[INTERVIEW] Im Joo Hwan: I Grew Up Together With Gong Joon Soo




“It feels like I just debuted. People gradually know more about me.

Twenty minutes before the start of the interview, I received a phone-call. It was actor Im Joo Hwan who already arrived at the location we had arranged for. Before meeting him,  the image of a ‘sincere, rising star’ and other pleasant images arose in my mind. Having accepted interview after interview for the whole week he must’ve been tired, but Im Joo Hwan appeared without any signs of tiredness and carried a joyful smile instead.

Appearing at 186cm, he gave off an image of a charming gentleman. The label ‘model-turned actor’ had always followed him around. Although he got to lead in the dramas ‘Tamna the Island’ and ‘What’s Up’ and at the same time displayed his solid acting skills, low ratings and recognition posed as a setback for him. This February, after getting discharged from the army he came back with SBS’s daily drama ‘Ugly Alert, and it was like a new beginning for his acting career.

“Actually, all those concerned at SBS  was against my casting. Only Director Shin Yoon Sub supported me all the way through. From my fan meeting videos to my previous works, he watched all of them and that’s how he determined I should be the one playing ‘Gong Joon Soo’. Besides him, the cinematographer who worked with me in “Tamna the Island” also gave me strength. Regardless of whether the director had the intention of coming to me, I was already destined to be Gong Joon Soo (laughs).”


As it was his comeback project after discharging from the army there was a lot of anticipation and feelings of excitement. Im Joo Hwan lived as Gong Joon Soo for 7 months and ‘Ugly Alert’ ended well at 133 episodes. Because he did a good job at portraying Gong Joon Soo who faced many life tribulations, he received favorable reviews from the audience. As he displayed his ‘rich’ emotional acting, an outpour of comments like “the rediscovery of Im Joo Hwan” came rushing in.

“ I had no intention to act Gong Joon Soo. Director Shin Yoon Sub told me, ‘Gong Joon Soo is the only character you’ll ever have a chance with of expressing such complex feelings’. As an actor, I felt that I was really lucky to have come across this character. Although there were some conflicts in the drama that were unexpected, they unfolded in an original and fresh way and as a result it was labelled as a ‘nice drama’ and received a lot of praise. I felt really good about that.”

Gong Joon Soo covered up a crime for his step-brother from a second marriage and was willing to sit in jail for 10 years. Even in such a crisis, he wanted his family to grow up normally and protected them. (He is) a kind son, and a brother you wouldn’t find any place else. As it was a warm-hearted story told on TV, it also made me curious as to what kind of son and brother Im Joo Hwan was like in reality.

“I was a cold-hearted son. My parents would also wonder why I was so cold. Actually, I left home at an early age. I’ve always wanted to become independent from my parents, and that sense of independence was very strong. After graduating from high school, because I started getting into the entertainment circle, I moved out from home and lived on my own. When there were holidays I would say “I’m busy” and ended up not going back home. After I got discharged and took on the role of Gong Joon Soo, I really changed. I also self-reflected a lot. When I think back (to those times), I would have thoughts like, “(I was) really bad!”.


Through ‘Ugly Alert’, his heart and his acting ability has gone through a remarkable change. From his high school days in the drama club, Im Joo Hwan was already preparing to become an actor. In his third year of high school, he took part in the play ‘Good Doctor’ in the National Youth Film Festival and received an acting award from it. In University he majored in theatre and film, and he would be well informed and frequent the plays that were going on at Daehakro (University Street). With the only thought of ‘acting’, he is still running toward that. Filming ‘Ugly Alert’, Im Joo Hwan’s tight schedule didn’t even allow him to sleep for at least 3 hours a day. While we finish this year and prepare to step into 2014,  he listed out his role models Lee Byung Hyun, Lee Sun Gyun and Lee Sung Min, and his desire for acting came out at the same time.

"Up until now, if as an actor I have to establish a good foundation, then this time I have ‘ raised a pillar’. There are a lot of sunbae-nim’s I admire a lot for their acting. Lee Byung Hyun sunbae’s ‘detailed acting’, Lee Sung Min sunbae’s instant burst of energy and concentration ability, Lee Sun Gyun sunbae’s smoothness and charisma. I want to become like them.  That’s a lot of ‘desires’, isn’t it (laughs)?  I will show you as the actor, Im Joo Hwan, who will walk forward one step at a time.”

 “A real man’ Im Joo Hwan: Choosing to become an actor was the best decision!”


