Ok Taec-yeon of 2PM completed his compulsory military service last year and landed a lead role in a new drama “The Game: Towards Zero“. For this drama, Taec-Yeon meets actress Lee Yeon-hee again as they have acted in a drama before. K-popped! was very fortunate to be able to have an exclusive interview with the stars to talk about their newest drama.
“The Game: Towards Zero” tells the story of a seer, Tae-Pyeong (Ok Taec-Yeon) who sees the moments right before someone’s death and a homicide detective, Detective Joon-Young (Lee Yeon-Hee) who got dragged into a series of mysterious murders and end up digging up hidden secrets. Tae-Pyeong is smart, rich and handsome. Despite his special ability, he is a bright person. A mysterious serial murder case draws Tae-Pyeong’s attention. He partners with Detective Joon-Young to solve the string of murders.
Can you share more about your roles in The Game: Towards Zero?
Ok Taec-Yeon: I’m playing the role of Kim Tae-Pyeong in the series The Game: Towards Zero. Tae-Pyeong can look at a person’s imminent moment right before death. Even with such a special ability, Tae-Pyeong is a bright kid, who doesn’t let his abilities get the best of him. He meets Joon-Young, a detective whom he cannot recognize her death, and starts helping her in solving mysterious cases. This is my first film since my discharge from the Korean military. Even though such circumstances were a huge pressure on set, I did and will give my best at acting out Tae-Pyeong.
Lee Yeon-Hee: I’m playing the role of a homicide detective, Seo Joon-Young. Joon-Young is extremely calm, thorough, and tenacious when solving her cases. She focuses on not how the crime was committed but on why violence was acted out. She also shows an empathetic side to the victim’s families. When she comes in acquaintance with Tae-Pyeong, she receives help in solving her cases. You may see that she becomes gradually dependent on Tae-Pyeong.
Taec-Yeon, you currently play the role of a supernatural man, but you’ve also played the role of another supernatural man who can perceive ghosts in Bring it on, Ghost. How are these characters different?
Ok Taec-Yeon: Bong-Pal, from Bring it on, Ghost could see ghosts. However, Tae-Pyeong can look at the moment right before one’s death. The key difference between these two is the gravity of their abilities. Bring it on, Ghost was a more comical and therefore a lighter series, whereas the abilities of Tae-Pyeong in The Game: Towards Zero are treated more gravely. The current drama is more profound about death and how it happens.
Yeon-Hee, understand that this isn’t your first role as a detective, since you’ve played as a detective in the SBS film, Phantom. Tell us the changes you went through between the 8-year gap of acting as a detective.
Lee Yeon-Hee: In Phantom, I was working in the Cybercrimes division, whereas Joon-Young is working in the Violent Crimes division. Naturally, you may see a stronger character than you have in Phantom. Since homicide detectives perform their duty on extremely dangerous fields, I searched through many interviews to reflect the psychological processes they face on the field.
Taec-Yeon and Yeon-Hee, you’ve worked together before. What was it like working together again? Also, why did you guys choose this film?
Lee Yeon-Hee: In Marriage Blue, we didn’t get to know each other too well. We weren’t on set together very often. However, I do remember it was very comfortable working with him since we both share the same age. I chose this series because I believe Taec-Yeon is a great actor, and I think us working together could result in a synergistic energy for the entire film.
Ok Taec-Yeon: In Marriage Blue, Yeon-Hee leaves me, so if we do end up in love on the current film, I’ll be very happy. Even on set right now, we depend on each other very much. Since we’ve worked together, we’re very comfortable about throwing ideas and suggestions around for a more developed film. I chose The Game: Towards Zero because I fell in love with the script. I felt like it was supposed to be me who plays Tae-Pyeong.
Do you feel pressured about the viewership of this series?
Ok Taec-Yeon: I’m always pressured by new projects, not just concerning about the viewership, but also hoping this drama becomes a big hit.
Lee Yeon-Hee: In my early years, I used to depend on more experienced actors. But these days, I learned to take responsibility for myself, trying my best for the best results. I hope this drama becomes a big hit.
Yeon-Hee, it’s been a while since you’ve worked on a series. What took you so long to come back to the drama?
