If you are an avid K-drama fan (or even if you aren’t), chances are that you may have started watching one of the hottest dramas this year – Hotel Del Luna. The show revolves around a hotel that serves only ghosts, and the owner Man-wol (played by IU) has committed a severe crime in her past life, so she has been confined in the hotel for a long time.
Yeo Jin-goo, who plays the male lead Gu Chan-seong, was in town to meet with Singapore media and fans and share about his shooting experience. Read on to find out why this drama is a must-watch, Yeo Jin-goo’s reflection on his acting career, as well as his thoughts on some of the more serious issues discussed in the drama!
You came to Singapore about two years ago for tvN’s movie launch. How does it feel to be back here again?
Nice to meet all of you! I heard that Hotel Del Luna was well-loved not only in Korea but across Asia, I’m really happy to hear that. Because of the overwhelming response, I was a little nervous before coming here but stepping to Singapore I felt so happy and relieved that I’m finally here again to meet all my fans.
Did you have time to explore Singapore the last time round? And this time since you are here again, are there are any places you want to check out?
Straight after today’s schedule is over, I’m going straight to have my chili crab. Of course I cannot miss it when I’m in Singapore. The last time round when I was in Singapore, I was at Clarke Quay and I remember having lots of fun and making great memories at that place. This time since I’m in Singapore again, I would like to visit it again but of course I’m open to exploring new places in Singapore, so please keep your recommendations coming.
We heard that this show has dominated viewership ratings in Korea and has done very well on tvN Asia – it even broke tvN Asia’s own record in 2018 and 2019. Did you expect the show to do that well?
When I first received the script for Hotel Del Luna drama, I was very intrigued by the setting, the whole setting of it, it’s a mysterious hotel that only ghosts can stay over. So I felt like it was very interesting, and it would be interesting for a lot of viewers too. Of course, I never expected this kind of overwhelming response from fans all across Asia but as I found out that it’s been well-loved, it really made me enjoy filming on set even more for the drama.
Even after the drama was over, I was overwhelmed by the response of my fans outside of Korea and I’m so thankful and happy for the opportunity that I’m traveling across Asia to meet my fans all over here. Thank you so much again for that.
What do you think makes Hotel Del Luna so appealing to the audience?
I think there are two very important factors that can be attributed to the success of the drama. Firstly, there is a very interesting plot that goes back and forth from the before-life and afterlife, and it spans over 1,300 years. The characters go back to the past and come to the present, and that vast spectrum of the timeline within the drama, the fantasy part of it, appeals well to the viewers.
Also, each and every character you see in the drama comes with their own storylines and backgrounds, and that is also very interesting as well. Incorporating these two factors, I think that is what makes this drama very appealing to a lot of fans.
In Hotel Del Luna, you played Gu Chan-seong, a hotel manager. If you hadn’t chosen the acting path, is becoming a hotelier something that you would pursue? Or did you already set your mind on being an actor once you had a taste of it when you were younger?
Before taking on this role as Gu Chan-seong in Hotel Del Luna, I wasn’t particularly interested in hotelier as a job and never really given it serious thought actually. But after I received the script and started to seriously prepare for the role, I tried to look back and think of all those times when I was younger as well as in the past when I was staying in different hotels all across the world as an actor.
I try to recall the moments I saw the hotel staff preparing their day and go about serving the guests in the hotel, and I must say that it’s a very tough job and to be very honest, I wasn’t very academically-talented so I didn’t do very well as a student, and I believe that to be a hotelier, you must be very intelligent, so I think it would be a little tough for me to do that, even though I’m pretty meticulous.
You have successfully transformed from a child actor to your self right now. What’s your secret? Do you think being a child actor gave you any advantage?
Well I had a lot of fears to be honest before embarking on Hotel Del Luna and I thought that it would, the role that I am playing as Gu Chan-seong is very different from my previous roles. It’s a lot more serious and more down to earth, I would say. But preparing for a role in my other latest drama, that actually helped me a lot to prepare for this. It kind of made me think that, you know, you should stop thinking and just give it a go, so that’s the whole mindset that I had while I was acting in Hotel Del Luna.
