Read SNSD Yuri’s interview from ‘Cosmopolitan’ Magazine
‘Jungeun’, who receives the love of Lee Jongsuk and Seo Inguk in the film ‘No Breathing’, is far from the first love character that women hate. She hits guys in the back of the head often, and devours chicken feet in front of the guy who likes her. She doesn’t confuse guys, and she doesn’t cry apologizing to them either. After meeting Yuri, who doesn’t act coy at all, I can’t imagine who else could have played Jungeun.
Q: How was today’s shoot? You played in front of the camera as if you were thinking, ‘Try taking my picture if you can’. It’s something reporters are grateful for. Because there are a considerable amount of female celebrities who stubbornly do poses or make facial expressions that they think looks best for them, regardless of the photoshoot concept.
Yuri: I was like that in the past, too. Not too long after debuting, I stubbornly made poses that I thought looked pretty. After doing that and attempting new things, I learned that I can look a lot prettier when I have a natural appearance. When doing photoshoots, I think pretty photos come about when they’re taken to suit the concept. Of course, your face looks prettiest then, too.
Q: Well, you do have a good face….
Yuri: No, it’s really not! Haha.
Q: The style you wore today (she wore a camouflage t-shirt, black skinny jeans, with black sneakers, and wore a dog tag-like necklace) is pretty, too? Do you normally dress like this?
Yuri: First of all, I like comfortable things. Dressing up in a girly way doesn’t suit me. Out of my members, there are ones who enjoy dressing up femininely, but with my character, I can’t bring myself wear accessories and dress up prettily. I like comfortable styles best. The color black is the best.
Q: Yuri’s trademark is straight, black hair, so I was surprised when I heard you changed your hair to a two-tone color before the shoot. Wondering what wind blew in.
Yuri: Things have been a bit dull. My hair color. My life lately has been as well. I thought it’d be fun to change my hair color before the photoshoot, and, coincidentally, I didn’t know what direction the concept would go in.
Q: Even when other members have cut their long hair, dyed it blonde, and have had unprecedented perms, but Yuri’s hair didn’t really change. If you were to change your style, how would you want to do it?
Yuri: If given the opportunity, I want to try getting bangs, and having a bob haircut. Not now, but later. I want to go a little slowly. Until now, while promoting, I barely had any transformations compared to my other members. So, I think when I do make a change to my style, the effect will come off that much bigger. I’m sparing it for that moment.
Q: When you look at girl groups that attempt new styles for each album, some styles are really considered the worst. If you put it that way, are there any past photos of yourself, that could take over portal sites, that you want to erase?
Yuri: Why, I have a lot of worsts. Especially airport fashion! Haha. I normally like comfortable styles, and I go in even more comfortable clothes when getting on a plane. Because there is so much attention on airport fashion nowadays, I can’t not mind it.
Q: Personally, of the nine members of Girls’ Generation, I think Yuri suits Cosmopolitan the best. You’re healthy, full of energy, and sexy.
Yuri: If you think that, then I’m really glad. Cosmo shows the lifestyles of great women. It’s also a magazine I really like. That’s really nice?
Q: When do you feel sexy? Moments when you feel that you seem okay.
Yuri: When I get out after a shower? When I don’t have anything on my face. I think that women who can pull off basic looks are beautiful. Not people who are pretty due to showy makeup, but people who look pretty because they have nice skin, and appearing pretty with just straight hair from having healthy hair. Also, when they have a nice body, so anything they wear looks pretty. Oh, and appearing healthy looks the prettiest..
Q: I watched the SM Town documentary ‘I, Am’ last night. Rather than the moment you performed in Madison Square Garden, the scenes where each team walked off stage bawling after their debut stages made me choke up. Because it made me feel that you really must have had mixed emotions. Do you remember those moments vividly?
Yuri: Of course. That was for a SBS broadcast. It’s really difficult trying to explain the emotions felt after coming down off the stage that I’d been yearning for for 7 years. The members give each other words of encouragement, but that moment was just very emotional. Because the nine of us counted down on our fingers, for our debut date.
Q: You passed SM’s audition, passing by the high competition. Did you ever hear the reason behind your passing?
Yuri: Ah, I asked the person who cast me once. I asked, ‘What were you thinking when you cast me?’. At that time, even from my perspective, I was ugly, couldn’t sing, and couldn’t dance. I couldn’t speak well, either. I would even start crying while singing in front of a camera. But they said they liked how I would do everything they asked, without being shy. I was in 5th grade at that time.
