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The Important Things In Life for Kwon Sang-woo

Posted July. 28, 2004 22:36,   


“I had strength left,” said Kwon Sang-woo (28). For the first time, Kwon hid his sensual muscles, or his macho instincts, under the black robe that priests wear in the upcoming romance movie “Shinboo Sooup,” (Priest Lessons) which will open on August 6. In a way, it seems strange that “momzzang” (those with good-looking bodies) Kwon plays the role of a timid and tearful student preparing for the priesthood.

“There were many NGs (No Good) in the last scene, which was the ceremony of ordination. I was stuck in a situation where I had to choose either God or Bong-hee (Hah Ji-won), but I did not cry well. If I, Kwon Sang-woo, had to choose between God or a woman, I would obviously choose the woman so I guess I couldn’t get immersed into the role (laughter).”

When we met him on July 23 in a café somewhere in Jongro 1-ga, Seoul, he said, “Except when going to the bathroom, the priest robes were so splendid that I liked them,” adding, “Actors and those preparing to become priests are in a similar position, since they are ‘tempted’ by women.”

Theological student, Kyoo-sik, who is skillful in sewing, meets tomboy Bong-hee by chance and has his faith shaken when he kisses her for the first time in his life. To anyone, the memories of the first kiss are not easily forgotten. Nevertheless, Kwon said shortly and coolly, “If I inevitably have to break up with a woman, then I forget everything about her. First kisses are not things to be remembered.”

Kwon, who is at the top of stardom four years after debuting, does not seem to envy anyone. However, he ardently told us what was inside of him.

“Many people tell me that my pronunciation or my vocalization is not good. In the past, that was my complex. But in reality, I am not tongue-tied. Should I play another role only after I can talk perfectly like Han Suk-kyoo? If I act with the pronunciation and accent of radio actors, do you think I can be more faithful to my feelings? I would like people to judge me based on my work. I am still confident that no other Korean actor could play the role of Hyun-soo the way I did in ‘Maljukguri Janhoksa.’ (The Brutal Story of Maljuk Street) I have my own way to follow and my own movies.”

In the upcoming movie, Kwon attempts to change his macho image; he has effeminate lines such as, “You are so commanding,” and scribbles his love problems shyly under Virgin Mary’s pedestal: “Please, don’t come into my heart” and cries at any moment. If you don’t count his eye-smiles as actual smiles, honestly, he looks sexier when he is crying than smiling. He said, “I want to shed my bad-boy, dandy image and become a lovely man who identifies with women’s maternal instincts.”

“When I debuted, I wanted my own studio where I could live by myself. After I got my own place, walking was annoying so I bought a scooter. Then I thought it was dangerous so I wanted to buy a car. After I bought a car, a house, then a house for my mother; I kept looking upward. Occasionally I meet my friends in Daejeon who all go to work. They work hard for a whole month and only are paid about two million won with which to live. When I see these friends, I wake up. I ask myself what am I doing. What is really important to me? I don’t want to spend my life going after wealth. I think I should renounce my greed.”

Kwon seemed to be aware of the dreary shadow cast by his soaring popularity. “You will probably laugh if you hear this,” said Kwon laughing, “Nowadays, sometimes I drive all by myself to the countryside and spend the whole day catching shellfish. I have certainly become weird lately.”

When asked what does he dislike the most, he chose two things: prejudice and cigarettes.

Seung-Jae Lee sjda@donga.com