Lim Soo-hyang has a new voice after ‘Gangnam Beauty’ role: Starring in the hit drama was a chance for the actor to show off her personality

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Lim Soo-hyang has a new voice after ‘Gangnam Beauty’ role: Starring in the hit drama was a chance for the actor to show off her personality



Despite her expectations before stepping onto set, actor Lim Soo-hyang was able to bear the burden of playing the main character on JTBC’s hit drama “My ID is Gangnam Beauty.” Her first main role in TV series turned out to be a success. She portrays Kang Mi-rae who grows up with many scars due to the bullying she went through when she was younger because of her looks.

This is Lim’s 10th year as an actor and it seems like she has found a way to shine brighter than ever before.

Ilgan Sports, an affiliate of the Korea Joongang Daily, found time to catch up with Lim. The following are edited excerpts from the interview.


A scene from “My ID is Gangnam Beauty.“ [JTBC]

Q. How does it feel now that you’ve wrapped up “My ID is Gangnam Beauty”?

. I was happy while filming the drama thanks to the attention everyone gave to us. It was only yesterday when I realized that the drama had really come to an end and I felt quite empty inside. I felt empty and restless as I started to wonder how I was going to say goodbye to Mi-rae.

Do you think that you are similar to your character Kang Mi-rae?

I think that a lot of my own personality resemble hers, which is why I was able to play her with such ease. Even my parents told me that Mi-rae was a lot like me in real life. My mom, who saw a scene where Mi-rae talks with her mom, commented on how realistic the conversation was. She said that it felt like I was talking to her.

What part of her do you think is the most similar to yourself?

Like Mi-rae, I am also an introvert who cares about what others think. I guess that’s why I’m so good at playing an introvert (laughs). When I play a strong-willed character, there’s this kind of catharsis I feel, but when I’m playing characters [like Mi-rae], my acting mimics the actions I would do in my daily life. This experience was the least stressful experience I have ever had and I was happy because of it.

Are you satisfied with your performance?

I rarely am satisfied with my [acting] style. I always seem to have regrets when I reflect on my performance. Even nowadays, I often watch myself in old dramas. It’s a relief that people around me tell me good things [about my acting] despite my dissatisfaction.

What did you learn from your time on “My ID is Gangnam Beauty?”

It was as if all the scars I had were healed from this experience. I felt exhilarated alongside Mi-rae when she mustered the courage to come out of her shell. I felt more confident with myself afterwards and realized how important it was to find my own balance.

What would you like to say to Mi-rae?

You are beautiful and loveable. Out of all the characters I played, Mi-rae is my favorite. It took me a year to say goodbye to Dansa, the character I played in the drama “New Tales of Gisaeng” (2011). This is the first time I felt like this since playing Dansa. I really don’t know how to say goodbye to Mi-rae. It feels like we have become good friends.

What are your thoughts on lookism?

There isn’t a day that goes by without me hearing at least a hundred comments about my appearance. Before I debuted, I thought I was attractive, but after my debut, I was exposed to so many other beautiful actors. I would often wonder if I was ugly. Even now, the thought pops into my head a couple of times a day. But like what this drama is trying to tell its audience, there is no need to force yourself to fit the common ideals of beauty. Trends always change. You shouldn’t work to satisfy everyone. Instead, I realized how important it was to express myself.

The kiss scene with the male protagonist Cha Eun-woo was quite memorable. What was it like to film that scene?

As you can see from all the behind-the-scenes footage, I’m always joking around with Eun-woo. Since I was so friendly with him, I thought that filming a kissing scene would be a bit awkward, but I was wrong. It wasn’t as awkward as I thought. When we filmed, I was already so fatigued [from having to film other scenes.] The kissing scene took longer than I expected. If my memory is correct, the scene took six hours to film. All I could think about was wanting to finish a scene that would be aesthetically pleasing [to the viewers]. Filming a kissing scene is an act of labor. The rehearsal for the scene is longer since you have to find the perfect angle from which to film. [However,] while filming, I tried my best to stay focused.

What was the hardest scene to film?

Since the drama was set on a campus, there were many scenes where a lot of people were featured, which took a lot more time to film because of the number of actors.

What was it like filming the scene where you danced along to Psy’s “Gangnam Style?”