In May 2011, Im Joo Hwan enlisted in the army at an age later than most people. It was also his life in the army that was his turning point in life. At that time when he was 29 years old, he was a ‘private’ (2nd lowest rank) and also was a counselor for the the 23 year old officers that were of higher rank.

“ I entered the army quite late. There were sergeants before me that were 23 years old. In the army, age is just a number. We treated each other very politely and when it was (their) time to nearly discharge they came to me for advice asking what they should do when they get out. This is what I told them ‘when you’re 23, you’re at that age where you can do anything. In that moment the thought of, ‘because I’m an actor it might look impressive on the outside, but before entering the army I did not have enough recognition built up and people probably won’t come to me after I discharge,’ flashed through my mind. Up until now, everything I have been preparing for 10 years might just of been all for nothing, and because of that thought I was restless. However, while talking with those friends it ended up actually giving me more strength. At that time, the thought of ‘becoming a true actor’ grew stronger in my heart.

“I just don’t want to become an ‘actor’, I want to become an actor that gains many people’s recognition. When I say this again in the future, I will not be embarrassed. I have a lot of curiosity towards different situations and people. I think an actor is like a ‘sculptor’. Whatever kind of detailed expression, they must be able to skillfully and easily express it. I never once regretted walking on the path as an actor. The new challenges that will come with acting are only starting now.”



Down to earth, true, sincere and honest!

This is what I see in Im Joo Hwan, and this is why I am his fan!

His passion and thought for his career as seen through his interviews really touched me! In the complicated entertainment circle, where popularity precedes talent, Im Joo Hwan only holds the thought of becoming a ‘true actor!’

임주환 화이팅! Your day will come! I believe so!  

[joo hwan]

I’m still following news about joo hwan sshi!

and I know he got cast in a movie [the technicians] and he’s portraying that long-awaited evil character he’s always mentioned he wanted to play in his interviews!

(HAHA, like basically EVERY interview…so congratulations to him!)

in the following interviews, he will once again mention his desire to play an evil character… hehe.

posted 8 months ago with 2 notes

[INTERVIEW] Kang Sora and I were the ‘Masters’ Of Mushy Love Scenes.


(*) = unsure of translation


Isn’t this person Korea’s “Ivan the Fool?”

In the recently ended SBS drama ‘Ugly Alert, Im Joo Hwan takes on the character of Gong Joon Soo who can be described as someone like ‘Ivan’ in Leo Tolstoy’s short story “Ivan the Fool”.  Amongst the many makjang daily dramas out there, ‘Ugly Alert’ stood out alone as a ‘nice drama’ and the character Gong Joon Soo remained true to himself from start to finish. Like Ivan, in “Ivan the Fool” who is optimistic in everything he does, Joon Soo turned out to be just the same.


"There were many times where I felt quite suffocated about the character Gong Joon Soo."

Like Joon Soo who was always filled with laughter, for my latest interview I met up with Im Joo Hwan who was also filled with that same great atmosphere. Then, is that what ‘Ugly Alert’s’ director Shin Yoon Sub saw in Im Joo Hwan? He personally met with Im Joo Hwan in spite of many people’s objection. It’s not hard to see why director Shin Yoon Sub wanted him to take the lead role. He’s a person with great genuineness, therefore Im Joo Hwan definitely had the qualifications to play Joon Soo.  

“The director gave me a lot of support. Everybody else objected to my participation in ‘Ugly Alert’ and it was only the director that fully supported me. I’m not sure one what made him have so much confidence in me, but he looked at all my previous magazine interviews, and things like my fan-meetings and videos. From me, he found that Joon Soo he was looking for.”

(*) Not only Joon Soo himself, he was also kind to every character in ‘Ugly Alert’. Although like everyone, he also criticized the foolishness and ‘excessive kindness’ of Gong Joon Soo in the beginning, he later started to understand him and like Gong Joon Soo, also changed. He, who used to think his nice character was suffocating, now has spread Gong Joon Soo’s innocence to other people.

“Actually, there were a lot of times where I felt quite suffocated. Joon Soo’s actions were outdated; they are ideas and thoughts people don’t think of these days. So that’s why in the beginning there were a lot of scenes where I did not understand him. Although I was slow to warm up to him, I eventually understood his thinking. Because his basic starting point was to protect his family, and because he had a strong will to protect the siblings his mother loved, I quickly felt closer to understanding him.”

