10: From the start of your film "Girlfriends", your character Song-i blames her age of 29 as the cause of her problems. You're at a similar age -- do you sympathize with her?
Kang Hye-jung (Kang): Not on a personal level but I've heard about it a lot from people around me. It's not exactly as it happened in the movie but I had many friends who thought of getting married because they didn't like their work or the situation they were in. As for me, I'm married and have a child so I can't sympathize with it entirely but I do understand where they're coming from.
10: But even without marriage, isn't 30 the age where you look back on your life? It's when you truly become independent.
Kang: I think I felt that more when I was 29 because I became independent when I was 20. I left my house without a penny in my pocket, roaming my friends' houses and finally got a place of my own after making money. Back then, I felt like I was rich just from the fact that I got my own space. I think turning 30 won't be anything special or strange for me, just like it wasn't when I turned 29 from 28.
10: You basically matured before everyone else. One's experiences are an asset for an actor, isn't it?
Kang: I do think I also experienced a lot of things that I shouldn't have had to. Although I think that is why I was able to take on such roles in my early 20s.
10: That's why when we think of your filmography from your early 20s, it's quite surprising that you decided to take on a romantic comedy like "Girlfriends". Is there something you wanted to achieve within the genre?
Kang: I wasn't thinking about giving a serious meaning to my role with a certain philosophy about it. This is a film which you just laugh over while watching and think about what to do next when you come out of the theaters.
Kang: I do think my character came to take on a more nervous temperament because I played the role. She was just a very cute, slightly outrageous and lively character according to the original script but turned into a slightly hysteric and snappy person. I guess I'm sort of like that -- I'm not disgruntled with everything that goes on but I'm the type that will say things in a nice way. (laugh)
10: You are someone who always left your mark on the films you worked on. But it's actually become difficult to tell where you are trying to go with your more recent films.
Kang: I think it's almost impossible for an actor in Korea to pursue their career according to their own plans. The movie industry isn't large enough so we're making our decisions based on a limited number of scripts and I myself too, cannot stray from the system. I went for the roles I really wanted to up till "My Home" but I wanted to feel more at ease when I chose this film. All the characters I took on in the past had some sort of a grief within them and they would either ignore it or let it blow up. Some were starting to say I'd become used to playing a certain type of character while others said I'm still choosing to take on the more difficult and strong-minded roles.
10: I think it may be an issue of ambiguity rather than how forceful the characters you play are. The roles you used to take on were characters that could not be understood until the viewers saw the film to see how you portrayed them but nowadays, it seems you are rather placing yourself within set boundaries. It sort of feels like the sphere you had created as an actress is shrinking.
Kang: The characters I played didn't stand out that much so there were many times when that responsibility came back to me.
10: It's probably because of people's expectations toward your choice of characters. You give off the vibe that you are someone who will decide for yourself on what you want, more than other actresses do.
Kang: There were many great films around the time "Old Boy" came out. And they were on the rise when they started to disappear. Both the scenarios and subjects of films are limited now. I was aggressive in my decisions and I had time to think but it's difficult for a film to actually go into production.
10: Then can we take it that the circumstances make it difficult for you to appear in a film that people want to see you in?
Kang: Many factors have to work together to meet up to the level of expectation people have experienced in my previous films. But it's too early for that right now. Another issue is whether I still have the same energy to meet up to everyone's expectations. I guess I would only be able to find out by trying, before I say I can or cannot. And on the other hand, I sort of feel like going against expectations. (laugh)
10: Your husband Tablo has said on TV is that you still have not become a softy when it comes to taste in roles. (laugh) I've thought that maybe you haven't come across the right window of communication.
Kang: That's why I once became frustrated. I thought about why there wasn't a movie that could take me in fully, if there was no role that would fulfill me... And it's not that I felt like I was suffocating while working on other films. I liked it when I was working on a role but I do think there was a clump that I just could never manage to loosen. I felt like going crazy and leaping around. I used to be like that in the past. I guess it also depends on where my heart is set.
Reporter : Yoon Hee-Seong email@example.com
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor : Jessica Kim email@example.com, Lee Ji-Hye firstname.lastname@example.org
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