Nayoung Kim

10.17 2017 INTERVIEW DATE

TV Entertainer

Pyeongchang-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Lately, TV entertainer Nayoung Kim has experienced a big change in her life. Her son Shinwoo who just turned 1 is now able to walk, the family recently moved to a new neighborhood, changing all of their furnitures as well. Nevertheless, Nayoung Kim seemed to have stayed pretty much the same. Her typical sound energy, the smile that enlightens her surroundings, the self-confident statement saying that she is not willing to give up on things under the title of ‘mom,’ she seemed like the same person we saw on television. At 3pm, which is when she asked to do the interview because it was the time of the day when the house turned most beautiful, her new dwelling was beginning to fill up with her laughter.

Charyeong Lee, Yoojin Jung

How are you doing these days?

I’ve been taking care of my energetic, one-year-old son Shinwoo, which is my biggest task throughout the day. And it’s been 5 months since we moved from Hannam-dong to Pyeongchang-dong. I’ve always wondered about the neighborhood whenever I came across the scene on those Korean drama series where people would pick up the phone and go “Yes, this is Pyeongchang-dong,” dreaming of living there someday(laugh) and I thought now was the perfect time. After deciding on the neighborhood, we looked around for available houses and my first impression of this place was very flattering. All the other houses we saw were incomparable. My husband was sweet enough to agree with the move despite his longer commute. His company was located in Cheongdam-dong but later moved closeby.

Is there a particular reason you chose to live in a multi-unit villa instead of an apartment building?

Actually, I’m not very fond of apartment buildings. To live in identical spaces with those numberless people feels suffocating. On the other hand, multi-unit villas aren’t that tall and only a moderate number of people reside. Therefore I think villas are the most optimal form of living for those who don’t like apartments but can’t dare to live in detached houses. Considering my son, I debated on living in a house with a yard but it was a little scary. I had a lot to worry about, such as security issues and whether I could manage the garden or not etc. If I end up seeing weeds growing in the garden I knew I’d feel so guilty. Compromising with a number of things led us to this house.

 

Is your son also the reason you chose the ground floor?

Yes, exactly. He can run around the house freely without us having to worry about downstairs and it’s also easy to access the outdoors. We’re located very close to the small yard in front of our house so we go out there often when the weather’s nice. The neighborhood has a lot of hills but Shinwoo seems to enjoy it, walking up and down briskly. Shinwoo and I picked up those ginkgo nuts we put out to dry at our terrace. Just a few steps down the hill is where the garden shared by the residents of this villa is located and we held Shinwoo’s first birthday party there. We invited friends over for BBQ parties as well. We’d have lunch and then also order some delivery food for dinner, hanging out all day enjoying the fresh air and great view.   

Living in your new home for some time now, are you happy with your choice?

When I stay home for hours, I love it so much that I don’t want to go out. Especially when the sun comes in around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, it’s amazingly beautiful. I did regret a couple of times when I got stuck in traffic from Gangnam for work. But then when I got home, everything turned peaceful. Being close to the mountain and trees enable me to notice the change of weather right away and located up on the hill gives silence all around. The place we lived in Hannam-dong was right by the Gangbyeon Expressway which frequently gets very noisy. There are people who loves the river view but I didn’t enjoy it that much. I think I find more peace when I’m in a place full of trees.

Did you change any layout or interior as you moved in?

We didn’t purchase the house so we didn’t change any layout. All we did was getting the walls painted in white and switching the chimney and kitchen top into brighter colors. The kitchen top was originally black marble but I changed it to wood since it was too dark. Carpenter Hyeongho Shin of Curious Lab did a fantastic job. When I first saw the kitchen I fell in love with the long layout and also the fact that it was open towards the living room, imagining how nice it’d be to do a cooking program here. I’m not good but I do enjoy cooking. Shinwoo very much likes his mom’s pasta and salad.

