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 Interview avec Yunjin Kim

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jade shadow
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Nombre de messages : 413
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Date d'inscription : 23/04/2006

MessageSujet: Interview avec Yunjin Kim   Jeu 6 Juil - 21:02

An Interview with Yunjin Kim.



American audiences are getting their first taste of actress Yunjin Kim on the hit television show LOST. But what the show’s 18 million viewers might not know of, is her successful career in Korea. Where, she admits, she was known as “Yunjin Kim -- The Warrior Woman”.

How It All Started
Yunjin’s family moved to New York from Korea when she was young. And she credits this as having a great impact on her becoming an actress, "I think it started just trying to find myself when I first moved to America when I was ten. And not being able to speak the language and having to really adjust and it was a huge culture shock.....going to school when you don’t speak English -- that was pretty hard." The language barrier caused Yunjin to become very shy, but she wasn’t satisfied with how she was living, "It started in Junior high school where I felt like I didn’t have a voice anymore because I wasn’t able to communicate well...and I hated sort of the sound of my voice." So she joined the drama club and it changed everything for her, "my sort of breakthrough happened when I got cast in the leading role of "Fiorello H. Laguardia", it was this musical that they did in my Eighth grade -- and I felt really free. I felt freer on stage than I did in my everyday school life. I just thought it was really interesting to be on stage and ok, I can finally scream out and sing and dance and say these lines really out loud. I think that’s where I got hooked."

Yunjin auditioned for the prestigious High School of Performing Arts in New York, well-known for being the basis of the movie FAME. The competition was difficult but she got in. And from there she continued her studies at Boston University. She found the programs very challenging, "I was like -- wow, this is really hard. There were a lot of gray areas I was just confused about. And it wasn’t just impulse that you needed as an actor, it was so much more. The training program taught me a lot about myself and whether I wanted to actually pursue this. I mean I was already hooked. I was already so much in love with it I couldn’t walk away. But the more and more I did it -- each year went by I said --this is so much work, so much harder than I ever expected." Yet all of her experiences only confirmed her desire to be an actress, "It did totally confirm that this was what I wanted no matter how hard it was going to be. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy walking in, especially being an Asian American actress, I knew that was going to be a problem...But it felt right, everything felt right. At that time I felt it was the only thing I could do for the rest of my life."




Working in Korea
Yunjin’s first Korean job came to her almost coincidentally. "They already had a huge star in Korea to play that role [in] the Korean miniseries. I got to meet the director and the producers because they were in New York. They had to shoot about a month in New York and then go back to Korea to finish off the 16 episodes. They just happened to be in town and I was doing plays -- theater, and a friend of mine wanted to introduce us and it was just having casual lunch. They were really impressed with the fact that I held on to the Korean language. And the director, you know, at the end of the meeting kind of said -- do you mine reading? I was like -- well I never like acted in Korean, but, I’ll give it a try. So it was really like right there, I just read a couple scenes and they changed the casting the next day and I got to do this really interesting miniseries and I got a chance to go back to Korea, which was something that I didn’t get to for a while, so I was excited. And one thing lead to another and I just ended up living there. You know, I thought that after this miniseries I would come home, I brought a very small suitcase -- Thinking that I’ll be there for a month; [but] I got cast in another weekend drama."




The Making of a Blockbuster: SHIRI
After working on Television Movies and Mini-Series, Yunjin auditioned for a rather prestigious project. The action-packed film SHIRI was to be directed by Je-gyu Kang who had recently had a huge hit in Korea with THE GINGKO BED. And it was starring well-known Korean stars Suk-kyu Han and Min-sik Choi. They wanted to cast a relative unknown in the female lead because of the nature of the part (if you’ve seen the movie you know what I’m talking about) and even though Yunjin was in a hit mini-series, seen by a huge amount of people in Korea, they still felt she was ‘unknown’ enough.

And it was an even bigger opportunity than Yunjin had assumed. SHIRI became the highest grossing film of all time in Korea (outgrossing even Hollywood films like TITANIC) and it also did well in other countries -- rocketing her to instant stardom.

SHIRI got mixed reviews in America and Britain upon its releases because to some, it seems like just an everday Hollywood-esque action-thriller. But to truly appreciate it, it’s important to respect the cultural aspects of the film. It did so well in Korea, Japan and other parts of Asia, because it looked like a Hollywood film but starred Asian people. But Yunjin had other reasons for her pride in the film’s accomplishments. She was proud of the film not only for it’s blockbuster status, but for the doors it opened and topics it addressed.

For one, women in Korean cinema were not generally represented as they are in this film. Her character in SHIRI showed a strength and spirit that was unusual. She also could shoot a rifle with unrivaled precision and could easily take down her male counterparts! She notes that before SHIRI there was no image like that in Korean cinema and the film "brought a different side of what a female character can be in a film and I was proud that I was part of that type of change." And also, the audiences "loved it. After SHIRI every film, especially female film, that came out of Korea was action packed, based with the gun. I feel like I sort of started this, not me really, but SHIRI."

