Header Ads


[Interview] キム・ナムギル Kim Nam Gil 김남길 is Korea's "Secret Weapon"

Occupation: Actor
Based in: Seoul
Last Education: Myeong Ji Cheon University

Kim Nam Gil is in it for the long game. He has survived far longer than many actors who started in Korean dramas, quick flashes of pretty boy smiles, a few fan girl sites, and they disappear, a disposable success. But Kim has managed to bypass being just another preposterously good-looking celebrity to an award-winning actor that even one well-known surly Korean critic described as an “actor who loses himself in every role.” Kim is getting ready to do it again with the announcement this week that he will be starring in the Korean adaptation of the original “Homeland,” the award-winning terrorism thriller remade from the Israeli series “Prisoners of War.” The Korean remake, the first Asian version of the psychological spy series, is being jointly produced by Privy members, Youngbeom Jeong, CEO of Korea’s Star J Entertainment and Hollywood producer Teddy Zee, who are harnessing the the drama’s trademark hold-your-breath suspense with a plot that centers on the ratcheting tensions between Seoul and their neighbors in Pyongyang. With the American version a critical hit on Showtime, and Zee predicting that the remake will “expand the the influence of the so-called Korean wave in Asia and beyond,” the pressure is definitely on for the 32-year-old actor.

But if anyone can handle it, it's Kim, who was cast mid-series in the historical epic, "Queen Seon Deok", and famously called the show’s “secret weapon.” It turns out, he was. The drama was the highest-rated series in Korea in 2009. With “Queen Seon Deok” and his misunderstood, brooding warrior Bidam, Kim charmed the Asian demographic, many of them, female, with his take on a mercenary whose arrogance belies an inner little boy lost. The actor went on to star in the intense drama “Lovers Vanished,” a movie he describes as a Korean “Leaving Las Vegas,” and also played a business tycoon in the show “Bad Guy,” a series that was shortened because of Kim’s two-year mandatory military stint in Korea. For a lot of actors, two years away from the industry would be career suicide. But for Kim, who considered it a “civic and moral duty,” it was a publicist's dream: the time away only made his fans want him more. His upcoming movie, “Pirates: The Bandit Goes to the Sea” dubbed the “Korean Pirates of the Caribbean,” is already poised as one of this summer’s most anticipated movies with fans buzzing in excitement in seeing a dapper Kim à la Jack Sparrow. Somehow the universe seems to knows it too--Kim Nam Gil is in it for the long run.


What was your career turning point?

I definitely feel that the drama “Queen Seondeok” in 2009 was a huge turning point for me. The show and my character, Bidam, really seemed to connect with the audience, and it became this hugely popular series, not just in Korea, but in China and Japan too. The series really opened doors for me and led me to the show “Bad Guy”, which I loved doing. And it also helped me to to do “Lovers Vanished,” a passion project of mine that I always describe as a Korean “Leaving Las Vegas.”


We hear you're very involved with charity work. Which projects are you involved with and why is it so important to you?

I know that I’m in a very privileged and blessed position, and I think it’s my responsibility to share what I have with people who don’t have much. If what I give, whether it’s my time, my effort, gives someone else hope, it’s worth it to me. I mean, in the end, it’s all about hope. In the last few years, I’ve been most passionate about working with organizations in Korea that help single mothers, who I believe, are the real heroes in society. I also volunteer at pediatric units in several hospitals across Korea. I’m a huge animal lover as well, and I’m always supporting different animal shelters in our country. I think environmental issues are extremely important, and in 2009, went to Indonesia when the earthquake devastated their country. I saw so much desperation and poverty, and I was overwhelmed with the desire to help. I created my nonprofit organization, "Gilstory" (www.gil-story.com) to provide support and resources for countries devastated by natural disasters and poverty, like Indonesia and the Philippines.


What did you learn during your two-year military service?

When you’re in the army, everyone’s the same, which means, everyone starts off low. Because of that, though, I learned a lot about gratitude, how to be grateful and thankful for the little things--a good meal, a hot shower, a comfortable bed--small things that we take for granted on a daily basis. I think I also grew up a lot. I never thought I was immature, but I definitely gained a deeper sense of maturity that really has stayed in my heart.


We hear you're learning Chinese. What interested you about studying the language?

I’ve also been a very curious, passionate person, and I think learning a language really brings that out in me even more. The Chinese language is a challenge and because of that, it really made me want to learn it and get a handle on the language even more. Anytime I think “I don’t know if I can do this”, it makes me want to do it more. I think the initial reason I picked Chinese, though, is because I have so many fans in China and I really want to communicate with them and have a dialogue with them. And if there is any possibility, I would love to work with the many amazingly talented Chinese directors in the future.


If you could have one last meal, what would it be?

I love authentic Korean foods, so I would have to say, soybean soup.


What are your top 5 restaurants in Los Angeles?

1. In N' Out

2. Matsuhisa

3. Mastro's

4. Boa

5. Kogi Taco


What are your top 5 restaurants in Korea?

1. Deh-nam-moo in Cheongdam

2. Spass

3. Kwang Jang Bulgogi

4. Busan House

5. Dor-Gom in Apgujeong.


What's next for Kim Nam Gil?

I’m so honored to be in the Korean version of “Prisoners of War.” It’s a dream come true for me as an actor to be a part of the first Asian remake of such a successful show. I also had a lot of fun making “Pirates: The Bandit Goes to the Sea" that's being released this summer. I enjoyed working so much with Son Ye Jin and learned tremendously from my director, Lee Suk Hoon. I always loved singing and music, and I just released my CD, “Roman,” last year. I hope I can keep making television shows and movies that people enjoy--it always feels good when something I do makes an impact on people. [SOURCE ]


  1. Awesome. Can't wait for your new movie. My favorite actor of all time.


  3. Dear Kim Nam Gil,it's time for you to be widely acknowledged as being a great south korean actor.Go for it but stay healthy all the way.regards,miss orange writing.

  4. i love you kim nam gil i'm not hangul but l love hagul actors and you are one of my favorites.