Pure. Bubbly. Elegant. Womanly. Those are the fragmentary images of Kim So Eun that we have when we think of her. However, Kim So Eun says that we don’t know her well. “I’m easy-going!” she says. We meet Kim So Eun of the horror movie “Mourning Grave.”
This is your first movie in eight years after “Someone Behind You.” Why did it take so long?
Kim So Eun: That’s right. I wanted to do movies, but I didn’t have any opportunities. I couldn’t fit a movie in because of my drama schedules. That is why after “Horse Doctor” finished, I filmed “Entangled” and “Mourning Grave” back-to-back. After wanting to film movies, I filmed two of them back-to-back, so I feel like I accomplished something. I feel like I now have something I wanted.
Between dramas and movies, is there one of them that you prefer to work on more?
Kim So Eun: No, I like both. As I was filming dramas, I wanted to do a movie, but while I was filming a movie, I wanted to film a drama. Movies have more free time, so they are comfortable. Dramas allow me to communicate with fans and receive a quick response.
Do you look at the response through the Internet? If so, have you seen “Kim So Eun” in the search bar?
Kim So Eun: Of course. I search every day. Haha. I check to see if my pictures come out well after an interview and I look at the comments.
Did you know that you’re an actress who doesn’t attract many hateful comments?
Kim So Eun: There aren’t any severe hateful comments, but there are quite a few negative comments.
Kim So Eun: Comments such as “This girl does the same kind of project every time.” You know how there is “agree” and disagree” by the comments? I click “disagree” next to the unfavorable comments. That’s my timid revenge. Hahaha.
In 2005 you started your career with a child role in “Sea of Sisters.” However, you had the image of not having done many child roles.
Kim So Eun: That’s because I started later compared to others who did child roles. I didn’t start off quickly, as I started acting in my second year of high school. With the passing of time, I shed the image of child roles, so I think it turned out well. I rested two years after “Someone Behind You.” Back then I had a feeling that I had to go to university. I took the suneung (equivalent to the ACT/SAT in the U.S.) during my time off and went to university, but I returned to acting during the second semester of my first year.
How was acting when you first started? Didn’t you think “I’m a bit more special than my friends” since you were young?
Kim So Eun: On the contrary, I tried to be more normal. I heard “You must show yourself as a model student seeing as you are receiving a lot of attention” from my teachers and parents. Those words stuck with me, so I have always tried to act correctly. I would do things I didn’t even dream of, such as shortening up [the skirt of] my school uniform, being late, and sleeping in class.
Your parents must be strict.
Kim So Eun: They have a lot of greed. When I was complaining about how I only wanted to act and not study, they were impossible. My parents would say “If you’re not going to study, give up on both of them!”
“Mourning Grave” is a horror movie, it is a movie that brings up the issue of “outsiders” and onlookers. Have you seen those kinds of friends?
Kim So Eun: There weren’t any outsiders at my school. Though there may have been the possibility that I didn’t see them, what I know is that there weren’t any. I graduated first in my class in elementary and middle school, and 4th in high school. My school had an apartment complex, so all of the friends in the apartment complex were close.
There must have not been any seniors. You probably experienced the relationship between a senior and a junior later than most.
Kim So Eun: Yes. That’s why I received a huge chock at university. There were many times that I was the youngest on set, so they all treated me nicely as if I was there younger sibling. I received their kindness, but it was a whole different world when I went to university. The seniors were severely strict. Even if I didn’t do something wrong, but a classmate did, all 30 of us would have to lie down and extend ourselves, get hit on the head, get yelled at…it was shocking.
Have you adapted to it now?
Kim So Eun: I’ll adapt in the future as I am taking a break from school…haha.
How about you being a scary and strict senior?
Kim So Eun: I’m not like that, haha. I asked myself if I needed to go to that extent.
Don’t you think the strict order of rank between seniors and juniors is a tradition of ChungAng University?
Kim So Eun: That’s correct. However, I heard that has changed a lot now. When I attended, we would be yelled at if we didn’t greet a senior, but I heard they have become more lax.
In “Boys Over Flowers,” you played Ga Eul, a character with many mature qualities. It’s the same in “Mourning Grave,” and you have played many characters that have matured early in dramas.
Kim So Eun: Seeing it like that, I have come out many times as the faithful friend. Truthfully, I am the type that listens to one’s worries, but I told coldly to them, so my friends hate me sometimes. Hahaha. For friends, I’m not going to defend them unconditionally. I am a friend that precisely talks about [my friends’] bad points.
