Rising actor Kang Ha Neul, known as Mr Nice Guy of the South Korean entertainment world, lived up to his reputation at a press conference here yesterday.
In Singapore to promote his new movie Midnight Runners, Kang filled the ballroom at the InterContinental Singapore with his trademark hearty laughter and later fielded a no-holds-barred media interview, atypical of the heavily regulated interviews with Korean stars.
He answered sensitive questions on his impending army enlistment later this month, even claiming to be looking forward to the national service.
“I am really looking forward to the enlistment because of the new environment and the new people who I will meet very soon,” said Kang, who is voluntarily enlisting at age 27, unlike some celebrities who were known to drag their feet or even try to avoid serving the two-year military stint.
“I thought I should enlist before I get too greedy in terms of work. As I work on more and more productions, I thought maybe it is time to let go of that greed for a while.” He was speaking in Korean and had a translator.
Word in Korean show business has it that he can remember the name of every single crew member when he is working on a production.
Well, it is true.
Kang said: “I won’t say I have a superb memory. It is just like remembering the names of your family members. Once I work on a production, I see the crew as part of my family. It is natural to everyone’s names.”
Midnight Runners director Jason Kim was full of praise for the actor, whom he was working with for the first time.
Kim, 36, said in English: “He is a very sensitive actor. He also has a keen sense of how to portray interesting and funny characters. This guy is just a perfect mixture of both, how can I not cast him?”
But Kang has his insecurities too – he confesses that his physique is nowhere near as ripped as his co-star Park’s.
He said: “He has a really nice, sculpted body. Even though I tried really hard, I could not get a body like his in such a short period of time.”
Not that he would want to make the sacrifices necessary to get that kind of body.
“I just want to lead a comfortable life.”
•Midnight Runners opens in cinemas on Sept 7.
By Gwendolyn Ng
Photos by Desmond Foo
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