Hyun Bin has been working nonstop in recent years.
After rising to popularity through the 2005 romantic comedy series "My Lovely Sam-soon," the actor cemented a heartthrob status with the 2010 drama "Secret Garden," where he played the irritable but charming heir to a vast fortune with a penchant for flamboyant fashion.
He completed his military service, and returned to screens with drama series "Hyde, Jekyll, Me" and the period film "The Fatal Encounter."
Last year, Hyun starred as a dashing North Korean agent in the action flick "Confidential Assignment." He's set to return to the box office with another crime action feature, "The Swindlers," on Nov. 22.
"It's not necessarily a conscious decision, but I think if I look back years later, I'll remember this time as a phase where I was drawn to entertaining thrillers," Hyun said in an interview at a cafe in Jongno-gu, Seoul, Monday.
"I feel like these days, people want to escape and let go when they're watching movies. They want to empty their minds when resting," he said. "Then again," he added after a pause, "That might be how I'm feeling."
Early in his career, Hyun's roles were largely dramatic and romantic leads. In the 2011 film "Late Autumn," directed by Kim Tae-yong, he starred opposite Chinese actress Tang Wei as Hoon, a mysterious love interest on the run.
His romance film with Im Soo-jung, "Come Rain, Come Shine," premiered in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2011.
"In my 20s and early 30s, I was drawn to scripts that had memorable dialogues and some kind of lingering message," said Hyun.
In his upcoming movie, Hyun takes on what could be his most mischievous character yet -- the scam artist Hwang Ji-sung, who sports coloured, permed hair and a leather jacket. Hwang and a group of swindlers team up with prosecutor Park Hee-soo, played by Yoo Ji-tae, forming a precarious alliance to catch a notorious criminal. The unpredictable Hwang, however, appears to harbour plans of his own.
The film is the debut feature of director Jang Chang-won, who has previously worked on film such as "The Happy Life" (2007).
"More than anything, I was directed to come off as 'sly,'" said Hyun.
Is he happy about the result?
"I can never focus on a film because I'm conscious of my performance. I'll have to watch it several more times, but I'm looking forward to seeing how people respond."
2018 will turn out to be another hectic year for the actor, who is currently shooting "Rampant (Changgwol)," a Joseon-era period piece featuring a zombie attack. The film is helmed by Kim Sung-hoon, who directed "Confidential Assignment."
Hyun also recently finished shooting the police thriller "Negotiation," directed by Yoon Je-kyoon, alongside actress Son Ye-jin.
The two films are scheduled to be released next year.
"I've been working nonstop, so I don't really have any hobbies right now," said Hyun. "But if I get some time off, I want to travel. It's always about travel, about getting away from everything."
The actor, notoriously silent about his private life, admitted that things were going well with actress Kang So-ra. The two stars went public with their relationship last December.