Want to learn about real estate? Put new Korean drama Monthly Magazine Home on your to-binge list.
Apart from being a romantic comedy, it also offers plenty of insight into the property market. As lead actor Kim Ji-seok puts, “The real estate market depicted in Monthly Magazine Home is very realistic. For those of you who don’t know much about real estate, you will get to gather useful and accurate information in a fun and exciting way.”
It shines the spotlight on real estate disputes, and stars Jung So-min as magazine editor Na Young-won, who stays in a rented flat and struggles to make ends meet despite working for a decade.
She crosses paths with property investment expert Yoo Ja-sung (Kim Ji-seok), who isn’t just the obnoxious and stingy landlord who evicted her out of her home but also the new boss of her publication. Unexpectedly, they start to develop a romance.
In an interview, the two leading actors share more about working with each other, their own dream homes, and how they prepped for their roles.
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In what ways did this project and your role fascinate you?
Jung So-min: When I read the synopsis, what intrigued me was the catchline: “Romance between a woman who lives at home and a man who buys homes.”
The story also has many interesting characters, from someone with a YOLO lifestyle to one who only relied on the housing subscription system. It was fascinating to see the portrayals of each character centered around their common interest — owning a house. And I could relate to each character and their challenges regarding their houses or the lack thereof. My character Na Young-won lives diligently despite her struggles and is considerate and warmhearted, so I was especially drawn to my character.
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Kim Ji-seok: The topic of the drama fascinated me more than anything. I was intrigued because the topic of real estate and people’s journey to buy a house has never been covered by other dramas. And the drama approached this topic from various points of view and with original ideas that encouraged me to think about what “home” meant for me.
When it comes to work, Yoo Ja-sung can be heartless, objective, and stingy to everyone because his frugal habits have become second nature to him. He’s stingy not only with money but also with his heart. However, behind his stinginess, there’s also a lonely and warmhearted guy that no one rarely gets to see. And the fact that these two sides of him begin to clash and seeing the change in my character as the story progresses was entertaining for me.
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What are some similarities you share with the role you play in the drama?
Jung So-min: The fact that we are both trying to buy our own house (smiles). And both of us have been in one profession for ten years.
Kim Ji-seok: Ja-sung has lived his whole life in trying to achieve his goal and has worked hard more than anyone. And that explains why sometimes, he may come across as cold-hearted towards people around him. So after taking on this role, I was actually pretty isolated from the rest of the cast. There was a separate office for my character. And I had to film a lot of scenes by myself. So I tried to stay away from them and make myself feel lonely on purpose.
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How did you prepare yourself to portray an editor of a magazine and a real estate investor, respectively?
Jung So-min: My character has been an editor for 10 years, so I actually asked some editors around me for advice. I had to film a lot of scenes where I wrote articles on the computer. So for those scenes, I wrote real articles. And naturally, I started to think about ways that could help me write better. Thanks to this character, I’ve had a good chance to indirectly experience a new career.
Kim Ji-seok: Before filming this drama, just like my character Ja-sung, I treated my home as a real estate investment because I chased the dream of having my own place all my life. So when I thought about having a home, I approached it based on numbers like how big the place was or how much it cost.
However, in this drama, I came across a lot of Yeong-won’s lines that showed how she perceived her home. Not only did they help me identify with her, but they also made me feel comforted and changed my perception. Now, I do think a home is closer to a shelter that allows me to be my true self. I hope our drama can be a chance for the viewers to think about the meaning of a home for them and truly understand the value of it just like our drama did for me.
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Monthly Magazine Home has a lot of funny, yet heartwarming moments. What’s the scene that moved you the most?
Jung So-min: A funny scene would be when Gyeom drops Young-won off at an express bus terminal and she momentarily gets mad at him. It was a side of her I didn’t expect to see and would make people chuckle a bit. So I also had fun filming it.
There’s also a heartbreaking scene in the first episode where Young-won comes out of the police station and cries crouching down. And her lines in the scene were something I could picture myself saying. So it was heartbreaking to act in the scene and watch it on TV later.
Kim Ji-seok: In the second half of every episode, Yeong-won narrates over the scenes that show other people’s lives and the feelings they go through. Personally, these scenes struck a chord with me.
Another memorable scene would be the kimchi scene we did in a car which will follow the famous kimchi slap scene. Personally, I’m looking forward to that scene the most. Kimchi got all over my body, so during the shoot, I had six spare white button-down shirts. While filming, I had to wash them and dry them too. And compared to other scenes, we put more effort into this one by filming it from various angles and using different techniques.
What can viewers expect from the drama?
Jung So-min: I believe the different perceptions of home, struggles to own a house, and the feelings we experience throughout our lives are something that people all over the world can relate to. So I think a lot of our international viewers can sympathise with the story. And along with that, please look forward to our banters, our bubbly chemistry, and the romance between Young-won and Ja-sung.
Kim Ji-seok: The real estate market depicted in Monthly Magazine Home is very realistic, and our current era is reflected in our drama. Moreover, every episode introduces new homes and various types of listings. So you’ll get lots of information about real estate and feel as if you’re going house hunting without having to leave your home. For those of you who don’t know much about real estate, you will get to gather useful and accurate information in a fun and exciting way. And through our drama, seeing how the Korean real estate market is different from yours would also be another entertaining factor.
How would you decorate your ideal home and what are some must-have items that represent you and your lifestyle? What’s your daily routine like?
Jung So-min: I think it’s important for me to feel that it’s truly a place of my own. A house shouldn’t be for other people. It has to be a place that solely meets my needs, so I want to decorate the house the way I would feel comfortable, and I want my styles to be reflected as well. If I were to have my own home, it would feel and look like me.
A (must-have would be) a bed? I spend most of my time on my bed at home. (Smiles)
Kim Ji-seok: When I decorated my house, I designed it into a cat-friendly house that includes a cat tower and a separate place for Cheeto to rest. On my days off, I usually watch movies at home or drink alone. When I’m home, I don’t want to do anything. So I tend to relax and lounge around at home. And I just cook healthy meals and juice for myself. I watch movies and exercise. It’s nothing fancy.
This article originally appeared in Singapore Women’s Weekly