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MBC documentary special features Kim Myung-min

Kim Myung-min is probably the top actor in Korea right now, and is certain to go down as one of the greats of all time. He’s also an interesting case because he has come into stardom late into his career, but unlike so many other actors, the fervent appreciation for him comes almost solely from respect for his tremendous talent and work, not as a sex symbol or celebrity. (He’s certainly handsome, but I almost think of him in an asexual way.) You see the man for his acting skills much more than for his looks or general fame. Which is, I’m fairly certain, just the way he wants it.

The MBC special documentary called “Kim Myung-min Was Not There” was announced last month and aired over the weekend. (It was also a ratings hit, since 10% is impressive for a documentary feature.) It also gave quite an insight into the actor and his process, and is really a must-watch for anyone harboring acting aspirations.

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First off, you can download this episode here: >> DOWNLOAD KIM MYUNG-MIN SPECIAL <<

(Note: The documentary was filmed a few months ago, but I’m going to use the present tense because, well, it makes things easier.)

 
Preparing to film “My Love By My Side”

The documentary starts by following Kim Myung-min from Seoul to the set location where he is shooting his latest film, My Love By My Side [내사랑 내곁에], which features the actor as a man dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease. The role co-stars Ha Ji-won and had originally cast Kwon Sang-woo, who then dropped out. The documentary then backtracks to Kim’s noteworthy previous characters, and traces how he rose to his current fame.

Kim normally weighs 72 kg, but for this role, he had determined to lose weight to correspond to the character’s deteriorating health. As he arrives in the city where they are to film, he has lost 3 kg and eats his last proper meal with his manager.

When he starts filming, we get to see that his preparation goes much deeper than one may have guessed. The first sign comes when he dresses for the shoot (in the early stages of his disease, the character is attending a funeral, where he reconnects with Ha Ji-won, whom he’d known in childhood). He voices a concern regarding the watch on his left wrist — wouldn’t this be too heavy for an arm that is beginning to be afflicted with paralysis? Kim raises his arm a few times to gauge the weight. In the end, he leaves the watch off.

The next moment comes when putting on his black shoes, left slightly dusty to appear worn. Kim takes a brush to wipe clean one shoe — but only the right shoe. Along with his left arm, his left foot is in the early stages of paralysis, and the character will be dragging the foot along, keeping the left shoe scuffed.

Kim explains that he’s not sure whether the shoes will be in the frame, but there’s always the chance it will be caught in a passing shot, and it’s a meaningful point.

The documentary producer asks Kim, does he think the director will notice? Kim’s answer:

Kim Myung-min: “Whether the director knows or not, it doesn’t matter, it’s something I do anyway. That’s something the actor has to create. That part is the actor’s job. A character isn’t born just based on what’s written down. It’s because I am Lee Soon-shin [of Immortal Lee Soon-shin], it’s because I am Maestro Kang [of Beethoven Virus], it’s because I am Jang Jun-hyuk [of White Tower].”

 
“White Tower”

Even for an actor’s actor, his level of detail startles his colleagues.

Han Sang-jin from White Tower: “He’s an actor who places a lot of thought into realism. In a surgery scene, he was like a real doctor, tying and suturing for real with his own hands. We had an instructor who had been consulting for us, and he was so shocked to see that.”

Kim explains character work as part of a process of giving the overall work credibility:

Kim Myung-min: “What’s most important is that [Kim’s character] Jang Jun-hyuk is a brilliant surgeon. Given that, the reality of surgery adds or takes away from the essence of the drama. It’s the difference between whether viewers will be absorbed in the drama or not. …

“I worked hard to understand the process of surgery, using medical terminology and coming across as a real surgeon. On top of that, I have to express emotion while letting my hands move, freely but also in precise timing. It’s not something that can be done by practicing the hand movements separately, or the dialogue separately. I have to remember each part, to act a certain way at a certain part, and continually rehearse on my own. It’s something that required me to rehearse enough that I could do it without looking. And even then it’s difficult.”

Co-star Lee Seon-kyun (above) says, laughingly:

Lee Seon-kyun: “He hardly makes NG scenes. It adds a lot of pressure on his fellow actors, because he doesn’t make mistakes. He ought to make a few mistakes and lighten the mood, so we can all believe, ‘Ah, it’s difficult even for him.’ But he acts so perfectly without NGs, it makes you think, ‘Wow, he really is Jang Jun-hyuk. What a tough guy.'”

Co-star Han Sang-jin points out a detail in the last episode of White Tower (SPOILERS for White Tower will be mentioned, just FYI), as pictured in the screenshot above.

In the scene, the ailing Dr. Jang reads a newspaper, but only holds onto it with one hand — the left hand misses grasping the page.

