“20th Century Girl” Star Byun Woo Seok On The Film’s Ending, His 1st Love, Kim Yoo Jung, And More
Byun Woo Seok recently sat down for a round of interviews about his hit film “20th Century Girl”!
The actor took on both his first leading role and his first film through “20th Century Girl,” a nostalgic romance in which he starred opposite Kim Yoo Jung as high school student Poong Woon Ho.
“I had my doubts about whether it’d be okay to play a high school student in my thirties,” confessed Byun Woo Seok. “But when I first read the script, I really liked it. I imagined myself in it, and each and every scene was beautiful. I couldn’t believe that my co-star would be Kim Yoo Jung, the ‘nation’s younger sister,’ and I did feel some pressure because of it—but another part of me was also extremely excited.”
Describing the differences and similarities between Woon Ho and his real-life personality, Byun Woo Seok shared, “I’m the type of person who outwardly expresses my feelings, while Woon Ho is restrained in his actions and manner of speaking, and he’s the kind of guy who is reserved in his expressions. Even so, he and I are similar in terms of our mindsets and the way we treat other people. As I filmed [the movie], the more deeply I understood Woon Ho, the more I was able to overcome the differences in our personalities and fall more deeply into the character.”
As for his own real-life first love, Byun Woo Seok revealed, “It was a close friend of mine in middle school. But I wasn’t even able to confess my feelings, and it just ended as a one-sided love.”
“Maybe that’s why it was so easy for me to understand this story,” he continued. “I was able to understand how Woon Ho felt.”
The film’s tragic ending has spawned much debate since the release of “20th Century Girl,” with many viewers expressing their disappointment at the revelation that Woon Ho had passed away.
When asked to share his own thoughts, Byun Woo Seok remarked, “I think with every movie, there will be people who like it and people who don’t, and the fact that this has become the subject of debate is proof that people are taking an interest in the film. Since everyone has different tastes, there are probably lots of different opinions [about the ending].”
However, he went on to reveal, “I personally am on the side that would have liked to see Woon Ho live.”
Byun Woo Seok also confessed that at the very beginning of filming, he had been intimidated by the idea of working together with Kim Yoo Jung, who had far more acting experience than he did.
“Because I started my acting career relatively late, I was [initially] a little bit scared of Yoo Jung, who had so much experience,” said the actor. “I’d seen her [on screen] starting from long ago, but it was my first time filming together with her in person, so I was very nervous. Fortunately, however, she approached me first and was very considerate of me, so I was grateful.”
Expressing his admiration for her passion and dedication on set, he went on to recall, “I learned a lot just from watching her, and I was impressed by the sincere pondering and hard work behind her cheerful image. She turned out to be an actress who expresses her thoughts and sincerely pours her passion into making [a character] her own.”
Due to the global popularity of “20th Century Girl,” Byun Woo Seok has been seeing a dramatic surge in his own popularity as well.
“Thanks to [the film], my follower count is going up a lot, and I’m so grateful that people like Woon Ho,” said the actor. “Because of this film, my Instagram followers went up by over 400,000. Sometimes, I even check my follower count once an hour [because it goes up so fast]. I feel really motivated by the fact that so many people are cheering me on.”
Mentioning how everything about this experience has been new to him, Byun Woo Seok noted, “I’ve never even played the first lead in a drama, so when I joined this film, I was determined to pour everything I had into the role of Woon Ho. Because it such a major character, I did feel some pressure, but I think a little stress and pressure can be a good thing, because it makes you work that much harder and ponder [your role] more deeply.”
Finally, Byun Woo Seok looked back on how far he’s come in his career.
“In this line of work, there are moments that are difficult,” he shared. “There are times when you even wonder if you’re cut out for this line of work and if you should quit. I want to pat myself on the back for enduring those moments and making it all the way here. There were really happy moments, but there was also difficult times. I’m really proud and grateful that I didn’t give up during those hard times and that I got where I am today. Every project that I’ve been a part of up until now has helped me.”
Can’t get enough Byun Woo Seok after “20th Century Girl”? Check out his latest drama “Moonshine” with subtitles below!