Actress finds looking young a curse no longer

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Actress finds looking young a curse no longer

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Im Su-jeong has matured, on screen and off, but still has a youthful look. By Jung Si-jeong

Actress Im Su-jeong looks much younger than her 30 years, and in fact she does not appear to have aged much since her debut in a television drama at the age of 21. But she’s a much more mature person now, both on and off the screen. While she did not respond favorably to the many references to her youthful appearance in the past, she now smiles and takes it as a compliment.

In her latest film, “Finding Mr. Destiny,” Im plays a theater director named Seo Ji-wu. The film is an adaptation of a popular musical of the same name.

In the film, Ji-wu seeks a reunion with her first love and gets help from a professional named Han Gi-jun, played by Gong Yu.

Although Ji-wu comes across as a responsible and hardworking person in her professional life, she also has a sensitive side lurking just beneath the surface.

Im’s decision to take on a romantic comedy is a departure from her recent films such as “Happiness” (2007) and “I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK” (2006), in which she played down-trodden characters.

“Ji-wu’s age is similar to my own,” Im said. “The character’s profession was depicted well in the script and it really jumped out at me. I was attracted to the role because I thought I would have the opportunity to give a realistic portrayal of working women in my age group.”

Any time a popular musical or play is adapted for film, there’s a lot of pressure on everyone involved to live up to the high expectations for its release. Im was not immune to such pressures but felt assured working with a good script and an experienced staff.

“I was at ease once I got a chance to read the script,” Im said. “Director Jang Yoo-jeong also directed the musical so I didn’t have much doubt as to how the film would turn out.”

While Im once tried to distance herself from the “youthful actress” label, she now sees it as a blessing.

“I’m really happy to hear such compliments these days,” Im said. “It’s a blessing to look younger than my age in some ways. As an actress, it gives me more roles to play and more room to develop a character. In this film, I had some scenes where I had to play Ji-wu in her early 20s.”

When asked if she thinks she can play the role of a high school student, Im replied: “If I was required to play a teenager as part of a coming-of-age film that also required me to also play the role of a 30-year-old, I think it would be possible, but if I had to play a teen or a woman in her 20s for the duration of an entire film, that would be a bit of a stretch.”

While her acting has evolved over the years, Im has also become a more well-rounded person off the screen. She was focused only on her acting in the past, but has since learned to take time for herself.

“In the past, I was only passionate about my work as an actress,” she said. “But now I also spend time on my hobbies and exercise regularly. I try to watch a lot of films, read books and take pilates. I’ve also been taking acoustic-guitar lessons since late last year.”

Im has been romantically linked with her co-star in “Finding Mr. Destiny,” Gong Yu, in recent entertainment reports.

In the film, Gong plays Gi-jun, who helps Ji-wu find her ex-boyfriend. He is a good friend of Im in real life. The two have known each other since they debuted in the teen drama “School 4” in 2001.

“It’s a bit awkward to hear that but it’s fun in a way,” said Im. “There was a similar rumor in 2007 but we cleared the air back then. In an interview last month, I was asked about my relationship with Gong Yu and I said, ‘Time will tell.’ I think that’s why the rumor started again, but I merely said that to make the interview more interesting. We’ve been such good friends for so many years that I’ve never even considered our relationship developing any further.

“I tend to be straightforward in such matters. I think that is actually better for the public. It also increases interest in the latest film.”

When asked if she had anything to add about her latest film, Im said she has high hopes for “Finding Mr. Destiny.”

“I hope ‘Finding Mr. Destiny’ can become the type of film that everyone talks about when discussing representative Korean romantic comedies.”


By Jung Ji-won [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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