Q: I watched the video of you in a red training suit, dancing to BoA’s ‘Sara’; when was that?
Yuri: That was after auditioning, and having received about a year of training. There really was nothing I was afraid of then, and did it just because I liked it without even being shy.
Q: From your trainee days until now, has it been 12 years? 13 years?
Yuri: It’s already been over 14 years.
Q: Is there a moment where something was out of your power?
Yuri: When I was a trainee, it was a really snowy day. Because the roads were slippery, they said people shouldn’t go outside. I don’t know why I felt that I had to go, but as soon as school ended, I went to practice. Not surprisingly, the hill was so slippery that I fell a number of times. I had such a hard time getting there, but practice was cancelled. There were times where lessons would get cancelled occasionally. I spent 2 hours getting there, so what do you mean cancelled. I was disappointed and felt that they could have at least contacted us beforehand.
Q: Don’t moments like that make you want to plump down on the street and cry?
Yuri: I cried. I got on the subway crying, and there wasn’t even anywhere to sit. At that time, after practice, I would always go home sitting on the floor in the subway train. But on that day, I seemed really pathetic sitting on the floor. I had vocal nodules too, and didn’t have a lot of days left until evaluation…. I had a hard time because I didn’t like anything that was going on around me.
Q: Unlike your laid-back appearance, I think you’re a perfectionist. I heard you even cried because your vocals weren’t working well while studying acting.
Yuri: When I first entered university, the first thing to do was breaking the appearance of Girls’ Generation’s Yuri. During lectures, there are times where I need to do more eccentric things than others. For instance, there was a mission we had to do, where two people would partner up and act like you were a mirror to each other. A male classmate acted like someone who wasn’t feeling well by wrinkling his face up as much as he could. I had to copy that, but I was really shy about doing it because I wasn’t even close to anyone yet. But I had no choice but to do it, and you have to, you know? After practicing things like that, there was something that naturally broke. That it’s important to tear down the wall that I built up. I think I learned a lot by hanging out with normal (/non-famous) friends. When it comes to acting, rather than learning during lecture, feeling things from socializing with people is more important. While promoting, and getting older every year, there are times where I feel my emotions becoming dull. So I try to remember the little things I experience. Like facial expressions at a certain moment.
Q: Then again, skills improve as you keep on at it.
Yuri: That’s why I try not to be too mechanical or think too much when acting. Something I’ve heard a lot of is that sensibility is the most important thing when acting. It made me think that I should try to never forget the innocent feelings that only a child could possess.
Q: The time I thought Girls’ Generation looked pretty is when I saw you showing your so-called ‘kkab’ on a variety show. But after you started acting, it seemed like you’ve been taking variety show MCs’ requests of it as a burden.
Yuri: There was a time where I was confused for a while. Later, I would have to show a variety of colors of myself if I want to act, so I felt I shouldn’t have a restricted image. In case it would be difficult to maintain a position as an actress if I were to solidify a frivolous image. I tried shut myself out because I was afraid of that. But I eventually went back to my original self. If I was asked to do it again, I think I’d do it even better than before. Haha.
Q: Like having a lot of charisma on stage, and then properly embarrass yourself in variety shows, there aren’t a lot of female celebrities who show off charms according to the situation.
Yuri: I really want to become someone like that. So I really like looking at Hyori unnie. She’s always confident. And her being a vegetarian and living while doing volunteer work isn’t something she was born with, but something she chose to do herself. While watching her develop her life like that, I thought she was a really cool person. The same thing applies when she makes songs herself and always shows a new, improved appearance. I’m really jealous of how she defends her life even while being active as a celebrity. As well as marriage.
Q: Of your fans, there seems to be a lot of oppas ‘who know a thing or two’, like Yoon Jongshin or Sung Sikyung. What do you think is the reason?
Yuri: I really don’t know. But, unlike how I look, I’m a bit awkward. When I ask others how my first impression was like, the majority of them say it wasn’t that great. There were a lot of friends who said I looked cold and unapproachable. But they said that when they look at me from the sidelines, I make a lot of mistakes.
