Kwak Sun-young takes on not one, not two, but three roles

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Kwak Sun-young takes on not one, not two, but three roles

Actor Kwak Sun-young [BLOSSOM ENTERTAINMENT]

Actor Kwak Sun-young [BLOSSOM ENTERTAINMENT]

 
Actor Kwak Sun-young is a veteran actor who debuted in the 2006 musical “Dalgona.” However, throughout her 15-year career, she’s only been appearing on the small screen for the last four years. Audiences would be most familiar with her role of Ik-soon in the hit tvN drama series “Hospital Playlist” (2020-21).
 
This year Kwak could be seen frequently on the small screen thanks to her roles in three dramas — season 2 of “Hospital Playlist,” JTBC’s “Inspector Koo” and in a special one-episode project “Average Jaehwa” (translated) which aired on KBS — the last marked her first lead role in a television show. 
 
Kwak portrays a variety of characters in each of the respective series. In “Hospital Playlist” she is a poised soldier, a fun younger sister of the character Ik-joon and conjures heartbreaking chemistry with Jun-wan, one of Ik-joon’s best friends; In “Inspector Koo,” she is a cop-turned-manager of an insurance company driven by her goals and her goals alone; In “Average Jaehwa,” she plays a telemarketer for a shopping mall who seems to be the unluckiest person in the world. 
 
During a recent interview with Ilgan Sports, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, Kwak said that she does not want to waste a breath on rest and will continue working on good roles and projects. The following are edited excerpts of the interview.  
 
Actor Kwak Sun-young as Ik-soon, a poised solider who in an on-and-off relationship with Jun-hwan (played by actor Jung Kyung-ho). [TVN]

Actor Kwak Sun-young as Ik-soon, a poised solider who in an on-and-off relationship with Jun-hwan (played by actor Jung Kyung-ho). [TVN]

 
 
Q. “Inspector Koo” recently ended after 12 episodes. How do you feel about that?



A. On the last day of filming, everyone expressed their regrets that there won’t be more episodes. If there could have been four additional episodes, we feel like the story could have expanded into so much more, so we hope there will be another season. That’s how happy all of us felt while we were working on this series.  
 
Kwak as Na Je-hee, a cop-turned-manager of an insurance company who enlists the help of a retired police detective Koo Kyung-yi (played by actor Lee Young-ae) to reach her goals. [JTBC]

Kwak as Na Je-hee, a cop-turned-manager of an insurance company who enlists the help of a retired police detective Koo Kyung-yi (played by actor Lee Young-ae) to reach her goals. [JTBC]

 
Did you have any difficulties portraying Na Je-hee in “Inspector Koo”?



[Although she was a supporting role,] I thought a character could only function when there was a specific history and narrative behind them, but there was more to her than I thought there was. So there were no particular difficulties in portraying her. Before Na met Koo [Kyung-yi, portrayed by actor Lee Young-ae], she had no exact purpose or goal in her life. She didn’t know what she liked or didn’t like, she just led her life passively without any ups or downs, and she just became a police detective to follow in the footsteps of her father. Then she meets Koo, and unconditionally follows her and idolizes her, and that’s the narrative that I followed when I portrayed Na.  
 
 
You’ve had quite a year with “Hospital Playlist” and “Inspector Koo.”  
 
With “Hospital Playlist,” I took part in season 2 hoping that if I played the role of Ik-soon to the best of my abilities — as Ik-joon’s younger sister and Jun-han’s girlfriend — then it could somehow help me portray Na in “Inspector Koo.” I was happy that everyone liked her. For “Inspector Koo,” I thought my role was the only mundane one among so many interesting and gripping characters. The director said that Na had to balance out the reality of the story so I did my best with that, and am very much happy that everyone liked her. I think I’ve gotten very lucky.  
 
 
How was it acting alongside Lee Young-ae?



It’s an honor to lock eyes with her and to deliver my lines with her — an actor that I’ve seen on screen since I was young. She was very kind to all of the junior actors. I think one of the reasons why our team had such a good atmosphere throughout the shooting was due to her.  
 
Actor Kwak Sun-young [BLOSSOM ENTERTAINMENT]

Actor Kwak Sun-young [BLOSSOM ENTERTAINMENT]



Your character goes through a lot of difficult predicaments, such as getting kidnapped or strangled [by the perpetrator]. Were any of these situations difficult to portray?

 
I have very good stamina. I think I hoarded all of my preserved strength through Na. I wasn’t able to keep myself particularly in shape due to Covid-19, but even though I spent hours in water while we were shooting, I went right back to my daily life without catching a cold or getting sick.  
 
[As I said before], since my character had to keep the balance among so many unique characters, I thought I shouldn’t stand out. But I believed in the power of the script and followed the instructions accordingly.  
 
 
Have there been any responses that left an impression on you?



I liked it when people commented that the story was “unique but interesting.” The ending of each episode makes people curious about what is going to happen in the next episode. I heard a lot of people say that their predictions about the next episode were mostly wrong. Even I thought that this story had a lot of twists and turns that I hadn't anticipated. And I heard that one of the key words associated with the character was “ambitious.” I loved that, because I thought she was the most ordinary one out of all of the characters.  
 
 
How much are you in sync with your character Na Je-hee?



We are both similar in the sense that we both want to do everything perfectly but we’re always missing out on at least one thing. I want to be perfect too, in all aspects of my life whether it’s cleaning or cooking — but I’m not. I am sloppy and I make a lot of mistakes. But I’m a pacifist. I want to live peacefully and I’m not that ambitious either. I want to be ordinary. I don’t think I’ll betray my friends for my goals. I’m a coward. I don’t have that much of a grand purpose like Na. My goal is to live every day happily and have fun.  
 
Actor Kwak Sun-young [BLOSSOM ENTERTAINMENT]

Actor Kwak Sun-young [BLOSSOM ENTERTAINMENT]

 
What are your ambitions as an actor?



My goal is to portray each role and work on each project to the best of my abilities — whatever role or project that is. I think that opportunities arrive naturally when I dutifully perform the way that I need to. People may say that I’m too loose but I haven’t specifically set a particular goal.  
 
 
Are there any possibilities for a season 2 of “Inspector Koo”?



I’m not sure if there is a possibility for another season. But actors say that they always want to meet a project that has good teamwork. We [the cast] have always said that we hope that we can return for another season. I think it would be interesting if all of the roles are switched up. I think it would be fun if Na is the scary villain [in the next season].  
 

BY HWANG SO-YOUNG [kjdculture@joongang.co.kr]
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