Im Joo Hwan thinks that Joon Soo is ‘ a person society needs in this age’. Because  although he is foolish and slow, or literally ‘ugly’, Joon Soo always puts others ahead of him and in this cruel heartless world, this warmth can be transmitted like an echo. For a fact, because of ‘Ugly Alert’ and ‘Joon Soo’, viewers commented that they have more time to think about things like what the meaning of society and ‘family love’ means to them.

“There was a scene in the drama where Joon Soo visits the patient who claims to have gotten atopic dermatitis after wearing the company’s clothing. Joon Soo treats that man with a genuine heart helping him clean his house, and even washes his feet. There was such a scene where the man lies because he needed money but because of Joon Soo’s words he felt ashamed.Because of Joon Soo, he changed one’s  ‘wrong thought’ to a ‘right thought’ and so because of this, I think Joon Soo is a person society needs.”


"Kang Sora and I were the ‘masters’ of mushy love scenes."

Of course, Joon Soo also had a loveline. In the later half of the drama, while Im Joo Hwan and Kang Sora’s loveline started to develop, they also gave off a sweet feeling. From the rooftop at Dongdaemun, to their story before marriage, right up until their newlywed life, both of their love scenes made people feel warmhearted.

“Kang Sora and I are like the ‘masters’ of mushy love scenes (laughs). The director advised us to not to make it look bad or sappy but to make it plain and subtle. However there might have been a bit too many mushy scenes. Actually, the ‘hand umbrella’ scene was considered ‘cheesy’, but luckily it came out seeming natural.  In order to act well, I think both people need to be good at matching each other’s reactions and I think me and Kang Sora worked really well together at that.”

After acting out these love scenes, there were questions about love and relationships. We asked Im Joo Hwan “Are you going to date?” and he bluntly replied “who doesn’t want to date?” Because he committed to filming the drama right after getting out of the army in February, he complained that he did not have time to date.

Instead, he shared that loneliness with his other celebrity friends. Actor Jo In Sung, entertainer Lee Gwang Soo and the recently enlisted Song Joong Ki, these four people frequently hang out and are really close with each other. Jo In Sung in particular, who helped Im Joo Hwan choose ‘Ugly Alert’ as his comeback project after getting discharged, also monitored the drama while it was airing, sincerely looking out for Im Joo Hwan.

“While the drama was airing, In Sung hyung would watch two or three times a week.  Because he watched occasionally, he would send me messages telling me to ‘keep fighting’ (korean: hwaiting!) Surprisingly, Hyung would also know all about the scenes I didn’t perform too well in. Seems like he was secretly checking up on me. (laughs) The scenes where I felt troubled about, he would see through all that and would give me a lot of advice. To me, he is a really good sunbae and hyung.” 


“I don’t want to be a nice character anymore, I want to try being a villain.”

To Im Joo Hwan, ‘Ugly Alert’ was like a second start for him. If the first starting point was when he stepped onto the road of becoming an actor, the second starting point would be when he came out of the army and made his name more known to the public through ‘Ugly Alert’. After this drama ended, as he has given off a feeling of maturity, in his next project he revealed he wants to try taking on the role of a villain.

“If you ask me what the first character I want to play the most, it would be a villain. From all the works I have done, they were all ‘nice’ characters, so it’s hard to break out from that, that’s why I want to try portraying a villain. I also want to film a sageuk again. In the drama “Deep Rooted Tree”, when I saw the scenes with (Song) Joong Ki and Han Sung Gyu sunbae-nim, I felt envious (laughs).”

While Im Joo Hwan slowly prepares for his next project, he also originally had many plans for himself.

“Originally, I planned to go on a vacation this month. I wanted to rent a car and drive around Jejudo, and I also wanted to go to Mokpo but now because of my schedule I don’t think it’s possible. However, because I couldn’t go on vacation due to schedule conflicts, I feel it also turned out being a good thing.”



Joo Hwan’s Interviews Slowly Being Translated…

Back with more translations of Joo Hwan’s previous interviews. Boy, 2013 seems like such a long time ago! (but in fact, it was only around 2 months!)

Anyway, I’m still busy and I still have problems but I really wanted to finish translating the interviews for the sake of completeness. 

Still on Tumblr…

I don’t know if I should change the name of my blog though, haha. Besides posting Joo Hwan related stuff the only drama I’m watching right now is Empress Ki! However, I am still a dedicated ‘JoonHee’ (Joon Soo & Do Hee) fan so I will be planning to update and make stuff for my other tumblr blog dedicated for them.

