Go to contents

Rising Star

Posted June. 09, 2006 07:16,   


Audiences will rave over the masterfully acted-out Korean movie, “Family Ties.” Goh Du-shim (playing Mu-shin) who looks after the children of her ex-husband’s, Moon So-ri (playing Mi-ra), who takes care of her older sister-in-law, Gong Hyo-jin (Seon-gyeong) who doesn’t respond to her mother’s love but has a generous heart herself: these are all women who are dish out love indiscriminately. And the core of this love fest is actress Kim Hye-ok (49).

There are some actors who are better known for their image than their names, and she is one of them. Some may not recognize her name, but one glimpse and they inevitably say, “Oh, I know her.” She has been doing television appearances as a supporting actress, playing every role from the First Lady to a stalker, and this year marks her peak.

She was the imprudent mother in the KBS 1TV drama “Peculiar Man, Peculiar Woman” that recorded ratings over 30 percent, and in the MBC drama “Dr. Gang” that just wrapped up, she was the gullible mother of a son played by Yang Dong-geun. In the MBC weekend drama “I Really, Really Like You” that’s currently playing, she is the folksy First Lady.

Requests for her are pouring in, and after “Dr. Gang,” she jumped right back into the television scene with the MBC drama “Over the Rainbow (tentative name)” that will air on Wednesdays and Thursdays starting from July.

The mother types that Kim plays usually defy the traditional Korean mother stereotype. Instead of sacrificing for her children, she is faithful to her own needs and follows her own fantasies.

In the movie Family Ties, she falls in love with a married man with two sons, and has a son herself. She is unembarrassed in front of her wondering daughter. To add salt to injury, she indulgently and insensitively tells her daughter who is suffering from an incurable disease that, “You’ll understand when you get older.”

“You don’t know how much I cried after that scene when the daughter fights with her mother because she can’t understand her. It was so hard to keep my voice from being choked up.”

Kim dresses in inconspicuous clothes and wears no make-up, but once she gets in front of the camera she’s a different person, thanks to her 20 years of stage experience.

“During my theater years, I got acting directions from so many great senior actors. It trained me to focus not on how others would see me, but how the role itself should be played out. Others turn down roles because of their images, but I don’t care. It’s how life is.”

Kim’s face holds many emotions, ranging from sadness to comedic laughter, yet sometimes exudes a sense of numbness. Kim says, “There’s something of that person who’s innocent and shy and comes out into the world leading a checkered life in my acting. Through acting, I really find my inner beast. As an actress, I love how I can cry and laugh and love with no limits. It’s a great job.”

Mun-Myung Huh angelhuh@donga.com