Is it wrong to describe a 13-year old boy as sexy? But that’s exactly how I would describe the eyes of child actor Yeo Jin Goo playing the role of young Lee Gangmo in the SBS drama series Giant earlier this year.
When I first saw him in A Frozen Flower and Iljimae, despite thinking him to be quite talented, he failed to stand out to me among all the other child actors out there. (I mean, honestly, most child actors are very good, and sadly, at times even better than their adult counterparts.) But it was in his performance as Lee Gangmo that Yeo Jin Goo truly captured my attention. I wondered to myself how someone could possess and express such sadness in his eyes at such a young age?
But reading this interview reminded me that despite his acting talent, he is just a normal 13-year old boy after all, who seems to stress quite a lot about his height. Well, I for one hope to see him “grow” into an adult actor who reaches his maximum potential, don’t you?
Published July 6, 2010//From 10asia.co.kr
Written by Wi Geun Woo
Photography by Chae Ki Won
Edited by Jang Kyung Jin
Translated by Blue 1004
My name is Yeo Jin Goo. I was told it meant “nine treasures” and when I asked my mom why it wasn’t ten, she told me to find the remaining one as I live out my life. (Jin Goo’s mother: The truth is that “Goo” is a dollimja.)
I was born on August 13, 1997. I’m 14 years old this year [translator's note: in Korean age], and like Gangmo, I’m in my first year of junior high.
I have a brother who is five years younger than me. He doesn’t do it in front of me, but when he’s with his friends, he brags to them about me. He doesn’t envy me for appearing on TV or for acting though. When I asked him if he wanted to act, he said, “I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna.” He’s shyer than me.
In Giant, there’s a scene where I hit Sotae hyung (Seo Ji Won) on his head with coal briquettes. Before hitting him, I simulated and practiced hitting him many times. The stunt team hyungs told me that I needed to get the timing exactly right so that he wouldn’t get hurt. When Sotae hyung would turn his head, I would hit him with the coal briquettes on the side of his head. But we had many outtakes. I’d break the briquettes, brush them off, and hyung would go get some rest. Then I’d break the briquettes, brush them off, and hyung would go get some rest. After getting hit many times, hyung instinctively ducked instead of turning his head, and got yelled at by the camera director.
I called Nam Ji Hyun noona a “Sunbae” as a joke a couple of times. Even though I’ve acted in quite a lot of projects, Ji Hyun noona has done it for much longer than I did. So I called out to her, “Oh, Sunbae, you’re here?” (in formal speech) Noona told me not to do that anymore, so I said, “Alright.” Now we just speak informally/casually to each other.
Of all the sunbae actors who I played a child version of, I honestly want to grow up to look most like Jo In Sung hyung of A Frozen Flower. But after having seen him in person, I realized that we look very different. I think I’ll end up looking most like Lee Bum Soo ahjussi of Giant.
I’m about 162 cm tall. My goal is to be 184 cm. In order to grow tall, I drink 1000-2000 ml of milk everyday. I also do jump rope, focusing on the jumps and not the number of jumps. I also try to play more basketball as opposed to soccer, and even when I play basketball, I try to focus on doing jump shots as opposed to dribbling the ball.
Perhaps because I did swimming, but my lower body is a little thicker than my upper body. (Jin Goo’s mother: A lot thicker.) A lot thicker. I learned swimming for about 2 years when I was young, and it helped me a great deal when doing underwater scenes, like in the SBS series Swallow the Sun.
To help out in my future acting, I want to learn how to play musical instruments. Piano, drum, or guitar. I’ve always wanted to properly learn how to play the piano, but whenever I set my mind on learning it, a new acting project would get scheduled. There’s a scene in Giant where Jungyeon plays the piano. Ji Hyun noona played it herself, and her fingers moved so fast that you couldn’t even see them move.
When I play computer games, I strangely get dizzy so I prefer playing ball with my friends. In elementary school, there wasn’t a basketball net at school so we mostly played soccer. But there’s a basketball net at my junior high, and so I frequently play basketball with my friends during lunch. Honestly, to grow taller, I should focus on shooting the ball, but when I actually play, I end up doing more dribbling. The taller kids stand below the net, and kids like me do more of stealing the ball and passing. When I dribble past other kids, and shoot the ball myself only to miss, the taller kids go, “Hey, why didn’t you pass?” Then I go, “Ahh, I’m sorry.” (laughs)
Junior high is a lot more fun than elementary school. In elementary school, we just learned under one homeroom teacher. But in junior high, we learn under many different teachers. I like that, and it’s also more fun since there are kids from many different elementary schools gathered here. I go to a co-ed school, but it feels comfortable as if it was an all-boys school. I think girls are a lot more easy-going than boys. When a boy nudges you, you have to nudge him back. But when you nudge the girls, they just say, “Don’t do that from now on” and walk away. They’re cool.
It’s hard to not fall behind in my studies, so I have to continue studying at the set of the filming. I ask my friends to get the handouts for me that the teachers passed out in class. When I return to school, my desk is stacked up with the handouts. When I told my friend thanks, he lingered around. At first I didn’t know why, but it was because he expected something in return. So now, after class, I buy him snack or ice cream.
I receive my allowance from my mother when I need it. (Jin Goo’s mother: Because we live with his grandfather and grandmother, I assume that he might secretly get allowance money from them so I don’t give him a regular allowance.) I really don’t get any. When I go to my grandma and grandpa and secretly ask them for some allowance money, they tell me to ask my mom. When they do give me any, they give me about 5000 won (approx. $5).
(Jin) Ji Hee from Ja Myung Go is the type that reads the script many, many times. She also practices very hard. So when I look at her, I think to myself that she is born to be an actor. In Nam Ji Hyun noona’s case, there are times when it feels like Jungyeon is really in front of me. At those times, it feels so real that it gives me chills. In the scene where we first meet and she slaps my face, I got so scared. Her eyes were… They were scarier than a ghost’s, so I asked her to please go easy on me.
My parents allowed me to watch all the World Cup games, except the ones that aired at 3:30 in the morning. For the Korea vs. Nigeria match, it aired early morning but they had let me stay up to watch it after I begged them. I ended up falling asleep at 2 a.m. (and missing the game). Besides those, I think I watched all the games I wanted to see. I feel upset that I missed the North Korea vs. Brazil game. I didn’t even realize that they were playing that day. I heard that Jung Dae Se [translator's note: He's a Japanese-born Korean player who plays for the North Korean team] cried, and I’m curious as to why.
When I become an adult, the first thing I want to do is to get a drivers license. When we go back and forth between filming, my mom looks so tired when she drives me around. Later when I get my license, my mom can stay home and rest, and my manager and I can get just handle it ourselves. I don’t have a dream car that I specifically want yet. When I see a cool looking car, instead of thinking I want to drive it, I just feel envious. I think Lamborghini looks cool. I didn’t know it earlier, but they’re very expensive. I looked it up online, and I got shocked after finding out how much they cost. I thought, “Wow, I need to make a lot of money.”
The military service… would probably be around even when I’m older, right? Ahh, I guess I’d have to go then. But if it is something I have to do anyways, I want to serve in the army.