By Han Eun-jung
The past year has certainly been good to actress Kim Hye-soo
In May, her portrayal of a woman flirting with madness in the 2004 sexy psychological thriller "Faceless Beauty"
was recognized with a Baeksang Arts Award for Best Actress. Last week she picked up the top prize for best performance given by an actress at the 42nd Daejong (Grand Bell) Film Festival.
At the moment her latest film, "Red Shoes
" (Punhongsin), is in the theaters and has already pulled in more than 1 million moviegoers.
Her long anticipated comeback, the lead in the MBC weekend soap "A Ballad of the Han River (Hangangsu Taryong)" showed audiences that despite fame and fortune, she was still capable of taking on a "plain Jane" role.
Kim is 34, just a few months shy of 35, an age many would consider actresses to be past their prime with the good scripts having stopped rolling in long ago.
But in fact Kim is more radiant than ever, delivering one seasoned performance after another on both the big screen and the small.
Standing at 170 centimeters, the stunning and naturally curvaceous Kim is one of the few actresses in the business who refuses to be intimidated by a show business seemingly plagued by anorexia and bulimia.
A very simple person, she says she stays true to her natural desires. "I've always had a hearty appetite", she said in a July interview with Harper's Bazaar magazine.
Having debuted at 15 in commercials and doing her first feature film, "Kkambo", only a year later, she said she felt the pressure of dieting from a very early age.
Then her mother, who acted as her manager, would tell adolescent Kim that she should diet.
"But it was in my mid-20s when I changed my motto", saying that she would eat whatever whenever she liked. Fortunately, because Kim has never really liked to snack and prefers vegetables and seafood, she is able to stay fit.
Kim is also known for not being afraid to show off her figure. Long before actresses had the courage to drape themselves in gowns revealing cleavage, backs and thighs on the red carpet, Kim in the mid-1990s had the reputation of being a showstopper at award ceremonies.
Becoming bored with the clothes her mother picked out for her, she decided to dress according to her own taste.
"One day I woke up to find myself labeled an exhibitionist. Don't people know how ridiculous it is to judge a person by how they dress on a particular occasion?" she said, adding that she no longer cares.
"There really is no need for me to explain myself about what clothes I feel best express me".
Another time fans will see her stick up for her beliefs is when it comes to choosing roles.
So why did Kim, who says she can't say whether she likes or dislikes horror movies because she can't even sit through one, do the spine-chilling `"Red Shoes
The film is an adoption of In the Hans Christian Andersen story, "Red Shoes
", with a gory twist. In it, Kim plays Sun-jae, who faces some life threatening consequences after coming into possession of a cursed pair of shoes.
"The film tells of desires that everyone has whether they acknowledge it or not. I was drawn to the characters and how the plot unfolded", she told the Yonhap News Agency upon the film's release.
And as for where the sultry actress is headed next?
"Though nothing is definite, I'm pretty much sure that it won't be a horror movie. That is for the sake of both the audience and myself. Whether it is a film or a television drama, one for thing for sure is that I would like to take on a piece that is really true to life", she said.