Han Sang-jin: “It’s because he’s lost sense of his body. Seeing him prepare such a small detail honestly made me think, ‘Can you believe this guy? How could he have thought of such a small detail to his acting?'”

A week before heading down to film My Love By My Side, Kim visits patients suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease in the hospital, and talks to them about their illness to see for himself the difficulties they face. He also pores through copious amounts of reading material, including a medical specialty book, the Textbook of Neurology.

With filming approaching, Kim worries that there’s something he hasn’t quite figured out yet. He explains that for every project he’s done, he suffers from a chronic ailment that kicks up from the stress. Sometimes it comes a little bit after filming, but for this movie, it’s begun early, even before filming has started.

For his last project, Beethoven Virus, it began about five episodes into filming. With White Tower, it was around Episode 2 or 3, and Immortal Lee Soon-shin — the drama that shot him to recognition — was when he first developed it.

 
“Beethoven Virus”

Kim spawned the “Kang-mae sensation” last year when he starred as the prickly conductor in MBC’s Beethoven Virus, and describes Kang as difficult and unrealistic: Who else would turn the line “You are a piece of shit” [똥. 덩. 어. 리.] into a veritable catchphrase? (The bit of dialogue experienced something of its own sensation, as people delighted in the horrible-yet-entertaining way Kang-mae said the words with his particularly hard, staccato delivery.)

Beethoven Virus director Lee Jae-kyu explains with a laugh that even he couldn’t have imagined the way Kim would deliver that line. He hadn’t requested it of Kim:

Dir. Lee Jae-kyu: “The actor rehearsed that line dozens of times on his own, and figured out the way to best say it to fit the situation… His ability as an actor to leave Kim Myung-min behind and pour himself into a scene is truly amazing.”

Kim explains that when he’s not shooting, he goes through everything in his head, remembering the music, figuring out the tempo, rhythm:

Kim Myung-min: “At that moment, I think of myself as a conductor. As the conductor, I think, how ashamed would I feel if I fail in front of all these people? …

“If I don’t prepare enough, I have bad dreams, nightmares where I keep making NGs and everyone scolds me.”

 
Third week of filming: “My Love By My Side”

As Kim shops in the supermarket with his manager, he’s not recognized. He recalls an incident when someone came by to the shooting location and said she was here to see him because she was a fan, but didn’t recognize him even though he passed by several times in front of her. He doesn’t get recognized much because people expect someone like Kang-mae, and he figures this means he must look more like his new character now.

This film marks Kim’s first time actively trying to lose weight, which is a source of worry. Never having attempted it before, he isn’t sure if his goal is attainable, or how to go about getting there. But it’s all a part of his quest to create a reality for his character to live in: “This is a film about a patient dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease and the love that arises, but [if he doesn’t manage his body] it can’t capture that essence.”

The documentary producer asks why he chose this role, and he muses that it’s probably because he wanted to test himself, to see if he could do it.

Kim Myung-min: “I think I’m always measuring myself. Could I go this far? How about this far?”

Meanwhile, while on the set, he keeps to himself, and doesn’t talk much. It’s explained that the crew plays upbeat music on the film set as one way of keeping Kim from falling too deeply into his character.

Kim Myung-min: “If I’m about to film a dark or depressing scene, a scene I have to really think about, I start to think about it two days before. It’s a very difficult and rather dumb style of acting. I have no time to laugh and chat, because I’m busy. I don’t show it, but there’s something moving around busily inside my head.”

Jang Geun-seok, Kim’s co-star from Beethoven Virus, explains:

“He doesn’t talk much when we’re on set to film, and always holds the script in his hand. He buries himself in the script. I didn’t know he would be so focused, to that extent. It was enough to give me chills down my spine.”

On set, Kim films a scene that looks painful — the character crashes to the ground because he’s not able to move the left side of his body. But in playback, Kim spots his left arm moving in the shot, so he redoes the scene.

In the second take, Kim lands hard on top of the water bucket, but this time he sees his left foot moving in the frame.

The narrator notes that the falling scene was not even part of the script originally — Kim suggested it to the director, explaining that it is a way of showing how much his disease has progressed.

The third time, Kim again takes a hard fall, but this time he’s pleased, because both paralyzed limbs have stayed unmoving in the shot.

The director, Park Jin-pyo, calls Kim “crazy” with his acting: “It’s not that he’s acting as that person, but that he really IS that person.”

Han Sang-jin recalls that it was this way with White Tower — Kim has always loved eating, but starting around the 14th or 15th episode, he had started eating less, because it wouldn’t be true to character if a dying patient had full cheeks.

Han Sang-jin: “When he’s filming Scene 17 of Episode 3, he’s not just shooting Scene 17 of Episode 3. He’s living the whole time, from the first scene in Episode 1 through the last scene in Episode 20, as Jang Jun-hyuk.”

