Director Lee Na-jeong had 3 things in mind when filming “Love Alarm” – she wanted it to be more dynamic, gritty, and realistic. “Chon Kye-young’s webtoon wasn’t all simply light and fun, but it also had depth in terms of its exploration of love,” she said.
Hype was fortunate enough to attend the “Love Alarm” press conference in Seoul earlier this week. During the session, we were given a better insight into how the main 3 leads – Kim So-hyun (김소현), Jung Ga-ram (정가람) and Song Kang (송강) – approach their respective roles.
For the uninitiated, here’s a brief intro about “Love Alarm” by So-hyun:
“‘Love Alarm’ features an app called Love Alarm, which rings when someone who has a
crush on you is within a 10-meter radius. ‘Love Alarm’ is a Netflix original series about
Jojo, Hye-young, and Sun-oh building their complicated relationship through this app and the series follows and explores the changing emotions of these characters and budding
“Jojo lives with her aunt after going through a tough childhood due to a tragic event. Jojo perfectly hides her painful past and tries to have a positive attitude towards life. But her life is stirred by the introduction of Love Alarm and Sun-oh’s presence. Jojo and Sun-oh start their first romance after learning about each other’s feelings through the app in a world where people can’t hide their feelings.”
So-hyun on her character: “Jojo has been through a lot and is in a very tough and difficult situation, but never loses her positivity and confidence inside. That made me feel quite sympathetic for her, but she’s someone who you feel more interested in and curious about the more you see her.”
“Son of the helper for Sun-oh’s family, Hye-young is Sun-oh’s best friend. He grew up in a family of modest means, but he also grew up with a loving and caring mother, which is why he is kind and considerate of others. In fact, he cares so much about his friendship with Sun-oh that he hides his feelings for Jojo even though he had a crush on her before Sun-oh did.”
Ga-ram on landing the role: “I was also a huge fan of the original story. And even before the decision was made to create a Netflix original series, I always liked Hye-young. So, when I was offered the role and met with director Lee, I communicated very clearly how much I like the character. I shared with director Lee a lot of my interpretation of Hye-young’s thoughts and we shaped the character together for the series.”
“Being from a rich family and having a career as a model, this handsome guy has everything that a person could wish for. He’s so popular that his Love Alarm never stops ringing, but what no one knows is that he actually feels empty inside. He falls so deeply in love with Jojo that knowing his best friend Hye-young also likes her doesn’t stop him from pursuing her. For the first time, his Love Alarm rings for Jojo.”
Fun fact: It was revealed that Song Kang beat over 900 hopefuls (a lot of them were models and K-pop idols) to emerge victorious as the one to portray Sun-oh. The filmmaker told us that his “innocent and sentimental aura” ultimately won her over.
To get a better understanding on how the trio tackled their roles in “Love Alarm”, check out our exclusive interview and what was discussed during the press con:
Love confession has been a major theme in many Korean dramas. How would you explain that concept to international fans?
So-hyun: In our Korean culture, confessing your love to someone and having that love be reciprocated is very important, because once that is done, we can move on to the actual relationship happening.
We really need to know what the other person is feeling in order to start a relationship in full scale. Viewers from other cultures may understand this application as something that can help people become lovers because confessing your love can be very difficult and hard to express what you’re feeling in words.
How would you confess your feelings to your love in real life?
So-hyun: Maybe writing a letter.
Ga-ram: It’s probably an etiquette to meet the person face to face and confess your love.
So-hyun: These days, people also don’t just suddenly declare to be boyfriend-girlfriend. It kind of happens naturally.
What was your focus when playing the role?
So-hyun: I tried not to present her as too sad. I was worried that she might come across as someone you simply pity. She’s not someone who wants anyone’s pity and needs to be taken care of or protected, and I made conscious efforts to make sure that she isn’t represented in that way.
Ga-ram: When playing the role, I tried to be honest. I hope that the audiences can feel
Hye-young’s feelings when they see Hye-young looking at Jojo next to Sun-oh.
Song Kang: As you can see from the webtoon, Sun-oh doesn’t talk very much—so I had to think about how to portray this character without saying much, and that’s why I tried my best to focus on his facial expressions that you get to glimpse at.
Are there any similarities between you and your characters?
So-hyun: There are aspects of Jojo that I thought were quite similar to me. Because I’ve played a lot of sad and depressed characters, a lof of viewers seem to have an impression of me as being reserved, quiet, and melancholic. Of course, there are parts of me that are like that, but I also am a very strong and resilient person inside. Jojo, likewise, may seem like someone who’s fragile and needs someone else to protect her, but she’s actually resilient inside. So I identified with her a lot in her strength and resilience, which made playing the character easier for me.
Ga-ram: Hye-young seems very positive and full of energy when surrounded by people, but he has his own pains and worries. I’m sure anyone can relate to this, but I identified with the dual aspect of Hye-young being positive and energetic around others, but at the same time, secretly worrying about his problems alone.
Song Kang: Even though Sun-oh tends to have his way with everything, but he doesn’t express how he truly feels. I thought that was quite similar to me.
On the contrary, how are you different from your characters?
Song Kang: The character Sun-oh has a lot of emotional hurt and he tries to seem tough and does whatever he wants. He really doesn’t express his feelings and I think that’s a little different from my personality. He acts in whatever way he wishes and tries to seem tough.
Ga-ram: My character Hye-young stands afar and keeps his distance from JoJo because of Sun-oh. He doesn’t say what he really feels, but I think in real life if it were up to me, I would go straight for her.
So-hyun: Jojo makes a lot of passive decisions because of certain circumstances that she’s placed in, she’s not able to express her true feelings. Personally if it were me, I like to express myself and how I feel. Jojo is maybe more cautious too.
What are your most memorable scene or favourite line in the series?
So-hyun: I like the line, ‘I won’t get crumpled,’ just as director Lee mentioned. I thought that line really expresses well who Jojo is. In the original webtoon, the scene actually has Sun-oh and Jojo sitting next to each other in a small alley when Sun-oh suddenly proposes that they kiss. And they start a conversation from there. That’s when the get to know each other better. I loved that scene. I was very excited to shoot the scene, and was excited in a different way from the way I felt about the scene in the webtoon.
Ga-ram: I would choose the line that goes, ‘To me, it’s all romance—because I’m doing it with you,’ because that encapsulates everything that Hye-young feels about Jojo.
Song Kang: I would choose a line from a scene where the friendship between Hye-young and Sun-oh is fractured. Sun-oh says, ‘The choice is up to Kim Jojo,’ and that was my favourite line.
So-hyun, we are curious – you team Hye-young or team Sun-oh?
So-hyun: Fans are divided into two groups: one that supports Hye-young and the other that supports Sun-oh. Both of the characters are so charming in very different ways, so it’s
difficult to choose one. But the reason why I like Hye-young is because he’s very loyal. I feel sympathetic for him for having loved Jojo for such a long time, but at the same time, have such respect for him. I became Hye-young’s fan because he made me feel, ‘Wow, a person could love another person to that extent’.
Last but not least, are there any memorable behind-the-scenes moments that you can share?
So-hyun: It’s been a while, so it’s hard to remember them. But I can recall my scenes with Ga-ram. Because we’re close friends in real life and we had to act very shy with each other on screen, it was funny and a little bit awkward.
For more behind-the-scenes good stuffs, watch this clip here:
“Love Alarm” is currently streaming on Netflix.
Images by Netflix.