ReBlog – [INTERVIEW] Im Joo Hwan: I Grew Up Together With Gong Joon Soo

Originally written by cookingdrama, tumblr blogger at Dec 10th 2013.

“It feels like I just debuted. People gradually know more about me.”

Twenty minutes before the start of the interview, I received a phone-call. It was actor Im Joo Hwan who already arrived at the location we had arranged for. Before meeting him,  the image of a ‘sincere, rising star’ and other pleasant images arose in my mind. Having accepted interview after interview for the whole week he must’ve been tired, but Im Joo Hwan appeared without any signs of tiredness and carried a joyful smile instead.

Appearing at 186cm, he gave off an image of a charming gentleman. The label ‘model-turned actor’ had always followed him around. Although he got to lead in the dramas ‘Tamna the Island’ and ‘What’s Up’ and at the same time displayed his solid acting skills, low ratings and recognition posed as a setback for him. This February, after getting discharged from the army he came back with SBS’s daily drama ‘Ugly Alert, and it was like a new beginning for his acting career.

“Actually, all those concerned at SBS  was against my casting. Only Director Shin Yoon Sub supported me all the way through. From my fan meeting videos to my previous works, he watched all of them and that’s how he determined I should be the one playing ‘Gong Joon Soo’. Besides him, the cinematographer who worked with me in “Tamna the Island” also gave me strength. Regardless of whether the director had the intention of coming to me, I was already destined to be Gong Joon Soo (laughs).”


As it was his comeback project after discharging from the army there was a lot of anticipation and feelings of excitement. Im Joo Hwan lived as Gong Joon Soo for 7 months and ‘Ugly Alert’ ended well at 133 episodes. Because he did a good job at portraying Gong Joon Soo who faced many life tribulations, he received favorable reviews from the audience. As he displayed his ‘rich’ emotional acting, an outpour of comments like “the rediscovery of Im Joo Hwan” came rushing in.

“ I had no intention to act Gong Joon Soo. Director Shin Yoon Sub told me, ‘Gong Joon Soo is the only character you’ll ever have a chance with of expressing such complex feelings’. As an actor, I felt that I was really lucky to have come across this character. Although there were some conflicts in the drama that were unexpected, they unfolded in an original and fresh way and as a result it was labelled as a ‘nice drama’ and received a lot of praise. I felt really good about that.”

Gong Joon Soo covered up a crime for his step-brother from a second marriage and was willing to sit in jail for 10 years. Even in such a crisis, he wanted his family to grow up normally and protected them. (He is) a kind son, and a brother you wouldn’t find any place else. As it was a warm-hearted story told on TV, it also made me curious as to what kind of son and brother Im Joo Hwan was like in reality.

“I was a cold-hearted son. My parents would also wonder why I was so cold. Actually, I left home at an early age. I’ve always wanted to become independent from my parents, and that sense of independence was very strong. After graduating from high school, because I started getting into the entertainment circle, I moved out from home and lived on my own. When there were holidays I would say “I’m busy” and ended up not going back home. After I got discharged and took on the role of Gong Joon Soo, I really changed. I also self-reflected a lot. When I think back (to those times), I would have thoughts like, “(I was) really bad!”.


Through ‘Ugly Alert’, his heart and his acting ability has gone through a remarkable change. From his high school days in the drama club, Im Joo Hwan was already preparing to become an actor. In his third year of high school, he took part in the play ‘Good Doctor’ in the National Youth Film Festival and received an acting award from it. In University he majored in theatre and film, and he would be well informed and frequent the plays that were going on at Daehakro (University Street). With the only thought of ‘acting’, he is still running toward that. Filming ‘Ugly Alert’, Im Joo Hwan’s tight schedule didn’t even allow him to sleep for at least 3 hours a day. While we finish this year and prepare to step into 2014,  he listed out his role models Lee Byung Hyun, Lee Sun Gyun and Lee Sung Min, and his desire for acting came out at the same time.

“Up until now, if as an actor I have to establish a good foundation, then this time I have ‘ raised a pillar’. There are a lot of sunbae-nim’s I admire a lot for their acting. Lee Byung Hyun sunbae’s ‘detailed acting’, Lee Sung Min sunbae’s instant burst of energy and concentration ability, Lee Sun Gyun sunbae’s smoothness and charisma. I want to become like them.  That’s a lot of ‘desires’, isn’t it (laughs)?  I will show you as the actor, Im Joo Hwan, who will walk forward one step at a time.”

“A real man’ Im Joo Hwan: Choosing to become an actor was the best decision!”

In May 2011, Im Joo Hwan enlisted in the army at an age later than most people. It was also his life in the army that was his turning point in life. At that time when he was 29 years old, he was a ‘private’ (2nd lowest rank) and also was a counselor for the the 23 year old officers that were of higher rank.

“ I entered the army quite late. There were sergeants before me that were 23 years old. In the army, age is just a number. We treated each other very politely and when it was (their) time to nearly discharge they came to me for advice asking what they should do when they get out. This is what I told them ‘when you’re 23, you’re at that age where you can do anything. In that moment the thought of, ‘because I’m an actor it might look impressive on the outside, but before entering the army I did not have enough recognition built up and people probably won’t come to me after I discharge,’ flashed through my mind. Up until now, everything I have been preparing for 10 years might just of been all for nothing, and because of that thought I was restless. However, while talking with those friends it ended up actually giving me more strength. At that time, the thought of ‘becoming a true actor’ grew stronger in my heart.

“I just don’t want to become an ‘actor’, I want to become an actor that gains many people’s recognition. When I say this again in the future, I will not be embarrassed. I have a lot of curiosity towards different situations and people. I think an actor is like a ‘sculptor’. Whatever kind of detailed expression, they must be able to skillfully and easily express it. I never once regretted walking on the path as an actor. The new challenges that will come with acting are only starting now.”


Down to earth, true, sincere and honest!

This is what I see in Im Joo Hwan, and this is why I am his fan!

His passion and thought for his career as seen through his interviews really touched me! In the complicated entertainment circle, where popularity precedes talent, Im Joo Hwan only holds the thought of becoming a ‘true actor!’

임주환 화이팅! Your day will come! I believe so!

Original Article cookingdrama on tumblr


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