[Interview] Kim Bum’s Three Keywords: Sincerity, Acting, Challenge
Kim Bum can′t just be called another flower boy anymore. Every word he said was like a pearl of wisdom and he was humble, yet he seemed comfortable with talking about his own opinions with his soft voice. He seemed mature for a 24 year old when he talked about his deep thoughts and didn’t seem to rush through anything, but then sometimes he flashed back with the bright smile of a little boy.
In dramas and films, Kim Bum is gifted in that he immediately grabs his viewers’ attention, and that power comes from the sincerity contained in his acting. Since he’s not thinking of acting for the fame, he doesn’t ever skim through anything and puts his heart into it. That’s why he’s not a real angel but he manages to make us believe he’s one, and he’s not a playboy but he makes us believe even that.
Kim Bum also was sincere about every word he said. He was modest, and yet was thorough about everything he wanted to say. He was easily embarrassed by praise, and sometimes he nodded his head up and down saying he agreed with what I was saying. The common prejudice that good-looking guys are never that polite didn’t hold true for Kim. His personality and his looks all proved to be great.
Opening Lee Guk Su’s wings
Kim Bum recently opened up his angel wings. He played the role of the angel Lee Guk Su in jTBC’s Padam Padam…The Sound of His and Her Heartbeats. Guk Su was caught trying to break into an ATM machine with an ax because he needed money to pay for his mother’s hospital fees, and ended up serving four years in prison. Then he turned up in front of ex-convict Yang Gang Chil (Jung Woo Sung), who was convicted for murder, and declared himself Gang Chil’s guardian angel. No one believed Guk Su until he showed the wings sprouting from his shoulders.
“When I first met the Guk Su character, I thought first that he would be difficult to portray. There were no characters like him before him, so I had nothing to refer to. I talked with the director and writer and started building an angel character, and I started to believe from beginning to end that I really was an angel. (Laugh)”
Because he truly wanted to become an angel, Kim fit his role perfectly and soared through the sky. Whenever his wings started sprouting, he showed with his entire body that he was in great pain, and was thrown to the ground whenever he tried to land because he was still clumsy with his wings.
“Guk Su believed he was an angel, so I started to believe too. While I was acting I kept telling myself that I’m not acting, but that I’m really flapping my wings to fly. Those wishes were expressed through my acting, and I think that’s what reached the hearts of my viewers.”
Kim Bum was smart. He was a smart actor who knew how to tell a story that the viewers would relate to. Like the common belief that all things come to happen if you want it hard enough, he poured his heart into his role, and it worked. He managed to form an invisible bond between himself and his viewers.
“If I hadn’t spoken with the director and writer, Guk Su wouldn’t have existed. Writer Noh Hee Kyung’s writing was perfect, director Kim Gyu Tae produced it well, and I was helped by the many seniors and juniors on set including Jung Woo Sung sunbaenim (senior). This three-way connection brought about the birth of Guk Su.”
Kim met with Jung Woo Sung for the first time in this drama. At first, he said he was nervous about meeting Jung, but in the action scenes he didn’t hesitate to throw his fist toward Jung.
“We did plan everything out before we started filming the fighting scene, but it felt real. Jung Woo Sung sunbaenim even put together a role for me based on his own experience. The martial arts director taught me the technique, and Jung Woo Sung sunbaenim taught me how to fight in character. Because Guk Su isn’t a good fighter, he had to cling onto Gang Chil or be clumsy with his fists, and sunbae taught me all of this.”
When Kim first met Jung, he never imagined he would get to fight with him. When Kim was still a child Jung was already a big top star, and Kim grew up watching Jung act. Because their characters were supposed to be prison-mates and inseparable partners, this kind of reality barrier became an obstacle in letting the two melt into their acts.
“I guess he knew I was nervous, because he loosened me up by helping me with my script and getting me food. After that, it wasn’t too hard to act as a team. [Jung Woo Sung] was my anchor and a pillar I could lean on. The five months I spent with him as partners felt like five years. I still have the memories from those times carved in my heart.”
Kim learned what type of senior he would like to be through Jung.
“Jung Woo Sung sunbae is so good-looking and handsome. He was also considerate, because he took care of his juniors and even the staff. I thought he was in general just a great man. I wanted to be a senior like him to my juniors. I didn’t get to meet many juniors through my pieces, though. (Laugh)”
He could’ve started bragging about himself, because in the end it was him who pulled off the role, but he continued to be modest. He seemed to be strict toward himself because he was an actor, and not someone who simply dreamt of becoming a star.
Kim Bum not only has great seniors, but also successful friends. He started to belt out praise about his friend Jung Il Woo.
Kim first met with Jung Il Woo in the MBC sitcom High Kick through the Roof in 2009. Kim is three years younger than Jung, but the two became close colleagues and friends. Kim revealed he was a big fan of Jung’s MBC drama The Sun and the Moon.
