[ENTERTAINMENT]Grandma one day, movie star the next

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[ENTERTAINMENT]Grandma one day, movie star the next

You're never too old to learn ?or to star in a movie.

Kim Eul-bun, 77, was a typical grandmother-type living a happy existence in the rustic village of Sangchon in North Chungcheong province. Being widowed, she had kept a grove of walnut trees for decades alone, and lived off the meager income they generated.

Ms. Kim thought she would live happily ever after, in quiet anonymity. Then one day a movie director, Lee Jeong-hyang, discovered Ms. Kim, and decided she would be perfect for her next movie.

The director, whose debut film, "Misulgwanyeop Dongmulwon" (Art Museum by the Zoo, 1999) had won her recognition, was looking for a location and cast for a film about the relationship between an all-too-urban kid who is sent to the country to stay with his old-fashioned grandmother. Intent on giving the film an authentic feel, Ms. Lee decided to search for "real" country folk. Eventually she found her way to Sangchon village, and Ms. Kim. All of the people chosen for the movie, apart from the grandson, were simple residents of the village.

Ms. Kim claimed she had never seen a movie, not to mention appeared in one. At first she frowned upon the idea, but the director persisted, and persuaded her to give it a try. During the shooting, Ms. Kim reportedly questioned why she had to do the same scenes again and again. A few months later, when she began doing public relations activities to promote the film, she was even hospitalized due to overwork.

All that hard work paid off, though, and now Ms. Kim is reaping the awards. She received a nomination for Korea's version of the Academy Awards, the Grand Bell Awards, for "best new female face." The winners will be picked May 26. Ms. Kim is the oldest person to be nominated in the category, which is hardly a surprise.

When she heard of her nomination, Ms. Kim remained calm, betraying a bit of shyness about becoming famous in her golden years. Ms. Kim's competitors for best new face are Seo Won in "Nabbeun Namja" (Bad Guy) and Kim Min-jeong in "Bus, Stop."

Ms. Kim wasn't the only person made famous by Ms. Lee's movie. The little boy who played the grandson, Yoo Seung-ho, was also nominated for best new face in the male section. The director chalked up nominations for best director, best script and best picture.

The producer of the movie, Tube Entertainment, hopes that Ms. Kim walks away from the May 26 ceremony with a trophy. "She worked so hard on this film, so it would be great if she got an award," Park So-yeon, a public relations representative for Tube. Ms. Kim is now staying at her son's house in Seoul, waiting for the ceremony. She has been getting offers to appear on TV commercials, but she politely rejects them, saying, "I'm happy living as I used to."

The movie, "Jibeuro" (The Road Home) has sold more than 3 million tickets since it opened April 5. The cast and crew got together a couple of weeks ago at the village to celebrate that ticket sales passed the 2-million mark. "The Road Home" has sold more tickets in Korea than any other domestic movie this year, outperforming plenty of big budget extravaganzas with a lot of special effects. Tube is confident that "The Road Home" has good legs. It said that May is a month for families, and that "The Road Home" should sell 1 million more tickets this month.

by Chun Su-jin

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