By definition, “psychopaths” are “marked by a lack of remorse for one’s actions, an absence of empathy for others, and often criminal tendencies“. And in many thriller K-Movies and K-Dramas, actors step out of their comfort zones and put themselves to the test by portraying these villain characters. The thing is — even if it is only make-believe, becoming a psychopath is not an easy mission. These actors, with the time spent submerging themselves deep into their characters’ mindsets, become inevitably traumatized by the experience. In different interviews, these 5 Korean actors shared how their most evil serial killer roles have changed their lives.
1. Actor Yoon Kye Sang in The Outlaws
After his role of the unforgiving Jang Chen in the 2017 thriller The Outlaws, actor Yoon Kye Sang revealed that he “couldn’t stop thinking about the brutality of the murder scenes even after the shoot.” He also commented, “Once I caught myself thinking, ‘Maybe I stabbed the knife in too deep’ which made me feel totally weird… like a little sick in my stomach.”
2. Actor Choi Min Sik in I Saw The Devil
In one of Korea’s most notoriously gory movie I saw The Devil, actor Choi Min Sik played the role of the cab driver Kyung Chul — and ended up getting professional psychiatric help for months. He also shared, “After the movie, I once came across a man who began speaking to me casually and I found myself thinking, ‘Why the f*ck is this man talking to me?’ And that freaked me out. I promised myself right then and there that I will never say yes to a killer role ever again.”
3. Actor Kim Jae Wook in Voice
Actor Kim Jae Wook’s “dangerously sexy” portrayal of the sociopathic Mo Tae Gu in the 2017 series Voice may have charmed the viewers — but it took a toll on his mental and physical health. He revealed, “After shooting the gory scenes in which I had to torture and murder a person, I had breathing problems and I couldn’t stop shaking.” By the time the series ended, Kim Jae Wook had “lost so much weight” and he “couldn’t bear looking at [himself] in the mirror.”
4. Actor Lee Kyu Sung in When The Camellia Blooms
After taking on the role of the single most evil and mysterious serial killer Heung Sik in the otherwise happy 2019 rom-com series When The Camellia Blooms, actor Lee Kyu Sung suffered daily nightmares. He commented that “It was a constant battle against [himself]” and “Whenever [he] felt even the slightest bit of sympathy for the character, [he] tried to snap out of it.” As for most actors who play serial killers, Lee Kyu Sung also needed some time after the series’s finale to heal from the trauma.
5. Actor Lee Joong Ok in Hell Is Other People
Actor Lee Joong Ok, who played the role of the sex offender Hong Nam Bok, commented in various interviews that the role, which constantly required him to put on a certain creepy facial expression, “has actively changed how [his] face looks.” He shared, “The stress didn’t end because I had to spend my days off the camera trying to figure out how I could better portray a sick and twisted sexual predator.” For weeks after the shoot, he felt trapped in the trauma and “like [he] couldn’t return to normal life.”