On Twitter…

I just made a twitter account! It’s a semi-personal/semi-fan/semi-korean-learning twitter account. Haha. 

a) follow me if you want to be updated on any Joo Hwan news (interview translation updates/pictures)

b) as it will also be ‘semi-personal’ I’ll be posting random thoughts about what’s happening in my life

c) I’m seriously learning Korean now (self-taught), so I’ll post ‘korean-language’ related stuff, things I find interesting or new, troubles with words and learning a language in general!

Till next time~! 

love, cookingdramas 

[annoucement] hiatus

this blog is temporarily going on hiatus.

there are many reasons. personal, school, and in general, I have lost touch in kdramas recently. 

i still have a few of joo hwan’s interviews to translate and i’ll post them when I have time, but other than that, it looks like i won’t be on tumblr anymore, unless of course some really great drama comes up and I have the motivation to blog again (which seems unlikely now…)

anyway, I started this blog as a place to let out my feelings on dramas and I can’t believe that I’d actually have any followers , so thank you for all of those that have followed me up until this point…

so you can unfollow me if you want to, seeing as I won’t be posting for some time…

thank you,


[news] Han Ji Min in “Angel Eyes”?

Actress Han Ji-min is revising the script for the new SBS weekend drama “Angel Eyes”.

BH Entertainment claims she’s currently considering the offer.

Angel Eyes" is about man and a woman who reunite 12 years after their heartaching first love. Han Ji-min will take on the role of Soo-wan, a blind woman who is reborn after getting an eye transplant.

Lee Joon-ki is the possible male co-star in the role of Dong-joo and Kang Ha-neul and Nam Ji-hyeonhave been chosen as the childhood lovers. To be aired in March after “She Gets Married Thrice”.


YES YES YES! PLEASE take it Ji-min sshi!!!

Han Ga In was also a possible candidate although I hope Ji Min sshi takes it…not too fond of Han Ga In as an actress really…. 

I was already excited when my fav. child actress (well not anymore~) Nam Ji Hyun was taking part in it! Although, again as the ‘child’ counterpart, but at least she’s back on the small screen! 

i feel tired lately.

no motivation to watch stuff or anything. 

i was saving up empress ki because i saw spoilers and it didn’t look good for poor tahwani. yes i’m a huge shipper of him and seungnyang.

and then theres really nothing that interests me now.

just tired in general…

and maybe perhaps having ‘ugly alert’ and ‘joonhee couple’ withdrawal symptoms. 


over and over. 


posted 9 months ago with 1 note

[INTERVIEW] Im Joo Hwan: “Both ‘Ugly Alert’ And ‘Princess Aurora’ Had Their Own Strengths”


Actor Im Joo Hwan chose SBS’s daily drama ‘Ugly Alert’ as his comeback project after getting discharged from the army and as an actor, he gained a significant amount of experience from it. Meanwhile, from not being able to land a lead role, to eventually leading the drama, to filming under the ‘live-shoot’ system compared to a pre filmed production, he was able to safely complete filming.  Shin PD’s continuous support also gave him great strength.

However Im Joo Hwan said “After the show ended, I still couldn’t relax.”

Seeing how he has successfully completed such arduous filming, it seems as if he will be able easily handle any circumstance in his future projects.

On the morning of this month on the 6th, we met up with Im Joo Hwan who shared a lot about ‘Ugly Alert’.


◆ “Although Gong Joon Soo’s character is unrealistic, his charm lies in his sincerity.”

At the time, Im Joo Hwan’s casting was made at the very end. His appearance was all thanks to Shin Yoon Sub PD who never hesitated and pushed for Im Joo Hwan to be the main lead. In the process, most of the production team was against Im Joo Hwan’s casting. The reason they gave was because he was not ‘well-known’.  For the first time, Im Joo Hwan also wondered about his own casting.

“When I received the offer for the casting from the director, I thought “do they have the right person?” I later heard the director say that when he saw me, he somehow had a good feeling. I heard during that time, the director searched for information about me through videos of the projects I’ve been in and things like magazine interviews.  The director that worked with me in MBC’s drama “Tamna the Island” also looked after me and gave me strength. I am really grateful (for them).”

After many setbacks, in the end Im Joo Hwan was casted in ‘Ugly Alert’ and took the role of Gong Joon Soo. Shortly after his character started taking care of his family, for his brother, he took the blame for a crime he did not commit. While he lived a turbulent life, he never gave up his positive attitude; he was a young man with a pure image.

