[Interview] Shin Ha Kyun Hits a Grand Slam
The recently-wrapped drama Brain faced a slew of problems in the beginning, as Song Seung Hun and Lee Sang Yoon both turned down the male lead. And even when Shin Ha Kyun decided to take up the role, people said he wasn′t fit for the small screen.
Those critics may have been right at first - Shin′s start with KBS2’s Brain was far from smooth smooth. The outlook for the drama was fairly gloomy, and as expected, the drama got off to a bad start with its first episode posting single-digit viewership ratings, thanks to a head-to-head showdown with SBS’ A Thousand Days’ Promise.
But Shin Ha Kyun somehow ended up hitting a grand slam, and won a losing game, just as his character Lee Kang Hoon did in the television drama.
"I thought my head was splitting"
Shin once appeared for almost 55 minutes of the 60-minute long episode of the medical drama. Difficult jargon was flooding in and his character drifted back and forth between extreme emotions. We wondered how he acted out the role.
“I thought my head was splitting (laugh). The lines were not easy, and the amount of shooting was immense, so I have to carry four or five books of scripts for a shoot. The emotions (of the character) were always extreme. Naturally, it was harsh. But the medium of TV drama was so charming. Responses (from viewers) were spontaneous. Tributes? I received them for the first time. I was happy and grateful that I could communicate with fans.”
As the drama started to gain popularity, witty nicknames like ‘Ha Kyun Shin (means god)‘ and ‘Kyun-morning‘ were given to him one after another. This proves how much impact his acting had on viewers. But how did he appraise his own acting?
“I think I was overly praised. When I monitored my acting, I found too many flaws. I’m thankful for viewers’ compliments on my acting but I don’t think I can give high marks to myself. One thing was that acting with Jung Jin Young sunbae created a synergy effect. He responded to it no matter how I acted. I hope we can meet again in a drama as two people on good terms.”
"I was moved by the Netizen Award"
One can’t interview the man and leave out a discussion of the 2011 KBS Drama Awards. Shin won the Grand Prize, beating out strong rivals like Lee Tae Gon of Gwanggaeto the Great Conqueror and Park Si Hoo of The Princess’ Man. Had he foreseen such results?
“Not at all. I had a shoot on that day, so I didn’t even think about attending the ceremony. But the director finished the shooting early and told me to go. Prior to the presentation of the Grand Prize, I received the Netizen Award. So I thought, ‘I might not be able to win the Grand Prize as I expected,′" said Shin.
"But I was so surprised and grateful that I received the Grand Prize. And then when I came home and thought over, I was more moved by the Netizen Award [than by the Grand Prize]. That’s because the public chose me. I was so thankful toward fans. I think I should work for more TV dramas from now on (laugh).”
But though he said he would work for television more, as an actor who′s now beloved in both films and dramas, what kind of role was Shin planning on taking on next?
“I’ve never intentionally draw boundaries in terms of genres till now and I won’t in the future as well. I’ve never approached acting with concrete plans of what and how I will do things, either. But I want to take up novel roles that inspire me. I have deep interest in characters that people have compassion for or for pitiful characters. Brain’s Lee Kang Hoon was that kind of character," said Shin. "First of all, I’ll spend time with my family and take time to think about it later on.”
Photo credit: Kim Byung Kwan
Translation credit: Misun Lee