Change your fate. Korean drama “The Golden Spoon”, featuring a star studded cast including BTOB’s Yook Sungjae, Lee Jongwon, DIA’s Jung Chaeyeon and Yeonwoo, is currently streaming on Disney+.
Would you trade your poor but loving family for a life of riches? When Seung Cheon (Yook Sung Jae) gets his hands on a magical spoon that allows him to switch lives with his rich best friend, he thinks it’s a no-brainer. But life-altering decisions are always accompanied by a sense of doubt, and with only three chances to change his mind, Seung Cheon has to decide which of his two possible futures is worth keeping.
KAvenyou attended the online press conference for “The Golden Spoon” on 23 September, and learnt more about what the director, Robin Song and the cast members had to say about the drama production (Chaeyeon was unfortunately unable to attend due to injury, but she recorded a video which was played at the press conference).
Q: “The Golden Spoon” is about a boy who breaks a taboo and decides to switch his parents with someone else’s to become rich. Some may raise concerns about the series potentially promoting materialism. What do you think of such concerns and what was the message that you wanted to deliver through this series?
Director Robin Song: The series has been promoted with a provocative phrase about switching your parents to become rich. It did occur to me a lot that it might make some of the audience feel very uncomfortable. But we now live in an era where rags-to-riches stories are a thing of the past with a pervasive sense of resignation and cynicism about the wealth of your parents determining your destiny. I wanted to capture with honesty our individual desires towards that trend and the general social tendencies of our time through “The Golden Spoon”, and most importantly, and made great efforts to point to these aspects of our society in a direct way. The series is based on the premise that Seungcheon runs into the mysterious old lady with the golden spoon, and he can use the golden spoon three times at the home of a friend of the same age to become the son of the family. That means using the spoon will force Seungcheon into an extreme situation where he might abandon his own parents. Our focus was to get the audience to stay engaged to find out what his choice is going to be and ensure that his choice makes sense and resonates with the audience. Rather than stating a particular message that we wanted to deliver, I just want to say that I hope that every choice Seungcheon makes, every moment of his inner conflict, and every crisis that he overcomes will resonate with the audience. I hope the series can present rare opportunities to bring parents and children together and drive conversation communication between them.
Q: There are so many series that have been created based on original webtoons. The massive popularity of the source material must’ve put a tremendous amount of pressure on you when bringing the story onto the screen. What sets the series apart from the original webtoon? Also, what do you think is the unique charm of the series “The Golden Spoon”?
Director Robin Song: The reason why I chose this project has a lot to do with the first episode of the original webtoon. “The Golden Spoon” begins with the story of the Prince and the Pauper. They change into each other’s outfits and also switch their roles, but after a series of events, they return to their respective original positions. In the end, the Prince lives happily ever after in his original status. The webtoon poses a very provocative question: “Would the Pauper have been happy as well after returning to being a pauper?” That’s where the webtoon starts. In a time when it’s outdated and unrelatable to say, “As long as we have our family and friends who love us, we are bound to be happy even if we don’t have any money,” I tried to focus on how Seungcheon resolves his inner conflict whenever being forced to make a choice. Another focus for me was in line with exploring whether the Pauper would’ve been happy. In a romantic comedy, the main characters usually end up getting married. Rarely do we get to explore the question of “So, were they happy after getting married?” In our series, Seungcheon and we do explore that what-happened-next territory three to four times. Seungcheon and Taeyong switch their places three to four times over the course of this series. Seungcheon becomes rich using the golden spoon, but he also goes back to being poor. Clueless, Taeyong suddenly goes from being in the top 0.1% to being poor, but he somehow manages to find other values in life rather than staying depressed. But sometimes, he also feels the desire to become rich again when things get too tough. These moments happen like different stages of a game, so I think it’ll be very engaging for the audience.
