June 23, 2021
Disclaimer: Article is roughly translated. It may contain inaccuracies. Please pardon any mistakes.
A Way of Seeing, Ahn Hyo Seop
Q: While filming, apparently there were repeated words as if you’re talking to yourself. It’s been awhile since you had a photoshoot like this.
A: That’s right. It really has been awhile. Since I’m filming a historical drama, the last time I wore clothes like this, and had a photoshoot was last year.
Q: It takes a long time to put on a topknot and hanbok, right? (t/n: hanbok is traditional Korean wear)
A: At first, it took me an hour, but now my hands got faster so it takes me about 30-40 minutes. I’m the first one to take them out and wear them.
Q: It’s a Sunday afternoon, but we’re all here. If you weren’t an actor, have you ever thought of how you’d spend your Sundays?
A: I think I’ll be resting like everyone else. I’d be lying down and doing whatever I want. Even if I wasn’t working as an actor, I think I’d be working a regular job. I like living free rather than having a well-regulated life because I have my own rules.
Q: Ahn Hyo Seop’s rules, what are they?
A: Avoiding salty foods, drinking alcohol with liver supplements, not eating too late, not sleeping more than 8 hours... I like being productive so I can’t stay still all the time. I’m not satisfied if I don’t achieve anything that day.
Q: Not too long ago, you attended the Baeksang Arts Awards not as an awardee, but as a presenter. Are you used to that kind of event?
A: No. I was also very nervous during that time (laughs). It’s because it’s been a while since I did a public appearance. Although I don’t know if it was obvious I was nervous. Also, the awardee was Do Hyun, who I worked with in Still 17, so I was happy.
Q: I heard you persuaded your family when you came to Korea to become a celebrity. Do you remember what you told them?
A: My brother and sister did well in school. So, I think they had high expectations for me. My whole family, including my siblings, disapproved of it. But they couldn’t stop me, since I was strong-willed. Instead, it was under the condition that I attend college.
Q: Ha ha. Since you did go to college, you kept your promise.
A: My goal was just to come to Korea, so I agreed. So I studied hard while being a trainee. It’s been about 10 years since I came to Korea, and at first, I couldn’t speak well plus I had weird pronunciation. I studied Korean daily, but I couldn’t translate the English words I know to Korean. Recently, I memorized the words for ‘thumb’, ‘middle finger’, ‘index finger’. (laughs) Do you know which one is the ‘ring finger’?
Q: I know (laughs). It’s difficult because there are Chinese characters in Korean. Hyo Seop is also derived from Chinese characters, right?
A: It’s filial piety hyo and flame seop. Maybe that’s why I have a lot of body heat.
Q: In what language are the books you’re reading recently?
A: At first, I read books in English, but now I read Korean books. Now, I also watch American TV shows or movies with subtitles.
Q: Although it’s was a long time ago, I’m curious about what you were thinking on the plane coming to Korea.
A: It was a really big challenge for me to come to Korea. The entertainment industry is a place where the prettiest, most handsome, and most talented people gather, so will I be able to survive in that place? There was one conclusion: To work hard as much as I can. I was lucky. I think I was very lucky.
Q: What was the first luck that came to you?
A: The first luck would definitely be when I got casted. Without that, I wouldn’t able to be here. It’s also luck that I met the people around me, and I’m a part of my current company. The same is true with being cast in the dramas. I also worked hard. Because of my pronunciation, I attended an academy for voice actors. I also took some lessons for my stiff body. I think these small things piled up and worked well with the right timing. I’m not completely satisfied with myself right now, so I’m doing my best to improve every day.
Q: Is there anything you want to compliment yourself for?
A: I used to be bad at doing that. I was always strict with myself and felt I wasn’t good enough. I was always taught at home to say few words and be humble. So, I thought little of myself. These days, I’m trying my best to compliment myself for everything I do, including the little things.
Q: What compliment did you give yourself recently?
A: The way I work hard on each and every scene on set. When filming a lot of scenes, it’s easy to gloss over the lighter scenes. In order to avoid that, I always try to concentrate. If I can’t sleep or when I’m hungry, that concentration is broken.