I had assumed that you were frail, but after meeting you, I think you’re very assertive.
Kim So Eun: Hahaha. If I just sit still and don’t say anything, people assume I’m womanly. But I am actually easy-going.
Even though you’re easy going, does it make you happy that you are mistaken as a pure girl?
Kim So Eun: It’s a good thing. My fans really like that unexpected side of me.
The ghost in “Mourning Grave” has two different egos. While living, has there been a time when you have discovered a side of yourself that you didn’t know existed? Was there any sides to yourself that surprised you?
Kim So Eun: My desire for winning? Compared to other people, my desire for winning is very strong. If I start something, I continue to do it. I will hang on until the end. My sense of responsibility is strong as well. Even when I was studying my desire to win was strong. That’s why books never left my hand even when I was at filming locations.
Do you select your projects yourself?
Kim So Eun: Yes. I look to find the best character. I am the type that looks for a character that I want to play or a character that I am capable of playing.
Which would you choose between a character that you are able to play well and a character that you want to play?
Kim So Eun: Um…the character I want to play? That seems to be my priority.
What kind of characters do you think that you play well?
Kim So Eun: The bright and showy character. For example, Princess Sook Hwi from “Horse Doctor.”
What kind of character do you want to play?
Kim So Eun: I really like using my body. In the movie “Columbiana,” the strong-woman character that Zoe Saldana played is the type of character I really want to play. When I was younger, I was a skier. I was skiing, but through an unexpected opportunity, I became an advertising model and my life changed.
What was it like entering the entertainment world at such a young age?
Kim So Eun: It was very strange. I suffered under the scorching sun, I couldn’t eat very much, and I couldn’t go to the bathroom very much. I would be exhausted whenever I came home, so I would regularly faint. That is why I wanted to give up early on, but it was fun despite being hard on me, so I ended up coming back to the entertainment industry.
Looking at your filmography and your acting, you didn’t seem to have any big fluctuations. However, you must have had some big and small difficulties, so when was the most difficult time for you?
Kim So Eun:The free time after I finished filming “Someone Behind You”? Rather than that being a difficult time, I had many thoughts. I was anxious, as on one hand I thought studying now would be the best thing, and on the other hand I wanted to go back to filming. When I saw my university peers who were continuing their acting activities, I thought that I wanted to go back to filming.
An actor is constantly compared to others, so in that regard I think that actors require strong mental toughness.
Kim So Eun: That’s correct. It’s important. Thankfully I’m a positive person, so I can overcome that obstacle easily.
Lately what is the most frightening thing to you? Not something that’s just scary.
Kim So Eun: There’s nothing that really frightens me. I don’t even worry much. I hate when I worry because I can’t sleep. Therefore, I don’t worry.
Do you control it? Even if you try not to worry, you still feel it.
Kim So Eun: That’s why when I start worrying, I quickly solve the problem. In my notebook next to me planning chart is my scoring of my strong and weak points. I think to myself “Did this point go up by 1? I’ll decide on it this way!”
That’s a very reasonable method.
Kim So Eun: I have a sharp/straight-to-the-point method. (Literally: I have a sword-like method.)
Then for the reasonable Kim So Eun, when do your [worries] disappear the most?
Kim So Eun: When I’m out drinking, singing and dancing with my friends? Haha. I think that I make sure that I party as much as I work. If you’re locked up in work, it’s not good for you. That’s why I try to let it all go when I’m taking time off from work/resting.
You seem to be the type that separates work from your personal time.
Kim So Eun: Yes, during my personal time I’m not trying to become a perfect actress. What’s the normal So Eun during my everyday life? My appearance? The things I want to do? The things I like to do are yoga, watch movies I like, go to the Han River with my friends and drink “chimaek”. I’m not any different in my normal life than other people my age.
You’ve been acting for nine years after having debuted in 2005.
Kim So Eun: Next year will be ten years. Wow, time really flies. Time goes faster the older I become…those words are true. When I was a kid time didn’t seem to move, but now it seems like it’s zooming by.
How do you think you will be spending time ten years from now?
Kim So Eun: Having my second acting life unfold after I get married.
When you open up/watch “Mourning Grave” after ten years, what will you think?
Kim So Eun: I gave off that much of a fresh vibe?
Translation: The Real CZ @ Hallyu Interview