Recently, Yuri took part in an interview and photo shoot for “Woman Chosun” magazine.
We were able to realize that it’s just as hard receiving love as it is giving it after talking with Yuri. The reason why the group “Girls’ Generation”, which she is a member of, is so amazing is not because they have constantly been receiving unconditional love. It’s because they show more love than they receive. Yuri is one of the members amongst the nine others who works very hard. “Fashion King” is the first work where she is in charge of a lead role. How many sleepless nights has she spent? We met with rookie actress, Kwon Yuri.
“The carrot cake here is good.”
Friday afternoon, the spring sun is warm, and this milk tea is sweet. The carrot cake Yuri recommended wasn’t too sweet and was soft, just like she said. This is Yuri’s hideout, where she said she comes to chat with her friends every now and then. Because of that, the Yuri sitting in front of me right now is not a dazzling girl group Girls’ Generation’s goddess, or the perfect designer Choi Anna from the drama either. She is just a 24 year-old woman. Her occupation is a celebrity, and it has been five years since her debut. “Because I received a lot of love, I am working to meet their expectations”, showing she is a hard worker who puts her words into action.
Kwon Yuri’s “Into the New World”
Wearing a yellow jacket with the sleeves rolled up, Yuri pushes a hanger full of clothing with one hand while she’s holding the phone with her other hand, handling a call. Yoo Ah-In, who was enjoying a bath, is surprised and hides his body. Yuri looks at him indifferently.
“I don’t have time. So get out.”
This scene was from the third episode of “Fashion King”, where the two met for the first time in New York. Yuri said all her lines in English. Her last “Get out!”, which was pronounced with much emphasis on the last “T”, came off as being both indifferent and irritable. Along with the good pronunciation, there was even emotion in the acting. She is not from the States like her fellow Girls’ Generation members Tiffany and Jessica.
“Even during my days as a trainee seven-eight years before my debut, it’s been about ten years since I wanted to act. I received acting lessons consistently and read scenarios alone as well. I’m really happy I’m able to act in a drama now. Before filming started, I had about ten meetings with the director. The director wasn’t well aware of who I was, and because he couldn’t get a grasp of my level of acting, he gave me a lot of advice. More than anything, I was worried about having to act in English. Anna is a very successful, top designer in New York, so I had to pronounce words well, as well as express all emotions well. I carried a voice recorder and camcorder around everywhere, repeatedly recording and listening to it.”
The PD in charge, director Lee Myung Woo, said it was true that they were worried about Yuri being cast. It was to the point where he made tapes containing things he wanted to speak to her about on acting because it was “too much of an important role for a rookie to take on.”
“At first, there were a lot of things we asked of from Yuri. There were also times where we had to change things on the set. Now, she is getting better every day. If you point out her weak points, she takes note of them and applies it to her acting. She’s always prepared. I only found out recently that she carries the tapes I made for her around and listens to them.” (Lee Myung Woo PD)
Girls’ Generation member Yoona made her first attempt in acting in 2008 through “You Are My Destiny”, and Jessica through “Wild Romance” recently. If you consider Yuri’s statement, “I prepared for about ten years because I wanted to act,” she started off late. While the drama has aired eleven episodes so far, there haven’t been any issues with her acting despite being a rookie.
“My personality is like that. It’s similar to Anna’s. I wanted to show a more complete me. Whether it be acting in English, singing, or dancing, I think that if I’m going to show myself to someone else, that I should be a bit more genuine. If I want to do that, I have to become more familiar with that side of me, and to become used to it, lots of practice and effort have to be put forth repeatedly. I think that’s why it took a little longer.”
Yuri was recently chosen for having the best body amongst girl group members by foreigners on MBC Music’s “Show Champion”. Girls’ Generation members also often say, “I’m jealous of Yuri’s healthy body.” Also, when she guest starred on SBS’s “Victory” with her members, the diet manager, Shawn Lee, stated, “There are many cases where the other members are born with their bodies, such as Sooyoung. But Yuri’s body is made by her efforts. It’s a body that results from consistent exercise.”
