Handsome, dashing and with a million-dollar smile, a dose of Kim Rae Won would probably be what a doctor would prescribe if you’re having a bad day.
In Kuala Lumpur recently to promote his latest hit series Doctors, the 35-year-old Korean actor was greeted by more than 5,000 screaming fans who thronged Pavilion KL during a meet-and-greet session.
In Doctors, Kim portrays neurosurgeon Dr Hong Ji Hong, who takes some time off from his medical practice to contribute to the community as a biology lecturer. He mentors and inspires a young ruffian, Yoo Hye Jung (Park Shin Hye) to mend her ways and work towards becoming a neurosurgeon like him.
Kim’s portrayal as Dr Hong was so well-loved that he scored nominations for the Grand Prize (Daesang) at both the 9th Korea Drama Awards and the 5th APAN Star Awards. The show was a hit in Korea and across Asia, and is the No.1 Korean drama series across all international channels in Malaysia.
Doctors marks a successful return to romantic comedy for Kim, after his portrayal of a terminally-ill chief prosecutor in the political thriller Punch. Next, he will be in two action-packed Korean movies, one an undercover thriller titled The Prison, and the other, a mystery thriller called RV: Resurrected Victims.
1. You’ve played so many different characters in your career. What attracted you to the role of Dr Hong? What other characters do you hope to try?
To begin with, the range of characters I’ve worked on these past few years have generally been more serious, or had a darker tone.
Hong Ji Hong from Doctors is totally different. He is very lively, not so serious and very vibrant. Also, the drama itself has very vivid colours. These were what appealed to me when I decided to take on the drama.
Well, there is one thing I want to say – I’ve never had the chance to be in period dramas or movies. So, that would be a great new experience. I’ve also heard that I look like a guy from ancient times, so I think that would certainly work!
2. You’ve mentioned before that you come from a family of healthcare professionals. How did having relatives who are doctors help with your role?
My relatives on the maternal side spent years of hardship working to be doctors, so I didn’t want to be in that position … I’m just happy to be portraying a doctor in a drama!
My uncles and my cousins are doctors. I’ve asked them how to treat patients with heart conditions. Having watched several medical dramas, my uncles told me some important points were left out, especially issues such as “when making decisions, do doctors have to be cold or hide their feelings?”
People think it is an easy decision, but it is actually not.
3. You’ve been greatly praised for your portrayal of Dr Hong. What has been the most memorable feedback you’ve gotten?
Someone said I looked like a real doctor, and I was really happy to hear that!
I once read an article where one of the top comments really moved me. It was from someone who said that he was happy to be living in an era in which he got to see Kim Rae Won acting.
4. Which were your most unforgettable scenes from Doctors?
Doctors has too many memorable scenes. The operation scenes at the beginning especially… although the tone of the series is light, I felt those scenes had to be serious because someone’s life depended on it.
Then, there is a part where I had to dance in the rain. Dancing is not something I’m really interested in, but I had to learn how to dance for the drama. It was initially awkward, but later we changed it to be more playful.
The scenes with the claw arcade machine were the most fun. Park Shin Hye kept making fun of me. “Why are you turning so red?” she would say.
5. Next year will be the 20th anniversary of your showbiz career. What are your plans for the future?
I hope that my passion and love towards acting will grow stronger. If the passion is over, that will be the end of acting. But people have told me that it won’t fade.
For the second half of my career, what I really desire is to work on a touching project like Roberto Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful (1997). That movie was a major influence in my acting life. I must have watched it 10 times already. I hope to be able to produce that kind of show one day.
Doctors will return for an encore telecast on ONE HD (Astro Ch 393), with two episodes airing back-to-back every Sunday at 12.45pm, starting Oct 30.