[ENG TRANSL] Ahn Hyo Seop - Cosmopolitan Korea (2020) Interview

August 29, 2020

Disclaimer: Article is roughly translated. It may contain inaccuracies. Please pardon any mistakes.

Ahn Hyo Seop’s Reason

It’s his first interview where he got the questions in advance and studied them intently. This is what I thought while looking at Ahn Hyo Seop: For this actor with clear and sincere eyes, the Baeksang Arts Awards trophy is just the beginning.

Recently, there’s something to congratulate you on. You received the Rookie of the Year Award (TV category) at the Baeksang Arts Awards. Due to COVID-19, there was no audience, and the actors sat 2m away from each other. It must’ve been a special memory as it was an unusual setting.

It was quite a long walk to receive the award. Ha ha. There was a senior actor who ran to the stage. I walked as fast as I could, but I contemplated about the little things such as whether to pass through in between the seniors or walk where there are fewer people. Also, the lights at the awards ceremony were so hot, I remember wiping my sweat desperately. Fortunately, it wasn’t caught on camera.

The awards ceremony was also an opportunity to meet the senior actors you rarely see.

I was a fan of Hyun Bin since I was young, and he was sitting behind me. My back was so tense, it was like my spine was sticking out of my body. Son Ye Jin and Namgoong Min were also sitting behind me. I wanted to say hello, but the 2m distance felt so far away. Everyone was like a celebrity to me, so I wondered if it would be rude if I suddenly talked to them. I thought about everything, such as greeting those only around me, or whether I should go around the venue and introduce myself. Later on, after the event, I plucked up my courage to say hello to them.

Being able to stand there with those senior actors must be proof of your growth as an actor, right? In your recent interviews, you often mentioned how you can see more things while acting.

I think the more accurate expression would be that I discovered the forest instead of seeing it. I still don’t know what acting is, and I know there’s a forest in the midst of my confusion. I always remember Han Suk Kyu’s words: “The better you become, the more fun it is.” This is such an amazing sentence. My efforts determine what I’m good at, so now, I’m a blank slate learning what’s the best acting for me.

Discovering a larger forest is also the process of discovering your own small shortcomings, right? As an actor, what parts do you want to fill-in?

Because of my vocalization, I go to a voice actor academy, and I’m learning Pilates to correct my posture. I’m doing these because I want to have fun. In order to do so, I have to be immersed, but if my pronunciation or vocalization is bad, I wouldn’t be able to clearly convey the acting that I have in mind. If my body is a machine, then the hardware isn’t keeping up, and that makes me mad. That’s why I want to update myself to a more immersed state. These days, I put a lot of thought into becoming mentally and physically strong. I started reading books, which I used to stay away from, and I can really see the world in a different light. I found answers to the question I’ve been constantly wondering about, and my life became more comfortable as I became more optimistic. I think I got rid of my anxiety. Recently, I finally read How Philosophy Becomes a Weapon, and I felt like I found the answers to my whys. It was interesting because it was the first time I solved and interpreted my own thinking process.

Did anything influence or change your process of understanding your thoughts?

I’ve eased myself from the need to be moral. Before, I strived to live my life as an ethical person, but now, I’ve changed a little. I started reading Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, and among Freud’s three aspects of personality, I think I’m leaning more towards the superego, which is said to be either the voice of conscience or moral duty. Although I’m not saying that being morally strict is wrong, I think I’m blocking myself from seeing more of the world because of the rules that I make or am not aware of. Right now, I think I’m trying to find a way to be a little bit free of that superego. And I’m talking about the Ahn Hyo Seop as of this moment.

Isn’t it thrilling to break down the wall and be free?

I love it. There are many times when I try to shed my superego personality, and I find a side of myself that I didn’t know. I think it’s fun finding my true self. For example, I don’t have a screen protector or case on my phone right now. At some point, I had the thought of making sure my phone is protected, so when I removed all accessories, I felt relieved. The quality time I spent on my phone increased. If every little thing was like this in the past, it would’ve been unimaginable.

Just as a phone’s design is pretty as it is, people shine as well when they are rough gemstones. Actually, (you) have been continuously gaining attention since your debut, so it’s quite strange to see you have no narcissism and to often talk about being pessimistic. I’ve become curious about how you spend your 20s.

My early 20s were dark as black and white. When I thought about why it was because I couldn’t acknowledge myself. Even when I got cast on my first audition, or when I quickly became a lead actor, I wasn’t lenient on myself. If my friend got the same achievements, I would’ve praised them for an amazing feat even though it may have been hard for them. But since I did it, it didn’t seem like a big deal. My life wasn’t happy because I didn’t give myself respect and love. I don’t know why I saw everything as twisted at that time, and loving myself was really difficult. The advantages of being an actor, playing the piano, singing well, and having a clean-cut look, were nothing to me because that was just me. Then a chance came for me to realize my obsession with my own stubbornness. My brother’s work requires him to meet people from various industries, but he once said that of all the people he knew, I was the most incredible one. That was a little shocking. I thought I was just dragging myself into an endless pit. Since then, I’ve been making an effort to keep myself out of certain obsessions.

This time marks Cosmopolitan’s 20th year anniversary. Cosmo deals with the lifestyle of progressive women. What is the most important value for the modern 20-30 year-olds?

Regardless of gender, I hope people continue to learn about themselves. It’s a painful process to know what thoughts caused your actions. It’s difficult to recognize your thoughts objectively, but you’ll find true peace when you do.

Regardless of being an actor, you look like you have gained a relaxed mind. Is there anything new you want to do?

I want to go see dolphins. I don’t want to go to an aquarium. I want to actually go to the sea and play with the dolphins or killer whales. I heard there are about 11 in Jeju Island. Dolphins come second to humans with the highest intelligence. They have a language of their own, so there even exists a translator. On top of that, they are emotionally intelligent mammals, so they communicate through ultrasounds, and those ultrasounds can feel human hearts. They can recognize their offspring, deliberately surprise them, find them cute, and they can even spread rumors. I’m surprised that humans aren’t the only ones harmed by killer whales, known as the best predators in the world. I’m curious why they’re only friendly towards humans. I also enjoyed the movie The Cove. There’s not much I can do, but I want to protect the dolphins.

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