In conversation with Rowoon
The versatile South Korean artist and one of the faces of Hallyu Wave opens up with Panorama in an exclusive interview
Rowoon has won the hearts of fans all across the world with his charismatic charm, great talent, and dazzling good looks.
Born Kim Seok-woo on August 7, 1996, Rowoon is a South Korean singer, actor, and ex-member of the popular boy group SF9. SF9 made their debut under FNC Entertainment in 2016 and soon earned popularity for their excellent performances and catchy music. Although today Rowoon is no longer part of the group-the announcement came a few days ago striking the Hallyu industry with a lightning bolt, SF9 was pivotal in his stratospheric climb to stardom. Rowoon's shift from K-pop idol to actor was smooth, thanks to his innate skill and commitment to his profession. He made his acting debut in the 2017 web drama "Click Your Heart," where he demonstrated his versatility and received favorable feedback.
Rowoon is now on the small screen worldwide with the K-drama "Destined With You" from the renowned SLL. In the drama, he plays the role of an ace lawyer named Jang Shin-yu. Set against the backdrop of a bustling city, "Destined With You" follows the intertwined lives of two individuals, played by Rowoon and Cho Bo Ah, in a tale of love, destiny, and second chances. Rowoon's portrayal of the charismatic and endearing lead character captured viewers' hearts, showcasing his ability to convey a wide range of emotions with depth and authenticity.
SLL is a prominent force in Korean drama production thanks to a keen eye for selecting compelling scripts and a track record of collaborating with some of the industry's most talented actors and directors. As a matter of fact, one of the key factors contributing to the success of "Destined With You" was the undeniable chemistry between Rowoon and his co-star, Cho Bo Ah. Their on-screen dynamic brought the characters to life, making the audience emotionally invested in their journey. Rowoon's ability to establish a genuine connection with his fellow actors is a testament to his professionalism and dedication to his craft.
SLL dedication to pushing creative boundaries and their ability to bring forth emotionally resonant narratives have earned them a well-deserved reputation for excellence within the industry and a solid place as a powerhouse in Korean entertainment. Rowoon's rise in the world of K-dramas mirrors the broader global phenomenon of the Hallyu Wave. This cultural wave, driven by the popularity of Korean entertainment, has transcended borders, captivating audiences worldwide. Rowoon's presence in both K-pop and K-dramas has played a significant role in furthering the reach and influence of Korean entertainment on the international stage.
Panorama spoke with him in an exclusive interview.
Nice to meet you, Rowoon. Can you introduce yourself and your character to our readers?
Hi, everyone. I'm Rowoon. Jang Shin-yu is a character who lives with the fear and trauma of not knowing when he's going to die because of his family health history, so he's an unfriendly person who doesn't want people around him.
What drew you to the role in "Destined With You"?
I could see the word' loneliness' in Shin-yu, so I wondered how the loneliness that I have would be depicted through him.
How did you prepare to portray the character who lives in a modern age but whose life was deeply connected to a historical setting?
Rather than focusing on the historical setting, I acted by focusing more on the story of the drama and the life of a character. In fact, the culture and customs 300 years ago may have been a lot different from now, but I thought people lived the same way, so I tried to find the appropriate culture and customs for that period in the writing.
What challenges did you face while taking on this particular role?
When I first read the script, I tried to concentrate on the 'Jang Shin-yu-ness' of the character. I guess I thought a lot about how he would walk, how he would talk, what his habits would be, and how he would express his emotions since he's not someone who shows them easily.
How would you describe the chemistry between your character and Cho Bo Ah, your female lead?
What I found appealing about the beginnings of the drama is that they're not looking at each other. The fantasy element is what connects them, and if you pay attention to their relationship as it changes from being close to each other out of necessity, you might naturally notice the chemistry.
What do you hope viewers will take away from watching "Destined With You"?
I'm curious to know about it, too. I want to know what viewers will feel and think about the drama after finishing 16 episodes.
How did you connect with the emotions and experiences of your character?
I think the fear of death is something that everyone has, and genetic disease is something like an unwanted destiny. I imagined what if that happened to me, and I thought it would be really lonely because he wouldn't be able to let on to anyone easily and wouldn't be consoled by his dad, who is the family member that he always wanted to be supported from, just saying that he has to carry on the family name. As I focused on the situation, I naturally empathized with Shin-yu's circumstances.
Were there any specific scenes or lines that resonated with you personally?
In the scene of Shin-yu and his father's conversation, there's a line in which Shin-yu says to his father that at least he should understand why Shin-yu can't say the word 'love,' and I choked up because I felt like Shin-yu, who never shows emotion, was saying, "I'm scared too, but I'm holding back!"
Can you share any memorable moments from the filming of "Destined With You"?
Since every moment with the director, actors, and engineering staff was so happy, it's really hard to pick just one. But if I should, Shin-yu faces a crisis in the latter part of the series, and I hope you look forward to it.
In what ways do you find similarities between yourself and your character in "Destined With You"?
I tend not to look for the similarities. If I try to look for them, I'm bound to make errors, and then I might come up with situations or lines that are easier for my emotions than for the character, so I tried to emphasize with Shin-yu as following the script.
What aspects of your character's personality or experiences differ from your own life?
Maybe I don't need to fear for the family health history or the death right now? So, I came to value the health more.
How do you approach finding common ground between your real emotions and those of your character?
I tried to focus on each situation to contain the most of 'Shin-yu-ness' in it rather than finding common ground. So, when reading the script, I concentrated on 'Shin-yu-ness' by making assumptions and thinking, "What if it was Shin-yu?", and also in the real life of Ro Woon, I did it and focused on 'Shin-yu-ness.'
What can fans anticipate in terms of the unique storyline of "Destined With You"?
I'd like you to focus on the point that it's a mixture of assorted genres.
What valuable lessons from your past roles do you bring into your new character in "Destined With You"?
There definitely are some things that I learn from acting, but I guess I tend to exclude them from the next work as much as possible. Although the pieces are similar in genre, since the characters are different, I try to start from the very beginning each time.
Can you give us some spoilers on what's coming next for you?
I'm planning to challenge my next move in an undistinguished, calm, and silent way.
One last question: if you have to describe yourself in one word, which would it be?