Kim Jae Uck is My Interview God Part 2 – he’s a chameleon, handsome but not an ass about it, and complicated

Kim Jae Uck as Ryan Gold in Her Private Life (watch on Viki)

Almost three weeks after Part 1 in my three-part Why Kim Jae Uck is My Interview Goal series, and I am still struggling to understand the Korean actor.

Because the more I analyze his performances in dramas like Voice and The Guest, and the more I watch YouTube videos, the more mysterious Kim Jae Uck becomes to me.

Not because I am enamoured of his darkly elegant looks (I’m not), or think his even darker performances in Voice and The Guest show his true personality (they don’t), but because the more I watch him act, be interviewed and speak, the more it becomes obvious to me he is a master at hiding his true self.

Just look at his interviews and PR segments for shows he promotes.

Sure, he answers questions, speaks enough, and jokes, but he also skillfully turns the questions away from himself so that he doesn’t give anything too personal away.

Hell, I understand that, as I can’t imagine anything worse than having your private life splattered all over entertainment news.

Particularly as so many fans worldwide don’t seem to understand there is a line you never cross when it comes to the private life of someone in the public eye.

But for me, a journalist who writes more from what my gut instinct tells me about someone than I do from things that are laid out in plain sight, all of this makes Kim Jae Uck challenging to understand.

So, Part 2 of Why Kim Jae Uck is My Interview Goal (now changed to Kim Jae Uck Interview God, because I like someone who is a challenge) is now even more like mental masturbation on my part, as my brain tries to separate what I am looking at when I look at him, and what I can actually see.

Here goes then, and let’s start with the easy stuff as to why Kim Jae Uck is my main interview goal for the next couple of years.


Kim Jae Uck is laidback and grounded

I cannot deal with arrogant, full of themselves, high-maintenance people in the entertainment world. And, believe me, when I lived in LA, I met many.

Kim Jae Uck though doesn’t seem to be like that.

Instead, he seems to be quite humble and grounded, (see video above of Jae Uck on his close friend Rain’s YouTube channel), while still being sure of who he is, and what he wants.

He also seems to treat people nicely, doesn’t get bent out of shape when things go wrong, and appears to be chill and laidback to the point that, even when he is being followed by cameras as he walks through an airport (video below), he moves with such incredible grace.

Sure, I think some of it is an act, as I believe he is much more shy than you may expect, but it is still lovely to watch.

Plus, when someone behaves like that, to me, it always proves how well they were brought up.

Taught to have good manners, treat people well, and that going through life not getting upset about little things will honestly get them further.

As my mother says, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”, so I can happily support someone like Kim Jae Uck whose personality seems to be the living emodiment of that.


Kim Jae Uck knows he’s handsome, but he’s not an ass about it

Guys who know they are good-looking are not interesting to me.

After all, when you get used to someone being handsome, that handsome is soon boring. Especially when you are left with the often-shallow personality beneath the glossy exterior.

Personalities that are often nowhere near as interesting as the person’s pretty face as, being pretty, they haven’t had to work on being a man I would seek out for a conversation.

Kim Jae Uck, though, seems different to me.

Sure, he knows he’s good looking. Hell, he would be an idiot if he didn’t. Especially when most people he meets go on and on about how “beautiful” he is. (Yawn) But… surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to have gone to his head.

Instead, Kim Jae Uck seems to quietly accept that reality, but then gets on with things that are more interesting about him — having a fabulous sense of humor, being kind, being intelligent and able to talk about interesting things, being knowledgeable about acting and music and theater and fashion and art, loving to travel and wanting to live abroad.

Things that, once the first five minutes of “Oh he’s pretty” are over with, probably make him a much deeper, more interesting man to get to know than that pretty face suggests.


Kim Jae Uck as serial killer Mo Tae Gu in Voice (watch on Viki)

Kim Jae Uck is a chameleon, so he’s complicated

“I try not to have people misunderstand me, dislike me and think I’m weird. If I keep using my energy to express hostility or rebelliousness, while living a life that others don’t think is natural, I’ll only be turning myself into an outsider. “ Kim Jae Uck, 2011

Kim Jae Uck made the comments above more than a decade ago (translated into English here) so, sure, he may have changed his mind. (And, to some extent, I think he has, as I mentioned in Part 1 of this article series, recently he seems to be more interested in being happy than being liked).

But this one is captivating to me, as I am the opposite — I do what I want, live where I want, go where I want, leave when I want, and I have never done what was “expected of me”.

Hence, I live a life plenty of people probably think is strange.

So to hear an actor who seems to be quite complicated and often appears larger than life– a man who draws every eye when he enters a room — hint about living his life like a chameleon so as not to be an “outsider”, I find that intriguing, but also a little sad.

Because it takes far more energy to turn yourself into “acceptable to others” than it does to just live life as who you are.

Still, when I look at Kim Jae Uck, I think:

“A man with an artist’s soul. Someone with a lot of complicated thoughts and feelings going on in his brain. Someone who thinks deeply and probably sometimes painfully, and keeps much of what he thinks and feels to himself. Someone who sometimes longs to break free so he can be/do what he wants to be and do, rather than live up to the expectations society places on him”. Complex. Complicated. Intriguing.

You can also see Kim Jae Uck’s complex personality in some of the acting roles he chooses, and in why he takes long breaks in between each one.

Because he looks for roles that are artistic rather than mainstream, dark rather than uplifting, characters who are disliked rather than loved — with roles like Mo Tae Gu in Voice (a drama that is the worst thing I have watched all year, but worth fast forwarding through the last five episodes because Kim Jae Uck’s performance in it is wonderfully disturbing), Choi Yoon in The Guest, and even Noh Go Jin in Crazy Love — a dark rom com featuring a deeply unlikeable main lead, until you realize he isn’t a cardboard cut-out “bad guy”, but instead has good reasons for behaving as horribly as he does.

Maybe Kim Jae Uck being a chameleon in his real life isn’t such a bad thing then, as it helps him choose the roles he plays in his acting life as, not showing his real self to many people, allows him to channel some of those darker and more free parts of his own personality into the characters he creates?

And that ends my thoughts on Kim Jae Uck for today.

Someone whose personality I still can’t get a good grasp on as, to me, there seem to be so many layers of Kim Jae Uck he is determined to keep hidden.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that as, just because someone is an actor, it doesn’t mean they owe the general public anything more than the roles they play.

It definitely makes him intriguing though, eh?

And yes, the final part of my 3-part Kim Jae Uck My Interview God series will be coming at some point. Sorry though, I am not promising when, as it all depends on when I can get my thoughts to coalesce.

RELATED: Yep, Kim Jae Uck can sing — imagine my surprise, though, when he sang this

About Michelle Topham

Brit-American journalist based in Austria, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I've covered K-drama, K-pop, J-pop and music news for over a decade.