Kang Ha Neul’s humble ambition: To get a good eight hours

The Korean actor on the best thing about playing a prince in Scarlet Heart

SINGAPORE — Korean stars are usually either painfully stilted and politically correct in interviews, or jocund and jovial. There is no in-between — except perhaps Kang Ha-neul.

The clean-cut 26-year-old stars in Scarlet Heart, the Korean remake of the Chinese time-travel drama of the same name, as the dashing Eighth Prince. Set in the Goryeo Dynasty, the drama stars IU as a modern-day woman who travels back in time, as well as Lee Joon-gi as the Fourth Prince, and EXO Baekhyun as the Tenth Prince.

In Singapore recently for a press conference and fan meet, Kang trod the line between giving textbook answers and heartfelt ones during our interview session.

The best thing about playing royalty, he chortled, was that “I get to have a big house and a fancy outfit”.

When we asked him what is the first thing he would do if he were ruler for a day, his answer was no less witty. “I love freedom, so, if I were given power and authority, I’d use it to enable everyone to pursue what they always wanted to do,” he said.

But what has he always wanted to do that he has not yet done? We pressed him, to which he replied with a laugh: “Here’s my honest answer: I would spend all my time sleeping.”

It is a common malaise among actors and performers: When working on a project, schedules — and budgets — are tight and pulling all-nighters is common. Scarlet Heart was no different.

“One of the characters has a death scene, and during that shoot, which took place late at night, the actor playing dead fell asleep,” Kang recounted. “All of us were crying and mourning his death when suddenly, we heard snoring!” He demonstrated by giving a snort. “We had to stop filming because everyone burst out laughing.”

But, he hastened to clarify, he was not the one who snored. Or died.

On set, “the one who always sets the tone when male cast gather is Baekhyun,” he said. “He’s always fun to be with. He can be cheeky and playful, and he’s always full of energy and outgoing.

“As fans know, he likes to be the one who cracks the jokes and makes everyone laugh. I am really thankful that Baekhyun was part of the cast. And, we are all guys, so when we’re together, we have a lot to talk about, like sports and games.”

In contrast, his working relationship was perhaps less memorable. When asked whether he had any kissing scenes with the actress, he laughed and said: “I don’t remember.”

Guess we’ll have to watch to find out.


By Mae Seah

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