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Kim Yun-jin

Kim Yun-Jin, one of Korea's leading actresses has studied at the London Academy of Performing Arts and also performed on stage in Broadway. She has been nominated for Ardor at Cinefan.

india Updated: Jul 21, 2003 12:14 IST

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."

First Published: Jul 17, 2003 11:16 IST