Q: Something that I thought was unexpected, was you naming Marion Cotillard in ‘La Vie en Rose’ as an impressionable actress in a past interview. When you said you liked the tragic role in a film that viewers got tired from crying watching, it made me wonder if there was a gloomy side to you. What ‘unexpected’ sides might there be to Yuri that people don’t really know about?
Yuri: First of all, I have too many worries. Before choosing something, I think of and take a number of cases into consideration. Because I have a lot of thoughts, there are a lot of times where I gradually become sensitive. Nowadays, I don’t like places with a lot of people, but rather quiet places. While it might seem like I have a lot of friends, I’m the type to have a small number of friends, who I stay close with for a deep, long time. I also continue to work with staff that I’ve known for a long time. When resting, instead of meeting people, I like quietly resting alone.
Q: Has there ever been a time where, while discussing a drama or movie script given to you, you were surprised thinking, ‘They’re anticipating this kind of image from me, too?’
Yuri: There isn’t anything like that. I really want to become someone with a variety of colors. When I got the role of ‘Anna’ in ‘Fashion King’, I did worry about whether I’d be able to handle this character. The image I’ve shown until now has been a cheerful character, so I wondered if people could see me as a really strict, haughty, and ambitious ‘Anna’. But, it turns out that the director cast me without knowing much about me. I heard he saw one of my pictures, and said that’s the exact appearance of ‘Anna’. He said he thought that there would be some kind of story behind the cold face.
Q: So the casting was possible because he wasn’t as aware? Haha.
Yuri: I thought it was a relief that the director didn’t know much about me. Thanks to that, I was able to show an image completely different from what people have thought of me. There haven’t been any similarity between scenarios I’ve received, so I’m glad.
Q: When you appeared in ‘Fashion King’, like, there was a strong, settled feeling. There was a complicated side to your character, but the character seemed like a handful for the person acting, too. But the character ‘Jungeun’, in the upcoming film ‘No Breathing’, is the complete opposite of ‘Anna’, and is a bright, free person. I feel like your mood would be different just going to the set.
Yuri: It was totally different. When going to the set, regardless of my condition or situation, I was in a really good mood. The bright, healthy, and fresh energy of the character impacted me.
Q: How was the set of your first movie?
Yuri: Film was something that I really wanted to try. I was curious as to why people are so enthusiastic about film and have so much fun watching them. Comparing it to drama work, I think filming a movie fit my personality better. For any job, I completely engage myself in it, invest my time, and get a greater feeling of accomplishment the more effort I put in to it. Stepping away from the results, I was happy with just being able to wonder about the role for a long time. I also liked the steps made with the staff on set as time went by. For my first work, I was in charge of a heavy character, and things on set ran breathlessly, so things were a bit much for me. But I communicated with the director a lot filming the movie, and filmed with time to spare, so it was really nice. I also learned just how much effort and time people put into and take part in for one movie scene.
Q: You like water sports to the point where you got a scuba diving certificate, right? When I heard you were being cast in a movie about swimming, I assumed that you’d, of course, appear as a swimmer, but that wasn’t the case. Instead of swimming, I heard we’d be seeing Yuri playing a guitar and singing. Did you do separate guitar-playing and vocal practices?
Yuri: Yes, I learned guitar this time. I had a desire to sing while playing a guitar since before. I have a a guitar I received as a gift from fans, and a guitar I bought a year ago that I wanted to perform with, but because that day never came, I ended up not doing it. My guitar was rotting. But I got the opportunity through this film. Of them, I sing about 2 created songs. One is a rock ballad, and another is a acoustic song. The happiest thing that happened while shooting ‘No Breathing’ was learning guitar and singing.
Q: It isn’t even a swimming role, so what did the director say was the reason behind you being cast?
Yuri: It turns out the director had looked at over 1000 of my pictures before meeting me. He also looked for my appearance in variety shows. During the first meeting, the director told me, “I would like Jungeun to be like Yuri.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, so when I asked about the character of Jungeun, he said that she isn’t a typical first love. Not a first love that is innocent, pitiful, and would fly away if the wind blows, but he said she’s a girl who doesn’t act coy in front of guys, is laid-back, independent, and bright. And that she has a 4-D-like personality that makes people think, ‘What in the world goes on in this girl’s head’, when you stay around her, but is an appealing person who gives warm advice when talking about something serious. He said that, when looking at me, he isn’t sure what I’m thinking, and that, even though I look bright, that there seems to be some sort of story, and that I look like I wouldn’t try studying others’ eyes and would just go along for my dreams. When I first acted Jungeun out in the way that I saw her, the director told me not to do that. To just do as I am.