Considering your last home filled with vintage furnitures, this is a totally different atmosphere.

I disliked furnitures made of cold materials like plastic, glass, marble and steel. So when I decorated our house after marriage I chose the warm wooden furnitures, no questions asked, but this time I opened up my mind towards new materials. I sold my old ones to a friend of mine at a very good price. She lives nearby and when I visited her recently, it was as if I was looking into my past house.(laugh)

 

We were told it took you many months to complete furnishing your house.

In the past, if I had to wait a certain period for the furniture to be delivered, I wouldn’t purchase it. I wanted to start my marital life at a home where everything was in place from the beginning so I purchased furnitures that were available for immediate delivery. Then I wanted to switch into new ones as we moved into this house but selecting was tough. Furnitures can be voluminous and pricy so you can’t just switch them everytime you grow tired. I figured I had to make a careful selection this time. And it came to me that if I find something that I really like I should know how to patiently wait for it. Eventually furnitures arrived one by one and I learned that taking my time and slowly filling in the empty space is quite a pleasant experience.

What were the standards of selecting your new furnitures?

I wanted those design classics such as the iconic ‘Tulip Table’ by Eero Saarinen, which is easily recognizable. I discarded ones that were too uniquely designed or vibrant in color. Last time I chose our bed, I wanted an element that would highlight the room so I picked one with a green headboard, only to find out later that it didn’t quite blend with other furnitures. Now we only use mattresses without a headboard. And I knew I’d feel uneasy with everything so new and shiny so I mixed vintage furnitures in between so they could create a nice harmony. For instance, the dining table is new but the chairs are all vintage.

 

Was there anyone you seeked advice for your selections?

The owner of the famous cafe ‘MK2’ in Seochon, Jongmyeong Lee, helped me tremendously. I still go there often due to the short distance and not only does he give me advice on furnitures, he also tells me lots of stories on designers along with the history of design so I get to learn a lot from him. Thanks to his tutorials, I found out that the Bofinger chairs from the dining room were the very first chair to be produced from a mold. He also taught me ‘Dieter Ram’s Ten Principle of Design’ which I fell in love and made a print to put it up on my kitchen wall. The glass lighting above our table was purchased at MK2 and Mr.Lee commented, ‘This part of the space is now entirely hers(lighting),’ and I was fascinated. I loved how he gave meanings to every product and his new point of view when he mentioned lightings are the first stages of decorating a space while others say it’s the last. Actually, I feel a certain attachment to it because it kind of reminds me of myself. When you turn it on at night it’s amazingly beautiful. But for some reason it doesn’t look as nice in pictures. I feel bad about it because it feels like it’s being underrated.(laugh) Only my family knows its true value.  

Please explain to us about the artworks on your wall.

The swimming pool photograph over at the dining space is by a French photographer Franck Bohbot which I bought from the Artichoke Gallery in Hannam-dong when I was pregnant with Shinwoo. I have a thing with swimming pools. I like the typical smell and the humid air and I fell in love the minute I saw the work. The artist usually takes photos of public places such as theaters, libraries and swimming pools at hours when nobody’s around, at a spot where he can capture the perfect symmetry. The vintage poster next to the kitchen is from MK2, the photograph hanging in the living room is by artist Woocheol Jang who was formerly an editor of <GQ> magazine, which I bought at his exhibition.

How would you describe your normal day?

It’s no different than other moms. I drink coffee after I wake up, sometimes go out for some morning exercise, spend some time with my husband while he gets ready for work, and after he’s off to work, I put Shinwoo to sleep for his nap, take a break for myself...that’s basically my daily routine. I used to be on a very tight schedule. And I’d be so anxious if I wasn’t working. When I get days off I’d wonder why there’s no work for me to do and watching others on tv would make me so uneasy, so I was never able to relax on my days off. But then after marriage, my mind found some peace. Maybe that’s because I’m not the only one that makes money.(laugh) I’m planning on slowly getting back to the field now that Shinwoo has grown.