Im Joo Hwan talked about Gong Joon Soo’s charm. “(His charm lies in) that image of him who does something and does not expect anything in return and his positive personality.”   

“No matter how you look at it, Gong Joon Soo is a person you won’t find in real life, but I think he has his own charm. Gong Joon Soo is someone that thinks that what he’s doing appears to be right and goes right ahead with it. Although in the beginning Gong Joon Soo’s every action had one scratching their head, but now when you look back at it, when he became a ‘parent’ at such a young age he immediately had the instinct to take care of his siblings, and it was that ‘headfirst’ personality of his that defined his actions.

When Im Joo Hwan thought back to what he considered as the drama’s most memorable scene, it was the moment where he could understand and empathize with Gong Joon Soo.

“There was a scene where Gong Joon Soo leaves prison and heads to his siblings place only to get kicked out. At that time, the youngest sibling (Nari) gives him 10 000 won and tells him never to find them again and it’s this scene where I felt a whole rush of emotions. I empathized with that Gong Joon Soo who felt no resentment to his siblings that refused to accept him. To act that, the emotions were extremely complex and subtle.”

Im Joo Hwan talked about his compatibility with the female lead Kang Sora who played Na Do Hee.

“Gong Joon Soo showed a particular affection to someone who had an unusual ability for business and a strong maternal feel, Na Do Hee was someone with that ‘daring’ image and through Kang Sora, it was portrayed really well.”

He also mentioned Kang Sora’s special charm.

“I couldn’t help but to think she was highly intellectual. When we had breaks in between filming I’d see her reading a book or an English newspaper, and her ability to quickly memorize the script is really amazing. I also heard she personally has experience in writing wuxia short-stories on the internet. She was also very into her performance.” 

Along with this he said, “through this drama, I happily filmed and worked hard together with actors of different ages” and also commented, “in the near future I’d like to meet up with them again to catch up.”

◆“To ‘Princess Aurora’ that aired at the same time, it was probably the ‘unexpected’ storyline that captured viewers’ attention.”

Before ‘Ugly Alert’s broadcast, it was promoted with the concept of being a ‘healing drama’ and a ‘nice drama’. It was a story that embodied how the young people of our time live a hard life but possess a positive mind that enable them to overcome obstacles and also how they work hard to find their happiness and the growth that comes with it.

However, in the end it didn’t capture most of the general public’s interest. MBC’s daily drama “Princess Aurora”, also being broadcast at the same time, had a unexpected storyline that took a proportion of viewers. Repeating the makjang formula, ‘Princess Aurora’ captured most of the audience’s attention and even recorded 20% in ratings.  

Being the main character of the ‘competitor drama’, what was Im Joo Hwan’s view on ‘Princess Aurora’? Indeed, he was modest about it.

“I think because ‘Princess Aurora’ had elements such as unexpected lines and stories that viewers felt more curious and kept on watching. Actually both shows each had their own strengths. (In Ugly Alert), such story-lines as the nice stepmother appearing from (Gong Joon Soo’s) childhood or how the main character’s first love became his love’s step mother and other settings are all controversial. Nevertheless, as the story unfolds, we get closer to the important ‘elements’ such as reconciliation and forgiveness.”

Following, he expressed his honest opinion on the topic of ratings.

“(When I look at the ratings) , I sometimes have a lot of thoughts. As an actor, I don’t think you should be concerned about numbers. Ratings nowadays are a type of ‘survey’,and since those figures represent many different standards and perspectives, aren’t ratings then, only a measure of a drama’s popularity? That’s what I think.”


◆ “I want to try being a villain like Lee Jeong Jae in “The Face Reader””

Im Joo Hwan first started his acting career in 2004 with SBS’s drama ‘Magic’. Afterwards, he accumulated more acting experience playing important supporting characters such as in “A Love to Kill” and “The Snow Queen”, “Boys over Flowers and MBC’s *‘Tamna the Island’. However, in all his works he has never played a villain before.

(*note: he was lead in ‘Tamna the Island!’)

To Im Joo Hwan, ‘Ugly Alert’ left him a reward.  “Compared to my previous works, ‘Ugly Alert’ increased my recognition even more.”

“However, I have never thought that I spent my time in vain with my other projects. Through ‘Ugly Alert’  I was able to perform better as an actor and I also created more confidence for myself. Before, I personally thought ‘my life as an actor will start when I’m 35’, but now it is more like this is the ‘second act’ (or 2nd starting point) of my career as an actor.”

On Im Joo Hwan’s future goals he revealed “I want to challenge being a villain.” He also said he really wishes to break free from the ‘nice guy’ image.