“Il Woo hyung (big brother) got a character that’s hard to imagine in a traditional drama, but the transition to adult from child actors came really naturally. I think The Sun and the Moon is successful because its story and its premise are full of things that spark curiosity. I’m so happy Il Woo hyung is doing great. (Laugh)”
Kim Soo Hyun, who’s also starring in The Sun and the Moon, is two years older than Kim Bum, but Kim Soo Hyun is Kim Bum’s junior in Chung Ang University’s School of Performing Arts and Media. The two have never met in school or through any of their acting pieces, but Kim Bum continued on to praise Kim Soo Hyun’s acting.
“When Kim Soo Hyun was the child actor of Go Soo sunbaenim in the SBS drama Will It Snow for Christmas? I saw him briefly when I visited the set to see the director, but I’ve never really met him. I think as a viewer he’s an actor that’s playing a great role in The Sun and the Moon. Since we’re actors in a similar age group, if we get away from the junior and hyung relationship, won’t we be able to meet in a piece someday? (Laugh)”
Kim Bum is not only close to Jung Il Woo, but also Lee Min Ho. Kim Bum and Lee Min Ho starred in KBS2’s Boys over Flowers together in 2010. As Lee is busy overseas with his promotions, Kim said they’re only able to talk to each other briefly over the phone.
“Whenever we start on a piece, we have a party to wish each other a success, and we also hold a party after it ends. This time, though, because Il Woo hyung, Min Ho hyung and I are all busy and our schedules don’t fit, it’s hard for us to meet. After I saw Il Woo hyung’s first broadcast, I called him and talked to him as his best friend and fellow actor. I’ll be putting together an occasion for us three to meet soon. (Laugh)”
The one thing lacking in Padam Padam: the love line
The workaholic Kim Bum chose Padam Padam as his comeback piece after a year long hiatus. He started reading the scenario because it was by writer Noh Hee Kyung, and he was pulled in by the angel Lee Guk Su. Kim was always a fan of Noh Hee Kyung, but he started to cultivate a stronger respect and thankfulness toward the writer while acting in her piece.
“There were so many lines that shook up my heart. I learned about emotions that I can feel as a human being rather than as an actor. She covered a lot of emotions that the human Kim Bum could relate to more than the actor Kim Bum, so I learned a lot.”
Kim Bum was 100 percent satisfied with his character, but the one thing he wasn’t that happy with was his love line. When he was working he was so busy he didn’t have time to get into relationships, and during his year off he didn’t want to be in one because he wanted to rediscover the easy-going attitude he needed. His next character Guk Su turned out to be a man who only cared for Gang Chil, and was only involved in a brief love line with the divorced Kim Min Kyung, who lived with her daughter.
“I’ve never taken more than five days off during my seven year career, so a year was a long time. Because of that I actually looked forward to having a love line in my comeback piece, but the angel Guk Su was a character that turned down love. Angels defined love as something that only humans can feel. And so my love line with Kim Min Kyung nuna (big sister) failed. I was sorry about that, but I yielded for my character. (Laugh)”
The piece that Kim Bum feels most sorry about near its end, out of all of his many pieces, is Padam Padam, which aired its last episode on February 7. The five months he lived as Lee Guk Su gave him knowledge that could only come to him because he was an actor. He had worked harder and had been more passionate than any other.
“Outside of what I did wrong, everything I felt while I was filming was precious to me. There are a lot of things I don’t want to lose and want to keep inside me, but I’m worried I’ll be losing them. I’m working hard not to lose those precious emotions.”
Acting is his all
The first thing the little Kim Bum did when he first decided he wanted to be an actor was run to a bookstore. He bought a book on the theory of acting and read again and again that book full of words he didn’t know.
“I’m always happy while I live on set as another character. No matter whether it’s a success or doesn’t do as well, I just need to worry about my character while I’m filming. In everyday life I have to think about a lot of things as the person Kim Bum and the actor Kim Bum, but since I can leave all that behind me on set, it’s a great place to be.”
When Kim Bum chooses a piece he tries to look at the character and the big picture. He wants to try roles he’s never tried before, he wants to learn from them and he wants to come back to his fans with a new image every time.
There are times when that means he won’t get as much viewership ratings and that his piece won’t be as popular. But in order to be an actor that improves with time, Kim Bum decided to put his studies before his popularity.
“I want to show as an actor how much I can learn from a character. I want to act in roles that are challenging, and I always hope I can come out with a new image every time.”
Only the smartest, brightest and passionate people can become real actors. The Nation’s actor Ahn Sung Ki and the Nation’s mother Kim Hye Ja are a few examples. I tried to imagine Kim Bum’s future as a person who knows what he needs to do and works hard for it like Ahn Sung Ki and Kim Hye Ja, and I was confident he would be getting a Nation’s actor title for himself soon.
Photo credit: KingKong Entertainment, Kim Byung Kwan
- Lee Min Ho (A) 20120209 Jung Il Woo 20120209 Jung Il Woo 20120209 Kim Soo Hyun 20120209 Padam Padam 20120209 Kim Bum 20120209