This is the eighth in a series of articles about rising stars who are expected to stand out in the coming year. - Ed.
By Shin Hae-in
Maybe even God would do anything for actress Kim Ok-bin
, the angelic heroine of TV drama "Hello, God
". But right now, instead of a prayer for success and fame, the 20-year-old actress probably wants to ask the Almighty for a nice long nap.
In less than a year after stepping into the entertainment world, Kim has become one of the busiest actresses in Korea.
Playing the heroine Eun-hye in KBS primetime drama "Hello, God
", Kim has been following a tight shooting schedule which allows her less than two hours of sleep each day.
Unable to cope with the work, Kim fainted during a recent shoot and was sent to the hospital immediately. But with the shooting on hold waiting for the heroine to return, Kim could not even allow herself to rest on the hospital bed for more than a few hours. "I'm fine, really", the actress told reporters who had rushed to the hospital on the day. "I have so many things to do that I don't even have the time to be sick!"
First getting her face known to the public as an internet "eoljjang", a Korean slang term standing for good-looking men and women, Kim proved that beauty was not her only strength with impressive acting in her first movie "Whispering Corridors 4: Voice" last year.
In "Hanoi Bride
", an SBS special drama for the Chuseok holidays, Kim showed potential as a top actress, with lifelike acting to make viewers believe that she was an actual Vietnamese girl.
After watching Kim on "Hanoi Bride
", director Lee Jae-yong
made the decision to cast her as the main character for his new movie "Multicellular Girl" ("Dasepo Girl
") which will hit the screens in April. "Not many young actresses would be mature enough to completely understand the heroine who has to support the family by selling herself as a prostitute to older men", Lee said. "But Kim seemed like an actress who had the ability to understand the character".
As observed by Lee, Kim is a tough and ambitious actress who is remarkably mature for her age.
Born in a large family with a grandmother, parents, little brother and sister, Kim was told by her parents to always respect elders and take care of her siblings. She learned from childhood that the world did not revolve around her and that she was only rewarded after putting in effort.
Kim's dark eyebrows and sharp chin highlight her intelligent and determined looking features. But director Ji Yeong-soo
of "Hello, God
" said that her appearance was not the only thing that drew him to the young actress.
"I could see 'greed and passion' bubbling inside Kim", Ji said in a recent interview with an entertainment magazine. "Although I had never seen any of Kim's past works, she immediately caught my eye with her intense determination".
Kim, like many other new faces, had originally auditioned for a smaller role in the drama.
But during the audition, she impressed director Ji with an overwhelming concentration by memorizing all the lines in the script of the first episode in less than one hour.
Instinctively sensing Kim's explosive potential, director Ji cast her as the heroine right away.
"I was at first scared about taking such a big role right away. But gradually, I am realizing that acting is a lot like bungee-jumping which is scary but thrilling at the same time", Kim said at a press conference for "Hello God" last month.
In the drama, Kim plays the role of a 27-year-old trickster Eun-hye, who pretends to be a special education teacher for mentally deficient people for money. The heroine later finds herself tangled up in an unexpected romance as her student turns into a genius with an I.Q. of 185 after an operation.
"Eun-hye is a lot like me in many ways", Kim said "Although she is a soft-hearted person, she builds a wall between herself and the world, pretending to be strong and tough in order to avoid getting hurt".
Kim's hunger for acting often led her to painful moments of discouragement when she realized that she was not "good enough".
"I used to cry two or three times everyday when the shooting began because I felt that I was a rubbish actress", Kim said. "Then I realized that I was making a huge mistake of growing a groundless pride when I was merely a novice actress. I have gotten over that now".
Taking several different roles in such a short period, Kim was often confused and burdened. But being stouthearted and aiming to become Korea's top actress one day, Kim said that she was ready to take on any challenges.
"I am not attracted to easy and simple roles", she said. "I only feel alive when I am challenged with difficult roles that push me to improve my acting skills".