'Sweet 16' Just Couldn't Get Any Sweeter

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'Sweet 16' Just Couldn't Get Any Sweeter

In Korea, one of the most common ways to achieve teenage stardom is by appearing on a TV commercial. Among the sundry aspirants, Shin Min-a, a 16-year-old high school student, seems to be one of the luckiest. After making her debut as a model for KiKi magazine in 1998, her career has skyrocketed with appearances in more than 10 popular TV commercials.

Familiar to viewers as the starry-eyed girl who falls for a boy still in love with his previous girlfriend, her line "Love moves about," in the Korea Telecom 018 commercial became immensely popular among young Koreans. She has also been featured as the sneaky girl who spills coffee on a guy in order to steal a look at his computer for an MSN Hotmail commercial. Recently, she has also included a music video to her repertoire of appearances with the song "Asinayo" ("Do You Know") by pop singer Jo Sung-mo. In the video she plays a Vietnamese girl who falls in love with a Korean soldier.

Miss Shin's real-life persona is somewhat different from other Korean celebrities and the outgoing characters she usually plays on television. Somewhat shy by nature, her debut as a fashion model in fact, was at the urging of a friend, who submitted her application to a modeling contest without her knowledge. Needless to say, she took first prize.

Even after becoming well known and flooded with various offers, she still tries to exercise self-restraint. "I don't want to spread myself too thin by engaging in so many activities and look unprepared," she said in a recent interview with JoongAng Ilbo and its English Edition. Thus far, her prudence seems to be well-received, especially by fans of her own age group. Her success is somewhat strange, though, in that a considerable number of her fans are women. The general trend of Korean fans is usually to flock towards TV stars of the opposite gender.

Miss Shin would like to pursue a career in acting, her dream job since childhood. She will star in the upcoming TV drama "Areumdaun Naldeul" ("Beautiful Days") to be aired on Seoul Broadcasting System, from March 14. Her role is that of a 22-year-old student who has failed the university entrance exam twice. Lee Jang-soo, producer and director of the drama, said of Miss Shin, "She is a fast learner and fully grasps the concepts I incorporate in filming."

However, Miss Shin realizes she still has a long way to go before becoming a full-fledged actress. "I am having a hard time with acting at the moment, though I get good reviews when playing violent parts," she remarked. A scene on the drama in which she shouts and smashes things up was perfect on the first take.

If you still don't know who Shin Min-a is after all that exposure, you can see this rising star in the film, "Hwasan-go" ("Hwasan High School"), currently being filmed for release in August.

by Chun Su-jin

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