[BAEKSANG AND BEYOND] Roh Yoon-Seo hits target with "Crash Course in Romance"

Actor Roh Yoon-seo, winner of the Best New Actress award at the 59th Baeksang Arts Awards, poses for photos after an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily in central Seoul. [BAEKSANG ARTS AWARDS ORGANIZING COMMITTEE]

The Baeksang Arts Awards is one of the most prestigious award ceremonies in Korea. Held by the JoongAng Group, it has honored excellence in film, television and theater in Korea since its inception in 1965. The 59th edition took place on April 28 in Incheon, with this year’s focus on works that received international acclaim thanks to online streaming platforms. In this interview series, the Korea JoongAng Daily sits down with Baeksang award recipients to talk more about their wins, careers and plans for the future.

Some actors take years to bloom, but some actors just manage to hit the nail on the head from their very first role. Meet Roh Yoon-seo, who won the Best New Actress award at the 59th Baeksang Arts Awards’ TV section for her role as a studious high school student in tvN’s 2022 rom-com drama “Crash Course in Romance.”

Roh’s portrayal of the warm-hearted and diligent Nam Hae-yi in the drama was not her first role in a drama, but her debut on tvN’s “Our Blues” (2022) saw 20 main characters change throughout the 14-episode series, taking away the impact of a grand debut.

Nevertheless, her take on a well-behaved yet playful high school student who competes with rich kids and their private tutoring in “Crash Course” won her a rookie actor’s biggest honor, the Best New Actress award.

On the night of the award ceremony, Roh’s display of pure joy and excitement kept her from properly starting her speech until her smile died down. Even after, her bursts of happy laughter and failure to properly make eye contact with the camera caused even the veteran actors in the audience to smile.

“I think I was trying to look casual but all I did was just say, ‘Oh my’ over and over,” Roh said, blushing again at the memory. “I think I just went completely blank. I couldn’t think of anything and my thoughts just stopped intermittently. I honestly can’t remember properly.”

Born in 2000, Roh started modeling in 2018 while she was a student in the department of art at Ewha Womans University. It wasn’t a job she had dreamed of, but a part-time job to earn her tuition fees led to her big television debut last year on tvN.

Actor Roh Yoon-seo during an open talk session during the Busan International Film Festival for Netflix original film ″20th Century Girl″ on Oct. 8, 2022 in Busan. [YONHAP]

Since then, she has also been featured in the Netflix original film “20th Century Girl” (2022) and Netflix original series “Black Night” (2023), and is also in talks with producers on a possible role on a Korean remake of famed Taiwan romance flick “Hear Me” (2009).

“There are so many things I’d like to try — so many new genres and characters,” she said. “I want to express everything that I can and just try all kinds of different genres and characters. I don’t have anything specific in mind, I just want it to cheer other people up and leave an impact.”

Roh sat down for an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily to discuss her big win at the Baeksang awards and her swift start to success, throughout which she shyly, yet concisely showed her humble personality.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q. What was the thought that went through your head when your name was called out as the winner?

A. Nothing. I couldn’t think of anything other than, “Oh, do I have to get out to the stage?” I blinked my eyes so hard on the steps of the stage but the camera didn’t capture that, fortunately. I really didn’t think of anything. I think I was trying to figure out what to say and the order in which to say it, but I can’t remember properly.

Are there any memorable congratulatory messages that you got from others?

I just got messages from the director, veteran actors and people I worked with saying congratulations. In a way, I really couldn’t — and still can’t in a way — believe that I won, but I remember that it happened every time someone congratulates me.

Actor Roh Yoon-seo gives a speech after receiving the Best New Actress award for the TV section at the 59th Baeksang Arts Awards' film section at the 59th Baeksang Arts Awards. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

How has the Baeksang win affected you?

It’s made me think that I want to express my gratitude for this trophy with more memorable or interesting works. I have this motto in my head that I should be thankful for every little thing in life. I try to remember why everything is precious and cherish it, thinking, “I’m grateful for this and this.” I want to keep doing this the way I always have.

What does “Crash Course in Romance” mean to you?

I still keep in touch with my castmates and we hang out together, to see plays for example. I know that it will also be up to me to try to make this last but I wish I could continue my relationship with the precious people I met while shooting “Crash Course in Romance.” I believe that these bonds really last.

I know that it was only through my work with everyone that a drama like “Crash Course” was possible. The same goes for my debut piece, “Our Blues.” I try to keep reminding myself of this and how I had no bad moments while shooting these two dramas. I only had happy moments while shootings, so much so that I’m worried I’ve used up all my luck already.

What do you like about your newfound career?

It’s a little funny to say this about myself, but I like that I can see myself improving. I can see that I’m changing and those changes are for the better. I’ve always been the type of person to want to do something properly once I start it, so such improvements motivate me even more. I’m a lazy perfectionist, and I just do what I can for now, thinking that my future self will take care of the rest.

Actor Roh Yoon-seo as Nam Hae-yi in ″Crash Course in Romance″ [CJ ENM]

How do you think you managed to find success in such a short period?

I’ve tried my best at everything I’ve been given, but I know that it’s not just due to my efforts alone. Even if I had tried my best, I could have gone unnoticed if things hadn’t worked out the way they did.

But I’ve been busy just following in the footsteps of my seniors until now. It’s all been a learning process and I know that my success is thanks to the work of so many other people. I want to keep improving and become someone who can also bring something to the table for other people.

What makes you happy?

Just the really small things — walking my dog, listening to music and eating delicious food. I think I’m the happiest when I eat good food.

What goals do you have as an actor?

I’m actually not sure for now, but I want to keep doing this for a long time. I’ve been saying this in other interviews, too, but I want to be someone that other actors or directors want to work with. And to the audience, I want to be an actor that they want to see more of. But other than that, I don’t think I have much of a goal.

I’m trying to just accomplish short-term goals these days. I have a shoot scheduled in the summer so I hope that goes well. I just want to pull off the things that I’ve been given right now.