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Actor Inspired by Hungry Spirit

Posted December. 04, 2007 04:15,   


Actor Kim Kang-woo, 29, must feel like flying by now.

Although “Le Grand Chef,” in which he played the leading role, opened in theaters during the slowest season (November), it has attracted more than 2.6 million movie goers nationwide. Moreover, he won the Best Actor’s award on Saturday (local time) at the 25th Torino Film Festival for his role in “The Railroad,” which was directed by filmmaker Park Heung-sik and opened in Korea in May. Simply put, he earned recognition as an actor who can garner both critical acclaim and box office success.

Although many Korean actresses won the Torino Film Festival, only a handful of Korean actors won this prestigious international award. Surprisingly, his voice was calm when he was asked on Sunday about winning the award.

“I couldn’t imagine this could happen when I came here. I was nervous when the announcement was made, but I felt rather composed when I walked up to the platform. When I gave a few words in both English and Italian, the response was really great. It perked me up,” Kim said.

Kim, however, said that there was a moment that seemed more thrilling than when he received the award: the moment when he realized that Italian audiences responded exactly the same way to some of the scenes in “The Railroad” as the Korean audience did, either laughing or shedding tears. At the beginning, he suspected whether foreigners could also understand the movie, but his suspicion changed into the conviction that the “Korean sentiments and their sincerity worked!” Although “The Railroad” received rave reviews in Korea, it did badly at the box office.

“It opened in about 10 theaters. Although I was upset because the public did not even get a chance to have access to the movie, I diligently appeared on the stages of theaters all alone as I believed that I had to do my best,” Kim added.

What’s more, he was hurt when he heard rumors about “Le Grand Chef,” such as “The film could not attract investment because there is no star actor,” and “The filming has been postponed because there is no money to pay for food.”

When asked whether he felt pleased to get revenge on those critics with its box-office success, he just kept smiling. However, he pointed out that the secret behind its success was the “hungry spirit” which helped the director and actors bond even stronger, despite all odds.

On December 27, “The Mask,” a psychological thriller directed by Yang Yoon-ho, the director of “Holiday,” and Kim starred,, will also hit theaters. Kim plays a detective who finds out an unexpected secret during his investigation into a mysterious serial murder case. In order to play a more convincing role, he stayed closely with the detectives of the Jung-bu Police Station in Seoul. He almost lived with them at the police station for a while.

“It is easy to imitate a detective. You can see a lot of them in movies. However, I wanted to know their inner side. I drank soju with them and listened extensively to their difficulties. I also read a lot of materials about crime cases.”

His low tone is almost monotonous when he speaks. He also has the image of a serious man like that of Seong-chan, the main character of “Le Grand Chef.” However, director Yang told the audience at a recent press conference, “I thought Kim was a gentle man, but he is good at dirty jokes. He is truly a third-rated person.” Director Lee’s comment made the audience burst into laughter. Although Kim has not even turned 30, he has a lot more to show.