Out of Girls’ Generation members, the time Yuri started gaining attention was a little while after their debut. As they are reaching five years since their debut, each of the nine members have garnered attention at least once. But rather than being a member who garnered attention from the start, Yuri has consistently increased attention on herself with her constant bright image. Even on variety shows, she would do “kkab dances” and also won second place in monkey bar chicken fights on “Let’s Go Dream Team”. As she doesn’t spare her body on anything, her presence gradually grew.
“I’ve always liked exercising. I like swimming the most, and even thought about becoming a professional swimmer. Even after debuting, if I get stressed or feel heavy, I go to work out, although I haven’t been able to lately due to all the filming.”
I Fell Easily, But I Never Gave Up
SM’s practice and training is well known for being systematic and intense. They practice and practice until their choreography is perfect without any errors. It took a year for Girls’ Generation’s first choreography to be perfected. Shim Jaewon, the choreographer in charge of their training, stated, “In the end, the person standing on stage and the person being denounced is them, so if their performance doesn’t go as they practiced, it’s traumatizing. The stage that they dreamed of becomes something that no longer brings them joy.” Especially when it comes to groups like Girls’ Generation, who have grown continuously with barely any time to breathe, and receives attention wherever they are, this hits harder. I could not neglect Yuri’s words. “It may look fancy, but there is a lot of effort put into it that you can’t see.”
“There have been many jagged stones which I could have fallen by, and there have been many things that could have made me falter. But I constantly tell myself, ‘I just fell for a moment. I’m going to get back up’, because giving back all the love many people have given me is my responsibility. No matter what difficult thing there is, no matter what difficulties come up, I can’t break because of it. Because I’ve come this far like that, I’m able to gain strength no matter what hardships there are.”
I thought she was only receiving love. I didn’t even think that they were giving energy. The average amount of time spent as a trainee is over five years, and the time spent preparing for one choreography is an average of one year. They have been trained to know well that expectations are bound to increase, and that they need to return the love they received. And so, to them, the stage is “an overwhelmingly happy place”, and “a cold place that will not tolerate a single mistake.”
“There were times where I did things that I never thought I would be able to do. At times like that, there’s an indescribable thrill, and I feel really happy. And so, although I think things like, ‘Ah, I can’t do this’, ‘I think I’m going to quit’, ‘I don’t think this is the right path for me’, and ‘I can’t take this anymore’, countless times, after I accomplish one thing, I feel like I can accomplish another thing. So I’m able to overcome a moment of crisis by telling myself, ‘I’ll just do one more thing’, and ‘Let’s just try overcoming this one mountain.’”
Soon, the film “I AM” that reveals the life of SM idols will be released. Each member who starred in it left one message. Yuri wrote this.
“I fell easily, but I never gave up.”
“‘Fashion King’ Bests” Chosen by Yuri
“Wipe your mouth.”
This was said by Anna to Lee Jehoon (Jaehyuk), who came to her asking to start over. Jaehyuk suggested they have brunch, and he had sauce from his sandwich on his mouth.
“While drinking at a hotel with Younggeol, Anna cries. She shows her inner feelings for the first time, saying, ‘I really loved him, why did things become like this?’ The afterimage left from the line, ‘Why did things become like this?’ carried on for a long time.”
Yoo Ah-In and Lee Jehoon, Comparing Charms
“The people who have known me for a while were the first ones to tell me, ‘There is a similarity between you and Anna. Without trying to figure out what kind of person Anna is, or how you would act it out, finding the similarities between yourself and Anna will get you those answers faster.’ I wondered if that was true and tried looking for the Anna inside of me. Anna works hard, but things continue to mess up, and love for her is difficult and she is discouraged. There are a lot of scenes like that. Although she really works passionately, things don’t go her way. Not only does it not go her way, but she doesn’t get results that meet the amount of efforts put forth. We all experience those kind of moments. I could understand what that feels like. I was drawn into it because, the more I looked at her, I felt there were a lot of similarities between Anna and myself. She’s a really delicate girl. She tries to make herself look tougher so that doesn’t show. She shows an arrogance that makes it seem like she has everything, but when she’s alone, she takes sedatives. And when she cries, she cries alone. My heart hurts with her at moments like that.”