Lee Seon-kyun: “If I can say anything with confidence, it’s that there’s no actor in this country who could act Jang Jun-hyuk better than Kim Myung-min. He’s truly the best.”

Jang Geun-seok recalls that throughout Beethoven Virus, Kim never asked for a break, even when they’d shot three days straight, and calls him an “iron man.”

Director Lee Jae-kyu: “Kang-mae became real. You could feel him, how much this Kang-mae character was… what do you call it… possessing his spirit? No, like he pulled his soul into him.”

Kim explains how famed conductor Karajan would finish a 70-minute performance and be exhausted from the exertion of throwing himself into his work. Kim aimed for a similar level of immersion in shooting the grand concert scene when the orchestra performs Beethoven’s Ninth. In the drama, following the concert, Kang-mae collapses into a chair — all the stress ebbing out of his body, leaving him weakened — and is taken to the hospital. In real life, Kim went home early after the shoot, unable to complete his schedule for the day. The exertion was so hard on his body that his legs shook, and he speculates this was probably the most difficult scene he’ll ever shoot.

The fan signing event earlier this year signaled how much he’d risen to superstardom, as the event far exceeded expectations when thousands showed up.

Arts critic Bae Kook-nam: “Kim Myung-min’s strength as an actor is that you don’t see the man Kim Myung-min, you only see his character.”

 
Kim Myung-min’s Early Career

Kim actually debuted 14 years ago, in a 1996 open casting that earned him the opportunity to be cast in bit parts over the following three to four years. He worked fairly steadily, but never got a break to move out of the background players.

Kim admits that it would be a lie to say he never felt discouraged, and whenever one of his colleagues got cast in a leading role, he’d feel disappointment at still being stuck as an extra.

In a particularly moving moment, present-day Kim interviews about an early experience when he’d got word that he’d landed his first non-background role. He’d gone to wardrobe, and the staff had been exceedingly nice in helping him pick out clothing, which he took with him to the set only to find out that he’d been un-cast.

Kim recalls, “If they had told me before…” There’s a long, uncomfortable pause and his eyes fill with tears involuntarily. He finishes, “But that was the first time I encountered that.”

Fellow actor Ryu Jin recalls that even the president of their agency at the time had said, “There’s this guy named Myung-min, and he acts even better than the actors out there now. But there’s a problem with ‘image casting.'”

Apparently, Kim was not deemed good-looking enough to be a leading actor, and when he was cast for his first significant role in 2001’s I Like It Hot, the writers opposed it, saying he was ugly. (He was fine for a “normal person,” but not for an actor.)

So then Kim switched to films, but met with bad luck there, too — several projects were cancelled mid-production, one after another. That shook his confidence: “I even thought, ‘I must not be meant to be an actor.'”

He was in a motorcycle stunt accident while filming, which required surgery in his leg and significant time to recover, after which he’d been forgotten. Kim decided to leave acting and Korea, although he never used the phrase “give up.” He would tell people, “I just think business might be better for me, I’m just leaving for a short while, if I don’t study now it might be too late…” But, he explains, “That was my pride,” because he didn’t want to say that he was giving up.

 
The Big Break: “Immortal Lee Soon-shin”

Just as he’d been ready to leave, he was cast for Immortal Lee Soon-shin, a long-running historical drama that centered around the famous Joseon-era admiral. Kim had thought he couldn’t turn down the role, but wasn’t convinced this would be the turning point — he thought to do this one project, and then leave.

Kim’s casting at the time did not meet with favorable response, as the production boasted larger stars and he was a mere rookie. But that wasn’t all bad — he explains that as a new actor, “I was at the very bottom, so there was nowhere to go but up. And there were no expectations, so it was comfortable.”

On the other hand, the one thing that sometimes pricked his temper was when some people would comment that he didn’t look like Lee Soon-shin, and he’d want to retort, “Have you seen Lee Soon-shin? He could have looked like me!”

The drama aired for a year and a half, and Kim was universally praised. He won a Daesang (Grand Prize) that year for the role… which was soon followed by a Daesang for White Tower, and then another Daesang for Beethoven Virus. (Btw, can you kinda understand now what the uproar was when he had to split his Daesang with Song Seung-heon? Even if you give Song his due props for East of Eden, he’s nowhere near the same acting class, and people saw it nothing short of an insult to share a Daesang for what seemed like disingenuous reasons. For what it’s worth, Song himself has seemed a bit embarrassed to have been awarded the co-Daesang.)

The Lee Soon-shin director recalls:

Dir. Lee Sung-joo: “He was always on set first. He was always prepared. He’s a person too and could have been as cold and hot and uncomfortable as anyone, or said, ‘There’s so much dialogue, please reduce it.’ But he never said a thing.”

