Fujii Mina interview & photos from Newsen & Korea Net in 2014.
(6 more pics)
Her interview with Korea net credit: http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/Culture/view?articleId=117293
*Interview with Fujii Mina
Fujii Mina made her debut as a child actress at the early age of nine and since then she has enjoyed huge popularity in her home country, Japan. When the Korean drama industry was booming in Japan, Fujii came across the smash hit series “Winter Sonata” and got mesmerized by the male lead Bae Yong-joon.
Her interest in one Korean actor developed into a love for the Korean language and the nation itself. She started learning Korean in hopes that she could watch the drama without subtitles.
Her many years of effort to build up her Korean skills paid off when she was cast in numerous Korean dramas in 2012, though only in minor roles, including “The Lord of the Drama” on SBS, “Ms. Panda and Mr. Hedgehog” on Channel A and “Another Wedding” on KBS.
Korea.net met Fujii to hear about her ever-advancing journey into the world of Korean entertainment.
1) You have been part of numerous Korean TV programs since 2012. It must be difficult to travel back and forth between Korea and Japan.
I traveled a lot between the two nations last year, but wherever I am, I feel happy and enjoy every moment because I’m doing what I love to do.
No matter how hard it is or how busy I get, I love what I am doing. Because of a tight schedule, I’ve stayed here all throughout the first month of 2014. I am really happy.
2) We heard that you started learning Korean after you saw the drama “Winter Sonata.” Please tell us about what you like about the language and what the biggest challenge was for you.
The first couple of years into learning Korean, I only found it very interesting. I could have easy access to Korean dramas, which at that time were very popular in Japan. I studied Korean, watching dramas and listening to K-pop music as well. Even when in college, I learned Korean as my second foreign language.
As I started acting here in Korea, I felt like I still had a long way to go. I should speak Korean naturally and fluently to be on Korean TV, but my intonation still sounds awkward. The hardest part, for me, is when I have to speak with varied intonation and accurate pronunciation.
I realize every day that I still have many things to study. Now that I’m staying here, I’m learning and listening to “live Korean” every single day. I practice a lot, repeating what I hear on TV, to make my intonation sound better.
3) You appeared in the SBS drama “The Lord of the Drama” in 2012. It’s very impressive to hear you speak all your lines in Korean. Wasn’t it difficult?
I started my acting career in Korea back in 2012. Shortly afterward, I had a chance to audition for a Japanese character in the drama and was hard at work preparing for it. I was so lucky to seize the chance.
One day, I sat down with Jang Hang-joon, the director of the drama, and when he heard me reading the Korean script, he said, “You sound too awkward.” He always threw me a barrage of harsh words. He even told me, “You could be replaced by another actress if you keep on like this.”
I was worried that that might really happen. In order not to make it happen, I practiced over and over again. In retrospect, his sternness kept me going. I met him the other day and he told me that he intentionally blasted me that harshly to make me go full steam ahead.
4) We think you must have gone through some distressing and painful moments as well.
Sure. As I told you, acting in Korean is the most difficult thing for me. It takes me far longer to memorize scripts. I keep practicing and figuring out what needs to be corrected all by myself.
5) When do you think was the most memorable moment?
It has been one and a half years since I started my acting career here. Among others, the “We Got Married” show is the most valuable work I’ve ever done. I enjoyed watching the program in Japan, too. I feel honored to have been part of a program I really love watching.
The show is very popular in Japan, too. I even gave its DVD to my parents and they loved it, too.
6) What do you think is the biggest difference between Korean and Japanese cultures?
There’re some differences in the way they express how they feel. The Japanese tend to be less straightforward about their feelings, while Koreans are very honest and open in expressing their emotion. That applies to acting, as well. Korean actors and actresses are very good at showing their emotion when acting. Because of that, I felt a bit awkward when I was asked to act with great emotion, but now I’ve gotten more accustomed to it.
Another difference was when my friend hung up saying, “I’ll get back to you,” after talking to me over the phone. For the rest of the day, I expected her to call me back, as she said she would. Later, I found that Koreans usually say that when they say goodbye over the line. That’s one of the interesting cultural differences I’ve experienced.
7) What made you choose Korea among so many other choices all around the world?
I wanted to know more about this country. I love everything about this country, from its dramas, movies and songs all the way through to its language and people. The first time I visited this country was four or five years ago. I travelled to Namiseom Island along with my mother and grandmother, both big fans of “Winter Sonata,” like me. I remember having acted there as if I were the female lead Choi Ji-woo in the drama.
8) Do you have anything to say to foreigners who wish to build their acting career in Korea, like you? Also, please tell us what more you want to achieve here.
As I am still “dreaming,” I am not sure whether it is right for me to give any advice. All I want to say is, “Let’s do the best together.”
In Japan, I thought that I should look as perfect as I could as a screen actress. That’s why I’d never set foot in the reality TV business, where I could make a slip of the tongue or do something reckless.
Here, though, I can see many actors and actresses in variety shows where they show their true selves, just as they really are. So I decided to take the chance to appear on such shows. Sometimes, I made grammar mistakes and didn’t look as perfect as I was in the dramas or movies. However, my fans take me for who I am, as a human, and root for me. I am so happy.
While I am here, what I see and hear every day is all part of the learning process for me. I will be staying for another three or four months, to continue shooting the sitcom “Potato Star 2013QR3.”
Last year, I did three films in Japan and one of them has already been released. The two others are coming out soon.
I still have many roles I want to play in dramas and, hopefully, movies, as well. I don’t have any experience with Korean movies yet, but this year I hope to have a chance.
By Sohn JiAe