Mr Nice Guy knows entire crew's names

Kang Ha Neul playfully puckering up to his co-star Park Seo Joon's standee at the press conference for Midnight Runners.
Kang Ha Neul playfully puckering up to his co-star Park Seo Joon's standee at the press conference for Midnight Runners.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

South Korean actor Kang Ha Neul says he sees the filming crew as family

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, he filled the ballroom at the InterContinental Singapore with his trademark hearty laughter and later fielded a no-holds-barred media interview, a departure from the heavily regulated interviews typical with Korean stars.

He answered sensitive questions on his impending army enlistment later this month, 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," says Kang, who is voluntarily enlisting at age 27, unlike some celebrities who have been known to drag their feet or even try to evade 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 the help of a translator.

In Midnight Runners, which opens on Thursday, he and Park Seo Joon play a pair of bumbling police academy students.

Kang has had supporting roles in popular TV dramas, starring as a spurned prince in fantasy period Scarlet Heart (2016), a geeky intern in office drama Misaeng (2014) and an over-achieving student body president in teenage romance The Inheritors (2013).

Word in Korean show business is that he can remember the name of every crew member when he is working on a production.

Well, it is true.

Kang says: "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 remember 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, says 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 says: "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 Thursday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2017, with the headline 'Mr Nice Guy knows entire crew's names'. Print Edition | Subscribe