KAIROS cast interviewed by ELLE SG, Dec 2020

Elle Singapore had a insightful in-depth interview with the cast of MBC’s thriller drama, KAIROS at the end of its run. Here’s the transcript below. Link to original article

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Despite the mess that is 2020, one positive thing to come out of this unprecedented year is that the Korean drama scene has been popping. With the majority of the world self-isolating and staying home more due to the pandemic, the entertainment industry has given us some much needed escape from reality and great joy. 

One such K-drama that has been the fantasy thriller, Kairos that stars theatre actor Shin Sung-Rok (who you might recognise from Vagabond), The Korean Odyssey’s Lee Se-YoungNam Gyu-Ri and Itaewon Class’ Ahn Bo-Hyun. Joining the stellar cast is K-pop idol turned actor, Kang Seung-Yoon from the popular boy group, WINNER. Though this is Kang’s first “meatier” role, he is no novice when it comes to acting as he had gained massive praise for his supporting role in the critically acclaimed show, Prison Playbook

In the currently airing K-drama Kairos, we follow Kim Seo-Jin (played by Shin Sung-Rok) who seemingly has it all — a loving wife, a beautiful daughter and a successful career. However, everything falls apart when his daughter mysteriously went missing while the family was attending a bustling charity event. In a state of panic, Kim and his wife, Kang Hyun-Chae (played by Nam Gyu-Ri), searched frantically for their young daughter to no avail. Fearing that it could be a possible kidnapping, the couple turned to the police for help. Things take a sinister turn when Kim receives a phone call from an unfamiliar number and an unmarked parcel that led everyone to believe that their daughter is dead. Upon hearing that her daughter is gone, Kang Hyun-Chae spirals into a depressive state.  

Image: Courtesy of Viu

Meanwhile, we are also introduced to Han Ae-Ri (played by Lee Se-Young) — a hardworking student who has been working part time in order to finance her ill mother’s heart transplant. One day, her mother went missing from the hospital without a trace as Han was scammed, losing all the hard-earned money she had been saving. At this tumultuous point in their lives, the two characters’ paths meet in an unusual way as fate brought these broken people together in order to save each other and themselves. 

Leading up to the season finale of Kairos, we sat down with the cast of the show to talk about this fantasy thriller, the challenges behind-the-scenes and the significance of time. Check out our conversation below: 

What are some of the unique challenges that filming a thriller presents, in comparison to other genres?

Nam Gyu-Ri: One challenge is the “chaos”. Mentally fighting with the script and the intense character analysis. In that it is necessary to become one with the character that the actor plays, the actor should also express the “chaos” in which viewers can sympathize with. In that case, there are times when you fall into self-pity, and the most challenging thing is that you have to play the high and low levels of the character’s emotions in a completely rational way.

When you have to act out a script, that itself is already a spoiler for the actor, and therefore you’ll have to constantly adjust your speed when playing your role. It is challenging to act in a way that your imagination alone will neither overflow nor fall short.

Lee Se-Young: In comparison to other genres, there are some parts that are physically more challenging when it comes to acting out my reactions or acting with more obvious expressions. Also, since there were many scenes that have to be expressed according to our imaginations, it did require a higher amount of concentration.

Image: Courtesy of Viu

Ahn Bo-Hyun: I do not think that being a thriller production would make it any more challenging. Of course, being a genre that I have never taken on before, it did feel awkward to me at first. However, through the course of filming, I have been communicating well with both the director and my fellow cast members and have had scene rehearsals, hence I had an enjoyable time filming.

Shin Sung-Rok: Thriller films need to maintain a certain level of tension, and if that level of tension drops, it might be difficult for viewers to stay immersed. Hence, In order to maintain that level of tension, I did think about how I should act the scenes out and how they should be cut, however, it wasn’t something easy. Of course, it wasn’t something I could do alone. The director and all of the crew members had to coordinate each and every one of their opinions, and that was probably the challenging part.

Image: Courtesy of Viu

Kang Seung-Yoon: I have played many roles that have a somber or solemn nature due to the genre of the dramas, and therefore the challenge for me, lies in the fact that I have to suppress my lively nature in order to play the roles. In addition to that, I do feel the need to make sure that the viewers can feel the tension of the production and focus on it. That, I guess, is one of the genre’s unique charms! In particular, since Kairos is a thriller where its cast crosses time, the tension, alongside the feelings and situations the characters -who try to protect whatever is precious to each other- face , will be well unravelled later on. I’m also thinking about how I can well present such elements to the audience, hence please look forward to what my role will go through in the middle of the series!

