She Met Jackie Chan and Her Career Flew

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She Met Jackie Chan and Her Career Flew

The goddess of fortune is not always generous to all. Few are lucky enough to bump into and then be handpicked by an influential celebrity like Jackie Chan to star in his latest film. But the capricious goddess has been charmed by actress Kim Min.

Ms. Kim plays Jackie Chan's sidekick, or a "Jackie girl," in the action star's newest film, "The Accidental Spy," released Saturday. "It was really by chance that I got the movie," said Ms. Kim in an interview Thursday with the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition. "I went to Pusan to take part in a film festival. There, I walked into a coffee shop and met Jackie Chan, absolutely by accident."

Although the actress had luck on her side, the mere encounter did not ensure her the role. She had to go through an audition to not only test her acting ability but her English-speaking proficiency as well. Ms. Kim understands that a Jackie Chan film is a great opportunity for her to gain international exposure, as evidenced by the rising careers of former "Jackie girls." Lucy Liu, who starred opposite Mr. Chan in the movie "Shanghai Noon" (2000), has since gone on to snag hefty roles, such as a fellow Angel in the Hollywood blockbuster, "Charlie's Angels."

Ms. Kim was born in 1975 in Korea but emigrated to the United States when she was an elementary school student. In the United States, she tried every means possible to become an actress. "Though I really wanted to succeed, I felt there was a lot of segregation against Asians in the entertainment industry. It was hard to make the first step," said Ms. Kim.

Disappointed with the closed doors in Hollywood, Ms. Kim returned to Korea. But she soon realized there were still difficulties to face. "In Korea, I found out that trying to make a conspicuous start without any personal connections is like reaching for a pie in the sky." Unable to make any headway in acting, she became a reporter for a television entertainment program.

Ms. Kim got her break in 1998 with the local film "Jeongsa" (An Affair). She played a heartbroken woman whose fiance deserts her for her own sister. Though she finally made it onto the movie screen, the general reaction to her acting was not generous. "There was an awkwardness to her acting. She looked sort of artificial as well," said Kim Ji-hyun, a film enthusiast.

Despite the criticism, Ms. Kim persisted in her path, honing her craft by appearing in such Korean television dramas as "Chodae" (Invitation) in 1999 and "Taeyangeun Gadeukhi" (Chasing Ambition) in 2001. "In 'Chodae,' I could see a lot of improvement in her acting. She looked more real this time," remarked Kim Ji-hyun.

With the release of "The Accidental Spy," it remains to be seen whether she can become a success not only in Korea but in the world. "Though it is such a gorgeous opportunity, I feel that there lies a long, tough road ahead," said Ms. Kim. One thing for sure is that though the goddess of fortune is smiling on Ms. Kim at the moment, her fickle temperament can sway at any time.

by Chun Su-jin

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