Ahn Hyo Seop, when not working— to ‘just drive, and not have to think’

Global Bench setter is even better looking in person

Ahn Hyo Seop
In the ‘Here and Now,’ Ahn Hyo Seop shows what a good singer he is.
Ahn Hyo Seop

Behind the scenes, #globalBENCHsetter Ahn Hyo Seop with Bench founder and head Ben Chan

In the Korean drama Still 17, Ahn Hyo Seop’s character Yoo Chan liked to say, “Don’t think, feel.” Does the actor also say this to himself in real life?

“I would take away the ‘think’ and just feel. The thinking makes everything complicated,” said Ahn Hyo Seop or Paul Ahn, the latest #GlobalBENCHsetter during an exclusive with TheDiarist.ph after the press conference for his first fan meeting Oct. 8, 2023 in the Philippines titled Here and Now at MOA Arena.

Ahn Hyo Seop

Ahn Hyo Seop works the crowd at SM MOA Arena

Dressed in a simple Bench white tee and jeans, the 28-year-old cuts a striking, tall, broad-shouldered figure sitting comfortably in a chair with an iced Americano in front of him. He is even better looking in person than he is on screen, with a very small face and flawless skin. He seemed shy but very nice.

He paused before answering every question, yet he was very candid. He seems to be a very intelligent person. This was apparent even during the press conference. Oh, and he spoke English during our interview, pausing to choose some of his words carefully.

Ahn Hyo Seop

The actor is a good dancer and performer.

He said that if it was solely up to him, he would rest for six months up to a year before taking on another role because each role is challenging.

One of our questions about a role he had when he was very young was left unanswered because he was honest enough to admit that it was a long time ago and he doesn’t remember anymore.

Ahn Hyo Seop has been busy since Still 17 in 2018. He did Abyss in 2019, Dr. Romantic 2 in 2020, Lovers of the Red Sky in 2021, Business Proposal in 2022, and Dr. Romantic 3 in 2023.

In 2022, he signed with The Present Co., which he co-founded with a manager he has worked with.

In six years, he has played a wide variety of roles, from that of a high school student to a doctor to a chaebol (member of a business conglomerate).

“When I choose the role, I need to feel it. My heart has to be in it,” said Ahn Hyo Seop, who settled back in South Korea from Canada when he was 17.

As an actor, he works very hard trying to bring life to every character he plays.

“I think of that character’s life. I would imagine all the details of how he lived to be the person he is now. I have to be a different human being for six months up to a year.”

For Still 17, for instance, he had to take rowing lessons for two to three months during one of Korea’s hottest summers ever. So what we saw as a light role for him was actually one of the most difficult.

“I always love challenges,” said Ahn Hyo Seop.

He doesn’t really have a specific favorite role, but if there was one he enjoyed the most, it was that of Kang Tae Moo in the romantic comedy Business Proposal, as a chabeol who graduated from an Ivy League school and fell in love with someone he met on a blind date, who turned out to be his company’s employee. The role was his favorite, he said, because the drama was light and fun.

And you understand what he means when he said this because most of his roles have been difficult and challenging. He takes them on with so much passion and dedication that the award-giving bodies have taken notice.

For Still 17, he received the Best New Actor Award and was nominated for the “Character of the Year” Award in the 2018 SBS Drama Awards. For Dr. Romantic 2, where he played a surgeon, he won the Best New Actor Award in the 56th Baeksang Art Awards and the Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Action/Genre Drama in the 2020 SBS Drama Awards. For his portrayal of multiple roles in Lovers of the Red Sky, he won the Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Genre/Fantasy Drama and won Best Couple Award with Kim Yoo-jung in the 2021 SBS Drama Awards.

Surprisingly, Ahn Hyo Seop did not take acting lessons before starting his career as an actor.

“I see acting as a gift and talent that you naturally have. When I moved to Korea from Canada, I did not think, ‘I’m going to act so I will study it.’ I did try taking a few lessons but they kind of ruined things for me. So I work as I know it, by understanding my role and playing it from the heart.”

Ahn Hyo Seop started out in a boy group before moving on to acting in 2015, in Splash Splash Love, a time-slip romance. He caught the public’s eye in Queen of the Ring, where he played a handsome but cold guy, and My Father is Strange, where he portrayed a rich boy who cuts all ties to his family.

Even without him saying it, you know that Ahn Hyo Seop loves what he is doing. He does, however, need time to unwind. Whenever he is free, he just stays home to catch up on sleep. He also plays golf. He said he also likes to drive.

We asked him whether this meant long drives.

“No, just drive, and not have to think,” he said. “Whenever I am working, I use my brain every day, so driving with no specific destination without having to think of anything is something I like to do.”

Read more:

Can’t move on from ‘Business Proposal’? Try these ‘kilig’ romcoms


About author


She is a writer, newspaper columnist, wife, mother and dog lover. She champions animal rights and is an HIV awareness advocate. She's been a K-pop fan since the late 1990s and loves SF9, EXO's Xiumin and most girl groups

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