Kim Sejeong has many names; some fans call her Shin Ha-ri from the cult classic Netflix K-drama Business Proposal, while others know her as the badass Do Ha-na of the action-mystery series The Uncanny Counter. Her journey to fame is truly inspiring and remarkable. After competing in Mnet’s popular idol show Produce 101, Kim Sejeong started her showbiz journey as a member of the K-pop girl group I.O.I. (now disbanded).
Sejeong made her acting debut in 2017 with the K-drama School 2017, the seventh instalment of the fan favourite ‘School’ series. This led to her getting the role of Do Ha-na in The Uncanny Counter, which has broken many records; the show is currently in its second season. But Kim Sejeong’s biggest career move, according to her and her fans, is joining the cast of the webtoon-based Korean drama Business Proposal.
Business Proposal not only made her a household name among new and old K-drama fanatics, but it also broke some of the biggest records globally and became one of the most-watched non-English Netflix series ever to join the league of Squid Game, La Casa de Papel. She has also been awarded the prestigious 2022 Asian Artist Award for Best Actor for her performance in Business Proposal.
The latest season of The Uncanny Counter might be over for the fans, but Sejeong hasn’t stopped the entertainment bar; her long-awaited musical comeback with her first full album, Door, is finally out for streaming. So, before you hit the play button, scroll down to read our exclusive interview with the K-star:
ELLE: Your shows have had massive success around the globe. How do you feel about that? Did you ever expect them to go viral on a global level?
Kim Sejeong: It’s really hard to predict when anything will go well, but I think I am always positive when I get a good vibe from a project. For example, when I get a good script, I can’t help but expect more reactions to come through. And it is usually true that if I get good energy from something, then it is more widely loved, be it my shows or songs. It’s something I have learned throughout my career.
ELLE: How are you feeling about your musical comeback?
KS: This is a comeback that I have been waiting for a very long time. I have always wanted to go back on the stage and perform because I have had this dream of becoming a singer, so it always feels great to be doing it finally. So, for me, releasing this album feels like, Oh, I’m finally doing it. That’s what it feels like.
And with this album, I really wanted to show that there is this certain aspect of myself that the audience is looking forward to. On top of that, I wanted to show some new sides of myself. My honesty and sincerity So these are the key concepts that I want to come across through this album.
ELLE: Acting or singing, what comes more naturally to you? Where do you think you’re being true to yourself and your art?
KS: I think I used to separate those things before, but now, especially while preparing for this album, I feel like even though these two fields are different forms of expression, I still want to get the same message across. I really want to present myself through both acting and singing so that they really merge.
Also, these days, I’m really growing into an artist who can really blend my acting career and my singing career well. I don’t want to be known as this one person who says, ‘Oh, she can sing but she can’t act,” or vice versa, like how people have these stereotypes for idols. I really want to be that person who can really excel and blend those two things well whenever I can. So that would be my hope and the direction I am looking forward to growing in.
ELLE: K-POP has taken over the world; it’s not just a Korean thing anymore, but rather a worldwide phenomenon. Do you feel pressured to perform well as a singer because it is a very competitive field?
KS: I feel like the popularity of K-pop and the fact that I started a survival programme for K-pop idols have really helped me a lot throughout my career to grow as an artist. It was a unique experience, and I really got to meet the audience first through this TV program. Some of the things that I learned through this show were that there is no easy way to do this, and you really have to give everything that you have to really ensure your place and your artistry.
Another thing is that you have to be honest about your feelings, so that way you can stay in your position for a long time and have a long run in your career. So those are the things I learned from being on Produce 101, and in my opinion, I consider myself to be a really healthy person, both physically and mentally. I have grown into a strong and healthy person inside my heart, and that’s all thanks to the lessons I learned during my time on the survival show.
ELLE: What are your dream collaborations that you wish to add to your discography?
KS: As a Korean artist, I would love to collaborate with IU, who is such an icon herself and whom I really adore and respect. And AKMU, the duo. And I think I would be able to create something really exciting and fun with artist Imogen. I think that would be a very interesting collaboration, and if I get the opportunity, I’m open to collaborating with foreign artists as well.
ELLE: People in India love you; are you planning to come visit India and do a fan event or meeting?
KS: As for any event or fan meeting, the main thing is to find the time. Unfortunately, I don’t have any plans confirmed, but I would love to have an event for my Indian fans. I would love to meet them in person. Personally, I’m a big fan of Indian food. I would love to visit India because I have always been interested in Indian culture and the scenery around the country, ever since I was young. So that’s definitely on my bucket list as well. And also, a message to the Indian fans, thank you for all the love you have given me throughout the years.
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