I practiced for three months. I even got a text message from Psy [after the scene aired] saying that I did well (laughs). To be honest, all I managed to do was dance the moves I learned during practice. I think that singers are really incredibly talented. Especially Psy. His dances are so physically demanding, I don’t know how he manages to do it. He’s really talented.

What is your relationship with Jo Woo-ri, who plays Hyeon Su-a, in real life?

We are from the same university. In reality, she’s always in my arms. There is no conflict between me and her. The last parts of the drama revolves around Su-a. After she is terrorized with hydrochloric acid, Mi-rae tells her, “Let’s not live as if everything ends just because we are not pretty.” I think this dialogue best represents the theme of our drama. I really wanted to give all that I could to that scene.

I wanted to show [the audience] that Su-a was not just a spiteful character, but someone who could overcome her trauma. Since the drama only has 16 episodes, there were some concerns about how abruptly it came to an end. However, I was relieved that the audience still managed to be sympathetic with Su-a regardless of these concerns.

Was starring in a drama like this a challenge for you?

To be honest, it was a challenge at first. However, I [quickly overcame it] because I was a fan of the original web comic series. Also Mi-rae’s character was too charming to just pass by. Don’t you think Mi-rae’s character is quite loveable? I thought she was the kind of character that many women could easily identify with. She also represents the problems that many women face in our society. My main concern was not about having to play a character that had plastic surgery, but about having to play a character that just turned 20. I think I managed to do it well, regardless of my concerns.


임수향 "'강남미인' 강미래, 최애캐릭터이자 좋은 친구"

배우 임수향(28)이 왕관의 무게를 견뎌냈다. 임수향은 지난 15일 종영된 JTBC 금토극 '내 아이디는 강남미인'(이하 '강남미인') 주인공으로 나섰다. 미니시리즈 첫 주연 도전은 성공적이었다. 어려서부터 못생긴 외모 때문에 모든 일에 있어 소극적이고 사람들의 시선을 경계하는 강미래의 내면 상처를 시청자들이 공감할 수 있게끔 섬세하게 녹여냈다. 올해로 데뷔 10년 차, 성형미인 역할에 과감하게 도전장을 내민 임수향은 누구보다 환하게 빛났다. 시청률 6% 직전까지 갔다. 화제성은 '드라마 부문 전 채널 2위'라는 유종의 미를 거뒀다.

-종영 소감은.
"많은 관심을 보내주셔서 행복하게 촬영했고 지금도 행복한 마음이다. 끝났다는 생각을 못 하다가 어제부터 마음이 공허해졌다. 싱숭생숭하고 헛헛하더라. 미래를 어떻게 떠나보내야 하나 생각하게 됐다."

-지금 시점에서 돌아본 '강남미인'은.
"주변에서 아련하다는 얘기를 많이 한다. 여운이 많이 남은 것 같다. 나 역시 아련한 느낌이 있다. 아쉬운 부분도 있지만, 흔들리지 않고 잘 달려왔다는 생각이 든다."

-강미래와 닮았나.
"내 모습이 많이 반영되어 있다. 그래서 좀 더 편하게 촬영할 수 있었다. 부모님도 '웃을 때 딱 너다' 그러더라. 극 중 엄마랑 대화 나누는 걸 본 엄마가 '나한테 얘기하는 것 같다'고 하더라."

-어떤 점이 가장 비슷했나.
"나도 소심하다. 남들 눈치를 많이 본다. 그래서 그런지 눈치 보는 연기를 왜 이렇게 잘하냐고 하더라.(웃음) 쭈그리 연기가 편하다. 강한 캐릭터를 연기하면 강렬함에서 오는 카타르시스가 있는데 이런 연기는 생활 속에 묻어가 편안하다. 어떤 촬영장보다도 스트레스 덜 받고 촬영했다. 행복했다."
-자신의 연기에 만족하나.
"스스로 잘 만족하지 못하는 스타일이다. 돌아보면 아쉽다. 지금도 옛날에 했던 드라마를 모니터하곤 한다. 생각만큼 잘 전달이 되지 않은 것 같아서 아쉬움이 드는데 주변에서 좋은 얘기를 많이 해줘 그나마 다행이란 생각이 든다."

-이번 작품을 통해 얻은 것은.
"미래를 연기하면서 내•외적으로 가지고 있던 상처나 트라우마를 회복했다. 힐링 됐다. 미래가 용기를 낼 때, 알을 깨고 나왔을 때 함께 후련해지는 느낌이었다. 그래서 나도 좀 단단해졌다는 걸 느꼈다. 외모로 평가받는 직업과 세상에서 뭔가 나의 중심을 잘 찾아서 가야겠다는 생각이다."