Q: After actually acting, was Jungeun really not like a typical first love?
Yuri: First of all, she’s really laid-back. You can’t see her heart fluttering because of a guy, or her acting coy. She occasionally hits Inguk oppa (role of Won-il) in the back of the head, and, even after realizing that Jongsuk (role of Woosang) likes her, she violently devours chicken feet in front of him. It’s not easy for a girl to do that in front of a guy who likes her, right? But Jungeun does that.
Q: She does that, not because she doesn’t know that the guys like her, but even while being aware?
Yuri: She doesn’t pay any attention to them. Guys liking her doesn’t make up much importance in Jungeun’s life.
Q: Then what is important in Jungeun’s life? The dream of becoming a musician?
Yuri: Yes. Singing while playing guitar is a lot more important.
Q: Is there a movie character that you referenced while filming this movie?
Yuri: Jeon Jihyun unnie in ‘My Sassy Girl’. I watched it a number of times to get close to an easy-going character. But the role of Jungeun that I played isn’t really a pretty character. You’re not ever going to think she’s pretty or feminine while watching. There are scenes where she swears, and the director told me to ad lib them. When I daringly said swears ‘that I normally couldn’t’, some staff members felt betrayal. Saying ‘how could you do that’, because they didn’t think I could swear. Haha.
Q: It’s a character that women may like.
Yuri: Because it’s not a typical first love character, it was fun while acting. Because, even though two guys like her, she isn’t flustered between them. I think that’s what makes a guy’s heart flutter more.
Q: After working with Yoo Ah-in and Lee Jehoon in your first drama, and are working with Lee Jongsuk and Seo Inguk for your first movie. I don’t know about anything else, but it seems clear that you are lucky when it comes to opposing male actors. How is it working with guys that are popular these days?
Yuri: I was a bit surprised because the two of them were the complete opposite of what I initially thought. I thought Inguk oppa would have the image of a considerate oppa, but he has a bit of a picky/irritable feel. I thought Jongsuk, on the other hand, would be very chic, but he was unexpectedly playful. I hit Inguk oppa a lot in the movie, and I’d feel a bit sorry acting like that, you know? But Inguk oppa told me to hit him harder, so it was really easy acting. He’s really easy-going, but has a bit of a bad boy-like atmosphere to him. There was an NG during the first scene with myself and Jongsuk, so he bit my arm.
Q: Really? Who made the NG?
Yuri: Jongsuk. Haha. I was so taken aback that I thought, ‘What planet is he from?’ Later, when I asked why he did that, he asked back if he did that, and couldn’t remember. That’s how his usual personality is like. I thought he would be irritable, but he, unexpectedly, looked out for me a lot.
Q: Jungeun doesn’t have any interest in the two guys, but have you ever thought, if you were Jungeun, which of the two you’d choose?
Yuri: I thought about it, and I decided that I wouldn’t choose either. The person Jungeun in the film can’t be content with the two guys. To Jungeun, Won-il is like a dog she’s taken care of for a long time. Like a good friend. Woosang is like an oppa she just got to know, but I don’t think Jungeun’s heart can’t be swayed without combining the two guys together. Unless a third guy appears, she’s probably just going to keep playing her guitar?
Q: Isn’t there a production press conference for ‘No Breathing’ next week? You’re probably going to be asked who out of Lee Jongsuk and Seo Inguk you’d choose. What are you going to say in response?
Yuri: That’s right! What should I do? Hm… I’m just going to reply like Jungeun would. That I won’t choose either. Haha.
Q: Along with this upcoming film, I’m curious as to what kind of image you’re going to show in the future. Since the past, you said you want to become a female musician who puts on powerful performances, like Pink, and want to have great concerts. Seeing you wearing a black training suit at your concert, performing Ciara’s ‘1, 2 Step’ made me think that it would be good for you to release a hip-hop style album sometime.
Yuri: I also have thought that it would be fun to promote as a girls hip-hop unit with Hyoyeon later on. Also, acting is something that I really want to continue doing. Slowly, for a long time. I want to continue to try more diverse acting. There are a lot of characters in movies, you know? I don’t care what character it is. Because there are a variety of sides to me. Like you put on and take off clothes, I’d be playing that role.