For the people who measure time by the ticks of a clock, it wasn’t easy joining people in a city who followed the spirit of time. All too often, they complained, “Are we out here filming The Laws of the Jungle“.
For seven hours, the enormous dust cloud followed the van as if it were a genie from a magical lamp. Amongst all the dust, dawn was peeking, and out of the van window they could see the people of Ajabgarh going about their daily lives like a mirage in a desert.
Someone commented in awe, “I feel like Indiana Jones. It’s as if we are journeying through the past.”
But the villa favored by the king hundreds of years ago became nothing more than a dry village for the poor. The lake barely survived the monsoon, becoming a puddle of sticky acorn jello (t/n: Korean traditional food), but they were relieved to find the people’s hearts were still full of moisture.
“Wow, this is a tremendous country.” Jaejoong’s reflection of happiness and sadness aroused inspiration as the elegant resort opened up without a single notice. Within the sound of the faint sadness, their minds became clear.
Jaejoong, a member of JYJ, paid much attention to the diversity of development as well. He hasn’t yet endured various experiences, images, and challenges all at once before.
Our decision to choose the location in India was based on his confidence in diversity. In all his travels to various places around the world, the one place he had not reached was India.
Luckily, they were able to find a good location to travel in. And so, the journey began.
With the title of an actor, the imaginary world he had envisioned also included the issue of diversity. In the drama, “Dr. Jin”, Jaejoong becomes an honest police official named Kim Kyungtak and experiences a platonic love. At the same time, he stars as an odd guy named Choi Hyun in “Code Name: Jackal”. Although Jaejoong suffered from a lack of sleep, his input and output became natural as if he were in a trance.
“It was difficult filming both pieces together, but I wanted to be able to show different characters, and this was my chance to show two completely different characters. Luckily, I was good at memorizing my lines. (Serious) I think it was because I drank Omega 3, a drink that helps with blood flow.”
Since “Dr. Jin” was a historical drama, there were some difficulties. There was little change in sceneries and interests, so it was difficult for someone who wanted to experience new things. As the drama reached its peak and viewers began giving interest, Jaejoong found that he could change his attitude.
And with this peak, even viewers who preferred “A Gentleman’s Dignity” became interested in Jaejoong’s character.
“I thought, I could try harder in the next piece, and instantly I felt better. I was able to do an absolute evaluation. For myself.”
In the historical drama, Jaejoong had to research and figure out ways to express the character of Kim KyungTak, but in “Code Name: Jackal” he was able to be himself as he acted out Choi Hyun’s role.
“I showed a lot of myself being broken. There were a few scenes that made me think, ‘Really? Really like that?’ I really laughed with my whole body. My character looks like a really egocentric singer but you’ll find out that he’s actually a naïve man. He becomes a star and as he is getting popular, he gets kidnapped by a killer.”
For a day, the top star, a singer named Choi Hyuneun gets kidnapped. The fact that he is a singer helps because it develops a similar character to Jaejoong himself. It was a chance for Jaejoong to be able to show very realistic acting, a side he was not able to reveal previously.
“We are both singers. Stars are often required to show perfection, but there should be a side that shows that they are human too, that they are imperfect. I figured I could slowly show some hidden qualities of myself.”
Jaejoong was personally friends with his partner, actress Song Jihyo, but with this chance they were able to find out each other’s acting styles.
“Since the category is comedy, some takes were quite interesting. Other than what the director wanted, there were times when Song Jihyo and I took the takes from different perspectives. This was when I was getting less sleep, so while monitoring; I could tell that some scenes were not so good. But I was never worried about ruining my image. I was fine with getting soaked, getting rained on, even electrocuted.”
Jaejoong’s confrontation to exposure can be connected to his view to have an open mind while acting.
Jaejoong entered acting through the Japanese drama, “Sunao Ni Narenakute” but his official entrance to acting was through “Protect the Boss” with Choi Kang Hee.
With an eccentric female secretary, he acted as a rich kid, but the character he played was a bit less lively than he had hoped for. When confronted with a new challenge, his true feelings could be seen even through his attempts at a poker face.
“There were some difficulties. As a singer who sings and dances, I do not have the same skills when it comes to acting as an actor. So I plan on learning step by step slowly. But this does not mean I will lose interest in music. It may seem that I am acting more and singing less than before, but I will not use ‘I was busy acting’ or ‘I have lost inspiration’ as excuses and I have been using my spare time to write songs and listen to music.”
“It is good to broaden my skills but I do not want to abandon a set of skills I have obtained in order to find a new one. So I felt that I shouldn’t get lost in my identity and instead just give myself time for the extra things I want to do.”
“At first I wasn’t skilled at music either. Dancing and singing were not my thing. Training helped out a lot, but in the end, personal experience was what helped me the most. So I hope acting will work in a similar way by adding experience one by one.”
In the past, because of his image, people took his attitude as cynical and sarcastic so many people had said, “I thought his personality would not be that good”. But through his hard work, he has resolved [those preconceptions].
His path as an actor has helped him become more flexible. Of course there were still a few difficulties.
“As Kim Jaejoong began acting more in dramas there have been more people recognizing him. But I feel sad that overseas fans overlook the band JYJ and still think of me as previous YongWoong Jaejoong. It’s a problem of time and all I can do is try harder.”
The three members of JYJ, who are organically working towards the relative opportunities that can help in building each members’ careers, find themselves on a secondary path in their careers where they can concentrate in various potential areas.
“Right now, we are in a process of developing skills and increasing knowledge so I wonder how large our synergy will be once we meet up together.”
One thing Jaejoong is sad about is that there has been less opportunities to interact with his fans than before.
“It was like a festival. Festival!” The opportunities for concerts in South America and Spain have slowly been increasing.
“When I was young, I thought popularity would follow if I did well. Now, I know that even if I do well, this is not the case. Because it is up to other people too.”
In addition, nine years in the entertainment business can naturally lead to changes and they end up redeveloping their relationship with their fans.
“Actually thinking of losing fans can make things very difficult. People who say that they are content with only producing music have most likely not felt the love of fans. Making music and being loved for it is a happiness that most do not know of. Doing it because you like it is one thing, but doing it for others is another. There is a whole different level of satisfaction. Same with cooking. You cook thinking; ‘I hope the person finds the food delicious’. If there were no one there to listen to our songs, that would be the worst feeling possible.”
When we look back at our trip to India, we remember having fans call the resort that we were staying in every day, emailing us, and even following us out to the resort.
“What’s left of the last eight, nine years seems to be the ‘spirit’. We had too many things to do. If you think about it, we’re in a similar spot right now. As much as we have improved and developed, it took that much time. And popularity cannot always be infinite. People say to live as if you were 20 even in your 30s. If there is one thing different from the past, I think it’s that the fear of challenge has left. But our inspiration has not changed.”
For a mature person like him, traveling to a new location is a chance for him to experience a more slow-paced lifestyle. But the activities in his life are on a constant increase and traveling can be seen as a brief break from his busy life.
In the end, life is an adventure and adventures are difficult. In the past, the heritage flourished in the small town of India and their ‘spirit’ seems to last with them forever.
To Jaejoong, this journey brought forth the reality of the coming tomorrow and the unforeseeable future. This has definitely left a fine impression on him.