"Everyone goes through a slump. Now my heart says 'let's properly start again'. I want to greet everyone with a firm, steady and good image."
After a 5 year break (T/N: excluding her Netflix drama), actress Jiyeon has returned. 'I Wanna Hear Your Song' is a mystery rom-com about a timpanist, played by Kim Sejeong, who lost her memory on the day of a murder and is searching for the truth with the help of a strange man. Jiyeon plays the role of the outspoken violinist, Ha Eunjoo.
The last time Park Jiyeon came out as a solo artist was while T-ara was active. And the time she felt afraid, she fell into a slump. However, those times helped her become who she is today. "I've become more greedy. I feel happy now. I want to share it with the people beside me and have fun with many people."
Zenith News met with Park Jiyeon at a cafe in Nonhyeon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. After her work as an actress, Jiyeon revealed her plan to expand as a solo singer and other new activities.
Q. It's been a while since we saw you on the small screen. You chose to return with 'I Wanna Hear Your Song'. It's an unusual choice.
It's been a long time since I've done this. Regardless of the results, I met good people and was happy to be a part of it, I was happy. I think it will be a memorable project.
Q. The drama combines various genres such as romance, comedy, mystery and thriller.
It has mystery, rom-com, and music. In fact it's a difficult genre. I really wanted to challenge Ha Eunjoo's character of an attractive violinist.
Q. Can you play any musical instruments?
I can't play any instrument. Haha. I don't have such talents. Filming started in April and we filmed for 5 months. I practiced the violin for over a month. I played the violin for the first time. It was very difficult. I got a bruise on my chin. In fact, people who play the violin have traces on their jaw and collarbone.
Q. What about Ha Eunjoo attracted you?
I felt she was a cool, vengeful character who was outspoken with her words and actions. Especially when she hides her pain but expresses herself in front of loved ones, it was really touching. That day (in the drama) Eunjoo was put down all day, she couldn't even get in touch with the person she liked because he was with another woman. It was a one sided romance. It's a scene where a woman in love was really hurt.
Q. Do you have any regrets about the romance?
Eunjoo and Juwan's (Song Jaerim) relationship is very ambiguous. So there is a lot to be desired in their romance. As the mystery developed, Eunjoo didn't have a lot of parts. The writer held my hand and told me "I'm very sorry", but I don't think I was disappointed. In the long run it's just too bad because my heart wants to remember a lot of precious memories.
Q. Is there something about Eunjoo you care to express?
The writers and director said they wanted to be sure there was a contrast about the character. So that it could be easy to understand the character, I rehearsed with the other actors so that we were in sync. It's been a long time since I've worked, at the meeting before filming began, I told them "it's been a long time for me, there's a lot I don't know so I hope you'll help me". A lot of the staff really helped me. Everyone felt comfortable, and we had fun filming.
Q. You returned to the small screen after a long time. Did the members of T-ara support you?
We give each other feedback like "I enjoyed watching you. You worked hard." Haha. We're really like family. Between us, I'm the most straightforward. Without speaking, I can coolly tell all your feelings and worries.
Q. I'm sure there was big expectation and reactions from fans.
It's been 5 years since I've worked, my heart is sorry and I'm also very thankful. I couldn't read comments like feedback while I was working, but I didn't want to read or see as much as possible. I don't think I can get use to malicious comments. No matter how much hurt and pain I've endured, because when it hurts, it hurts. So I regained confidence and strength from the fans' reactions. They're very precious to me.
And my parents liked it too. It's been a while since I've worked and I'm happy they enjoyed watching. For me, my fans and parents are very similar. They've been supporting, watching, and waiting for me with the same heart. I'm very thankful.
Q. It's been a long time since you were out on the scene, has anything changed?
Working hours. In the past, you would film overnight without sleep for months, now the atmosphere is better because of the law. If you can't sleep, continuous filming makes you sensitive. It's a good change that considers the safety of the staff and condition of the filming sites. There's a part in the drama where we filmed a murder case that could've been dangerous, it was done without any accidents. We talked about our good fortune at the finale party.