Regarding his Lee Soon-shin Daesang:

Kim Myung-min: “It’s the project that brought me back to the starting point, that allowed me to make a new start. After briefly changing directions, it let me find my way again.”

Given how much Kim relishes getting into character, it seems understandable that he feels most ill at ease at awards ceremonies, when he’s there in the public eye but without a character to portray:

Kim Myung-min: “It’s so awkward, I don’t know how to wave my hand or manage my facial expression. Even now, I don’t know what to do. I think it’s remarkable that I’ve made it this far.”

As if there were any doubt, Kim doesn’t see himself as a star, nor does he want to:

Kim Myung-min: “Being a star, doesn’t it give you an uneasy feeling? A star always has to stay above, up high. It also feels lacking in reality. Actors should be called actors.”

 
A Month Into Filming: “My Love By My Side”

Now a month into filming, Kim has dropped a total of 10 kg. The first thing he does in the morning is weigh himself, and today he comes up 62 kg. His cheeks are considerably sunken and he is noticeably thinner, ill-looking.

My Love By My Side producer Oh Ga-won: “I makes you feel so bad to look at him, because he has lost so much weight that it’s really apparent. But he never makes those around him uncomfortable, no matter the situation. He has a sense of care in looking after those around him.”

His weight loss seems to be taking its toll, and his memory has dulled and slowed. But to Kim, it’s all part of the process of becoming this Lou Gehrig’s sufferer:

Kim Myung-min: “The words I hate hearing most are ‘That’s very Kim Myung-min-like.’ I don’t want to be an actor who is known for my own name, but for my characters. If you don’t know my character’s name and just say, ‘Oh, there’s Kim Myung-min,’ that’s not the actor I want to be.”

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kim myung min is awesome
im glad he is now receiving the credit he truly deserves
he has an amazing talent that surpasses many veteran actors
its not fair that he had to split the daesung with song seung hun:/

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After reading this, I really respect Kim Myung-min. He's dedication to his profession puts others to shame.

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Whoa

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It's so nice to see an actor put this much effort into his work. Aww.

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OMG the story of him going to the set and finding out that he was un-cast, and then those tears in his eyes brought ME to tears :( I'm usually such a cold person lol but seeing his tears somehow moved me!! they felt so precious!!! I can't even imagine how he felt during that period of time :(
and OMG he's so skinny now :( I know he loves to emerge himself in his roles, but he gotta takes care of his health too! I read he suffered from hypoglycemia and that's pretty dangerous! I had hypoglycemia before and I almost died cause I was alone in the house and was unconscious for a good 4 minutes!! gladly my mother found me and started feeding me!

I hope it all pays off when his movie comes out! I really respect this guy ^^

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When I read that people thought he wasn't good looking as an actor, I felt so furious! He has this ability to captivate the audience and make them feel his persona. It's an insult that production companies would assume that the audience would not be able to appreciate his acting based on looks alone. I'd rather watch him than so many 'stars' out there who look amazing but can't act to save their lives.

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i just got to say is he's a wonderful actor, he reminds me of christian bale---i really admire those kind of actors who is not scared to take their role to the next level..ie losing weight for the role...ah, ic..This role will not suit KSW's lifestyle. He should just stick with macho roles.. maybe that's why he backed out of this movie..^^

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Myung Min is the best korean actor alive today.
He elevates acting to an artform.

So nice to see him getting the respect and praise he so richly deserves.

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wow. he's like the Marlon Brando of korea. he really is quite the method actor. i agree with you mzpakipot; he does remind me a lot of christian bale, minus the temper tantrums, lol. i haven't really watched any of his dramas, but i sure do give him props for being incredibly hardworking and for brilliantly immersing himself into any character that he plays.

@ 3 Devi: lol, i didn't realize there was another commentator on javabeans' site with the same name as me, hehe.

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Kim Myung Min reminds me of Daniel Day Lewis in how thorough his prep work is for each role. Method isn't about exorcizing your demons for the sake of a role. Preparation is a painstaking process of observing and chunking down the deep structure of a moment or person. It is an intensely intellectual activity, and it is a craft. Read how KMM describes the details of the actual work, and the process shows through.

Also a testament to how, no matter how great your talent is, most actors face a huge amount of rejection and failure for a long time. Well done, Kim Myung Min.

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is the download video subbed??

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wow. i admire his intensity.
makes me wonder what he's like when he doesn't have a character to portray. he seems like every directors dream; an actor so immersed in his role you can't distinguish between the character and the actor.
go kim myung-min!

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Such an awesome documentary on Kim Myung Min!
Such a meaningful and deep insight of him as an actor I must say.. he's so dedicated and hardworking..

