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[Herald Interview] Im Chang-jung shows no signs of slowing down

Multitalented entertainer balances projects in film, music and business

The media was split on its opinion of Shin Dong-yeob’s new comedy “Untouchable Lawmen,” starring Im Chang-jung and Choi Daniel, even before it hit theaters Thursday. But leading man Im said that he wasn’t bothered by unfavorable reviews.

“This movie is supposed to have a B movie feel,” he told reporters at a group interview at a cafe in Seoul. “For people who like this type of genre, it’s a well-made movie. There are serious movies, then there are movies like these.”

Im chose the comedy as his leading-role return to the screen after the 2013 noir film “Tumbleweed,” but the period between has been far from a break. Despite his easy demeanor and his self-deprecating sense of humor, Im is known in the industry for his unrelenting, hardworking style. 

Im Chang-jung (Yonhap)
Im Chang-jung (Yonhap)

The prolific entertainer, who is also a successful singer and entrepreneur, said that he had many more projects in the works. After 25 years in the industry, he is still going strong.

“My new album is coming out next month on the 14th,” he said. “The lead track is going to be a ballad.” Im personally wrote and helped to produce all of the tracks on the upcoming EP. When asked if it would include another fun, comic song like his previous song “Shall We Dance with Dr. Im,” he shook his head. “I’m never doing anything like that again,” he said with a sigh, adding that the stage performances were draining.

Im plans to appear on various TV variety shows while promoting his album, including a special edition of “Hidden Singer” where he will perform a duet with the contestant who mimicked his singing style the best.

“After my album promotions, I’m heading to China for a Chinese movie. It’s a road movie about the things that happen to me, a kid, and his bodyguard when we travel to Korea from China.”

“Business is also doing well,” he said. His bar, called “Soju Hanjan (A Glass of Soju)” after one of his most famous songs, is opening its 10th branch. “I also have a beauty salon, which is doing fine,” he said.

Im Chang-jung (Yonhap)
Im Chang-jung (Yonhap)

Between all of that and being a single dad to three sons, Im also has found time to write some of his own screenplays.

“I’ve always wanted to be a director, ever since I was young,” he said. “I’ve shown some people my scripts, and they all seemed concerned,” he joked. “They keep asking me if I’m really serious about this.”

Im, who said that he sleeps six hours a night at most, said he hoped to be a role model for others who were passionate about their work. “I want people to wonder when I sleep, and to see that I’m always very busy. Hopefully, that will inspire others to be busy as well.”

Im stars in “Untouchable Lawmen,” which opened in local theaters Thursday.

By Won Ho-jung (
Korea Herald Youtube