Yuri is usually told that she is cheerful, but she said she is actually trying really hard. She said she tries to smile more, especially when she’s going through a tough time. So, when Yuri smiles a bit more than usual, it is a moment where one must pay close attention to her.
“I may look strong on the outside, but I know well that I am actually very very weak, so trying to overcome myself is the hardest thing. And so when I meet someone who is like me, my boundaries just drop. I express my feelings and become honest. That is something that Anna and I really have in common.”
The people Yuri is acting with, Yoo Ah-In, Lee Jehoon, and Shin Sekyung, are today’s hottest actors. Because their acting is also solid, they are actors who succeed with their characters rather than with their popularity. But, rather than feeling timid, Yuri approaches them. She approaches them, asks them questions, and learns. Because she is a rookie, she asks them if the emotions she feels while acting are right, and asks if it’s okay for her to continue the scene that way. Then, these seniors answer without hesitation. Juniors who ask questions with their eyes sparkling, trying to learn, are bound to be loved.
“Whatever role Yoo Ah-In oppa gets, he puts life into it. His acting moves people. Whenever Younggeol and Anna meet, the energy I receive is also great. Because I receive a lively energy, I end up doing just as much. You let yourself go and become more honest. I spoke with Ah-In oppa on acting not too long ago, and I liked how when I asked him things I’m curious about, he answered them all and also told me about things that I couldn’t think up.”
Junior Kwon Yuri asked senior Yoo Ah-In, “What kind of role must you get in order to relieve any worries you have through the character? For instance, I’m playing the role of a gangster. Then that means I could do something that’s crawling inside of me, something that I’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t. I was curious as to whether it relieves anything. While I’ve been acting as Anna, I got those slight feelings while doing things that Yuri usually would not be able to do. When I asked if he ever felt anything like that, he answered, ‘I do this work because that’s so fun. That is one of the biggest reasons why I act.’”
She said actor Yoo Ah-In’s motto is “Act genuinely”. Yuri said she felt reassured because she thought, “Ah, this is right.” Lee Jehoon seems a lot different from his role of Jaehyuk as well. The thing that Yuri was most curious about when it came to Lee Jehoon was this: “Who exactly are you, Lee Jehoon?” She asked him this in real life.
“There was something that always crossed my mind when watching Jehoon oppa act. Who is this person, really? Because he’s a person who has such a diverse spectrum, I’m surprised every time I see him. From a naive face, to the best fighter in school, it’s like that even now. When I’m with him, I only see Jung Jaehyuk, to the point where I forget the person, Lee Jehoon. Even after filming is over, it still feels like he’s Jung Jaehyuk.”
Tackling Worries Head-On
“Black pearl”. This is the nickname fans call Yuri. It was created because her skin is slightly tan. It takes a long time for a pearl to form. It is created by embracing impurities that come in through small spaces with its resin. People whose efforts become habits don’t realize that they are actually working hard. They instead counter the claim by asking, “Isn’t it natural to practice and prepare in order to gain something?” This is something that can be taught during the seven-eight years spent as a trainee and is the secret behind Girls’ Generation never being disorderly for the past five years. This is also in her nature. Of the nine members, Yuri is put under the category of hard workers.
“If I have a worry or if a problem occurs, the solution I choose is meeting it head-on. At times like that, even if I’m meeting friends, or wherever I am, all my attention is focused on that problem, so it’s better off solving that problem first, even if it takes a long time.”
It took a long time because she was facing it head-on. Becoming an idol who captures the attention of people all around the world, making a body that is beautiful even in the eyes of foreigners, and rearing acting that doesn’t get criticized, she puts forth just the right amount of effort that is needed. Time went by like this, and Yuri has become a pearl.
Source: Woman Chosun
Translated by: ch0sshi@soshified
Edited by: MoonSoshi9@soshified