I'm really amazed with the level of detail and intricacy he puts into all of his characters. Now when I think of Kim Myung Min, I see Oh Dal Gun, Kang Mae...etc.. He really plays his roles/characters to the core man...kudos to his dedication and heartfelt efforts...

Now I hope he manages to gain more weight after his new movie.. cos seeing him so thin and frail scares me...>.<

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OMG thank you for this, javabeans.

Knew he was a Method actor (from all the White Tower stories), but dayuuuuuum.

I'm even more in awe at/in love with Kim MyungMin than I ever thought possible.

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@ 10 belleza - I was just thinking the same thing, that his process reminds me of Daniel Day-Lewis.

I have very much admired Kim Myung-Min's talent for sometime. But I have to admit that this role has me a bit worried for his health. Some of the more recent pictures I have seen of him are quite scary.

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lol i sorta wanna just see the scene where he cries without having to watch the whole thing.

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nvm i found it
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-6Cw5ghbyY&feature=channel
it happend at 1:16 in
he makes me cry too

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Kim Myung Min is definitely an actor that I plan to follow for the foreseeable future. The man is amazing.. It'd be so easy to overlook the amount of work he puts into his characters, because he makes it look so EASY on screen. That's the mark of a true artist, in my book. I only wish more actors could be like him. (Although I suppose it wouldn't be such a special thing if everyone could do it, would it?)

I'm really looking forward to seeing this movie when it comes out. Lou Gehrig's is such an interesting disease (actually, most neurodegenerative diseases are), and I'm intrigued to see his portrayal of it.

And thanks so much for uploading this documentary, Javabeans! I fully intend to watch it as soon as the pressure of finals is over.

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a truly dedicated actor..
i wish i could meet him one day...*sigh*

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One thing that I love about Kim Myung Min is his advocacy for television as art form. In interviews, he expresses pride for his TV work, and he doesn't feel film is more "legitimate" or "credible" than TV.

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Oh man this sounds punishing. KMM needs to reward himself with a big steak, spa treatment and mucho family time after this:))
yeah i agree the demon-exorcism gets stereotyped a lot as "method/great acting" (lately it seems to "plague" both the awarded actors/actresses, but i chalk it up to no really good scripts are being written anyway:P) the catch is, no matter how much craft and creative interpretation an actor involves, there's the final line to cross: how much you "impress" upon your audience. most people don't watch movies and TV to catch how much the little details you do reflect your character's day to day realities (unless you make it a point for them to notice, like repeating gestures/phrases/tics enough). so most people end up being drawn to actors and performances the most primordial way: how much s/he attracts you with physical features, likable charisma, intensity of emotions imparted in the shortest amount of time, flaring up without notice, etc. the most famous korean characters abroad, in movies, tend to be hypermasculine men going crazy (Oldboy, Peppermint Candy.) i wouldn't say letting your demons run loose is a cheap, easy shortcut, because some characters do require it within their logic - but of course it's how much time, the path you take to that blowup. for some actors, the most important thing is the (blunt) force of the moment of the blowup, how the weight of the flying debris lands on audiences in terms of energy, sound, etc ("you're dogshit!" LOL), for others it's not the thrill of that explosive moment, but how the interminable process seemingly building up to the Blowup, how the little things in the ebbs and flows reveal character and life. (remember the bitter hardness of kim hae-sook silently biting down the razor blades in Open City? ouch. she was showing off to "scare" Son yejin, without really being a loud circus.)

i worry about how much KMM's hard work will be kept in a 2-hour long movie. the advance PR seems to gear up his character as the centerpiece (sorry ha ji-won?), so he'll probably be the main focus anyway. KMM himself said his film career has been a bit more rocky than the "intimate boob tube" that is TV - and indeed film has less time for everything you want to say, less allowance for building rapport with audience. i personally think he's mastered TV acting as a top-liner, knowing how often/long and when to explode to keep viewers on their toes, while film acting really is quite a different ballpark - gotta show depth of character, evolving give and take in a relationship in compressed time...everything! hope this gets him the recognition playing a physically taxing role often brings.

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What a great actor. I haven't seen any of his dramas yet though. Thanks for the translation! :)

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I've never seen any of Kim Myung-min's work, but from what I've read about him, he really is inspiring, and makes people respect him and his work.

BTW, does anyone else think that he looks a tad like Kim Rae-won? I definitely see the resemblence :D

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i love this guy. this was a great read but it really irked me reading about the entertainment industry's rejection of him because he wasn't good-looking enough. all industries of this type all over the world are incredibly shallow but i have to say Korea really takes the cake. if i have to see another talentless but "pretty" (ahem, plastic) piece of shit on tv, i think i might vomit.

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Javabeans, thank you so much for covering this documentary.
KMM is the best Korean actor on TV.

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wow. just wow.
his dedication in acting just blew me away.