As per what differentiates the series from the webtoon, the golden spoon is used at intervals of three months, three years, and thirty years in the webtoon. But we figured that the intervals were too long, so we modified the premise to a month, a year, and ten years. We also have characters that don’t exist in the source material. We have characters like Youngshin and Joontae in the series. On top of that, each character in the series was slightly changed to make them more realistic and to fit better into a rather long story that spans 16 episodes. I also think it’ll be pretty fun to compare the series to the webtoon.
Q: This is your first project after your military service. What made you choose this series?
Sungjae: The characters I played in my previous projects like “Mystic Pop-up Bar” and “Goblin” were a little mischievous, light-hearted, and cheerful. I thought Lee Seungcheon in “The Golden Spoon” would be an opportunity for me to portray someone who is slightly darker and more serious. I chose this series because I wanted to expand the spectrum of characters I play. Most importantly, I chose “The Golden Spoon” because of director Song.
Q: With this being your first project after your military service, I’m sure many fans are looking forward to seeing your performance in this series. How do you feel about that?
Sungjae: I’ve been looking forward to seeing my fans as much as they’ve been looking forward to seeing me. I was so eager to present something to my fans, and so, I worked very hard on this project with a huge sense of responsibility and enthusiasm. I’ve been telling everyone I met that I dedicated the whole of 2022 to “The Golden Spoon”, pouring my heart and soul into this project. It feels that much more special to me, and it’s the greatest gift I could’ve asked for in 2022.
Q: Why did the cast members choose this project?
Jongwon: I’d already read the original webtoon by the time I had my first meeting with director Song for my character Hwang Taeyong. The meeting brought back memories of the original story, and it felt so surreal that I’d be playing one of the characters from the webtoon. Of course, I loved how the source material was adapted into the script. What drew me the most about the project was that I’d be able to portray two different lives in the series because my character Taeyong would lose his memories when he is transported into Seungcheon’s body and lives Seungcheon’s life. I chose the project because I was excited to be able to expand my range.
Yeonwoo: I was so drawn to the story and the character Yeojin because she was the opposite of me. I knew that playing Yeojin would become a sort of turning point for me, where I would grow and change. I was very eager to get the role because it seemed like it was going to be a new challenge. I told director Song that I really wanted to play the role at the meeting. I feel nervous talking about it.
Choi Daechul: I’ve mostly played fancy roles so far. Most of the people of my age are probably not familiar with Lee Chul’s life because Lee Chul and his wife are quite young to have a kid as old as Seungcheon. I wanted to challenge myself with this role in that sense. I believe that sincerity always finds its way to people’s hearts. I tried to really immerse myself deep into the character Lee Chul so that the character would feel authentic to the audience. I fell deeply into this role, wanting to create that experience. You’ll also fall in love with him. (Laughs)
Han Chae-a: I think I felt the same way about my character as Daechul did his when reading the script. My character is older than any other roles I’ve played before, so it was new in many aspects including how she needed to be physically portrayed in terms of the appearance. But I had great confidence in director Song. I also had great confidence in my cast members. I was very curious to find out how much the audience would be able to relate to this character Jin Seonhae when it was played by me. Plus, as much as Seungcheon wants to avoid and run away from his family, I felt that Seonhae had to be someone who could give him the kind of love and happiness that would eventually convince him to come back to his family. That’s why I felt drawn to my character and wanted to take on the challenge of portraying her.
Choi Wonyeong: When I was briefed on the synopsis of “The Golden Spoon”, I was very intrigued by the premise of this fantasy about being able to swap parents—which can be quite terrifying and provocative when you think about it—and became very curious how it would translate into a dramatized version when made into a series. As I read the script, I was convinced that the story would provide much to think about in terms of what we need to value and protect in life. I also wanted to join the cast because I wanted to work with the amazing director and cast members. Most importantly, perhaps 50% of the reason why I decided to take on this project was Sungjae being a part of this series. (Note: he played Sungjae’s father in another projecr previously)
Son Yeo-eun: I finished reading the script in one sitting without putting it down once. I’d never read the original webtoon, but the script was so engaging. I felt the premise was so original and refreshing, and I thought it would be so fun to dramatize the story into a series. I’ve always wanted to be a part of a project that is not only about entertainment and fun, but also something that offers a good message that could have a positive influence on the viewers whether through my character or the overall story. This was a perfect opportunity that I’d been waiting for, and so, I couldn’t miss this chance. And I was particularly happy to play my character because it doesn’t exist in the original webtoon, and I thought it would give me more room to add my own spin on the character.