You’re a well-known fashion icon. Did having a child bring any change?

After becoming a mom it isn’t easy to dress up. Wearing accessories is out of the question as well. I recently bought a pair of plastic earrings but Shinwoo broke them by pulling. Then eventually I became interested in the natural charms. You know, like how you can look nice even if you’re simply just wearing t-shirt and jeans. I was recently invited by the fashion brand Tod’s to the Capris Island in Italy. The president held an event at his cottage inviting fashion editors and influential people from Asia. His wife also attended and I was surprised to see her singing and dancing most energetically, stealing the show over dinner. Being so open-minded and mingling so well with those young people like that was remarkably inspiring and I thought how nice it’d be to grow old like her, no matter how I’d look like.

We get the feeling that you still live a free life despite the fact that you’re a mother.

There are certainly some things you have to give up once you’ve become a mother. But I try hard not to. I don’t want to feel guilty about leaving my house for a while when I’m away on a trip for work. I try not to be perfect at all times. And I tend not to be too nice to other people either. Not even to my family.

 

Did you pursue perfection in the past?

In the past I tried too hard to be perfect which was really stressful. People viewed me as a bright and light-hearted person but that’s not really who I am. I’d abruptly wake up in the middle of the night and regretfully think ‘Why did I say such things at that point?’ When I’m just too busy it feels like my mind and body all come to a halt, and back then that was how I always felt. My body was exhausted which led to my insomnia and that tormented my mind, and when I came across some bad comments about me on the internet, I’d feel really depressed. It felt as if everyone in the world cursed at me. And then after I met my husband, things changed a lot. I wasn’t raised in a happy family so I always felt an absence of love but then the love my husband gave me and making a family of my own filled those empty spaces inside. The joy and happiness Shinwoo gives me is of course priceless. That’s the power of family I suppose.

Where did you live before marriage?

I used to live in a mega apartment complex in Geumho-dong which was when I was super busy as a tv entertainer. My lease contract was about to expire and I had to look for another place but I had no time so this friend of mine picked a place and sent me a video which I would then say yes right away. I have no memory of the house since it was only a place to sleep. I later moved to a place near the Beotigogae Station and that was when I was finally able to take a look around, probably because I had higher income(laugh) then. During the 4 years there, my attachment to a house grew for the first time and found myself going to the market to customize the curtains, invite people over and cook, living a more fruitful life. The neighbors were really nice too. Fashion designers Steve&Yoni were on the ground floor, photographer Tae-eun Kim on the third, stylist Hyeryeon Choi on the 4th, fashion designer Ranji Yae on the 5th and me on the second. So the whole building was a place of fashion people. They must’ve given me a lot of influence because that’s when I became interested in fashion and living. My first fashion week experience happened during those days. And then after that I moved to Hannam-dong.

Is there another place you’d like to live one day?

There’s an old villa built in 1983 in Hang-dong, Guro-gu. It’s called ‘Green Villa’ which was the first to introduce the townhouse concept in Korea. There’s a large swimming pool and tennis court for the residents and the aged trees make a grand landscape. This house is also old, with the 110v and 220v existing altogether, and the charm unique to these old, historic houses are very appealing. If I’d choose somewhere abroad, I’d love to live in Italy with Shinwoo. Italian men all have this particular bright and sound characters. They don’t hesitate to express love and they’re naturally born with nice manners and attitude towards women. I wish Shinwoo would grow up to be like them.

What kind of memory would you like to build from this house?

I wish this house could remain as a big part of our memory. I don’t have that many pictures of my childhood but there’s one that I still recall. I’m sitting in a stroller and far behind me there’s a multi-unit housing and I’d turn warm inside and think ‘so that’s where I lived when I was little.’ I hope this house gives the same feeling and memory to Shinwoo. And I intend to take a lot of pictures while we’re here.