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@ hsinya ,

"BTW, does anyone else think that he looks a tad like Kim Rae-won? I"

Oh I know! I've said this for years, but people didn't believe me how HANDSOME Kim Myung Min is. Maybe there really is something about Korean women and the Man Perm. Just let your soul glow!!!! Just let it shine through! Just let your SOOOO' GLOOOO' Kim Myung Min!!! :D

@Ed,

Suffering for your art indeed! There's the old story about Sir Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman during the making of Marathon Man. Method actor Dustin Hoffman didn't sleep to play his character who hadn't slept all night. Olivier asked Dustin why he looked like hell. When Dustin explained that he had stayed up all night, Sir Laurence Olivier replied "Why not try acting? It's much easier old boy." :D

Marlon was technically not a Method actor. "The Method" was associated with Lee Strassberg (Hoffman, Daniel Day Lewis) Marlon studied under Stella Adler (Sheen, Benicio Del Toro) Strassberg really emphasized the role of personal experience (i.e. substitution.) Both teachers belonged to the Group Theatre, but Adler advocated the primacy of the text, and retorted that Strassberg damaged American acting for a 100 years. She believed acting shouldn't have to damage your psyche. Moreover, she also believed that Strassbergian acting eventually transformed you into a caricature, where it is insatiably about you and your public display of NEED.

I think sometimes Kim Myung Min's film acting is a little mechanical. He does such a marvelous job at the simulacra part of the job requirement, but there isn't always that freedom, that anything-is-possible flow that the intensive preparation rewards. Like when I watch Jeon Do Yeon, who's another transformation artist, I actually wonder if she shuts down some inhibition circuit in her brain to just go those places in her work, or to have that freedom. Even then, she doesn't disappear; rather, she illuminates the truths in the script. Or Moon So-ri with her New Wave work.

"so most people end up being drawn to actors and performances the most primordial way: how much s/he attracts you with physical features, likable charisma, intensity of emotions imparted in the shortest amount of time, flaring up without notice, etc. the most famous korean characters abroad, in movies, tend to be hypermasculine men going crazy "

American film criticism is a bit like that too. On one side, you have Walter Mitty critics who make word into bond. On the other side, the mimicry of noble (or inglorious) savagery, of which the critics paraphrase into pop psychology, or their own projections of unfulfilled achievement. So goes Stanley Kowlazki, Travis Brickle, Michael Corleone, the Waterboy, etc. It's a mutual agreement to tell enduring myths from celluloid. For it to work, it often can't be subtle. :)

"(remember the bitter hardness of kim hae-sook silently biting down the razor blades in Open City? ouch. she was showing off to “scare” Son yejin, without really being a loud circus.)"

And remember when she spat out all that blood? Yowza!!

I think Kobe and I are kinda split on Son Yeh Jin's performance in Open City. I felt it was a total misfire, but I admired that she was going for an original interpretation of femme fatale.

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This is such a treat. Thank you, Sarahbeans. *muah*

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He's truly an inspiration for all<3
Thanks for the coverage on this actor; he deserves it<3

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Great article! You outdid yourself, Javabeans. I feel as if I'd seen the show.

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KMM is the best! I just totally love this brilliant actor!

Thanks for this, dramabeans!

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Man, I'm SO excited!! Snagging the ep asap, thank you! I'll read the recap after watching, but I needed to thank you again. You are wonderful!

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"Kim Myung-min is probably the top actor in Korea right now, and is certain to go down as one of the greats of all time."

There's no doubt about that, javabeans!

Thanks for this summary!

KMM totally rocks!!

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ALWAYS reminds me of Kim Rae Won. What a great actor though!

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@Ella,

For dramas with KMM, I've only seen Bad Family. It's kind of light weight fare - romantic comedy with heart. KMM plays a gangster who is hired to pretend to be the loving uncle of a girl whose family was wiped out in a car accident and who cannot remember anything. KMM as the gangster is a tough nut - abandoned himself as a child, he has grown up amongst gangsters and at the start of the drama, is forced out of his former life and told to start over as a normal person. KMM as the gangster is only beginning to come to grips with his own feelings and what it means to love.

And so there are scenes in Bad Family that make you pause the drama and say, "woah, that's really.... wait... I want to see that again." So you rewind the scene and you watch it over again because it's that good.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMrJv-IU6W8&feature=related

If you click to 6:40 of this clip, til about the 9 min mark, you can see a scene between Nalim and KMM as the gangster. KMM has been forced to leave Seoul (presumably never to return) and he wants to say goodbye.

For some, this is a light-weight scene, not much there except some tear-inducement. But, to me this is special not because its a tear-jerker, but because KMM's transformation from a gangster to an uncle is about half-way there. You can't watch this in a vacuum, but if you watch this drama from the beginning, every interaction brings something new.

