The press conference for K-drama ‘Kkondae Intern’ was held in Seoul on 20 May 2020 with actors Park Hae-Jin, Kim Eung-Soo, Han Ji-Eun, Park Ki-Woong, Park Ah-In, and director Nam Sung-Woo.
‘Kkondae Intern’ tells the story of Ka Yeol-Chan, a successful Chief of Sales and Marketing at a ramen company. One day, his department employs a senior-aged intern, who turns out to be Yeol-Chan’s previous rigid and old school boss from his previous company who made his life difficult in the past. Now they must work together, although the tables have now turned.
Read on to find out what happened at the press conference for ‘Kkondae Intern’!
Host: I think it’s the first-time seeing Park Hae-Jin doing a comedy.
Park Hae-Jin: I’m not quite funny actually. Filming this drama was fun, but it could be just fun for us. I’m not sure how the fans will think of it. Hopefully, they will enjoy the drama.
Host: Why did each of the cast members decide to do this drama?
Park Ah-In: My dad is also an office worker, and there could be someone above him who is younger. I think this drama will have elements that will resonate with different generations. I read the script and thought that this drama was something that I could laugh along with my dad. So, I decided to take part (in the drama).
Park Ki-Woong: The script was interesting. And my character was someone who I wanted to try portraying. Also, my fellow actors and the director were good people who I wanted to work with.
Han Ji-Eun: The synopsis was fun. Being ‘old school’ (Kkondae) is something that could apply to anyone, regardless of age, so I thought this would be a good opportunity (to be part of a show) that people can relate to and reflect upon.
Host: I read an article that Kim Eung-Soo said it was difficult for him to act Kkondae when he actually isn’t.
Kim Eung-Soo: I’m not a Kkondae. Park Ki-Woong knows because he worked with me before.
Park Ki-Woong: He always shares photos of flowers at midnight in our group chat. I’m not saying that I don’t like it or that he is a Kkondae. Just saying that he is very kind and friendly.
Host: How was working with Kim Eung-Soo like?
Park Hae-Jin: I have always wanted to work with him. I think this drama fits well with the current situation. I also wanted to try a fun and cheerful drama. My fellow actors and actresses, and all staff members, are such great people. We all work in such great harmony.
Host: How similar are you to your character in the drama?
Park Hae-Jin: I’m sort of an individual that keeps things to myself. I don’t think I’ve a Kkondae-like personality.
Host: Kim Eung-Soo said that you are really good acting Kkondae.
Kim Eung-Soo: I learned 2 things working with Park Hae-Jin. First is that I couldn’t help but acknowledge the existence of ‘good looking’ – look at Park Hae-jin’s face! How can God make such a perfect face like his? At the same time, I felt discontented with God (laughter). Second is how did Park Hae-Jin act Kkondae so well?
Park Hae-Jin: I am just being faithful to the script.
Kim Eung-Soo: No. I have to think it’s “Is he acting Kkondae so well because it’s part of his inner nature?”
PKW: Kim Eung-Soo really made young actors and actresses feel comfortable. And Park Hae-jin has always been gentle and sweet.
Host: Please elaborate on how each of the actors were cast.
Director Nam Sung-Woo (NSW): What I focused on while casting was whether he/she is someone bright because our drama is bright. Fundamentally, I wanted to bring in someone who is positive. I also did some research on each of the members’ true personality, to find similarities to the characters they would be playing.
Host: I heard that all of you had done a test showing the level of ‘Kkondae-ness’.
PAI: I was second to the last. That is because my character in the drama isn’t a Kkondae. But when I did it as my actual self, I was recorded as the most Kkondae.
HJE: I was level 1… meaning no ‘Kkondae-ness’ at all. I did it both from the perspective of my character and as myself. None of the result showed ‘Kkondae-ness’.
Kim Eung-Soo: When I did it as my character, it showed the highest ‘Kkondae-ness’ result. Apparently, the highest level ever. My character is like that.
Park Hae-Jin: I got level 2 which is relatively low. I thought it would come out worse…
Host: What is Kkondae like in this period of time?
NSW: I think the most typical trait is unilaterally forcing his or her thoughts onto others, while disregarding others’ personal values and thoughts. I think ‘Kkondae’ these days is used in a wide range. The way our drama goes is “Let’s become a good Kkondae.” Every character in the drama has some ‘Kkondae-ness ‘in them. It’s impossible to not show a negative aspect of a Kkondae in our drama and I was worried that Kim Eung-Soo’s character might cause controversies. If I portrayed him as too bad of a character, it might cause some issues. However, even if there were controversies, it’d just be news from a drama that would be for a short period of time. If there were less ‘Kkondae-ness’ in the society in general, I think that would be a good thing.
Kim Eung-Soo: I feel the same with director Nam. Forcing one’s thoughts onto others and leveraging one’s position in doing so is okay if you are the only Kkondae. I think the over-arching ‘Kkondae’ theme of this drama is a good choice. The drama showcases humour through Kkondae-like actions, and will make anyone laugh when you watch it. Laughter is the best medicine. So, by the end of this drama, we would have made people laugh so much… that it could likely eliminate Coronavirus! Should we then do 50 episodes to achieve that? (laughter)
Host: What are the moments that make you realize you are being a Kkondae?
PKW: I think a Kkondae is someone who cannot communicate well. When I see myself telling others to do things in a certain way, I feel that I am being a bit of a Kkondae. So that’s when I tell myself to be careful.
