Kim Seon Ho – Harper’s Bazaar October 2019 Interview

One would be looking for his name and searching for his projects after watching him act. That is who Kim Seon-ho is: one who paints, leaves, and shares the biggest trace of himself.

Kim Seon-ho: painting, leaving and sharing the biggest trace of himself

It is rare for someone to request for an interview session as early as this. Are you a morning person?

I feel that it is important to take care of your body when you shoot a drama. I once collapsed in the middle of shooting, so from that incident onwards, I started working out in the morning and taking supplements. Thanks to this interview I gained a full rest day, hence I wanted to start the day earlier than usual. Isn’t it nice that the day feels longer like this?

How long has it been since the last time you get an off day like today?

I haven’t had any rest day for the past month. I only get 2-3 hours of sleep daily.

The time you have after the interview is so precious, then.

I am planning to have Peking-style roast duck with the staff after this. (laughs)

Don’t you need some “me-time” too for yourself?

I do need it but I am in the middle of filming a drama, after all. The next script is already out and I need to familiarize myself with it, so I am planning to go through the script over dinner. There was no much time for me to read the script thoroughly before this and I only read them in my spare time, so it’s already making me feel great to imagine that I’ll get to read it freely over a cup of coffee in a café later today.

Catch the Ghost/ 유령을 잡아라. The show was supposed to air earlier (but was pushed for a later airing date).

After several discussions, everyone agreed to postpone the airing date in order for us to produce a better outcome for this drama. Since it is something we have planned and agreed upon, there is no such thing as having to feel uneasy over it. Plus, it is not something I should be worrying about and trying to solve, so I put an effort into giving out bright energy on the set.

A romantic investigative piece with a hint of riot going on in between? What kind of drama it is?

There is a fair share of romantic comedic moments between me and actress Moon Geun-young in this drama. I’m portraying the role of a detective who lived a rough life before but was given a chance at finding stability in his life. Although he is a cop, he is working in the Subway Police Unit, where he has to wear civilian clothes even when he’s on duty and he runs into all kinds of people there. I only realized while working on this drama, that there are people working in this profession on the subway we ride on every day. They catch those bad people who pickpocket and do illegal filming, and to my character, it is a stable job since he doesn’t have to deal with violent crimes. However, when he gets to meet a fellow cop played by actress Moon Geun-young, he starts to think about what he really wants to do and also falls in love with her.

It seems like your character does not have the chance to wear police uniform frequently. You must have felt envious towards those who can wear that.

I laughed a lot when I heard from the real cops that the only time they have to put on their uniforms is when they are about to be scolded by their superiors. When we are filming those scenes in which I have to wear the uniform, it unknowingly gives me some kind of strength. It feels like my posture and the weight I feel in my heart undergo changes once I put it on. Of course, the first thing that comes to my mind when we talk about a uniform is police uniform, and thanks to this drama, I get to wear it as many times as I want to.

Each episode will put its focus on different cases, like an omnibus drama. It will be something refreshing to watch.

The most interesting thing about this drama is how the different cases will lead to a big picture in the end. Even with the romantic comedy vibes going on around, don’t you think the story will be more interesting if you also concentrate on this aspect of the plot? It will be full of twists after twists. That’s all I can say. (laughs)

It is a combination of a few genres, after all. Is there a special way unique to Kim Seon-ho when it comes to matching your acting with your fellow acting partner?

There is a lot of things I can learn from actress Moon Geun-young because of her long acting experience. I find myself following after her unknowingly just from looking into her eyes, seeing how she is always honest and diligent in her job. As for me myself, I think that by getting myself fully prepared, I will be able to produce a good acting together with my partner, no matter what kind of reaction they will throw towards my direction. Hence, I imagine a lot of situations with regard to that prior to meeting the partner.

You started attending acting school and even auditions because of you following your friends there. You also majored in theatre in the art college and continued acting on the stage for a long time. You seem to be on the faithful side.

It is quite a heavy subject, but there was a huge thing I went through when I was younger. Our house was robbed and my mother was stabbed with a knife by the burglar while I hid under my bed. Because of the trauma I had from that incident, I would feel uneasy whenever someone stood behind me, and I would have trouble breathing whenever I go to a crowded place with many people. But then, a lot of things changed since I started following my friend to auditions. I learned that it was not something to be feared when you receive attention from others, and their attentive eyes could also be full of warmth. I liked that feeling and went to attend acting classes. I was so bad at that time when I first started acting, to the point of people around me predicting that I wouldn’t last long and would quit acting. I would always be the one who started something, just like how I would volunteer to go first because I was afraid to be ordered to do so. Why? Because seeing someone else act on the stage before me would only make me even more nervous, and I won’t be able to think of anything. (laughs) I got hit and I broke into pieces, then I agonized about it and changed myself. That’s why I’m slower compared to others. Slowly and calmly, I finally arrive at this point in my life.

It seems that the constant reaction to actor Kim Seon-ho is “He’s good at acting.” 