-Samsooki

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I uncle has the same disease. His health is really bad. He is practically like a skeleton now. He is in the hospital and I haven't had a chance to visit him. I think this is such a painful disease that I don't know just seeing how much effort KMM puts into his character is amazing. Seeing that thinner looking face reminds me of my uncle...however he is even worse now.

I just hope he doesn't push himself too far. It is kind of sad...

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@samsooki

congratulations! you finally managed to watch at least 1 KMM drama XD

yeah, i agree, I love that goodbye scene too.
i did cry a bit...oh well, i actually cried a lot when I watched Bad Family! XD

hmm...what are you watching next? :)

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kim's got such enormous passion and dedication for his work. truly amazing. im only worried that him losing this much weight will really get him sick. stay healthy, mr. kim!

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@37, michi -

Okay, so we have a lot on tap.

Right now, I sort of went 'solo' and fell off the wagon. I've sort of overdosed on Snow Queen, and have watched 12 episodes from Sunday evening to Monday evening. My wife has been busy with a lot of little things so I found myself wityh a remote control in my hand and Netflix DVDs sitting beside me. By accident, I inadvertently put in the Snow Queen DVDs into the DVD player and the TV turned itself on by accident and then I accidently hit the play button. Now I cannot stop watching and have only been updating my wife with quick hits.

But, I purchased Soulmate DVD series from DVDasian this weekend, and I got the "it's been shipped" email yesterday. I expect to receive it by Friday. So, Soulmate is next after Snow Queen.

In the meantime, we have Mixed Up Investigative Agency, but my wife thought it was kind of boring, and I kind of agree. I mean, its funny, I like the comedic scenes a lot, but there's no...... urgency? The thing is, characters are motivated by this or that, and for the major plot points, characters tend to do things in a certain way because they must, not because they just feel like it. But, in this particular drama, a lot of the plot points are somewhat random. Why do this in this way or why do that in that way? Why? Because I/we felt like it?

In this way, Mixed Up Investigative Agency lacks a bit of urgency, but I realize that this is just a different kind of drama, and so we should watch it not in "MiSa / Stairway to Heaven / Snow Queen / Winter Sonata" mode, gripping a towel for tears, but we should just relax and enjoy.

We may restart the series after I finish Snow Queen, which should be tonight, then we can watch Soulmate when that arrives later this week. By Friday, if there is an open thread, I should have comments ready for both Snow Queen and for Mixed Up Investigative Agency.

Also, I am thinking of asking my sister for my MNIKSS DVDs. She has had the series for more than two months. I'd like to go back and watch my favorite series again.

-Samsooki

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wow, javabeans...Thanks for the great summary of KMM Special documentary.

Indeed it helped nonkorean speakers alot.

KMM is one awesome korean actor !

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@Samsooki

I envy you because you have a spouse that actually likes Korean drama. My husband is half-korean and he's the least bit interested in watching dramas. We watched a couple Korean movies together (Sex is Zero, Old Boy, Sympathy for Mr. Revenge) and eat a lot of Korean food but I don't think he will ever be into dramas. He laughs at me when I cry in the middle of the night while watching dramas. He onced had to take away my laptop because I got too addicted.(which I was, I needed to study for the MCAT so thank god he butted in.) You are so lucky!

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So the reason for him not being popular before is coz of his looks? hmmm..i guess people have different taste...really he doesn't look that average...I even found him like one of those men who gets more good looking as they aged..especially when I first saw him act on the drama Bad Family, and he left me a good impression, coz it is RARE for his age to still have a leading role these days and to see that he really acts well..and after that I've been a fan of him
..Beethoven Virus is one of his bests too.."you're a piece of shit" line was just awesome..I was looking at him on screen and tell myself that if i was that student i'll probably passed out of shame! And he acted Kang Mae perfectly!
Now I have to see White Tower.=0
He's passable of his umpcoming movie with the disease...look how skinny he is now..

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After reading this, I got this feeling that I'm not too sure what it is (maybe a mix of respect + chills by simply reading of his pure acting)

It's true what others have said, that he isn't just acting as a character, but he is that character!

My appreciating for him has grown, and this was an awesome documentary ^^

Thanks for sharing~

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@kaori,

It's a tough thing, to find common interests with your spouse. There are a lot of things that my wife likes that I don't really care for, and vice versa. But, tastes change over time. So even if your spouse doesn't like k-dramas now, maybe in the future he will see things differently. Finally, you and your spouse should both try to be open-minded and experience the essence of what makes you or your spouse interested in something. For example, if he enjoys watching NBA basketball, then find out why he likes watching it. Is it because he wants to play, is it because he enjoys the game, enjoys watching a certain player or a certain team, or whatever. See what it is that he likes about watching or doing something, and then see if you cannot experience the same thing he experiences. And vice versa with something you like.

