Back To Top

Kim Nam-gil back to being bad

‘The Great Queen Seondeok’ actor hopes to surpass last role

Actor Kim Nam-gil is returning to the small screen in KBS’ “Don’t Look Back” after an almost three-year hiatus.

“Don’t Look Back” is Kim’s first television drama since completing mandatory military service last July.

“I am quite nervous,” Kim, 32, admitted at the series’ press conference in Seoul on Tuesday, adding that he was so jittery on the set that he had trouble keeping his hands steady while rehearsing.

“I felt that a lot would have changed during those three years, but while working on ‘Don’t Look Back’ I came to feel that not much had changed at all,” said Kim. 
The cast of KBS’ “Don’t Look Back,” (from left) Ha Seok-jin, Son Ye-jin and Kim Nam-gil, attend the drama’s press conference in Seoul on Tuesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
The cast of KBS’ “Don’t Look Back,” (from left) Ha Seok-jin, Son Ye-jin and Kim Nam-gil, attend the drama’s press conference in Seoul on Tuesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)

Son Ye-jin (OSEN)
Son Ye-jin (OSEN)

Kim Nam-gil (OSEN)
Kim Nam-gil (OSEN)

Of what he learned while away from the camera, Kim said, “You could say my work in ‘The Great Queen Seondeok’ made me famous and I think there was a moment when I could have let all that go to my head. But during those years of military service, I focused on finding happiness in the little things and returning to that initial feeling of joy of just being able to act.”

Kim confessed to being concerned about how he would differentiate his new character from that of his previous role.

In “Don’t Look Back,” Kim plays an anti-hero out to avenge his father’s murder, a role not unlike that of his work on SBS’ “Bad Boy,” where he played a stuntman determined to exact revenge on the family that ruined his life.

“You could draw similarities between the characters from ‘Bad Boy’ and ‘Don’t Look Back,’” Kim said.

“The biggest challenge I face is surpassing my role in ‘Bad Boy,’” he said. “At the moment, I am tackling my role with the goal of being up to par with the quality of work I did in ‘Bad Boy.’”

“In truth, I really do want to play lighthearted roles. I personally think I would be good in a romantic comedy and it is a genre that I like. However, I am drawn to characters that possess emotional scars and have traumatic pasts,” said Kim of his tendency to latch onto heroes with bad boy personas.

In his upcoming drama, Kim’s hero, Han Yi-soo, loses his father before narrowly avoiding death himself.

Scarred by his past, Han (Kim Nam-gil) carefully plots his revenge, amassing wealth and power as the adopted son of a wealthy and influential businessman in Japan before returning to Korea after 12 years of absence.

Co-star Son Ye-jin plays Han Yi-soo’s first love, Cho Hae-woo. Believing Han to be long-deceased, Cho, determined to uncover the truth behind his case, eschews her duties as a hotel heiress to become a prosecutor.

Like Kim, Son is returning to the small screen after nearly three years to star in the upcoming “mystery and melodrama.”

“This is our second time working together,” Son, 31, revealed, explaining that the first time she met Kim was when they starred in an advertisement together.

Co-star Lee Honey put in her two cents on Kim, saying that unlike his characters Kim was very playful and “really brings life to the set.”

“Kim Nam-gil is a real joker off duty,” said “Don’t Look Back” director Park Chan-hong. “You know, life is long and if you want to have a good time you need someone like him around.”

“Don’t Look Back” starts airing May 27 Mondays and Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on KBS 2 TV.

By Jean Oh (
Korea Herald daum