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[INTERVIEW] Lee Min-ki (1)

최종수정 2009.10.30 10:32 기사입력 2009.10.29 23:59

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It was not an easy task deciding what to talk about first. His hit film "Haeundae" had attracted over 7.5 million viewers when we first requested for an interview but had quickly surpassed the 10 million mark by the time we got to meet him, his new film "A Million" had also opened and he was promoting his first album "No Kidding". The 24-year-old actor had done a lot over the summer. So when 10Asia met with him, it was a wonder how he managed to stay the Lee Min-ki we know with the bright and shining mischivious eyes. It is not easy becoming increasingly famous and busy in the entertainment industry. And even more difficult to remain true to who you are. 10Asia was able to confirm he is one who can.

Actor Lee Min-ki [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]

10: We heard that your schedule had been packed with interviews but this will be the last. Aren't you tired?
Lee Min-ki: My agency always tells me it's the last one. But it was supposed to be the last one two days ago. (laugh) I hadn't been that tired but I do feel a bit weird today. I was home the whole day yesterday and I was too lazy to go out so I ate all these health foodstuff like Chitosan and Omega 3 capsules which I think is the problem. I was wondering whether I should eat ramen but I felt too lazy having to do the dishes afterwards. (laugh)

10: Shouldn't you eat and rest better during the moments you can?
Lee: I actually had a harder time yesterday. I practiced playing the keyboard for about three and a half hours but my fingers hurt because I hadn't done it in a while, so I then started reading but that was tiring too. Before, reading used to be a very peaceful time. But my breaks are always like that these days. When I'm taking time off, say for about three days, I actually have nothing to do so I end up just drinking which ends up making me even more tired. And it gets boring when I have time on my hands. I think I'm actually better off being busy working. Then I'll eat all three meals a day while staying up all night shooting or at least get three or four hours of really good sleep. I think it's healthier for me.

10: It's quite surprising because you seemed like the type who would know how to enjoy himself while resting.
Lee: I used to be able to but I think I changed starting this year. Two years ago, I was casted for a film so I had been preparing for it for about three months, when the whole movie got cancelled and I ended up taking a break. But back then, I was enjoying myself and didn't feel any emptiness. Now that I think about it, I think I wasn't bored because I had something to do. During summer vacations when I was younger, I used to wake up at noon and just sit listening to the kids playing outside until it got dark, but I can't do it for the life of me anymore.

10: Why is that, do you think? Is it because there is a certain level of popularity you have to maintain or simply because a lot of time has passed since then?
Lee: I think it's proportionate to the time that has passed. I didn't care about time passing in my teens. I rather wanted time to pass quickly so I would reach the age where I'd be allowed to drink legally. (laugh) When you're in school, the time you spend there isn't your own time, but right now, I'm doing something that is my own. So as more time passes, I think I want to keep doing something that will leave a mark.
10: You really did work very hard this year -- on films "Haeundeae" "A Million" and your album. To an extent that it seemed you were overdoing it.
Lee: I don't feel like I'm having a hard time when I'm working but rather have a harder time when I'm not. It doesn't matter when I'm in a shoot or working on an album, but the time after that... For example, if I spend a whole week doing interviews, I'm okay during that time because I meet different people and talk about different things. But when I look back on it, I feel a bit worn out because that time flew by and all I did was talk about myself which leaves me with nothing.

Actor Lee Min-ki [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]

10: Is that what you meant about wanting to leave a mark?
Lee: That's right. But interviews afterwards help me think a lot. I'll be asked questions which will help me think about things I hadn't thought of. I think it's a time which helps me organize my thoughts so in that sense, I think it's a time that I do need.

10: So you don't really have much fun outside the time you work. Does that mean you enjoy working?
Lee: Rather than calling it fun, I think it's... I'm completely into it. I do worry a lot my acting but that's just how much I'm into it. Basically, I'm in a crazy state. And then when I have to leave behind something that thing I'm crazy about, I feel empty and as if I should keep pouring out something.

10: I think you have sort of an uneasiness.
Lee: I am able to act right now but I can't live my whole life thinking that it's a talent heaven bestowed upon me. And it's not like I'm smart. I feel like I don't have any talent when I'm not doing anything. Is this what uneasiness is?

10: Earlier this year you said, "There is nothing I can do if I give up on acting". Do you still feel uncertain about the job of being an actor?
Lee: I've come to think in more depth about being an actor since doing that interview but I'm still not sure what I should do. That self-awareness of being an actor is not something I create for myself but something that people make of me. For now, I want to take this on as more of a challenge. The interesting thing is that I've done a couple of films up till now, and I've managed somehow. I've somehow managed to get here in somewhat passing colors but I'm always doubting myself when I take on new roles.

10: It was past passable -- the character Hyung-shik that you played in film "Haeundae" which attracted over 10 million viewers was the most talked about.
Lee: I did hear about that too. That some people only took notice of me in the film... stuff like that. But I know my share of contribution. My acting didn't improve suddenly, I just put in as much effort as I usually do, worried like I always do, had as much fun as I possibly could -- it's just that the film itself was great. Of course, I do think my acting worked well with the film overall but that's because the director did a good job. I'm being praised for more than I did.

10: Are you trying to be modest?
Lee: Because there were times that I thought I did pretty well but people said I didn't, so my acting became undervalued. And I liked film "Oishi Man" but not too many people watched it which I felt was also a shame. You will get overvalued and undervalued but you can't get swayed by it.

Reporter : Wee Geun-woo eight@10asia.co.kr
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk eleven@10asia.co.kr
Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@asiae.co.kr, Lee Ji-Hye seven@10asia.co.kr
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