-미래에게 해주고 싶은 한마디.
"사랑스럽고 예쁘다. 나의 '최애캐릭터'다. '신기생뎐' 단사란 역을 떠나보낼 때 1년이 걸렸다. 그때 이후로 이런 기분은 처음이다. 어떻게 미래를 떠나보내야 할지 모르겠다. 항상 응원하고 싶다. 마음에 품고 살고 있을 것 같다. 좋은 친구를 얻었다."
-외모지상주의에 대한 생각은.
"외모로 상처받은 적이 많다. 하루에도 몇백 개씩 외모와 관련된 평가가 있다. 데뷔 초에는 자존감이 낮았다. 예쁘다고 생각하고 데뷔했는데 세상에 너무 예쁜 사람이 많았다. '내가 진짜 못난 사람인가?'란 생각이 들 때도 있었다. 요즘도 하루에 몇 번씩 기분이 왔다 갔다 한다. 근데 이 드라마에서 얘기하는 것처럼 모든 사람의 외모 기준에 맞출 순 없다. 트렌드도 계속 변하지 않나. 모두를 만족시키려고 하면 안 되는 것 같다. 나의 색을 잘 찾아야겠다는 생각을 더 강하게 하게 됐다. 미래와 같이하면서 위안을 받고 힐링했다."

-키스신이 인상적이었다.
"은우와는 너무 친해져서 메이킹 보면 계속 장난을 치고 있다. 장난치다 키스신을 찍으면 어색할 줄 알았는데 생각보다 어색하지 않았다. 일단 녹초가 되어 있던 상태였다. 키스신을 너무 오래 찍었다. 6시간 정도 찍었던 것 같다. 예쁘게 빨리 찍어서 마무리해야 한다는 생각뿐이었다. 키스신은 노동이다. 예쁜 각을 찾아서 찍어야 하기 때문에 리허설부터 길다. 마지막 뽀뽀하는 신은 너무 추웠다. 겨울인 줄 알았다. 그 순간만큼은 몰입해서 촬영했다."
-가장 어려웠던 신을 꼽는다면.
"캠퍼스물이라서 떼신이 많았다. 많은 인원이 나오기 때문에 촬영 시간이 오래 걸린다. 그리고 감독님이 과잉되지 않은, 현실감 있는 연기를 추구하셔서 쉽지 않았다."

-싸이의 '강남스타일' 춤이 강렬했다.
"석 달 동안 연습했다. 싸이 오빠한테 '잘했다'고 문자를 받았다.(웃음) 정말 딱 배운 대로 추지 않았나. 가수들이 진짜 대단하다고 생각했다. 특히 싸이 오빠 춤이 체력소모가 크다. 어떻게 그런 춤을 소화하는지 모르겠다. 대단하다."

-극 중 갈등 관계였던 조우리(현수아)와의 실제 관계는.
"학교 선•후배 사이다. 현실에선 거의 내 품에 안겨 있었다. 여배우 간 갈등 같은 건 아예 없었다. 마지막은 수아의 에피소드가 중심이다. 염산 테러가 일어난 후 '예뻐지지 않으면 죽는 것처럼 살지 말자'라고 말하는 신이 우리 드라마의 전체 메시지와 주제를 담고 있는 함축적인 하이라이트라고 생각했다. 그 신을 정말 잘 찍고 싶었다. 수아가 얄미운 자연미인이 아닌 그 친구가 가진 상처나 트라우마를 이겨내고 성장한다는 걸 보여주고 싶었다. 16부작이 때문에 급하게 풀린 느낌이 없지 않아 있었지만, 많은 분이 수아 캐릭터에 대한 연민을 가져주셔서 다행이라고 생각한다."

-도전이 쉽지 않은 작품이었을 것 같다.
"사실 여배우로서 처음에 부담스럽긴 했다. 하지만 원작 팬이었고 미래란 캐릭터가 너무 매력적이었다. 사랑스럽지 않나. 여성분들도 좋아하고 공감할 만한, 이 시대의 문제점을 잘 표현해주는 캐릭터라고 생각했다. 다만 성형도 성형이지만, '어떻게 20살 역할을 하느냐'가 걱정이었다. 하지만 하길 잘한 것 같다."

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