You’ve had quite a productive year – you starred in three drama series just this year alone. What’s the difference between preparing for a movie role versus a drama role? Do you have any preference?
It’s very hard to choose between the two because they are very different in nature too.
For drama, I would say that as an actor preparing for a drama role, you actually need to be very adaptive and proactive especially because sometimes the entire script doesn’t come to you firsthand. As the journey continues, there might be slight changes to the storyline, so you have to act it out on a whim.
For movie, the storyline, the plot and the script pretty much come wholesale for you to prepare for it, deep-dive and research before the filming begins. I would say that it allows you more time to really prepare for the role deeply.
Because they are so different, they have different charms, so I want to do well in both and I wouldn’t choose one over another.
Do you think that you are similar to Gu Chan-seong in the drama? Are you afraid of ghosts in real life?
I’m not exactly afraid of ghosts or anything supernatural but I get frightened by things that appear suddenly, like bugs, so that really scares me, so even a tiny bug that creeps out of nowhere, I may jump to my feet.
Do you personally believe in an afterlife? When your time comes, what do you hope to have achieved by then?
Because I want to receive that beautiful flower from Ma-Go god, so I try to live as faithfully as possible. There is a saying in Korea that for instance, if you leave a lot of food behind, you waste food, then after you pass away, you might have to finish all those food that you left behind, so yes, I do believe in the afterlife and I try not to waste food.
What I want to achieve by then, well, I haven’t really given it serious thought, to be honest, but I really want to be remembered as an actor who tried various roles and various productions and dramas and movies actively until the last moment.
If you can be any character from Hotel Del Luna for one day, who would you want to be and why?
Well that one character I really want to try pursuing next time is Man-wol. Maybe not Man-wol herself, but someone similar to her. Someone who does everything she wishes and she doesn’t really listen to others, she does everything as how she wants it to be. I think it will be a little tough but I really want to give it a try if the opportunity comes.
Having mostly played bright and happy characters, how do you adapt to playing a more mature character as Gu Chan-seong in Hotel Del Luna?
This is very different from my previous roles that I have taken up in my other dramas. As Gu Chan-seong, you don’t really see a huge transformation in his character during the drama itself, so I thought it’s very important to have a full understanding of what kind of character he is before embarking on filming. I did this by communicating with the director and doing a lot of research and doing a lot of studies and deep-diving into the character itself.
Gu Chan-seong is also a very mature character who brings a lot of changes to the hotel – because he is already mature, he doesn’t really grow per se. In fact, he brings a lot of past stories and he explains what happens to Jang Man-wol in the past as well. Because of all this, I had to talk to my director for a very long time to study this character together.
What made you decide to take up this drama?
Before deciding to take up the role in Hotel Del Luna, I had my own worries too of course – I thought it might be something too new to the viewers.
However as I read the script, there is a line said by the previous hotel manager: “Aren’t you interested in finding out about a world that no one knows about?” and yes, that cast a spell on me. I think that line really attracted me and made me decide to take up this role as Gu Chan-seong in Hotel Del Luna.
If you met Jang Man-wol in actual reality, how would you react as Yeo Jin-goo instead of Gu Chan-seong? Would you be very happy to meet her?
This question really took me by surprise, I never expected this. If I met her in real life, I would be surprised, but happy to meet her at the same time, and maybe I would say things like “Oh you’re very pretty” and also ask her for an invitation to the hotel.
You’ve been acting for almost fourteen years already, what made you keep going until now?
Every role and every production brings me different meanings, different inspiration, and different emotions. So every time I take on a different role, it feels very new and refreshing, and I think that this is what has been keeping me going for the last fourteen years ever since my debut as a child actor.
Catch Hotel Del Luna on tvN every Tuesday and Wednesday at 9.45pm (Starhub Ch. 824 & Singtel TV Ch. 518/619).