Q: Will Lovers of the Red Sky continue filming even when you don’t have time to eat?
A: It’s not that (laughs). During filming, I think I looked bigger in the beginning, so I only ate half of my meal. It’s been 3~4 months, and I think I lost about 8 kg. I was actually nervous during the beginning of the drama. My character is handsome... so I needed to look handsome.
Q: You played the role of Ha Ram, a blind man, in Lovers of the Red Sky, right? What kind of person is Ha Ram?
A: Ha Ram watches and calculates the movements of the stars0.
Q: With his heart’s eyes?
A: Yes (laughs).
Q: You have to express it, then. How’s it going?
A: There are many scenes I can express with my eyes, but I also have to express them with my actions or other things instead, so it’s difficult. I have to stare at only one spot, but since I can actually see in real life, I keep looking at my co-actors' eyes. I’m also wearing lenses, and that’s difficult as well. I didn’t know it would be this hard, but I was charmed by Haram, I also read the original novel, and I wanted to work with Director Jang Tae Yoo. I also wanted to challenge a historical drama.
Q: You continue to work with excellent directors, how does working with such directors affect an actor?
A: I think I’m lucky in that sense, too, because I’m not the one choosing them. They’re the ones who chose me. Still, if I approach them kindly, I’ll also get a kind response back. With sincerity, I can work with anyone.
Q: How do you express your sincerity?
A: I respect them as human beings. Like working together on equal footing. Trusting them with sincerity, instead of being fake. Actually, each person’s feelings reveal themselves, right? So I tend to be honest all the time. I don’t say things that I don’t need to say, and in that regard, I don’t express feelings that I’m not feeling. I just talk about what I have.
Q: We don’t see you a lot. We only get to see you when you through your dramas. Then, if you don’t have any drama, we don’t get any news from you, so there are many people who are curious.
A: I’m also regretful about that. However, I also can’t go on a variety show myself. I’ll keep crashing. I don’t want to show a fake image. I think I can do an observational show with people I’m comfortable with.
Q: Where do you lean on when you’re having a hard time?
A: Recently, I came across a new thought from another philosopher. I learned about Alfred Adler while reading The Courage to Be Disliked, and my life changed after reading this book. It’s a great book. I hope everyone gets to read it. I was shocked. It was the first time I cried while reading a book. That’s how much I was impressed by it.
Q: There are many celebrities who particularly love this book. There’s also the novel No Longer Human, so it is like getting a deeper understanding of certain parts.
A: Yes... Adler said, that the biggest lie in life is not living in the present. It’s a very obvious thing, but we seem to forget it. I have a lot of good quotes to say, but my friends told me to stop talking about this wherever I go, so I’ll stop here...
Q: I’m suddenly curious about your similarities with Ha Ram of Lovers of The Red Sky.
A: Being introverted? I don’t really talk much. My character is the type to keep it to himself and plan things alone, and I think I also don’t tell anyone about my plans.
Q: (Among all your characters), which one is the most opposite from you?
A: Yoo Chan from Still 17. I’m not that energetic.
Q: Are you the same even when you’re drunk?
A: I do get a little bit excited. I don’t remember. (laughs) I think I often confess my love to my friends when I’m drunk. The closer you are, the words “I’m thankful for your existence” should be often said, but we can’t say them, right? That’s why I say them when I’m drunk.
Q: Do your friends take them well?
A: They do. We hug each other. We have a lot of philosophical conversations. When there’s a problem, we fight while talking about the cause and solution, and I think it’s a very healthy conversation. We also talk a lot about work. The more I work, the more I realize. At first, I can only see one tree, and the more I work, the more trees I see, and ended up seeing a forest... I always realize something. I think there’s no end to acting.
Q: What have you realized recently?
A: I saw the third tree recently. (laughs) Since I’m doing a historical drama, I keep practicing to maintain a stable tone.
Q: What’s your mission for tomorrow?
A: It’s been a while since I had a day off. I’m meeting my friends today. I think tomorrow’s mission will be to get rid of the hangover (laughs).