“I really want to create more different images for myself.  Take an older movie for example, I’ve always wanted to have the same image as Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs”.  For a more recent work, Lee Jung Jae sunbae-nim’s portrayal of Soo Yang Daegun (Sejo of Joseon)  in ‘The Face Reader’ also left a deep impression on me.”


I could not help but feel disheartened to learn ‘the staff’ that were objected to Im Joo Hwan’s casting felt he was not ‘well-known’ enough. PFFTTT….Just goes to show that the industry values popularity over talent. In the end, that idol who has zero or lack of acting experience can be given a lead role over someone who is much more worthy. In the end, it’s all down to money. Although it’s something to feel deterred about, it’s good to know there are some people like Shin PD who at least can see through that! I don’t know how many times I’m going to say how grateful I feel towards him T_T~~~ 

I agree with what Im Joo Hwan said on ratings. Most of the times it’s just a popularity measure. Ratings are not everything, at least to the viewer, but to the production company, the actors, and the TV station that may not always be the case. Sad, but true. 

Anyway, I could rant on forever on these two topics, so I shall end it here…

[INTERVIEW] Im Joo Hwan, “Nice guy?” With ‘Ugly Alert’ He Has Turned Over A New Leaf”

note (*) means I’m unsure of translation


“<Ugly Alert>’s Gong Joon Soo was a really selfish character.”

SBS’s daily drama <Ugly Alert> ended happily with 133 episodes and the curtain has finally come down. Im Joo Hwan sat down face to face with the reporter whilst carrying a genial smile. Even though the drama ran on a tiring schedule, he appeared with a bright image.

For around 7 months, Im Joo Hwan lived as Gong Joon Soo, the ‘nice guy’. As his nice character was the lead of the drama, it held an unusual meaning for him. To the ending of the drama, he shared his thoughts. “As it ended well, I feel satisfied and happy but there’s also this bitter feeling. I still have things to say and feelings to express such as  “did I miss anything?’ ‘did I lack at anything?” and other feelings.”


“Gong Joon Soo and I are different”

Through ‘Ugly Alert’s’ Gong Joon Soo, he had a chance to play a ‘one-of a kind’ nice guy. The fact is, for this one and only character, he devoted a lot of concentration and hard work. To bring out the character’s detail, he also came up with a lot of ideas, in the end did it pay off? The viewers named Im Joo Hwan as a ‘healing icon’, sending along their praise.

 “To a certain extent, there are some parts (of his character) I also shared similar feelings with. I had a lot of realizations. But the writer told me think of Gong Joon Soo as a very selfish character. Because he wanted things to go his way, the people around him had a hard time. Furthermore, he was the one that started the ‘problems’ and he was also the one to ‘resolve’ them. If I were to simply describe him, I would say his character is very selfish and  also a character who pretends to be nice (a hypocrite).”

Viewers were drawn into the ‘genuine’ and ‘innocent’ elements of the drama such as Gong Joon Soo’s woman phobia and his car sickness. Furthermore, the devotion and love he showed towards his siblings was exceptionally moving. However, he emphasizes that his own personality is very different from Gong Joon Soo’s.

“Gong Joon Soo and I are different. I definitely don’t have woman phobia (laughs). That’s why when my high school friends were watching they’d send me text messages asking how can there possibly be a person like that? I also agreed with that. But acting as Gong Joon Soo, I learnt a lot. In terms of my personal life, before it was rare for me to phone my parents first, but now my parents and sister’s numbers appear most in my phone log. Also, if I see shoes or clothing that look warm I will buy them for my parents. This is the part that I’ve changed most and my parents are also happy about that. I’ve also become closer with my sister. Being Gong Joon Soo, I can say I have ‘turned over a new leaf’.”


To Im Joo Hwan, it can be said that ‘Ugly Alert’ is his representative work.

“A lot of people gave me their love and I’m thankful for that. It seems that many of them are fans of Gong Joon Soo’s and so through him, many people got to know the person ‘Im Joo Hwan’ and might’ve even been surprised by him. But I really am that person who acted him, so please continue being curious about me.”

◈ “I asked for Gong Joon Soo to die”

‘Ugly Alert’ is a family drama where four siblings embrace each other’s pains and grow throughout that process. After 3 years pass by, Gong Joon Soo and his siblings enjoy a happy moment together and receive a happy ending. Im Joo Hwan also shared his thoughts towards the ending of <Ugly Alert>.

