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Actor Kim Young-dae says he’s very different from the roles he play

For Kim Young-dae, any time spent away from acting is an opportunity to sit with an honest version of himself.

Manfred Lu

| December 16, 2023
Kim Young-dae
South Korean actor Kim Young-dae. Photo: Men’s Folio

If playing fictional roles is all one has ever known, perhaps it might be easier to glue oneself in a constant act of pretence.

With acting, much of the process in the work is reliant on metamorphosing: the job might call for one to adopt different personalities even if they are far from their personal experiences — a heartbroken ex-lover while at the same time, a perturbed student facing the realities of life. Thus, it is not abstract to assume that the self they share on social media is easier to see as simply another role they play on the screen.

Kim Young-dae
Jacket, hoodie, pants, shoes, all Balenciaga. Photo: Men’s Folio

But not for South Korean actor Kim Young-dae.

For the 27-year-old actor, any time spent away from acting is an opportunity to sit with an honest version of himself. His Instagram is full of social wit, with numerous posts unabashedly down-to-earth and inherently true to what one would expect of a young adult around his age — his vacation snapshots and photo booth selcas (selfies) with co-star Pyo Ye-jin proves no presence of a risk-averse, manufactured feed.

Kim Young-dae
Jacket, tank top, pants, all Bottega Veneta; Le Locle Powermatic 80 20th Anniversary, Tissot. Photo: Men’s Folio

“I’ve often been told that I appear as a harsh person because of the cold and distant characters I’ve played,” shares Kim.

“People think of the characters I play when they think of me, but that’s not the case at all. You see, I’m actually very easy-going. I’m clumsy, sloppy and talkative. [Laughs] In fact, a typical day in my life involves working out and going to shoots. Afterwards, I just go back to sleep. Then, it’s the same routine for the next day. The only difference is my day-offs, where I’m busy catching up on sleep.”

Jacket, pants, shoes, all Versace. Photo: Men’s Folio

It is an honest answer from an actor who has progressed further into stardom in the past year alone after just acting for several years as a full-time career. “There was no particular trigger that got me into acting; it was more of a chance encounter that got me started,” he answers about his start in acting.

Kim Young-dae
Tank top, Bottega Veneta; Le Locle Powermatic 80 20th Anniversary, Tissot. Photo: Men’s Folio

Having had his start through cameos and recurring roles, it was not until The Penthouse: War in Life (2020) that the actor ignited the attention of fans worldwide. It would take his lead role in 2022’s Shooting Star to flaunt his potential before 2023’s extensive and widely-received Moon in the Day — currently airing on screen — catapulted him into public discourse. But Kim keeps it cool — decidedly focusing on those small nuances that make one who they are, even encouraging patience in the process as “a work in progress.”

Kim Young-dae
Shirt, pants, shoes all Prada. Photo: Men’s Folio

“I’m very grateful for the work and the moments from those series, but it definitely doesn’t feel like it led to a turning point in my career. It’s probably more of a phase I had to go through, and I’ll continue to do so as I’ve grown with all of my work. But the last day of filming (Moon in the Day) was the most memorable. The memories I had are both of fondness and sadness,” he acknowledges. “It was a bittersweet moment because there were a lot of hard and fun scenes.”

Vest, Loewe; PRX Powermatic 80, Tissot. Photo: Men’s Folio

Now — just about a month after the show’s release — there is still much to contemplate about what else the young actor has to offer. On his year-end resolutions, all that is on his mind is a simple wish to “celebrate completing another year of filming.”

And his future plans? “Currently, I’m filming a new piece of work titled No Loss In Love with Shin Min-a. I’m playing a role that’s of a different colour of character than what my fans and I are used to. I’m also filming a series called Perfect Family; there’s definitely quite a bit to look forward to.”

Photography | Chee Wei
Creative Direction & Styling | Izwan Abdullah
Text | Manfred Lu
Grooming | Go Yuri
Hair | Lee Boram
On-Set Stylist | Lee Hye Young
Photography Assistant | Lee Yun Sang
Grooming Assistant | Hyun Eunsu
Hair Assistant | Kim Sechang
Production | Oh Seoyul | SY Production
On-Set Assistant | Misha


This article originally appeared on Men’s Folio.

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