Q. What was the filming site atmosphere like?
We finished really well. There were many staff members I met 10 years ago. I met a lot of people from my other works like 'Master of Study'. They remember me playing "seobang, seobang". They were surprised to see me play the role of the outspoken Ha Eunjoo who hits people. It felt strange. Haha. When I didn't know any better, I could do it without fear, ignorance is bliss as they say, after I learned, I became more concerned. It was a place where I was very thankful for all the help.
Q. It took a long time for you to return after T-ara's activities. Is there a reason?
I think everyone goes through a slump. I had no motivation at the time. Why should I eat this, I was so exhausted I didn't know why I had to go out and meet people. I had no confidence, I couldn't do anything. I spent most of my time with my parents. And then I met my current company, we would often eat rice together. When things became hard, they helped me a lot. It was my company and work that pulled me out of it, they gave me confidence. I'm sincerely very thankful. I know the feeling again of meeting people face to face and working in the field. That made me so happy. Now I have the heart to "get started again". I want to greet everyone with a firm, steady and good image.
Q. You referred to your hiatus as a slump. Was it the first time you went through that?
It's not the first time. Like there are sad and gloomy days, this void felt the biggest. It was very dark. It was the time the T-ara members scattered and stood alone. I think it was the most frightening time ever. But I did not collapse thanks to my fans, I think I can see things with a wider perspective now.
Q. The T-ara members are singers, you are making your way as an actress. Why did you make your first steps as an actress instead of a singer?
There's no reason. I focused on showing myself as an actress first. I wanted to learn professionally. I received good care from my company. The people in my company are really good people. I could trust them because they wanted to see me happy. I became even more confident.
Q. Do you plan to return to the stage as a singer?
I've been preparing for an album for a long time. There was a communication issue with my Chinese company. I also stopped for a while in order to focus on the drama. Now that the drama is over, I plan to make a comeback by the end of November. I want to show fans a more cool Jiyeon on stage after a long time.
Q. Any new works or character greed?
Until this drama, it was always a one-sided romance in school. There were a lot of villains. But this is the first villain I played as an adult, I think that has a different charm. It suits me. Sometimes people ask me in surprise, "why do you seem so scary?" Haha.
Next time, I want to try a lively rom-com. An upbeat role would suit my age right now. I want to try a calm story of people living in their 20s. I think I'm really greedy. Till now I've been a bad guy, I want to win a righteous friendly role, I want to do action well. I think there will be many opportunities. Before, I would be anxious and nervous, now my mind has grown broader. My thoughts have deepened.
Q. Has your greed for activities grown?
It's been a long time since I worked, I kept pushing myself. I wasn't satisfied with any activity. It didn't make sense to have an activity I was satisfied with, it was like I was too complacent. But I feel happy now, and I want to share it with the people beside me and have fun with many people.
Q. Are there any regrets about your group activities? Recently Fin.KL reunited as a whole on JTBC's Camping Club.
As someone who has been active in girl group for 10 years, it looks perfect. We're senior idols. In fact, we're in the process of uniting. We're progressing slowly so we can build our careers, I'd like it if we could do it at least once someday. I wish all the girl groups that are our friends could be active.
Q. What are your plans for other entertainment programs?
I want to do entertainment programs. But I think entertainment is the hardest. I want to challenge it, but for now I want to focus on my album. Can't I try it after it's done? Haha.
Q. Your fans are a big presence to you. What does that mean?
I'm here because of my fans. Really. My most precious beings. They're a big source of strength. Like a friend, sister or brother. I'm always sorry and grateful to them. I want to repay them with a loved image. I continue to be empowered because of our relationship.
Q. Are there any plans for a fan meeting?
Like a fan meeting, I think the closer we meet the better. My fans become happy and so do I. It's been a long time since I've been with my fans. It's an affectionate relationship. We've been through so much that we've become this close. They're a precious presence I learn a lot from and who always make me stronger.
Q. What are your plans and goals for the future?
I don't want anything more than what I have now. I think I am my happiest right now. Like now, I want to be happy with the people around me and I want to show you I am gradually perfecting and bettering myself. There is no greater greed. It's the best thing to do for the longest time. I've found happiness.
Interview by Zenith News: Part 1, Part 2.