By Puja Talwar
He has made a habit of saving people when it comes to his onscreen characters, from playing the upright Nurse Park in the mega-hit medical series Dr Romantic to the gifted and nurturing Royal Physician in the recent Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist, Kim Min-jae has proved that he is television’s favourite medical practitioner.
An underrated talent, the 25-year-old Korean rapper and actor Kim Min-jae’s successful filmography in recent years is a testament to his versatility. The drama is an adaptation of Lee Eun-so’s award-winning 2016 novel Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist and charts the journey of Yoo Se Poong (Kim Min-jae) who is unfairly banished from the Royal Palace after a conspiracy.
As he tries to pick the threads of his life together in a village Poong (Min-Jae) gains popularity as the master acupuncturist who selflessly heals people. In an exclusive interview, Kim Min-jae says he was very intrigued by the script and the fact that psychiatrists actually exist in the Joseon Dynasty.
‘The story was fun and Poong’s journey struck a chord. In ‘Dr Romantic’ I learned about Western medicine and with Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist I understood Oriental medicine. I like taking on characters that have strong moral values and make a positive impact, says the actor.
Taking home, the ‘New Star Award’ for Dr Romantic (2016) he won recognition for his special appearance in Guardian, The Lonely and Great God (2016). Though he bagged his first lead role as the cold and reserved matchmaker in ‘Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency’ (2019) it was his portrayal of the sensitive pianist in the melodrama ‘Do You Like Brahms? (2020) followed by his turn as the affable and unpolished businessman in the 2022 romantic comedy’ Dali & The Cocky Prince’, which brought him into the spotlight.
Confessing he is drawn to characters that tug his heart, Kim Min-jae reveals his creative approach is fairly simple.
“Meeting a new character is always difficult. All the characters I have played resemble me a bit. However, I emphasise on that one aspect that’s the essence of what makes the character who he is. I think the character that I’m playing at the moment becomes the one that resembles me the most,” he says with a smile.
What strikes one about Kim Min-jae as he delivers dialogues is his rich voice. He began his career as a rapper known by his stage name REAL.BE. With several singles and song lyrics to his credits he recently featured in Punch’s 2021 single
“I’m Jealous,” Kim Min-jae admits that he works on music as and when his shoot schedules allow.
“I rarely work on the music while I’m working on a drama. Since there isn’t enough time to work on both. I constantly work on the music while I’m on a break from dramas and hopefully will have some new music to share soon. Music and acting are very similar yet very different.”
Produced by Studio Dragon, ‘Poong, the Joseon Psychiatrist’ with its empowering message on dealing with stigmas around mental health, steadily climbed ratings with strong word of mouth. Kim Min-jae reveals that he works hard on himself whenever faced with challenging situations. “I believe we feel fear when we are unconfident or unprepared. I work on myself until that emotion disappears and I feel confident,” he answers thoughtfully.
Aware of the growing popularity and consumption of Korean Content in India. He is delighted by the response to his work and hopes to travel to the country someday.
“I would love to travel to India and am grateful to the fans in India for their support. I hope we can meet someday,” he responds.
Kim Min-jae and the team will be back for Season 2 of Poong, the Joseon Psychiatrist, scheduled for a January 2023 release.
Poong, the Joseon Psychiatrist, is currently streaming on Viki Rakuten.