'Lost' star scores another hit with 'Harmony'
By Jeff Chung
Yunjin Kim's latest Korean film, "Harmony," will be released at Consolidated Ward 16 on March 26.
"Harmony," a touching story about four female prison inmates who create a choir, has been inching toward the 3 million attendee mark since its release in Korea on Jan. 28, much to the surprise of the film industry. For this film genre, 3 million is considered a success, but when you are talking about a veteran star Yunjin Kim, would you expect anything less?
We all know Yunjin Kim as Sun-hwa Kwon from the ABC series "Lost," which is filming its sixth and final season in Hawai'i. However there is more to this talented actress. Born Nov. 7, 1973, Kim has broken many barriers in her career and opened doors for other Korean stars. She is the first South Korea-born celebrity to have a successful acting career in both Korea and the United States.
Her 1999 debut film "Shiri," directed by Kang Jae Gyu ("Taegukki," "Brotherhood of War"), was a blockbuster in Korea that earned the highest grossing record and also had a successful U.S. release. Her Korean film "Seven Days" in 2007 led to a 2008 best actress at the Daejong Awards.
She has been a pioneer for Asian actresses, in general, and helped pave the way to Hollywood for other Korean celebrities.
Here is the synopsis for "Harmony":
Jeong Hye (Yunjin Kim) is serving 10 years at the Cheongju Women's Prison after killing her abusive husband to protect her unborn child. She gives birth to a son, Min-ho, but has to brace herself as she will give him up in 18 months under Korean law. Jeong Hye is joined by other female inmates: Mun-ok, previously a music professor, ran over her husband and his mistress to avenge her misery. Hwa-ja was convicted of fraud and Yeon-sil for kidnapping and attempted murder. Into this mix comes Yumi.
Though she's the newest addition to the cell, she is unable to befriend the other women. Jeong Hye forms a choir as a way to tame their wild behavior under Na-young's custody, the guard responsible for these women. And Mun-ok is assigned the role of conductor.
Four years go by and the prison choir performs in the national women's choir contest. Their performance is a success, and the women are permitted to spend time with their families afterward. However, this joy is short-lived when Mun-ok is given her death sentence.
I have had the pleasure of interviewing Yunjin Kim regarding "Harmony":
Q. "Harmony" is about a mother having to separate from her child after 18 months. How were you able to so successfully portray the character when you are single in real life?
A. I've been asked this question many times before. As an unmarried actress, especially in Korea, some of my close actress friends will turn down a good role for this reason and this reason only. For me, this was never an issue. To answer your question, the circumstances of most films and TV series shouldn't happen in real life. Take "Lost," for instance. I've been doing a show about plane-crash survivors in a mysterious island or "Seven Days," a movie I did back in 2007 in Korea, about a successful lawyer who needs to save her kidnapped daughter in seven days! It's all "make believe," and as an actor, you try your best to bring reality in most unbelievable circumstances.
Q. "Harmony" is nearing the 3 million attendee mark in Korea, which is a huge success for this genre of film. What do you think was the key?
A. I'm thankful that it's doing well. We have tough competitions like "Avatar" and "Secret Reunion," a Korean movie with Song Kang Ho and Kang Dong Won. "Harmony" is a movie about a bunch of women in prison, my character Jeong Hye starts a singing group. There are a lot of funny moments in it and tragic moments as well.
Q. "Harmony" is about an ensemble in the women's correctional program. Are you a good singer by nature, or did you take a lot of lessons?
A. I wouldn't call myself a good singer by nature. I took some singing lessons here in Hawai'i last year before the filming in Korea. Singing makes me nervous. It seems so personal, but I'll sing in a karaoke after a beer or two.
Q. "Harmony" is a very touching story. How has it touched your life?
A. "Harmony" is about love, healing and accepting fate. I was in heaven with a wonderful cast and a great crew. Working with veteran actress like Na Mun Hee taught me a great deal. My heart was full and satisfied. "Harmony" brought me so much love; I still smile when I think about my experiences while shooting the movie.
Q. "Lost" is in its last season. What are your plans thereafter, and do you plan to stay in Hawai'i?
A. I'm planning to move to (Los Angeles). Originally from (New York), I've been so spoiled by living here in Hawai'i with all the beauty and breathtaking views. I'll take the aloha spirit with me to L.A. I'm sad to leave, especially the wonderful family of "Lost," but this chapter is coming to an end, and I'm looking for what the future will hold for me.
THIS WEEK'S K-DRAMA SYNOPSES
Episodes 35 and 36
Tonight at 7:45: Hyunsu and Jungin's love grows, and Geumja's distaste for Jungin also grows at the same time. Jungin wants to rush the wedding so she can give Manbok a great-grandchild soon. Manbok gives Sonyeo money to pay off her debt. Jungin decides to give her liver to Manbok. Tomorrow at 7:45 p.m.: Hyunsu tries to stop Jungin from being tested for liver transplant. Hyunsu feels helpless, not being able to do anything for his grandpa, but he pretends everything's all right around Manbok. Junggil tries to persuade Sungjoon to break up with Jisoo, but his words fall on deaf ears. Jungin concentrates on changing the family's diet to cater to Manbok's condition.
'Love You 1000 Times'
Episodes 31 and 32
Sunday at 6:45 p.m.: Sun-young confronts Se-hoon about his affair with Yeon-hee. He tells her he'll end it. However, Sun-young leaves with Yoo-bin and goes to her mother's house. Gang-ho's grandmother is embarrassed about Eun-nim's father's job. Eun-nim gets driving lessons from Gang-ho. Chul gets ready to leave for the States. Nan-jeong finds out that she's pregnant. Sunday at 7:45 p.m.: Se-hoon tries to get Sun-young's forgiveness by buying her family expensive gifts. But Sun-young won't budge. Hyang-sook finds a new job for Eun-nim's dad. Nan-jeong tells Chul that she loves him and that she's pregnant at the airport. Hyang-sook takes Yoo-bin away from Sun-young, making things between Se-hoon and Sun-young worse.
'Wish Upon A Star'
Episodes 9 and 10
Monday at 7:45 p.m.: Red runs into Chairman Jung at a bus stop. She chides him for not even showing up at her parents' funeral, and he tells her that he had collapsed and ran away from the hospital because he had no money. Red decides to take him to the house and have him stay with her. Tuesday at 7:45 p.m.: Joon-ha tells Gang-ha to just marry Jae-young even if he has to divorce her later. The two get into an argument when Gang-ha tells him to marry her himself. The next morning, Gang-ha is a bit disappointed when he doesn't find Blue at the foot of his bed. He finds out Green and Yellow had tied their legs to Blue to prevent sleepwalking, and he surprises everyone by telling them to leave him alone.
'Will It Snow For Christmas?'
Episodes 15 and 16
Wednesday at 7:45 p.m.: Youngsuk overhears Jiwan telling Gangjin that he doesn't need to feel bad about what happened to Jiyong anymore. Youngsuk gets extremely mad at Gangjin and pushes him away. Youngsuk continues to be mean to Gangjin and tells him that she's going to have Jiwan get married soon. Gangjin sees Chunhee arguing with a guy at her café and ends up throwing a punch. Thursday at 7:45 p.m.: Jiwan tells Gangjin that they should stop loving each other. Woojung gets shocked when she accidently asks Youngsuk where Gangjin is and Youngsuk tells her that he is outside. Woojung tells both Gangjin and Jiwan that she thinks Youngsuk has gained her memories back. Jiwan asks Gangjin why he struggled by himself when he knew about Youngsuk. Gangjin tells her that it's because he can't stop loving her.