Needless to say, Kim Min-hee
is an attractive actress who has a unique mask of diverse expressions.
With high cheekbones and twinkling eyes, Kim can easily become a naive and mischievous teenager, while her slender arms and legs, and sharp chin can also transform her into a bewitching temptress.
But unluckily, Kim didn't appear to have the acting skills to match her attractive appearances - until now.
Playing the role of a passionate romanticist Mi-ri in KBS new drama "Goodbye Solo
", the 25-year-old actress has just walked into her new heyday, throwing off the nickname of an "attractive but blank actress".
After making a debut in the entertainment world through fashion magazines when she was in middle school, Kim became a celebrity when she was barely 20. Kim's provocative face and slender figure made her an immediate leading young star, but her acting skills had always remained in question.
As she grew "older", people began to turn their attention to younger actresses and Kim, who had failed to solidify her position as a proper actress, naturally lapsed into a career slump. People no longer paid much attention to Kim apart from the fact that she was a sweetheart of top actor Lee Jung-jae
, hero of the movie "City of the Rising Sun (1998)".
"Well aware of the bad evaluations on Kim's past acting, I turned her down five times for the role of Mi-ri", said writer Noh Hee-kyeong
at the news conference for "Goodbye Solo
" last month. "But Kim kept on coming back, showing her determination and resolution. After her fifth attempt, I saw the hidden potential and diverse expressions that would make her Mi-ri". It was not just the writer who had doubted Kim. When "Goodbye Solo
" producer announced Kim as one of the leading actresses, TV fans had criticized her as a miscasting.
But after watching the drama which began airing March 1, audiences appear to be changing their minds about Kim. Largely due to the lovable character Mi-ri made by Kim, "Goodbye Solo
" has been securing a viewer rating of over 20 percent.
"No one could play Mi-ri better", said a "Goodbye Solo
" viewer on the drama's website. "Kim seems to have found a character just right for her. I am watching the drama just to see her".
Another viewer agreed by saying, "I can see how much effort Kim put into analyzing the character and improving her acting skills. Bravo, Mi-ri".
Written by star drama-writer Noh, "Goodbye Solo
" is praised as a realistic human story with depth.
In the drama, which portrays different lives and inner wounds of seven main characters, Kim plays Mi-ri, a young and attractive cafe owner who falls hopelessly in love with a blunt-mannered hoodlum who continues to live in the outskirts of society.
Mi-ri's love Ho-cheol, played by actor Lee Jae-ryong
, is a man who does not believe in love due to his harsh childhood and continues to hurt Mi-ri by pushing her away even though he loves her deeply.
Unlike her previous acting which seemed to lack depth and reality, Kim manages to move viewers with her own version of Mi-ri who endures the hurt with cheerful smiles and faked strength.
"I can empathize with Mi-ri in the sense that when it comes to love, there is no right or wrong. Even if the love seems wasted or pitiful, no third person can make judgments on it", Kim explained about the character at the news conference.
During the difficult times when she continued to be criticized for her lack of acting skills, Kim tried to find the reason why there had been no improvement.
"To me, acting was the most difficult homework I ever got in my life. I feel like I've finally opened up the first page of the text book", she said.
Vowing to start over from the bottom, Kim went through strict acting training which included basic vocal and respiratory exercises. And when she read the synopsis of "Goodbye Solo
", she knew that she wanted the role of Mi-ri more than anything.
"I was ready to do anything to play her", she said.
Because Kim had been so intent on playing Mi-ri, she couldn't risk the chance of more criticisms. Thus, after getting the role, Kim got a hold of the script before anyone else, and continued to analyze the role and practiced becoming her everyday.
"Mi-ri is a sentimental character who has rapid changes in her emotions. In order to become her, I had to grasp those feelings completely before the shooting of the drama", Kim explained.
Kim, who is known as a fashion leader among her colleagues, also gave up on pretty clothes and make-up in the new drama.
"I used to be very much concerned about my clothes, thinking that they were the most effective way of expressing the character's personality", she said. "But this time, I try to dress as plainly as possible so that flashy clothes don't get in the way of showing Mi-ri properly".
Kim appears to have become a much stronger character after going through all that criticism and indifference, and the role of Mi-ri has finally transformed her into a real actress.
By Shin Hae-in