Porto de Galinhas for Kwon Soo-hyun (I like vacation spots), but for Kim Jin-woo Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro. It’s so fancy that you might want to take a picture.

Based on these posters of Brazilian films and series, choose one of each to watch:

When I picked it from the posters… Good Morning, Veronica / Bacurau

K4US team appreciates the availability of Kwon Soo-hyun and his company, Story J Company, to bring this interview to life.

Interview and translation by K4US Editorial team.
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