Photos: Tammi Tan, Woollim Entertainment, MBC
Video: Goh Wen Kai
South Korean idol group INFINITE member L (Kim Myung Soo) was still finishing off his interview with the reporters before us when we entered the room to prep for our turn. Pictures were taken, final words were exchanged – was that Japanese we heard? – and when all seemed clear, we stepped forward to introduce ourselves.
Out of both courtesy and curiosity, we asked him if he preferred us to call him by his stage name L or birth name Myung Soo. He picked the latter. The 25-year-old had shared the difference between these two personas at the press conference the day before his fan meeting in Singapore a couple of weeks ago, explaining that in terms of his singing career, he will still be known as INFINITE’s L, but when it comes to acting credits and other ventures, he uses “Kim Myung Soo”.
We discussed more about his theatrical ambitions during our 15-minute conversation (during which Myung Soo was disarmingly polite, sincere, and – we’re just going to say it – twice as beautiful in person sitting just an arm’s length away). “If there’s one genre I’d like to try next, it would be a thriller, but I will do my best with whatever’s given to me,” he said, before adding with a dimpled smile, “Of course, if I have the chance, I’d like to try them all!”
Myung Soo as Lee Sun in 'Ruler: Master of the Mask' with co-stars Kim So Hyun and Yoo Seung Ho
Myung Soo recently ticked “historical” off his genre bucket list with The Emperor: Owner of the Mask. His role as commoner-turned-puppet-king Lee Sun earned rave reviews from critics and audiences, and he was even crowned June’s Actor of the Month by the series’ network MBC DRAMANET. Although his character suffered a lot – and we mean a lot – in the show, Myung Soo reassured us that he himself never experienced any particularly difficult moments during the shoot, other than having to pay extra attention to his enunciation and posture as 18th century royalty.
“A lot of people on the set were very helpful, and I felt like we were all working together as a team,” he said. Myung Soo also didn’t have any trouble getting out of any dark places portraying such a tragic figure could potentially have presented, and instead felt a kinship with his onscreen alter-ego. “I felt like I might have been Lee Sun in my past life.”
Read on for more from our interview with L (Kim Myung Soo)!
(L-R) INFINITE's Sung Jong, Dong Woo, L, Sung Gyu, Woo Hyun, Sung Yeol
Toggle: It’s your first time touring alone without INFINITE. What has it been like for you?
L (Kim Myung Soo): I’ve always travelled around with the group before this and I’ve been to Singapore several times [with them], but last time, I didn’t really get to go out. Yesterday, however, I managed to visit places such as the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands, and I also enjoyed dishes such as chilli crab, pepper crab and chicken rice.
Do you ever read comments about yourself online, and how do you react to them?
I do read comments about myself, both good and bad, but rather than being depressed about the negative ones, I take them as my motivation to move forward and improve myself.
There are many K-pop idols who, like you, are venturing into acting. What is your advice for them?
[Ed’s note: Here, Myung Soo suddenly starts clearing his throat loudly and coughing uncontrollably. We tell him to take his time as he drinks water and ask if he’s okay, to which he admits that he’s having a hard time, but then he quickly regains his composure like a professional.] I know everyone is trying their best and I believe that if they keep persevering, their hard work will be rewarded. So even if you’re in a difficult situation, don’t give up, because I believe that you will be able to succeed and people will eventually see your effort.
It’s been seven years since you debuted as an idol. What are some of your most precious memories so far?
There aren’t any specific moments that I consider more precious than others; I don’t want to specifically say that one day is more special because it sounds like all the others weren’t special. I believe every moment is precious.
What are your plans for the rest of the year, and how far in advance do you usually plan your life?
I actually love planning a lot! I usually plan within one year because long-term goals sometimes change, and I plan based on what I want to do as of now. So far, I have plans until early next year, where I might be doing some films, our new album, a photo book, and maybe other things.