Q: What it was like to perform with other cast members who are similar in age?
Yeonwoo: Because we’re all similar in age with the gap being only a year between one actor and the next one, we were very comfortable around each other. I loved how comfortable we were around each other, but I also loved the new synergy we created together as we performed together. Outside work, they’re all friends I keep in touch with, and we get along with each other very well.
Sungjae: I feel very sad that Chaeyeon couldn’t attend today’s event with us, but she was really the life of the party that lifted everyone up on set. I always wanted to thank her for that. She always came to the set smiling and full of energy even though she didn’t get enough sleep and working on set could be very challenging and tough.
I sincerely wish you a speedy recovery, Chaeyeon. I look forward to seeing you recover fast and meeting up with you in person with smiles on our faces. I’ll pray for you. I was always grateful to have you on set, and it’s thanks to you that all of us could finish filming the series happily and full of energy. I’m so grateful. I wish you all the best!– Sungjae’s message for Chaeyeon
Chaeyeon: Hello, everyone. This is Jung Chaeyeon. I’m sorry I can’t be there with everyone today due to my injuries. I feel very sad. I’ll try my best to recover quickly so I can say hi to everyone in person. I miss everyone—Sungjae, Jongwon, Yeonwoo, and all the other cast members. It’s such a shame that I can’t join you today because I was looking forward to seeing everyone from director Song to the production crew to have fun conversations about the series. I’d like to thank all the reporters for taking their precious time out of their schedules for today’s press conference, and I’d be grateful if you could support our series. I hope everyone stays healthy and well. Thank you.
Wonyeong: It brings back a memory for me. First, I also wish Chaeyeon a speedy recovery. Chaeyeon was so sweet and caring. I once shared the same space with her as we were waiting to shoot. It was towards the end of the shoot, and everyone was feeling tired. I ended up telling the staff that I was hungry. And then, a few moments later, Chaeyoen brought me shine muscat grapes that she had back at her van because she heard me saying that I was hungry. I was so moved.
Q: Wonyeong and Sungjae played father and son in Sungjae’s last project before his military service, and both of you reunited again as father and son in Sungjae’s first series after his military service. What does Sungjae mean to you, Wonyeong?
Wonyeong: What does Sungjae mean to me? We’re BDF – the best duo forever, or as I’d like to call it, BDF. When I met up with Sungjae after he finished his military service, I jokingly told him, “Sungjae, we did your last project together, and now, we’re doing your first project after your discharge from the military. We’re meant to be. We could’ve been lovers in another life.” He didn’t seem to buy it, but I kept telling him this. While he was serving in the military, I was working—his break could be considered long or short depending on how you see it, but however long or short it was, he has developed so much more depth as an actor. I knew his acting style because we have worked together before, but his adaptability and reaction when we were performing together surprised me in a great way, which further deepened my trust and confidence in him. I’d be happy to do a project with Sungjae whenever the opportunity comes along.
Sungjae: In the previous work, Wonyeong was a very caring and loving father, but in this series, he’s a very cold and scary one. It’s the complete opposite of what he played in our previous project together, but I could learn just as much from him playing this cold-blooded. He’s someone I can always learn from just by observing. I learn so much from watching his performance, and he reminds me of all the small details that I may not be able to capture. I learned a lot from him about paying closer attention to detail.
Watch Korean drama “The Golden Spoon”, now streaming on Disney+.