“I didn’t request much for the ending, my understanding is that the cinematographer suggested the ending. We all agreed it was a good idea. Actually, in the scene where we create the shower of ‘flower rain’ in the backyard, me, (Choi) Tae Joon, (Kang) Byul felt quite sad, and we thought a lot about it. I really liked the ending.”

However, Im Joo Hwan also had a different idea for the ending and that was Gong Joon Soo’s death.

“I think Gong Joon Soo should’ve died. In a way, it would’ve made it melodramatic, but Gong Joon Soo is a character who had a hard life and was a person that easily got satisfied. (For example) he’s that type of character who gets happy just by simply watching his siblings from afar. If he died, he would have willingly given up his organs to another person in need for a chance that they could happily live and have a family. This is what I thought would’ve truly been an ‘Ugly Alert’. In the latter half of the drama, I continued to talk to the director about this, but he rejected it. As I was the main character, I had to have a hopeful ending. I too agree with that part but I thought that if Gong Joon Soo died, more happiness and warmth could’ve been created for everyone.”


“When I looked at Kang Byul, Choi Tae Joon and Seol Hyun, I cried.”

Im Joo Hwan, Kang Byul, Choi Tae Joon, Seol Hyun, Kang Sora and others met through ‘Ugly Alert’. In the drama, Im Joo Hwan receives emotional support through Kang Byul, Choi Tae Joon, Seol Hyun and others, while he is also the man Kang Sora loves. A friendship formed between them through the long time spent filming.

“Kang Byul, Choi Tae Joon and Seol Hyun and me interacted like real siblings. There were many scenes of us together so we grew friendly with each other. (*) There were scenes that were so sad,  I cried just by looking at them and that was quite exhausting. The scenes where we didn’t have to cry were the ‘everyday life’ scenes. As they were young, I felt we got along pretty well. With (Kang) Sora, we saw each other everyday and there was a lot of skinship and natural movements. She’s a really smart friend. She grasps emotions really quickly and her ability to understand is really good. I find it hard to memorize the script but Sora could memorize the script in just two days and even finish a novel in that amount of time. It was amazing. To be acting with such great actors is truly a blessing.”

In ‘Ugly Alert’ there were strong supporting characters such as Lee Soon Jae, Chun Ho Jin, Song Ok Sook. Im Joo Hwan thinks back to how much he learnt from them.

“The script reading was like a time for learning. The ‘teachers’ (songsengnim) explained the script, as well as the sentences and grammar and talked about many other things. Above all, I think I studied acting through watching them act. Even though I had little interaction with some of them, I received a lot of help just by exchanging lines with each other. Teacher Song Ok Sook (Jung Ja sshi) also gave a lot of advice to my ‘siblings’. I also received a lot of help on acting from Kim Ha Goon (Ahjussi) sunbaenim.”


To Im Joo Hwan who dreamt of being an actor since high school, he has learnt many things through this drama. To become a better actor he keeps thinking about his possibilities and has seriously given some thought to his future.

“I want to become an actor who is open to many possibilities. I don’t want to hear stuff like ‘Im Joo Hwan does not suit this character’. I want to hear ‘no matter what ‘clothing’ Im Joo Hwan wears he will be able to pull it off (IOW: no matter what role he plays, he will play it well). I am working hard to become that kind of actor. When I choose my projects I also try to choose different types of storylines. I’ve never played a villain before so I want to give a try at that.”


Throughout the interview, he was always filled with laughter. He had deep thoughts, a unique heart and I couldn’t help but find myself agreeing with his words. As Im Joo Hwan aspires to be an actor for life, more challenges for him will be expected.

“If the day comes when I do become a more well-known actor, I imagine my past will be shown as well. When that time comes, I want to be a respectable actor. To my fans, I will become an honourable and strong person and for myself, I want to have a dignified career.”



Surprising revelation by Im Joo Hwan! He thought about making Joon Soo DIE!?!?! 

@____@. Yeah, sure maybe he could’ve ‘helped’ other people, but what about the Gong Family? and especially Do Hee!?!?!? 

I guess it’s Joo Hwan sshi’s ‘special’ way of thinking about his character.

But man, luckily that didn’t happen O_O….