HJE: Kkondae-like thinking comes up in my head when I see kids who are growing up in different environment than mine. I have some analogue-ness in me, like handwriting a note with a pen. But, kids these days use electronic devices. I look at them and worry if that’s okay.
Park Hae-Jin: When you hear yourself saying something about something you think is obvious. Things that you’ve always done in a certain way and you think it of as obvious. But when others don’t take that as obvious, it feels a bit stifling. That’s when I realize this is why others may call some people a Kkondae.
Host: It’s your first-time trying comedy. How do you feel about it and what are some of the aspects that you focus on in playing your character?
Park Hae-Jin: It’s not classic comedy, but it contains comedic aspects. I contemplate how I can naturally weave these aspects into the drama and make them stand out without being too excessive. With this character, I’ve been able to do things that I wasn’t able to do before – such as my lines, placement and look of my eyes – and every gesture.
Host: How is the synergy between Park Hae-Jin and Kim Eung-Soo?
Park Hae-Jin: It’s so good that we could be a couple. Kim Eung-Soo is not like a Kkondae. He gets along with us very well. He controls the atmosphere onsite very well to which I’m thankful for.
Kim Eung-Soo: I feel so happy every day while filming. What I do focus on is memorizing names of the staff. I’m the oldest onsite, so I shouldn’t be too solemn. I try to laugh more and stuff.
Host: Park Ki-Woong, it’s your first time since Cheese in the Trap working with Park Hae-Jin. How is it like?
PKW: Movies tend to be much shorter than a drama series and I was sad that I wasn’t able to be with Park Hae-Jin much in the movie (Cheese in the Trap). After the movie, we became much closer and talk to each other (more). It is great working with him. When you see someone acting, you can actually see his or her actual personality. Park Hae-Jin is very accommodating and helps make things comfortable.
Park Hae-Jin: I knew that Ki-Woong would do well on his part. He always reaches out to me with questions and accommodates me. In doing so, he does so well in his parts, which makes me a bit jealous.
Host: What did you see in Han Ji-Eun that made you cast her?
NSW: I didn’t know she was this charming as an actress when I saw her in 100 Days My Prince. I even felt sorry for that show. Then I saw her in Melo is My Nature and chastised myself for not catching her charm much earlier.
HJE: Thank you MBC for giving me such great opportunity. I feel very thankful, rather than pressured, for the director and the writer who saw such charm in me. When I look at my character, she is very free in her thinking and has a way of expressing herself directly. I told myself to not be too confined by the script and actually live like the character herself. I hope that can come through in the drama.
Host: How is the synergy between Park Ah-In and Han Ji-Eun?
PAI: Han Ji-Eun’s character and mine are the opposite. While Han Ji-Eun’s character is an extrovert, my character is an introvert. However, the common trait between them is that when they face challenges, they do not avoid but face them. They acknowledge each other and the trust between them slowly builds up. Han Ji-Eun keeps her bright character onsite and I also see that she tries to always gives good vibes (to people around her).
JHE: My character tends to reach for unity and collaboration, rather than foster competition. Hope such positivity is well portrayed throughout this drama.
Host: Park Ah-In, did you seek for advice from others? How is the synergy with Park Ki-Woong and Kim Eung-Soo?
PAI: I am not familiar with office work, so I asked around about being a contract worker and the sorrow that follows the role. I even searched YouTube and read books. Thinking about it, we actors and actresses are all contract workers. I also had to wait for my next stint. It’s the same for our characters and ourselves; we all have to wait for work to come. So that allowed me to empathize more. Kim Eung-Soo’s character sits next to me and we always meet in the morning and stay together till late. We spent so much time together and I believe there’s a sense of bonding between us. We interns have been working together well. We’ve become really close.
Host: Kim Eung-Soo, how are you approaching this drama? Do you have any expectations that this character will surpass your character in Tazza, Kwak Cheol-Yong?
Kim Eung-Soo: I am very surprised that my character Kwak Cheol-Yong that I took on 14 years ago was suddenly revived like this. I was personally very surprised. I had about 100 advertisement requests. But such situations created a lot of pressure. I met with Director Nam and he talked about how the character Kwak Cheol-Yong could be naturally weaved into this character in Kkondae Intern. So, I said, “Let’s do it.” There are similarities between Kwak Cheol-Yong and my character in this drama.
Host: What differentiates Kkondae Intern from others?
NSW: Usually in movies and dramas, the subordinates come together to defeat the evil superiors. However, in this drama we reach for unity and togetherness between the subordinates and build harmony even with the evil superior.
Host: What was each other’s first impression like?
Park Hae-Jin: I thought everyone perfectly matched with their respective character. I met with Kim Eung-Soo before the script reading session, and I immediately felt at ease. Our director is probably the youngest director that I’ve ever worked with. He’s only 2 years older than me and because we lived through the same period, I was able to bond with him very well.
PKW: I can’t remember what my first impression was like.
HJE: First impression of Park Ki-Woong was that he looks very distinctive. He seemed cold-hearted at first, but he really opened himself up and approached first.
Host: Han Ji-Eun, you had to eat a lot because of your character. What was the most delicious food you had?
HJE: I remember the time when I put together two pieces of pizza together like a sandwich.
And that’s all from the press conference! Don’t forget to catch new episodes of Kkondae Intern which airs Thursdays and Fridays at 7.50pm on Oh!K (Astro Ch 394).