SOUTH Korean actress Kim Nam-joo’s first impression of Kuching was that “it’s a very beautiful city with lots of greens”.
She would have loved to know more about the city when she was here recently but didn’t have the chance due to her short stay. She said if she could come back in the near future, she would try to get around and see more of the state capital.
Kim was here for the recent 23rd Asian Television Awards (ATA) held at the Borneo Convention Centre. She won the Best Actress Award for her role in the TV series Misty.
The winsome thespian from Seoul rose to stardom in the 1990’s with her roles in the TV dramas Model, The Boss and Her House. After 2001, she went into semi-retirement, appearing only in commercials. She married actor Kim Seung-woo in 2005 and started a family.
But the nearly one decade she had been away from ‘camera, lights and action’ did not diminish her love for acting. It was a matter of time before she made a comeback. In 2009, she marked her return with a role in Queen of Housewives, written by Park Ji-eun.
Housewives was a hit, setting Kim gloriously on the comeback trial, and she went on to collaborate with Park on another movie called Queen of Reversals (2010), followed by the top-rated series, My Husband Got A Family, which cemented Kim’s star status.
In 2018, Kim received critical acclaim for her role in Misty. In this series, Kim’s character Go Hye-ran was the prime suspect in a murder case. Although their marriage was on the rocks, Go’s husband, Kang Tae-wook, played by Ji Jin-hee, ended up as her legal counsel.
In a chat with thesundaypost, Kim said she was extremely happy to have won the Best Actress Award, adding that when she started acting in Korea, she just did it out of love and had never expected nor aimed to win any award.
“I just concentrated on losing myself in the roles I was playing. Many Koreans came to recognise me for this, and eventually, I started winning some awards in Korea. But the award I received here in Kuching is my greatest pride.”
Asked if there was any TV drama, in which she starred, that she especially cherished, Kim said it was a series called Naejoui Yeowang (Queen of Housewives) made in 2009 — her first role after marriage.
The Queen of Housewives is about the life of naejo (housewives) who devote their entire lives to ensure their husbands’ success but with a more comedic and aggressive twist. The hit drama topped the ratings during its run, and created new trends among married women in terms of fashion and make-up. The series also served as the breakout vehicle of actor-singer Yoon Sang-hyun.
Kim who has received many accolades on her comeback after an eight-year hiatus, said Misty is also a favourite and memorable work of hers because it was where she gained recognition from her peers and won many fans.
Another reason was that her character in the drama was ