[ENTERTAINMENT]Once the Lights Go Down, Her Magic Begins

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[ENTERTAINMENT]Once the Lights Go Down, Her Magic Begins

Hollywood blockbusters from "Top Gun" (1986) to "Pearl Harbor" (2001) probably wouldn't have been successful without the help of the producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Starting his career as an advertising executive, Mr. Bruckheimer established Simpson-Bruckheimer Productions in 1983, working behind the scenes as an essential figure for on-screen magic.

Kim Mi-hui, 37, might be Mr. Bruckheimer's counterpart in Chungmuro, Korea's answer to Hollywood. Ms. Kim and Mr. Bruckheimer share many things in common. Ms. Kim also began her career in advertising in 1988, and then moved to a film distributing agency, taking charge of public relations for movies such as "Dances With Wolves." In 1993, Ms. Kim became planning director at Cinema Service, one of Korea's biggest distribution agencies.

In 1998, she founded her own production company with the film director Kim Sang-jin. Ms. Kim named her company Fun & Happiness Films in English, Joeun Yeonghwa in Korean, meaning "good films." "A film should be worth 7,000 won ($5), and should make audiences have fun," Ms. Kim said. "I see a movie as a mutual business exchange. Both myself and the audiences should earn something."

The company's first project was "Juyuso Seupgyeoksageon" ("Attack the Gas Station," 1999), directed by Kim Sang-jin. Starring Lee Seong-jae and Yu Ji-tae, this action-comedy attracted 2.6 million viewers, which was an unexpected success. Her next film, in 2001, was "Seonmul" ("The Last Present"), a romantic drama starring Lee Young-ae as the wife of an unsuccessful comedian who is dying. Though "The Last Present" was not a runaway hit, drawing 1.1 million, it still made a substantial profit. Her most recent, "Shillaeui Dalbam" ("Kick the Moon"), directed by Kim Sang-jin and starring Cha Seung-won and Kim Hye-soo, came out on June 30. This action-comedy has already attracted more than 2 million viewers.

Since only 3 percent of all films survive on the Darwinian Korean movie scene, many say that Ms. Kim has been blessed. But Ms. Kim insists, "I know I was lucky, but I earned my success, thinking about films days and night." On the opening day of "Kick the Moon," she fainted from exhaustion.

Ms. Kim admits there are three secrets to her success. First, plan everything thoroughly before filming to minimize wasting time and energy. Second, try something original. Third, once a concept has been chosen, move forward quickly, "for a film is as delicate as raw fish." And serving it to the public when it is past its prime can be just as harmful.

Ms. Kim's next project is the first Korean parody film, titled "Jaemi-itneun Yeonghwa" ("Funny Movie"), in the spirit of Hollywood's "Scary Movie." The film will be released in 2002.

"I want to make films with a human touch, like 'Billy Elliot,'" Ms. Kim said. "It sounds a bit naive considering my age, but I'd like to pursue movies that convey a sense of hope."



by Park Jeong-ho

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