From playing the self-righteous Nurse Park in Dr. Romantic and the gifted pianist Joon Young in Do You Like Brahms? to emulating the unromantic matchmaker Ma Hoon in Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency and the humorous and endearing money grubber Moo-hak in Dali and Cocky Prince, South Korean singer and actor Kim Min-jae is fast emerging as the actor to watch out for.
His recent medical period drama Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist sees him play the eponymous Poong, a master acupuncturist and royal physician who is banished from the palace after calculated foul play.
An adaptation of Lee Eun-so’s award-winning 2016 novel of the same name, Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist garnered rave reviews for its engaging and simplistic story of a group of medics as they treat and heal village folk. Produced by Studio Dragon, the show is all set to return with its second season in January 2023.
In an exclusive interview with HELLO! India, Min-jae discusses his latest show, his music, and a probable trip to India.
HELLO!: In Dr. Romantic, your character Nurse Park is dealing with non-stop emergencies at Doldam Hospital and in Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist, he is the best acupuncturist but dealing with his own issues. What was exciting and challenging about both these dramas?
Kim Min-jae: “I learned about Western medicine in Dr. Romantic and I learned about Oriental medicine in Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist. Although the treatment of the two shows and time periods are a little different, I was happy to play characters that are committed to saving people, have strong moral values and influence people positively.”
H!: You had once said, you take on roles depending on the moment and time. So, what drew you to this drama?
KMJ: “The title itself was fresh and fun. I wondered ‘were there psychiatrists in the Joseon Dynasty?’ As I read the script, I was drawn in by Poong’s journey to becoming a psychiatrist.”
H!: You have shown your versatility in several dramas such as Goblin, Tempted, Dr. Romantic 1 & 2, Do You Like Brahms?, Dali and Cocky Prince, and in your latest show. Is there a genre you want to try now? And which genre do you enjoy most?
KMJ: “[Laughs] I want to try genres and characters that I haven’t experienced yet. Each genre has its own charm, so it’s really hard to pick just one.”
H!: Which one of your characters was most difficult to play and why? Park Joon-young of Do You Like Brahms?, Park Eun-tak Of Dr. Romantic, Jin Mu-hak of Dali and Cocky Prince or Yoo Se-poong of Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist? And which one of the characters do you feel is the real you?
KMJ: “Meeting a new character is always difficult. All the characters I have played resemble me at some level. I tend to emphasize the part of the character that makes the character who he is. I think the character that I’m playing at the moment becomes the one that resembles me the most.”
H!: What’s your process as an actor? What draws you to the drama first, is it the story, your character or any other factor?
KMJ: “I consider all factors... but the most important one for me is whether I will truly enjoy the process—will it excite and challenge me as an artist.”
H!: The message in Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist is to overcome your deepest fears and never lose hope. Do you have any fears and how do you deal with them?
KMJ: “I believe we feel fear when we are unconfident or unprepared. So as to not be overcome or consumed with fear, I just work hard and push myself until that emotion disappears and I feel confident.”
H!: You said you like to search viewer reactions. Which is the best compliment you have received?
KMJ: “[Laughs] All the comments saying that they are enjoying the drama. I can’t pick just one!”
H!: You are also a singer and songwriter. Is there something you can share with us regarding your music? How do you balance both careers and which one do you enjoy most singing or acting?
KMJ: “I rarely work on music while I’m working on a drama. That’s only because there isn’t enough time. I constantly work on music while I’m on a break from dramas and I hope to share some of it with you someday. Music and acting are very similar yet very different. I love both so much.”
H!: When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time? What are your favourite activities?
KMJ: “These days, I go camping, fishing, and play golf.”
H!: Lastly, any plans to visit India in the future? As you are aware K-dramas are hugely popular in India, do you have any message for your fans here?
KMJ: “I would love to travel to India and am very keen to visit. To my fans in India, thank you for your love and support. I hope we can meet someday. Please continue to send your love. I will express my gratitude through my work.”
Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist can be watched on Viki Rakuten.