If you could go back to any moment in your life, what would it be and why? 

Nam Gyu-Ri: I have no thoughts of wanting to go back into the past. I have always been living life to the fullest, be it when I sing or act, or even when I live my life as an utmost ordinary person. Rather than achieving the best, I have always chosen to put in my best effort. It might take a while, but being able to point out things one by one, and knowing how precious life is, I like the way things are now.

Lee Se-Young: There is nothing I want to change if I get to revisit the past. I think all the choices I’ve made as a person and as an actor have made me who I am now. Nevertheless, if I have to go back to a certain moment in the past, I would like to go back to the day I first started off as an actress. I want to encourage myself as a young lady who was shaking  while being on camera for the first time and say to her, “You’ll do well, so don’t worry.”

Image: Courtesy of Viu

Ahn Bo-Hyun: I would like to return to my days in school. As I was only into boxing, I guess I had more memories of difficult times than enjoyable times. I would like to go back and create memories that can only be created during that period of time.

Shin Sung-Rok: I do prefer thriller productions as I haven’t many chances to be a part of them. Also, since I love watching thriller productions, I would like to take this opportunity to present myself to the audience through works of the same genre and others. 

Are you personally a huge fan of the thriller genre?

Nam Gyu-Ri: There was probably a period of time when I was really into the genre of thriller. I had an exceptional liking for the genre of psychological thriller. Films like Gone GirlThe Chaser, Memories of MurderGet Out and Us are films that I still enjoy till this day.

Lee Se-Young: I’m not very picky about genres when I watch a production. I would prefer stories that carry a message, which the society can think about together as a whole.

Kang Seung-Yoon: Yes, I do enjoy the unique vibes and amusement that the genre gives off. Of course, I do enjoy all genres, while also enjoying watching mystery works, or any drama or movie that I instantaneously fall in love with when I watch it. I’m not sure if that is the reason why, but the moment I got to take a look at the script of <Kairos>, I fell in love with and was immersed in it from the point of view of a member of the audience. I hope that the audience will share the same feelings that I have for it while tuning in.    

What was your favourite scene from Kairos?

Nam Gyu-Ri: It is hard for me to pick as I love all scenes equally… But if I were to pick, it would be the scene where my character was sobbing after losing her child, and also the scene that was shot on Dongjak Bridge. I had to express my character’s motherhood through my own imagination. I had to deal with death in my imagination. They were scenes where I have felt psychological anxiety due to the afterimage of those scenes.

Image: Courtesy of Viu

Lee Se-Young: All of the scenes where the future went through a transformation, through the cooperation between both Ae-Ri and Seo-Jin, have left an impression on me. That part was also the most impressive in the script, and when I watched the broadcast, I thought this production was really well expressed.

Shin Sung-Rok: My favourite scene would probably be the ending of the first part of the fourth episode that has been aired. That part was very shocking yet it was also an ending scene that allowed us to present our drama well. When my character was about to give up life while on the bridge, a chance was given to him and at that moment, Han Ae-Ri was transported in a convoy as a prisoner. That scene, I think, was very good.

As an idol expanding your repertoire, what is it about acting that excited you?

Kang Seung-Yoon: Acting was something that I by chance had the opportunity to try out, and got to find out how interesting it was. Right now, I am in a symbiotic relationship with both music and acting.  There are times where acting seems like an escape route for me, while at times, returning to singing after acting can make me realize much more, how precious music is to me.  

Image: Courtesy of Viu

Are you someone whose mind dwells in the past, present or future?

Nam Gyu-Ri: My mind dwells in all three. All of it holds my footsteps of the past, how I have lived, and also a tomorrow where I can keep on dreaming. It depends on my feelings and thoughts of the day. A warm and beautiful past, a current moment that will never return, and the painting of a brilliant future. That is because to dream is freedom!

When playing intense characters such as Kim Seo-Jin (who is in despair due to the kidnapping of his daughter), is there anything special you would do to prepare yourself emotionally and mentally?

Shin Sung-Rok: A lot of people often ask me questions about it. I wouldn’t make special preparations just because a scene is an intense one. Rather, I would prepare for all scenes the way I would for any one of them with an analysis of it. I would put myself into the shoes of my character, gradually thinking about how to make the scene as realistic as I possibly can.

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