[INTERVIEW] Ugly Alert’s Im Joo Hwan: “The ‘Staff’ Were Against My Casting…”


*note: I’m not sure of the last few characters in the title…*

 (*): means unsure of translation


SBS’s daily drama <Ugly Alert> (Writer Jung Ji Woo, Director Shin Yoon Sub & Min Yeon Hong) which ended last month on the 29th, was stuck in between MBC’s “Princess Aurora” and KBS2’s “Ruby’s Ring”, dramas with the more conventional makjang elements, but stood out to rise as a ‘nice drama’. Although there were no  ‘exciting elements’ (aka: typical makjang elements), the message of forgiveness and reconciliation was shown. The drama’s main character ‘Gong Joon Soo’ who was played by Im Joo Hwan is here today.

 Im Joo Hwan’s name was known through the 2004 drama <Magic>. After, he appeared in <A Love to Kill>, <Boys Over Flowers>, <Tamna the Island> and other dramas along with the movie <A Frozen Flower> and others, but he didn’t leave any ‘representative works’. Under this condition, he entered the army in May 2011 and after that it seemed like existence was slowly forgotten.

 “Before I was set to discharge from the army in February, I was filled with endless unease. I didn’t know what I was exactly going to do. Younger sergeants around 23 years old came to talk to me and were troubled as to what to do after they got out of the army. Compared to them, I was the one that actually felt more worried. I wasn’t young anymore, (*) besides studying acting I had nothing else to do…”   

 Right when he set his mind to go to Daehakro (University Road in Seoul) to start over again on the theatre stage, a ray of light appeared in front of his eyes. From Shin Yoon Sub PD who was preparing for the drama <Ugly Alert>, he heard “I had been observing you for a long time now” and thus was invited to appear in the drama.

 “Although it felt like I was walking inside a dark tunnel at that time, when I heard that news, I was quite taken back. While I was going to get discharged in February, I had to immediately get ready for filming. With the fighting spirit of a soldier, I worked hard. Truth is, besides the PD (Shin Yoon Sub) and the director (Min Yeon Hong) the other ‘staff’ objected to my casting and when I heard that, I gritted my teeth even more (idiom: to grit’s one teeth is the same as saying ‘to endure’).

 The drama that was originally planned at 120 episodes, got extended and finished at 133 episodes. And with that, for 5 days every week it ran on for 6 months. He played the role of Gong Joon Soo, an immensely nice character. For his brother, he spent 10 years in jail, and because he didn’t want the woman he loved to become a convict’s wife, he willingly gave her up (this is probably referring earlier on when he wanted to let go of Do Hee before she found out about his past?) Living as Gong Joon Soo for 6 months, this character naturally would have influenced Im Joo Hwan.

 “After I became an entertainer (artist/celebrity) I didn’t know that my family and I would become distant. Because of that, my father felt sad saying, “I don’t know why Joo Hwani has become such a cold child”. Before, I didn’t know the meaning of family, but after living as Gong Joon Soo, I became closer to them again.  I previously gave my sister a coat, and my whole family was surprised (in another interview he said he also gave her a pair of boots). After getting discharged I immediately started filming for my drama, so now it finally feels like I ‘properly’ got discharged (laughs).

Most recently, the movie <The Face Reader> had left a deep impression on him. What greatly impressed him was Lee Jung Jae’s acting who made one feel nervous whenever he committed an evil deed. “I want to take on the challenge of acting an evil character who for example, holds a ‘surgery knife’ but has a deadly side to him” (IOW: appearing normal on the outside, but actually evil in the inside).

 He will be also meeting with his fans who he has not seen for 2 years, on the 14th of this month. Today, he has confessed his troubles and shared his thoughts on the results of his inner growth.


The interviews are slowly starting to have the same content, but there’s always a new piece of news or tidbit that is worth translating for ^^

Firstly, I remember he mentioned the ‘staff’ was against his acting in a previous interview and he mentioned it again this time. I believe this ‘staff’ he is referring to is actually SBS. He can’t mean the ‘Ugly Alert’ staff because they can’t possibly have the ‘power’ or voice to say so right? So I’m thinking it has to do with SBS/SBS production. And call me sensitive if you want, but I think this might be the partial reason for him not getting an award =.=…. ( I speak from experience in reading/following news about TV station politics! or again…I may just be overly sensitive…) 

But, to set that disheartening news aside, I can’t keep feeling grateful towards Shin PD. I was very moved when he said he had been ‘observing’ Im Joo Hwan for a long time and he convinced Joo Hwan that he was THE ONE to play Gong Joon Soo. So, thank you Shin PD for seeing Joo Hwan for his potential!!! 

note: I didn’t really like this reporter…he/she was very blunt at times…and I had to ‘rephrase’ to the best of my ability….