His powerful acting, mesmerizing singing voice and, above all, his eye-catching looks all drive fans of South Korean superstar Kim Jae Joong wild.
When an article featuring Kim appeared in the evening edition of The Yomiuri Shimbun on May 13, not only did all copies sell out at newsstands but stocks at Yomiuri Shimbun offices also disappeared by the end of the day.
Having long been successful as a singer, Kim is spreading his wings in acting, with his first starring role in a TV drama last year. In the show, called "Triangle," he realised the importance of eye expressions.
"If you are always acting with similar movements, the audience will get bored. So, I'm acting with my eyes," the 29-year-old said.
Born in South Korea in 1986, Kim debuted in the showbiz world in 2004 as a member of the boy band TVXQ, known as Tohoshinki in Japanese. Since 2010, he has been active as part of the three-member JYJ as well as having a solo career. In 2010, he made his acting debut in Japan in a serial drama on the Fuji TV network.
His fans have certainly realised this already, but what makes his looks particularly attractive are the diverse expressions he shows. He sometimes looks incredibly cool and at other times, adorable. He occasionally shows mysterious expressions.
He has such a variety of expressions that you wonder whether it's the same person.
It was the same on the day of his interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun.
During the photo shoot, his facial expressions were constantly changing. This flexibility was thoroughly expressed in the drama "Triangle," which he explained is a story in which the protagonist has lost his memories and grows while overcoming difficulties.
Acting and music are completely different, Kim said.
"In music, I'm in the centre, so I can be entirely what 'Jae Joong' is," he said. "But in acting, the role is there first, and I have to put 'Jae Joong' into the character. I'm not satisfied at all with how I am now as an actor."
He seems too hard on himself. In the eyes of this reporter, he already succeeded in appropriately expressing the character's feelings without overacting.
With this comment, he softened his grim expression and said: "I try to minimise body movement and put importance into the expression of my eyes."
Kim's biggest attraction certainly is his sharp, big eyes. But what is the power of eye expression?
"During the shooting of 'Triangle,' I realised it's possible to express a variety of emotions by slightly moving my eyes," he said. "Eyes precisely correspond to your emotions, which move from moment to moment, subtly changing how you look. Eye expressions enable you to act in a variety of ways, even better than just with your body. So, I thought 'Why not try this?'"
Gratitude to Japan
Kim says he owes a lot to Japan regarding his career.
"I learned both Japanese and acting by watching a lot of Japanese dramas. I'm so grateful," he said. "If it's a serial drama, I would watch the entire series, from the first to the last, in one day. I've watched most of the hit dramas, and I've probably seen a lot of dramas starring Kimutaku-san [Takuya Kimura]." In addition to the Japanese dramas, Kim also said he was greatly influenced by Japanese rock music.
He is a great Japanophile and grateful to his Japanese fans. "I'm really grateful for those who have supported me for a long time. From South Korea, I've been sending my appreciation toward you. I'm always trying my hardest to study Japanese so that I won't forget it," he said.
Kim said he was wrapped up in doing something out of the ordinary - anonymously selling off his personal belongings. Why did he start that?
"I wanted to get away from having an attachment to things," he said. "If you waste all your time on something, you won't be able to use that time with someone who is important to you."
"Money and goods won't make people happy," Kim said. "What makes people happy is other people. So, I'd like to treasure my fans more than before."