The smile from Go Ara’s lips hasn’t left. However, the youth drama Banollim (2003) has left a powerful impression for ten years as a masterpiece project which finished with great success. Go Ara, who enthusiastically played the female protagonist Sung Na Jung in the recently wrapped up tvN drama ‘Answer Me 1994’, recently held an interview in a cafe in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul despite her injury to a ligament in her ankle, and revealed her thoughts about ‘Answer Me 1994’ through Sung Na Jung’s tone.
“During the final stages of filming, I only slept about an hour a day. As it was a drama in which the many viewers sympathized with me and communicated with me, my obligation towards the drama was big. Even though I ruptured a tendon in my ankle due to that sense of obligation, I was able to film without feeling the pain.”
Go Ara played the role of Sung Na Jung, the daughter of the owners of the Shinchon boarding house that housed university students from all eight provinces of Korea, and she showed off different charms through a sharp Kyungsang-do accent and an image where she was as carefree as she was wild. Truthfully, Go Ara’s homework was to remove the image of Ok Rim from ‘Banollim’, the drama that got her name out. It wasn’t easy to finish this homework due to the image of Ok Rim being strongly imprinted in the memories of the viewers. Though people have seen Go Ara in many projects, when they see her, they think of Ok Rim. Did Go Ara have any impatience in regards to a transformation?
“Rather than worrying about a transformation each project, I’m focused on the project itself. In the movie ‘Pacemaker’, which I appeared in when I was 20, that was the starting point when I started to worry about the meaning of acting, the ego of a 20-something, and the path that I’m on. Just like raising a tree, I added some weight to my frame, as I settled my values in regard to focusing on the project, and naturally my frame of mind started becoming different. I changed on the exterior for ‘Answer Me 1994’ and many people seemed to look over me as if I had transformed, but the way I approached this project compared to former ones wasn’t particularly different.”
Go Ara chopped off her long hair for ‘Answer Me 1994’ and added 5 kg in weight. Go Ara approached the viewers as a bright and lively Na Jung that possessed freshness to her.
“While reading the script, I thought that short hair would fit the very playful Na Jung well. Seeing that she lived together with an oppa that was her friend, I thought the short hair would give off a boyish feeling. Even the director said that he liked an ‘active hair style’. I gained about five kilograms a month before filming to express Na Jung’s personality well. There were continuous eating scenes in the middle of the drama, so I even went up to adding seven kilograms, but during the final stages of filming, since we were filming all night, I’m starting to lose that weight.”
In ‘Answer Me 1994’, finding Na Jung’s husband was at the center of every episode, and within adding twist upon twist, the drama played with the hearts of the viewers. The process of finding out who was Na Jung’s husband between Trash and Chil-bong aroused a lot of interest in the viewers, but many pointed out that the love triangle was dragged out in the second half of the drama. Especially since Na Jung didn’t completely reveal her feelings towards the two men until the second half of the drama, that became a target of criticism.
“One day the director came up to me and earnestly told me ‘No matter who Na Jung marries, I will be criticized for it’. That’s why Na Jung’s stance was given attention later on. Since we had to be able to sacrifice for the sake of the drama, we had to be able to endure the criticism. In episode 20, Na Jung expresses her sadness over the fact that Trash doesn’t see her as a woman, but as a little sister. As a woman, she could share the pain of love together, but through excessive consideration, I can understand Na Jung’s heart not being able to accept the care of one’s love. Their consideration for each other is deep, but misaligned. For Na Jung and Trash to have a more passionate love, I think the two would need to work on that process.”
If it were real life, who would be Go Ara’s choice: Trash or Chil-bong? Without hesitation, Go Ara answered that her first love was Trash.
“I kept Na Jung in my heart as I acted, so I had no choice but to think from Na Jung’s position that much more. If the story with Chil-bong was electrifying, they could have been married, but I feel that [Na Jung] was able to more sincerely go towards her first love’s affection.”
Go Ara revealed that it was very meaningful to work with good people than to feel burdened being in the follow-up project to the drama that started this craze, ‘Answer Me 1997’. She said while conveying her gratitude towards the ‘Answer Me 1994’ viewers, “I have never been attached to success, but I could feel the strength of this drama that viewers sympathized with and loved.”
Go Ara has many parts of her that resemble Na Jung. Especially when it comes to her normal carefree appearance that turns into an idiot-like appearance when she falls in love. As she strongly resembles the Na Jung that allowed her to be rediscovered, ‘Answer Me 1994’ will be a project that Go Ara won’t forget. Go Ara stated “As the final day kept approaching, I didn’t realize it,” and “I had become really attached to all of the lodging house friends, so on the final day of filming, we all hugged and cried.”
“I won’t forget ‘Answer Me 1994’ for the rest of my life. I won’t forget the many people [here] and I hope this becomes a drama I remember. I hope I remember Na Jung for the rest of my life. I think ‘Answer Me 1994’, Na Jung, and the year 2014 will remain in my thoughts as a huge present.
Translation: The Real CZ @ Hallyu Interview