Kang Min Hyuk swept us with his self-assured charm as the suave and confident chaebol Han Jun Kyung in the Netflix series, Celebrity. The show is an immersive account of the vanity of influencer culture and how it leads to dangerous repercussions when things finally spiral out of control.
The series is told through the lens of Aa Ri (Park Gyu Young) whose rise on social media had been as swift as her inevitable fall. As she finds herself in a complicated web of intrigue and malice, it’s Kang Min Hyuk’s Han Jun Kyun who helps her entangle the noose tightening around her neck.
The multi-hyphenate Kang Min Hyuk wears many hats. He is not only the drummer of the pop band CNBLUE, but also a songwriter as well as a lyricist. Having won several accolades for his nuanced performance in the Netflix show, the actor has been part of many hits such as Heirs, Heartstrings and Hospital Ship. We caught up with the talented actor-musician for an exclusive chat on Celebrity, the upcoming CNBLUE concert and his love for tandoori chicken. Keep on reading!
In conversation with Kang Min Hyuk:
HELLO! India: Congratulations are in order as Celebrity continues to be the most-watched show for its realistic narrative. Were you expecting the response to the strong statement it made?
Kang Min Hyuk: “I did think that many people would be able to relate to the drama since social media is a big part of our daily lives. But, I didn’t expect that so many people would watch our drama!”
H!: Your character, Han Jun Kyung, is one of the most morally upright characters in the drama, where everyone else has their own agendas and schemes. What was it about the show that drew you in?
KMH: “There are a lot of strong characters in the drama, as there are several incidents and issues that unfold around them. Han Jun Kyung is an honest character, who can balance all this well. I felt that during these situations, Han Jun Kyung had a relaxed air about himself, which I wanted to portray well and hence, was keen to play this character.”
H!: How did you understand the psyche of a man who, on the one hand, does the right thing but can also be ruthless when he is endangered. What was your thought process to adapt to this?
KMH: “Han Jun Kyung is a third-generation ‘chaebol’, who possesses a lot of things and has an unshakable ease about him. Among other characters like Lee Dong-gun (Jin Tae-Jeon) or Lee Chung-ah (Lee Si-Hyeon), who are also chaebols or are in constant contact with money, Han Jun Kyung has a clear mind and can distinguish between right and wrong. Since he possesses a lot, he can also be the voice for those who don’t. I wanted to play this character who has several qualities to him with more confidence. And more than that, his unshakable belief in knowing that he can do no wrong, gives him more strength.”
H!: The scene of the help walking behind you to take your shoes off went quite viral! Is there any such particular scene that left an impression on you?
KMH: “I understand that it can be quite a shocking scene to witness. But Han Jun Kyung doesn’t think of it as a wrong action, he’s able to conduct himself with honesty and confidence. I think Han Jun Kyung thinks of it as his way of aiding the help at home, by basically letting her do the job, whatever it may be. Like I said before, because he knows he hasn’t done anything wrong, he is at ease. Even though I did think that a lot of people would be surprised by that scene, I had a lot of fun shooting that scene.
H!: What was it like working with Park Gyu Young who plays Aa Ri? There is such taut tension between you two that one can feel it through the screens. How do you develop this awesome chemistry as actors?
“KMH: “The word ‘chemistry’ itself is quite self-explanatory, in that it’s not one-sided. We have a lot of discussions and we need to deliver the dialogues as realistically as possible, as if we are having that conversation for the first time. So, I think it is important that I deliver my lines in such a way that my co-star is also able to react as naturally as possible. In that sense, Gyu Young and I were very considerate toward each other, which resulted in good chemistry between us.”
H!: From Heirs and Heartstrings to the emotional doctor in Hospital Ship, and then How To Be Thirty. How has your process as an actor changed over the years?
KMH: “I don’t think there has been a big change in my process of acting. But, even though I had done my best back then, I continue to strive to do my best now and learn from my previous experiences. As I am doing each project, I think of better ways of portraying a certain character and the ways in which the chemistry between me and my co-star can improve. Even with Celebrity, I have learnt ways that can help me do better for my next project. In this way, I continue learning with each character I play.”
H!: Is there a genre or role you want to try now?
KMH: “I do not look at projects just as genres or roles. I analyse them in their entirety and measure the attractive qualities the character possesses. For example, there is always a quality about a person or celebrity that makes us fall for them. Similarly, when I am reading a script, I tend to look at the charming and attractive qualities of that character, drama or movie more than the genre.”
H!: What is the first thing that attracts you to a project: the script, the director or the cast?
KMH: “I tend to look at this as a trifecta — screenplay writer, director and the cast. I think all three play a very important role and if anyone is lacking, then the show in its entirety would lack. I think that discussions and collaboration between all three parties are extremely important for me. Picking any one out of these three would be very tough.”
H!: You’re also a musician, lyricist, songwriter and drummer with CBLUE. How do you balance both the music and the acting?
KMH: “I don’t think I purposely make efforts to balance the roles I have. Since they are different forms of art, I feel they each help me out when I’m bearing a certain role at a given time. When I am a drummer and musician on stage, the emotions that I feel for my fans translates into my acting and vice versa. Therefore, even though I don’t make efforts to balance as such, the different professions I have naturally end up helping one another.
I am very grateful for being a musician as well as an actor and I constantly think that I shouldn’t let go of the opportunity (to be both). I’d want to continue going down this road without any regrets by working hard.”
H!: What type of content do you like to watch? Any favourite film, drama, or show?
KMH: “I think I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos lately as I like learning new things, more than watching dramas. But since we have a concert coming up, I have been listening to a lot of CNBLUE songs and newly released music as well so that we can put up a good performance.”
H!: Do you have any exciting plans for the near future? How do you like to spend your time when you’re not working?
KMH: “There is no particular plan as such, I have been going through various scripts and preparing for the CNBLUE concert and my album. I watch a lot of YouTube and if I get the chance I watch dramas. Recently, I even watched the movie, Oppenheimer, and was greatly inspired. I also work out to be healthy.”
H!: Is a trip to India on the cards? Are you familiar with any Indian content, movies or food?
KMH: “Recently, I was invited to attend a film festival in India, but unfortunately that didn’t materialise. But I am keen to visit the country. Indian food like naan, curry and even tandoori chicken is quite popular in Korea. I’d love to eat these dishes from the land they originated from.”
H!: If not an actor, what would you have been?
KMH: “I have never imagined this, so I don’t know! In some way or another, I think I’d have been doing work in the entertainment industry!”
H!: If you were a drama, what drama would you be?
KMH: “I think I’d be a romantic comedy. Just like a rom-com, I find my life to be quite enjoyable where I have and receive a lot of love and affection from people around me, including my fans!”
H!: If you were a song, which one would you be?
KMH: “I think I’d like CNBLUE’s track, ‘Love’. The lyrics are quite lovely and it’s a fun and upbeat song. Towards the end, suddenly the genre shifts to rock. Just like the song, I feel like I have many qualities that can be appreciated as you go get to know me.”