Kim Myung-min: “In the end I was so exhausted it was difficult to act”
“With Lou Gehrig’s disease, your conscious mind remains active while your muscles deteriorate, but for me, I found that as I kept losing weight, my consciousness became equally paralyzed.”
Actor Kim Myung-min recently took on the challenge of portraying a patient gradually worsening from ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in the upcoming melodrama film My Love By My Side [내 사랑 내 곁에]. On August 24, the cast of the movie gathered at the CGV cinema in Apgujung for a press conference.
Much has been made of Kim’s dramatic 20kg weight loss (mostly accomplished while he filmed the movie, losing the weight to correspond to his character’s deteriorating health). Kim admitted what he found the most difficult aspect of filming: “In the latter half, I had to become increasingly immersed in the emotions of the character, but because I was constantly exhausted, it was difficult to become absorbed in the acting.”
We saw bits of the process in the MBC documentary following Kim from pre-production through filming. Regarding the decision to embark on the drastic effort, Kim said, “Going hungry wasn’t something I insisted on, it’s something I think goes without saying because I took on his role.” In the end, his spine and ribs were painfully visible and all the fat gone from his face and body, leaving him gaunt.
He said jokingly, “At first, the director and Ha Ji-won both lost weight alongside me and I felt bad, but later on they would go together to eat ddukbokki and I would wonder if I could take a bite, but they would say, ‘You can’t eat that!’ and I felt sad.” But he added, more seriously, “The director gave me candy drops saying I would collapse from hypoglycemia if I didn’t have something sweet, and he skipped meals because of me too.” (Kim began to display symptoms of hypoglycemia as he filmed.)
Ha Ji-won did confess apologetically to going out to eat at night without letting Kim know, although director Park Jin-pyo said that they both ate very little in support of their co-star. Park said, “It was difficult for Ha Ji-won too, who followed Kim Myung-min in losing weight and also tended to him. Ddukbokki is something she eats when she’s feeling depressed, and although I didn’t want to eat any, because she wouldn’t eat unless I did, I went with her.”
Ha Ji-won explained having a hard time watching her co-star’s difficulties, saying, “It was difficult for me just to watch Kim Myung-min sunbae losing weight and being in pain. It’s because he was so immersed in his role that I was able to nurse him with a natural appearance of sadness.”
As Ha Ji-won’s character works at a funeral home, she therefore practiced and studied the work in preparation. She said, “Dressing the dead is much more complicated and difficult work than I had imagined.”
My Love By My Side is scheduled to release on September 24.
- Posters unveiled for My Love By My Side
- Haeundae eyes the 10 million ticket threshold
- Ha Ji-won’s big-budget summer blockbuster
- MBC documentary special features Kim Myung-min
- Kim Myung-min Was Not There
- Kim Myung-min loses weight and the Kang-mae image
- Kim Myung-min takes a method approach to weight loss