Kim Min-jae recently finished filming the first season of Poong: The Joseon Psychiatrist, in which he played Yoo Se-poong, a gifted court physician. After Poong is exiled from the palace, he becomes the Joseon Era equivalent of a psychiatrist, seeking psychological answers for unexplained ailments. Poong is not Kim’s first role in a historical drama. As well as acting in contemporary dramas such as Dali and the Cocky Prince, Do You Like Brahms and Doctor Romantic, he previously played a matchmaker in Flower Crew Joseon Marriage Agency. Historical roles, he agrees, do present specific challenges.
“I think it’s the literary style and the costumes,” said Kim. “I have to use words and phrases that I normally don’t use and wear clothes that I normally don’t wear, so it’s hard to act naturally. I think the most difficult part about a historical drama is portraying the tone and actions as naturally as possible.”
Kim credits the artfully crafted sets with helping him relate to the time period, particularly the scenes where he worked at the fictional Gyesu Clinic, along with fellow physicians, played by Kim Hyang-gi and Kim Sang-kyung.
“It’s the art and the props that make Gyesu Clinic from the Joseon Dynasty so realistic,” said Kim. “I would like to thank the art team and the props team for making the set look so real.”
According to Kim, the primary reason for the show’s success is its positive message. “At the press conference, the director mentioned that the drama conveys the message, ‘It’s not your fault.’ It’s a heart-warming drama that tells good people, who blame and torment themselves, that it’s not their fault.”
Kim did not originally intend to become an actor. After studying musical composition and piano, he auditioned for the Korean entertainment giant CJ E&M and became a trainee while attending Seoul Performing Arts High School. In 2014 he had his first acting role in a joint South Korean-Vietnamese drama Forever Young, followed by a cameo as an idol singer in the tvN drama I Need Romance 3. While preparing to debut as a singer, he was cast in the Mnet drama Perseverance Goo Hae-ra. The rest is k-drama history.
“When I happened to go to a drama set to play a minor role,” said Kim. “I realized that I wanted to pursue acting. I realized that expressing emotions makes me happy and that’s the reason I continue acting. And it’s interesting to live the life of someone other than me.”
That doesn’t mean he has given up on music. Also known as the singer/rapper Real.Be, Kim contributed a song to the Twenty Again soundtrack, as well as singing on the soundtracks for My First Time and Prison Playbook. In 2021, Kim also contributed to the lyrics of Punch’s second mini album Full Bloom. It took a while, but he’s come up with a workable plan to exercise both talents.
“At first, I tried hard to balance music and acting,” said Kim. “But I realized that when I am working on a drama, there isn’t enough time to distribute between the two. So, I work on music when I’m on a break from dramas. And when I am working on a drama, I focus only on the drama.”
With a smile he added, “I’m just Kim Min-jae, who loves music and acting.”
Poong: The Joseon Psychiatrist is a tvN drama produced by Studio Dragon.