The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Kim Ho-young performs as Angel in 'Rent' for final time

Kim, 40, debuted 22 years ago as Angel

By Park Ga-young

Published : Feb. 13, 2024 - 15:24

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Kim Ho-young (Seensee Company) Kim Ho-young (Seensee Company)

When musical actor Kim Ho-young was named the best supporting actor at the 8th Korean Musical Awards last month for his role as Angel in the musical “Rent,” he came to the stage for his acceptance speech with a mysterious bag.

Instead of simply calling out the names of people to whom he was thankful, Kim selected two names from the bag to receive his gratitude on behalf of everyone he wished to acknowledge, transforming the moment into a vibrant celebration with his trademark wit and infectious upbeat mood.

“I made my debut in the musical 'Rent' playing the role of Angel. It's already been 22 years since then. I played the role of Angel a total of five times, in 2004, 2007, 2020 and from 2023 to 2024. If we measure that by the age of my skin, (my role) could be extended by another 10 years,” he said on the role of Angel, a young drag queen and street percussionist.

“Having said that, Angel should be lovely, youthful and fresh and I started to wonder if I've become too experienced for the role of Angel. Therefore, I officially announced that I'm graduating from the role after this production of 'Rent,' the 40-year-old actor said.

"This award is probably for being the longest-serving and the oldest Angel. Thank you.”

Kim Ho-young performs Angel in Kim Ho-young performs Angel in "Rent," singing "Today 4 U." (Seensee Company)

“Rent,” inspired by the Puccini opera “La Boheme,” revolves around the lives of a diverse group of people living in New York City during the HIV/AIDS crisis. Angel is one of the main characters of the musical, first introduced on Broadway in 1994.

Kim has performed 311 times in the four productions of “Rent” in Korea, and by the end of the latest production, which runs until Feb. 25 at the Coex Artium, he would have added another 48 performances as Angel to his roster.

As Kim gets ready to bid farewell to Angel, he noted that he is approaching the musical differently.

“I tend to view this work more from a directorial perspective rather than as a performer. In this production, my focus is not solely on being Angel, and I find myself constantly observing from a distance," Kim noted.

“For (future productions of) ‘Rent,’ I want to come back as an acting coach or production staff,” he said.

Kim said he was inspired by Andy Senor Jr., the director of the latest Korean production of "Rent." Senor had also made his professional debut in the role of Angel.

Since his debut, Kim has appeared in many musicals, including “Kinky Boots,” “Man of La Mancha” and “Gwanghwamun Love Song,” earning numerous awards along the way. He is a familiar TV personality known for his candid commentary, distinctive fashion and thriving career as a home shopping host -- a path he had not expected.

"While it may be an advantage to attract attention even in a small part or without doing much, that ability to stand out can be a significant disadvantage in some situations," he said while talking about producers' reluctance to give him roles. He is often offered cameo roles but said that he would like to do more TV dramas and films.

“I try to strike a balance between the things I’m good at and the things that I like to do,” Kim added. "Whatever I do, I know I, myself, should become a brand or a genre."