The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Jung Yong-hwa on travelers’ romance and reality

K-pop singer-turned-actor talks about filming ‘The Package’ in France

By Rumy Doo

Published : Nov. 16, 2017 - 15:22

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In Korea, the country with the longest working hours among OECD nations, traveling abroad and escaping the everyday holds a special meaning. And this was the idea behind the JTBC drama series “The Package,” which began airing last month.

K-pop singer-turned-actor Jung Yong-hwa plays the lead San Ma-roo, a tired Korean youth who feels as if he’s lagging behind in life: San went to university, completed his military service and got a steady job several years later than his peers.

Abandoned by his girlfriend and with his position at work precarious, San decides to take off on a package trip to France.

“I don’t think I’ve reread or worked as hard on any other script before,” said Jung in an interview in Jung-gu, Seoul, Wednesday. “(San) is a character who is mostly clumsy and romantic. I wanted him to be an ideal of someone we need around in busy times like now, rather than someone who is too realistic.”

Jung Yong-hwa poses before an interview at FNC WOW in Jung-gu on Wednesday. (Herald Pop) Jung Yong-hwa poses before an interview at FNC WOW in Jung-gu on Wednesday. (Herald Pop)

The 12-episode series is the K-pop band CNBLUE lead vocalist’s latest stab at acting. Jung has starred in a number of TV dramas including “Heartstrings” (2011), “A Gentleman’s Dignity” (2012) and “The Three Musketeers” (2014).

“The Package” features a group of people who meet on a package tour in France. Each wants to escape the pressures of daily life and the tangle of relationships, yet seeks companionship in a foreign place.

“It’s a show that I really wanted to star in. I feel like in any relationship, the level of intimacy a person feels toward the other is different. ... It’s a show that makes you think a lot about yourself,” said Jung.

Still shot from “The Package” (JTBC) Still shot from “The Package” (JTBC)

San is a character who has been told to be more pragmatic in his decisions, Jung said.

“I tend to be a pragmatic person. But I think it takes a lot of courage to act on your feelings without obsessing over what other people will think. I wanted to be that person. That’s how I approached this role,” he said.

In the series, San encounters the free-spirited dreamer Yoon So-so, played by Lee Yeon-hee, who too has been abandoned by a lover and is working as a tour guide in France. The two, along with a group of travel mates, visit the country’s picturesque sites from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel.

“(San and Yoon) come to realize that they’re destined for each other,” said Jung. As the story progresses, the two become closer, but wonder if their relationship is based on the fantasy of travel and whether it can hold up when they return to Korea. 

Still shot from “The Package” (JTBC) Still shot from “The Package” (JTBC)

Jung, 28, says he’s only been on a package trip once, in middle school.

“I went to Japan with my older brother. There were kids my age in our group, and we became so close,” he said. “It’s strange how close you can get with people when you’re traveling. We promised to keep in touch when we returned to Korea.”

Did that happen?

“No,” said Jung. “That’s strange, too. The minute we returned to Korea, we lost contact.”

“The Package,” which airs its final episode this Saturday, is penned by Cheon Sung-il (“The Long Way Home,” 2015) and directed by Jeon Chang-geun (“Queen of the Office,” 2013).

The drama series has been pre-produced by JYP Pictures, the film and TV drama production division of K-pop agency JYP Entertainment.

By Rumy Doo (