I am so thankful to hear that. Ehh..but it might not be true, though. Although there are strengths, I also have my own weaknesses and there are things I cannot do. I am a flawed person, hence it pushes me even further to grow. This drama also allows me to realize my shortcomings and allow me to grow out of it. Of course, it is a great source of strength to receive good reactions and support, but I keep it in my mind not be drunk on those compliments and always stay on alert.

Isn’t your strength being an indisputable actor? An actor who can turn someone into your fan in an instant.

The title of ‘an actor who can turn someone into a fan in one sitting’…but first, that is something I gained too comfortably. (laughs) It seems like I am being viewed without any burden, as someone who just acts out clear characters in the midst of cool and splendid actors. Isn’t it natural for people to relate to actors; to feel happy seeing me acting out happy-go-lucky characters, and to feel a hint of sadness when I act as a sad character?

A deliveryman in The Strongest Deliveryman, a conman in Two Cops, and a man in love in You Drive Me Crazy. It seems like you have acted out almost every kind of character in the past 2 years.

It is normal for someone in acting to wish for a certain drama and an actor/actress they want to act together with. Then, other things outside acting will also follow suit. An actor who is described as someone comfortable to work with among the directors, fellow actors, and staff; an actor whom viewers can watch without feeling any burden. At first, I thought that I should be thankful when someone gave me a call. But then, I realized that I should try reaching out more myself. Because of that, I found new characters and eventually, I got to show various kinds of acting through those portrayals.

You have been standing on the stage for 10 years already. When you first started acting, have you ever imagined how you would turn out to be 10 years later?

When my friends asked me what my dream was, I would answer them: a shining star. It was something I said out of nowhere without giving much thought about it. But then, once I made up my mind, I dreamed of becoming a realistic actor. If I were to be given just three chances of appearing on the screen, I think I would be able to adapt faster than others. I like to take it slow, but I am someone who can adapt myself fast, no matter what type of situation it is. Now that I have appeared in three dramas, I have acquired the realistic view of an actor’s life. An actor who can continue acting in a different project after wrapping the previous one. In some way, it feels good to be able to achieve my dream when I first started acting.

You are only focusing on dramas at the moment. You must have something else you want to do too.

It is easy to tell jokes and even lies when I am talking to my friends but I can’t seem to lie on broadcasts or in interviews. I just cannot hide it well and I just become very frank. To think that I even had the greed to appear on gag shows…I did think of joining variety programs but since I want to act for a long time, I am restraining myself at the moment. (laughs)

We don’t really know much about yourself outside acting. What do you like to do?

I posted a photo on Instagram of me hanging out at the internet café. I also like reading comic books and watching movies. I don’t really have a favourite director, but I just like the movies themselves. There’s a cinema in my neighbourhood where I can sit alone, so I always go there and spend some time watching movies while pondering about them. It’s just a normal thing I usually do, to the point of people looking at me and thinking that my life is not enjoyable at all. When I feel stuck with my own acting, there are times I release the stress by watching other actors’ great acting. I also watch highlight clips on YouTube, sometimes replaying them for hundreds of times.

We always end up talking about and getting immersed in things related to acting (laughs). You must have liked them so much to watch for hundreds of times.

There are actors who showcase their acting just like a dictionary and manual. Acting seems to be second nature to them, from how they breathe and take a rest, to how their gaze changes in front of the camera while appearing relaxed. I watch them as I learn from them, taking notes and gathering what I have learned to be applied in my acting when the time calls for it.

Maybe you should also learn how to give fan service to your fans? 

I am practising taking selcas a lot since I am so bad at it. I even prepared a decent camera for that reason this time around. But still, even if I try to put some effort into capturing those, it feels like people will look at them while waving their hands dismissively. I should delete that internet café selca, though. (laughs) Instead of those lame and half-hearted perfect selcas (I aimed for before), I want to share whatever I feel like sharing such as my favourite scenes everyone can relate to, even though I don’t look as perfect as a movie poster in that shot.

What kind of person Kim Seon-ho really is?

I’m just like any other people. I’m easy to get along with and there’s nothing special about me other than that. I’m quite reluctant to show off everything about my emotions at once because I am someone who tends to organize myself as time goes by. I don’t really laugh or cry well when I am with others, so people around me might feel upset over that. It would be nice to keep in touch once in a while, but I can’t even do that well. I always have typing errors when I send text messages because my thumbs are so huge. (laughs)

8 years of acting in theatre and 2 years in dramas. Where is Kim Seon-ho standing at the moment?

Since I have received a rookie award and it has been 2 years since my onscreen debut, I think I have completed the ‘I am a Rookie’ course. I can’t be there forever. As I attend the shooting for Catch the Ghost, I think to myself: since I get to act out in a role I couldn’t have in the past, I shouldn’t be upset when I can’t seem to give out the acting I want to show. Even if I feel tired as time goes on, I find it easier to encourage myself to get back on track and start again. I am thankful that people around me look at me well and it has been an enjoyable time shooting this drama. It is a moment full of passion. Yes, passion is not entirely a good thing, but if it’s the time to rise, the time is now; because I am burning with passion.

Ⓒ HARPER’SBAZAARKOREA

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