I’d wondered why actor Kim Nam-gil, who had gone by the name “Lee Han” for the past few years, suddenly reverted to a different name, particularly when his career was beginning to take off.

He was “Lee Han” until his role in 2008’s Public Enemy Returns, after which point he reverted to his real name (he may be more recognizable in the pic to the right; his new look had me double-taking to make sure it was really him, and the name change didn’t help!). Other projects he’s done as Lee Han include dramas When Spring Comes, Lovers, and Goodbye Solo.

But he’s used Kim Nam-gil ever since, with subsequent films Modern Boy and Portrait of a Beauty. He’s picked up something of a reputation as “Chungmuro’s dark horse,” and he’s seems poised for a big career; keep an eye out for him in the future.

One reason for his initial name change to Lee Han was that as a new actor at MBC, he’d often encounter the similarly named veteran comic actor Kang Nam-gil (Who Are You, Gourmet). But after using a stage name for a while, he began to feel a desire to use his real name: “I felt that acting under my birth name would make me be more honest with myself.”

At around the time he started feeling that way, directors Kang Woo-seok (producer of Modern Boy) and Jung Ji-woo (Modern Boy writer and director), as well as actor Seol Kyung-gu (Public Enemy Returns), encouraged him to revert to using his real name. “As I started using my real name, I felt I was starting anew. It allowed me to feel more humble and gave me the opportunity to be harder on myself, which is satisfying on a personal level.”

Via E Daily