Ever since she started her career with a TV commercial at the age of four, Kim Yoo-jung has been known as “Korea’s little sister”. In 2012, her acting career got a major boost, when she was as the lead in the award-winning TV drama Moonlight Embracing Sun.
Since then, she hasn’t looked back. Yoo-jung stunned audiences this year with her performance in the romantic drama Love in the Moonlight, which is set in ancient Korea. Yoo-jung plays a woman who disguises herself as a man, and gives relationship advice to men across the kingdom – including to the prince himself.
But offscreen, Yoo-jung is a real girl, with far more depth and personality than any TV character. Young Post caught up with her to find out more about her recent roles, her personal life, and her plans for the future.
“I felt a lot of pressure working as a lead character on Love in the Moonlight,” says Yoo-jung. “I was very stressed at the very beginning because I was worried that the audience wouldn’t think I was a good fit for the role. But when I saw so much positive feedback from media and the audience, I felt like now I had to do even better. It made me realise that there will be a lot of pain and difficulties to overcome if I want to be a better actress.”
In Love in the Moonlight, Yoo-jung’s real gender is finally revealed to the prince, they face overwhelming political pressure as they start a painful but fruitful romantic journey.
Audiences were impressed by Yoo-jung’s ability to capture both manly toughness and a woman’s softness, but she says there was nothing to it. “I just put myself in the shoes of a man, observing how they walk and talk, and then acted that out,” she says.
Finding her male voice was not as hard as the physical demands of shooting through a sweltering summer, made even more unbearable by the layer after layer of traditional Korean costumes.
“Working under the scorching sun was agonising for the cast and crew of Love in the Moonlight,” says Yoo-jung. “But the pleasure brought by the drama outshines all these pains.”
As dramas in Korea are aired very soon after filming, the cast could receive almost instant feedback from the audience. “On most of my other productions, I was always too busy to feel the feedback. But this time my friends were sending me texts imitating my lines, such as: ‘Don’t go away!’ That was simply amazing,” Yoo-jung laughs.
Although acting takes a big part of her life, Yoo-jung is also a student. Now 17, she is starting to focus on her future. “I am struggling,” she says. “I am still considering whether I should go to university. I am taking advice from my family and other close people.”
Shooting and studying sometimes add up on Yoo-jung, but she hasn’t left her life as an ordinary teenage girl behind. “When I’m not filming, I love to get together with my friends,” she says. “When we have exams, we study together – and of course, we go out to eat together. These are the joys that only people my age can experience, so I don’t want to miss out on them!”