BTW, even if your spouse doesn't like k-dramas in particular, he might find that he will enjoy watching a particular korean actor or actress. For example, Hyun Bin is my favorite korean actor, with sentimental fad-ish picks being Cha Tae-hyun (My Sassy Girl, Windstruck cameo, etc.) and Kim Myung Min (Bad Family). For favorite female actresses, Kim Sunah, Jeon Ji-hyun, and Lee Da Hae would be up there. Or, perhaps your spouse might be interested in learning korean, and watching Korean dramas is a good way to start picking up vocab and idioms. Or maybe you could start with action movies with high production values (Typhoon, Shiri, 2009 Lost Memories, The Good, The Bad and the Weird), or kind of silly action movies (My Wife is a Gangster, My Wife is a Gangster 2) or even a martial arts kind of Korean movie like Bichunmoo.

K-dramas and K-movies are quite varied, and it could be that your spouse will enjoy some aspect, and you can expand from there.

-Samsooki

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thnx javabeans for this KMM's sort of journal! i enjoyed reading it & since BV where i first saw Kim i've been a huge fan of his! After seeing his outstanding performance as Maestro Kang i had the urge to see more of him & i decided to see his filmography, i saw him in Bad Family where once again his acting was very impressive then followed by White Tower, Open City and am still looking forward to the others which I have to see!
Reading this account of Kim's it sort of give you an impression of how humble he is as a person and the way he focused on his work where he takes every role given to him seriously! He may not be as handsome as the other Korean actors I always admire but I guess what counts most in his case is the way he delivers (great acting skills). I'm so happy for him that he was given the Daesaeng (spell?) awards twice already which he truly deserves! Way to go KMM! I can't wait to see your latest project with my other fave actress Ha Ji Won!

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@Samsooki

I can't really think of something he's really into that I'm not into. We like to collect things (precious stones, baseball cards,), do outdoor things (bike riding, road trips, flea markets), watch baseball and trying out new restaurant/food. All the things he does, I enjoy. I support him in whatever he wants to do. He does the same for me. For example, I have a Scrabble Meetup group that I go to. He goes with me even though he didn't sign up for it online. Tonight, we're going to watch a baseball game together.

I guess he's more into action films and he enjoyed Sex is Zero but didn't particularly care for Old Boy and Sympathy for Mr. Revenge. I'm trying to find more Korean movies he will enjoy. We don't have Netflix. I actually found those two movies in Blockbuster and rented them for $1 each. I'm more into romantic comedies and Korean dramas. I don't really go for Korean action films. I have the Rosetta Stone for Korean and a Korean-English dictionary lying around the bedroom but he hasn't touched neither. I feel weird that I'm the one wanting to learn more about Korean culture since he's more Korean than me.

He does enjoy the food. I think we've tried every Korean restaurant in town! I also cook bulgogi and a variety of side dishes at home. I just don't think he'll get into Korean dramas. I don't think he's "in tuned with his feelings" to be able to watch Kdramas. Besides online communiites, I'm the only person I know offline that likes to watch Kdramas. So thanks everyone for your input and thanks JB for this site. I stalk it everyday.

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wow, a lot of Kim Myung Min fans here, eh?? :)

so ladies and gentlemen, would you like to join us in KMM's first international fan club? :D (sarahbeans, i hope you don't mind...)

we are still in the planning stages and we're currently working on the actual website. you could help us in setting up the Club or you could simply join us so you could meet the growing number of KMM enthusiasts from all around the world in the MyungMin International forums!

check us our here: http://forum.myungmininternational.com/viewforum.php?f=44
to join for free: http://forum.myungmininternational.com/viewtopic.php?f=44&t=74&start=0

yes, there are also some KMM goodies available for members, in case you're wondering ;)

so thanks, everyone and we hope you see you around!

and thanks a bunch too, sarahbeans for this wonderful recap of the KMM MBC Special Documentary and for allowing me to plug our wonderful guy's first ever international fanclub :D

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@Samsooki

As far as actors and actresses, I don't even know some of them. I don't really stalk bios and unless they are particularly interesting. Recently, it's been Kim Bum...it's the little fangirl screaming inside me that made me do it. In the past, it was BYJ (Winter Sonata) and the dude from 18 v. 29. I like K-movies and K-dramas but not as much everyone in this site...it seems like.

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@S hee: "he was given the Daesaeng (spell?)"

I believe it Daesang 대상. But its a pity he had to share with Song Seung-heon... (I'm still upset how the Daesang can be shared in half.. It's the grand prize!)

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oh gosh. i was literally on the verge of crying when i saw him tear up. i'm glad that he's successful and happy. hwaiting myungmin-nim! gambatte! d(^O^)b

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