Also, the film showed North Korean characters as not just one dimension evil people. Yunjin notes, "I think it was the first time where they portrayed North Korean characters in three-dimensional light. That was very attractive." In this film, the North Koreans are still certainly the bad guys, but are at least portrayed as real people with various aspects to their characters and a range of human feelings.

And further, the film was a big hit in neighboring Japan. This was unusual at the time because as Yunjin notes there is a "very dark history between Korea and Japan" and because of it there is also a history of "both countries sort of not accepting each others movies." But SHIRI was not only released in Japan but it ruled their box office as well. And since it’s release, these unspoken bans on each other’s films -- "now that’s all lifted. And it’s all well and good for each country. But this was the first Korean film that really broke into the Japanese film market and it was the biggest film that year."

Girl With The Gun
After Yunjin’s cinematic debut turned out to be the biggest film in Korea’s history and also big in a number of other countries -- she faced the inevitable -- Typecasting.

She loved being sent scripts versus having to audition for every part, but a lot of the scripts she received called for character that was not unlike the one she pioneered. "My nickname, and they still use it, they’ll say my name Yunjin Kim slash the Woman Warrior. [That] was my nickname. And every film that I would get [would be a] heroic character -- superwoman -- in each film. And I just said I have to get away from it. Then again, so many scripts would come along my way...”




One of which was her next film -- LEGEND OF GINGKO. It was produced by Je-Gyu Kang, the director who jump-started her career by casting her in SHIRI -- therefore, how could she turn it down? Even if that movie would put her so publicly in a similar role. Je-Gyu Kang had directed THE GINGKO BED 4 years earlier. And when it was released, it was the biggest thing around. And it was practically unheard of at the time for Korean films to have sequels (or in this case a prequel). Therefore, because of what it was and who was in it and how big it’s budget was, the film garnered unprecedented media attention, which really applied great pressure on the project. Yunjin explains, "LEGEND OF GINGKO became one of the biggest budget films in Korea. And people were expecting so much from that film. It was sort of like they were expecting the movie being better than the first one plus they were expecting success of SHIRI. They were sort of expecting SHIRI 2 out of that film. The attention that we got everyday on the set -- just people talking about it, wanting to see it. It was hard, I think we had a lot of pressure..." Yunjin noted that the pressure was difficult because it makes one want to “try so hard to be good. And as soon as you put yourself in that position....you fail immediately.”

Needless to say, LEGEND OF GINGKO did not live up to the impossible expectations. But Yunjin learned about filming in the public eye -- and it would not be the last time. But more so, she was worried about the typecasting that was beginning to take hold and about the unrealistic expectations being put upon her. "After LEGEND OF GINGKO I said -- oh, I’m in trouble. Because as an actress I’m greedy, I want to play all kinds of characters. It seems like every character I play is this woman in turmoil but she’s the hero and she saves the day in the end. So I really tried to look for different types of projects but it was pretty hard. It was sort of hard to keep up with that SHIRI image -- to continue hitting it every time. It’s like one great thing about the success of SHIRI -- It was great for me. It put my name in the market. Every actor’s dream to be offered projects instead of having to audition for every single thing. But because it was so successful, whatever I did in my next film I knew I could never match people’s expectations -- and my expectations -- on the success of the film." Yunjin encountered the good and the bad sides of being famous very quickly.




YESTERDAY & MR. IRON PALM
Another big budget action film that Yunjin took on was YESTERDAY. For Yunjin, her interest in the science fiction film had a lot to do with the coming of the new millennium. "It was sort of the like we’re all expecting 2000, the new millennium, this magical thing. I got the script while so many books came out on the new world or end of the world there were just a lot of that going on. I felt -- ok, this is really important to talk about." Although she wasn’t quite a superwoman like in SHIRI and GINGKO, it was nonetheless a very similar genre of movie.

But then Yunjin faced another reality of being a sought after actress. YESTERDAY ended up shooting for 9 months, but she had already signed on to do her next film, MR. IRON PALM. The filmmakers on IRON PALM, in waiting for her, had "pushed it back and pushed it back. They got to a point where it was just going to be impossible." So Yunjin actually filmed MR. IRON PALM, in the middle of filming YESTERDAY, "It worked out perfectly. I was in LA for 4 weeks and we worked 6 days out of the week and we got the film."




Yunjin was really drawn to MR. IRON PALM because she yearned to do something different. It was probably a good break from the action-packed set of YESTERDAY. “I really wanted to take myself out of that stereotyping of me. And I wanted to try romantic comedy. When I got the script I thought it was funny.” Not only did she want to start to change her image but she felt connected to this film, “I felt like I was the only person who could actually pull this character off -- just because I’m from America and I know what being a Korean American means. I just thought it was a sweet little movie I wanted to do.”