Lee Yeon-Hee: For various reasons, it took me a while to pick the drama I wanted to be in. I wanted to work on a series that might help me with improving my acting abilities. Even when I wasn’t acting, I worked as a radio DJ and participating in some variety shows. Partaking in different roles and fields shaped me into a better actress. Like Taec-Yeon, I fell in love with the script, thereby choosing The Game: Towards Zero.
It seems like The Game: Towards Zero is a mixture of thriller and romance, how did you try to find the balance between the two?
Ok Taec-Yeon: Actually, I think this drama contains a more diverse mixture than merely two genres. And it’s not like half of the film is a thriller and the other half, romance. We built up our emotions on every set as we start to film, and they will be fully expressed in time. To sum up, we just expressed the appropriate emotion for each scenario.
How did your experience in the military help you mature as an actor? I also know you switched agencies to an actor agency, was that career move helpful? Also, So Ji-Sub is in your agency. Does he give you any tips on acting?
Ok Taec-Yeon: Officially being discharged from the military equipped me with a better conscience of freedom. Also, it was a great experience to strip off some of my biased stereotypes about people. In terms of acting, it allows me to keep an open mind on how to express emotions and the details behind it. Being in an acting agency is, I suppose, better for me. I can actively engage and talk about the script and obtain feedback on my expressions. Also, Ji-Sup helps me a lot with acting as well. Although, for The Game: Towards Zero, he told me he’ll provide feedback on it when he sees the pilot episode.
Is there an actual amount of viewership you’d like to reach? And do you have any promises or events for your fans if The Game: Towards Zero reaches it?
Lee Yeon-Hee: Taec-Yeon just told me he’ll sing Candy in My Ears. Haha. I hope for 15%. If we do reach that, I’ll upload a cooking video on SNS.
Ok Taec-Yeon: As I’ve said before, I wish for a lucky 40%, adding the 20 and 20 together in 2020. But realistically, if we reach 10% (which would feel like 40% to me) I’ll duet Candy in My Ears with Jang Sung-Kyu.
Yeon-Hee, you’ve changed roles from Cybercrimes detective to Homicide. Were there some moments where you went through hardship making that transition? Also, were there moments where you thought this is the perfect role for you?
Lee Yeon-Hee: In my opinion, the toughness and insightful eyes were the biggest aspects of a detective. We’ve all made a trip down to the station to witness how they work first-hand. It seemed to me they all had great pride in the tasks they performed. I wanted to show such pride through my character as well – to honor those who enforce the law. The process of how they find the criminals were my focus. How they perceive and work through their cases were greatly fascinating.
I have a question for Yeon-Hee. What aspects do you think are attractive about your character?
Lee Yeon-Hee: Now that I’ve recently turned 30 and started noticing what goes on around me, I’ve also come to realize that there are many tragedies in this world. On top of that, I became more sympathetic to those who’ve lost their dearly loved ones to these tragedies. That was when the script came along and conveyed that exact message very well. The sadness of families, the big question of “what now,” and the pain and suffering that follows a tragic event were all deeply embedded inside the story. That’s why I chose to take part in this story. I hope to raise some awareness about the social issues that we face in our society and guide everyone to work towards an efficient solution.
To Yeon-Hee, do you have any advice for TaecYeon, who is now taking his steps to become a well-defined actor?
Lee Yeon-Hee: I’ve seen him acting on set. He’s quite playful when the camera isn’t rolling, but when that tape starts rolling, he turns very serious and devoted to playing the character. I thought that was such an admirable quality about him as an actor.
Taec-Yeon, at your last interview, you said that you wanted to play Do-Kyung, which is Ju-Hwan’s role right now. Why did you want to play him?
Ok Taec-Yeon: Do-Kyung is an extremely interesting character. He has many sides to him and is very ambiguous – and I like those multiple aspects about Do-Kyung. This is not to say that Tae-Pyeong isn’t a good character; he is. But if I had a gun to my head, if I really had to choose, it would have to be Do-Kyung.
The Game: Towards Zero airs on Oh!K (Astro Ch 394), on Thursdays and Fridays at 7.50pm, within 24 hours of Korea.