Up until a few years ago, playing a lead character in a TV series had been something highly unexpected for actor Kang Hoon, 32.
Though Kang began his acting career with the 2014 short film “Picnic,” he had little public recognition, taking on minor roles in various projects.
It has only been a year that Kang began getting attention -- from both the public and industry insiders -- after playing a supporting role in MBC’s hit period drama, “The Red Sleeve” (2021-22).
“I tried to scale down my goals and expectations a few years ago,” said Kang during an interview with reporters in Jung-gu, central Seoul, Wednesday.
While he did not decide to abandon his acting career, he felt that he would not be able to become the kind of popular, go-to actor that he had initially wished to become.
“I told myself that the best is yet to come,” the actor added.
Kang might have gotten off to a slow start, winning the male rookie actor of the year prize at the 2021 MBC Drama Awards, his first acting award ever. However, he has since been making his presence known through various projects, including his latest Netflix series, "A Time Called You."
“I still audition for different TV series and films, but I also get scripts sent by directors and production companies. I am starting to rearrange my dreams and aim for higher goals,” he said.
The rising star said understanding high school student In-gyu was his biggest priority as he sought to add something unique to the series.
In-gyu may look weak and timid on the outside, but he is a very strong-minded individual.
"He is not a person with great emotional expression, so I focused on my short lines, quick gestures and other small details to present my character," said Kang.
Jung In-gyu is a classmate of Kwon Min-ju and Nam Si-heon.
In-gyu is caught in a love triangle as his first love Min-ju and his best friend Si-heon fall in love.
Kang shared that many activities of his own school days were similar to In-gyu's, including pen spinning, playing basketball and hanging out with friends.
Kang is willing to be in entertainment programs as well, apart from acting.
“I have been in a few reality programs, hoping to repay drama fans’ love and support," Kang told The Korea Herald.
"It is a great place to show who Kang Hoon really is as a person. There is usually a two- to three-month break before I start to work on a new project. I want to make use of that time to entertain fans provided it does not interrupt my acting schedule,” he continued.
Proving his popularity, Kang has appeared in popular TV talk show “Radio Star,” reality show “Running Man” and is currently starring in “Couriers in Mongolia,” a travel show.
“I hope to meet more drama fans through various channels,” Kang added.
Explaining that he has mostly played characters who have a crush on someone and have a hard time in love, Kang said he hoped to play characters who are experiencing love in his future projects.
"It will be exciting to see the way I perform when I am experiencing love," he said.