[TV] Yun-jin Kim - Actress in ABC's "Lost"
- Kim Yun-jin
In middle school, on the stage of the musical My Fair Lady, Kim Yun-
jin found her voice. At the time, the future star of Shiri (1998)
was a shy girl in Staten Island, N.Y., wondering who she was.
Having immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of
10, she faced a language and cultural barrier that silenced her. "I
was cast as only an extra, but that day, I stood on the stage and
sang loudly in my own voice," Kim has said in an interview. Life has
never been the same since.
Now one of the most respected actresses in Korea, Kim found more
than just her voice that day. She found her life path and devoted
herself to it unreservedly. She enrolled in the famed High School of
Performing Arts, breaking away from the suburban world of football
players and cheerleaders she once inhabited.
Kim's dedication to her craft took her next to Boston University and
the London Academy of Performing Arts where she studied drama. She
was on the stage in Broadway when her former homeland called. In
1996, she was asked to appear in the Korean television drama A
Gorgeous Vacation, which was followed by two other roles in
Foreboding and Wedding Dress.
As if to reward her hard work, fortune smiled on Kim quickly. She
was offered a script for her first film the next year. "Even then, I
had no idea I would live in Korea. I thought I would finish the film
and go back to the United States," she said. But the film happened
to be Shiri, a groundbreaking action thriller that set a box office
record at the time.
But there is no doubt that Kim's latest role in director Byun Young-
joo's Ardor (Milae) is the most daring - and ambitious - of her
ripening career. The film depicts an ordinary housewife who strays
into a passionate sexual liaison after her husband's affair tears
her world apart.
After playing only supporting characters, Kim is asked to carry the
film this time, appearing in almost every scene. The part also
required much nudity, news of which kept the nation's tabloids and
even major dailies in Korea busy for a while.
"If I couldn't take a great role because of the exposure, I felt I
couldn't call myself an actress. An actress should do those scenes
without hesitation," she said, before admitting she wrestled with
the decision for months.
What began as a chance occurrence in a Staten Island middle school
is now in Kim's blood. She says acting is what makes her feel
alive. "I plan to rest for a bit after Ardor, but the idea almost
scares me. I feel like I have no meaning."
'Lost' actress finds her voice
She's talking now, but even she doesn't know how season ends
By SUSAN KING
Los Angeles Times
Hollywood - The hit ABC series "Lost" is threaded through with story
lines - there are more than 13 characters in the ensemble portraying
crash survivors on an island in the Pacific - and Yunjin Kim's
demure Sun has been one of the highlights.
At the outset, Sun and her possessive husband, Jin-Soo (Daniel Dae
Kim), spoke only in Korean and isolated themselves from the rest of
the survivors. Recently, though, Sun revealed that she speaks
English and proved that she possessed more inner strength than
anyone, including her husband, had imagined.
Kim, 31, grew up on New York's Staten Island but has called Seoul,
South Korea, home for the past eight years. She's appeared in
numerous miniseries and movies, including the international hit
Korean thriller "Shiri."
Before reporting to work on "Lost," Kim was on a popular reality
show in which celebrities foster orphan babies to help them get
adopted. Kim, who is single, fostered a 10-month-old boy for two
weeks before a family was found for him.
Q.Will all the secrets of the island be revealed on the finale
of "Lost" on May 25?
A. I think the writers will give us something, but I think it will
be another cliffhanger. You have to come back for the second season.
For us it's frustrating, too. We are just as much in the dark as the
rest of the audience. We get our scripts pretty late. Sometimes we
get them the day before we go to shoot, which is fine because you
are only doing eight pages a day, and I don't say very much.
Q.But now, with Sun speaking English, you have a lot more dialogue.
A. Thank God everyone knows now (that the character can speak
English). I can mingle with others. I can get involved in other
people's crises. There are some characters Sun has never even talked
Still, I get this fan mail from all over the world that says they
kind of wish that Sun doesn't speak English or just speaks Korean.
They liked the fact I didn't say much. They said sometimes they
didn't need to read the subtitles to understand what was going on.
Q. Wasn't the reaction from the Asian community rather negative to
Sun and Jin-Soo?
A. In the very beginning, we were sort of portrayed as a bad
stereotype of an Asian couple, the subservient wife and domineering
husband. But I kept on saying that you have to watch the characters
because they will continue to grow, and you will see the reason why
he is treating her that way and why she is reacting that way. In the
beginning I was really concerned that the whole Asian community
would be turned off.
Every character on "Lost" is an archetype, and . . . once they are
in motion, they break away (from the archetype).
Q.Sun's defining moment was defying Jin-Soo by wearing the bikini.
A. I got more response from coming out in a bikini. I thought it was
really silly. They thought it was very symbolic, and I thought it
wasn't like just a girl in a bikini, it had a meaning. It was Sun
finally putting her foot down and saying, "I am going to go and take
Q.You were born in South Korea but attended the High School of Music
& Art and Performing Arts in New York. How did you end up back in
Korea as a working actress? Was it just lack of decent roles in
A. No. When I graduated from Boston University, colorblind casting
was in fashion, so I didn't have too many problems getting roles
onstage. I was always constantly busy, and then back in 1997 I got
cast in a Korean miniseries.
It was just a random thing. I was in New York, and I had a friend
who knew a producer who was coming to New York to shoot a miniseries.
It was, like, 15 episodes, and they were going to shoot three
episodes in New York and then go back to Korea. I got cast on the
spot. Before I knew it, I was in Korea shooting this miniseries. And
it took off.
Q.What was the miniseries about?
A. It was a very kind of trendy miniseries about a cosmetics
company. I played this sassy woman. I sort of had an American accent
in my Korean, but it kind of worked. People responded to the
And then I got cast in this movie called "Shiri." That was my first
feature film, and it came over here. It was a big hit.