Choi Kang-hee plays a single woman in her thirties in her new movie "Happiness for Sale", and many women who attended high school in Korea prior to 1996 will probably be able to relate to her character.
In the film, Choi takes on the role of a civil servant at a district office who returns to her hometown to sell the stationery shop that her father used to run before he was incapacitated by a sudden illness. The film is full of nostalgic images, such as those of children entertaining themselves with rubber bands and marbles, as opposed to the latest smartphones, and it ends with a cathartic reconciliation between father and daughter.
In a recent interview with the Chosun Ilbo, Choi confessed that she had never originally harbored dreams of making acting her profession.
"I got some awards in my debut year and I was praised for my work, but I basically started acting to pay off some family debts, and I became financially stable around 2008", she said. "Around that time, I started to feel quite empty and lonely. I also felt that I was far behind my peers in terms of ability, as I'd never properly studied the craft of acting. I considered packing it in. But when I watched myself in films and TV dramas, I changed my mind as I began to see that I was, in fact, doing pretty well".
Despite her relatively plain looks, Choi said she has "never had a normal life".
"I've played a lot of young characters on the screen, but in reality I never went to university, and seldom hung out with friends my age", she said. "I was a quiet and introverted child, but my personality changed a lot after I worked as a radio DJ and played so many colorful characters".
She said acting had brought her closer to experiences that most people would consider routine, but which for her were completely alien.
"I've lived an 'ordinary' life through acting, like attending college and being an office worker. I could say that all the films and soap operas I've done have made me the person I am now -- a typical girl-next-door. So now I feel a little afraid to take on more daring roles or play sexy heroines".
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