Yunjin agrees with the many actors who will tell you -- comedy is the hardest thing to do. Yunjin thinks that she’s not naturally a funny person -- she compares herself to LOST castmate Jorge Garcia who seems to crack hilarious jokes at ease. But she notes, "I think if you give me the situation, if I’m in the situation that’s funny -- maybe I could pull it off. So I felt like IRON PALM -- it wasn’t like aha-type slapstick kind of comedy. It was more of a romantic comedy and I thought I could give it a shot, but I just find it a lot harder."

Working in Japan
When SHIRI hit big in Japan, Yunjin hit bigger. She had so many fans in Japan that she was considered a bankable star despite being Korean. As she explains, she got noticed “because of the success of SHIRI. I think they like the fact that I have both cultures behind me both Korean culture and American culture. I think that’s really one of the reasons why I became really famous in Japan.”

“I got offered to do a lot of Japanese films but I had to speak Japanese fluently. But knowing how hard it was for me to come to Korea -- even though I spoke Korean fluently...Korean didn’t come too easily even for someone like me where I knew how to speak the language. So I knew that just memorizing something phonetically -- a different language -- and trying to act in it -- to me that’s impossible. But there were some great projects that I had to pass [on] just because as an actress I wasn’t going to have someone else dub my lines over me. Because to me that’s everything -- my voice. So it turned out that this particular movie, they actually wrote the script around me so I could speak both Korean and English in it. They just created this Korean-American character in the movie so I could do it.” This film was RUSH!, in which she starred with Sho Aikawa (DEAD OR ALIVE). A mistaken-identity crime capper comedy -- Yunjin played Seo-Yeong, the woman kidnapped -- a woman not knowing a word of Japanese -- leading to much of the comedy. She noticed that the shooting style in Japan was very different, adhering strictly to a schedule like in Hollywood -- which was not always the case in Korea. But she very much enjoyed the experience.

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Dernière édition par le Jeu 6 Juil - 21:05, édité 1 fois
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jade shadow
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Nombre de messages : 413
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Localisation : A la plage, à lambiner
Date d'inscription : 23/04/2006

MessageSujet: Re: Interview avec Yunjin Kim   Jeu 6 Juil - 21:02

Playing a ‘woman’ not a ‘superwoman’: ARDOR
Yunjin was succeeding in taking on some roles that differentiated from her ‘Warrior Woman’ image. But it was her last role in Korea that really showed her vulnerability and ability as an actress. Yunjin recalls that "it was sort of a breath of fresh air for me playing just a regular woman in distress rather than her being a super human being. It was something I really wanted to do and I’d been waiting for a project like that for a long time."

ARDOR was a popular novel in Korea and Yunjin had read it well before she was offered the script. It showed the liberation of a woman -- a coming into her own through a spicy affair. Therefore, when she was offered the movie, she was already interested: "I knew that it was a story that’s been told before but I just fell in love with the character. I just thought the stuff that she goes through -- I mean it was sexy, the novel. And it was something that I’ve never done it’s hard enough to find movies in Korea that have a female lead who’s just not the girlfriend to the leader actor or the wife or the lover or what have you. And the director who directed documentaries before this was going to be her first feature film."

This director, Young-Joo Byun, was delving into fiction films for the first time. And being a woman, she had a unique perspective to share. And women received the film well in Yunjin’s estimation: "I think people, especially women, really received it well. A lot of the male audiences think -- ok so she goes and finds a lover -- so what? Women really thought it was a different kind of character than you’ve seen before and they really liked the film a lot. But it was very much from a woman’s point of view so I was expecting that."

But even this film was plagued by it’s media attention. Yunjin recalls, “There was a lot of talk about the way the love seen came out and the back nudity that I did.” Yunjin notes that there was special attention paid to the film because “this was to be my first nude scene. They focused a lot on that. Which I think is always hard for an actress, because you have a whole film -- especially in that film the love scenes were totally necessary.” Yunjin notes that not only was their attention paid to her nudity, instead of the film itself at times, but that it even got a bit out of hand: "A lot of the articles came out assumed a lot of the things that ended up not being in the film at all. So some of the audience was a little disappointed that they didn’t get to see more of me. It was just weird. It was just all about the love scene and about my nudity."

But this was yet another in a long line of realities of being a high profile actress that Yunjin experienced. Although she only did four Feature films in Korea, she conquered being in the media limelight and juggling the various projets in her career. But she noted, that she was always looking for the project that would bring her to America -- and it turned out to be the hit television show LOST.

What’s Next?
Yunjin says it’s the movie and the script she looks for. And she’s interested in all kinds of films. She’ll of course continue to work on LOST but in between seasons she has some projects lined up. She plans to perhaps work on an American independent film -- although she said she couldn’t talk about it yet.

But she also knows the importance of her career in Korea: "If my career in Korea just ends starting now, I think I’ll lose a lot of my leverage as an actor." And she says she may be working on a Korean film during her break from LOST as well. She further notes that Korean film is experiencing a Renaissance and they are very popular all over Asia and the world and she doesn’t want to miss out on that: "It’s a very interesting and very exciting time for Korean film and I don’t ever want to leave all together."

Source : Movie Poop Shoot

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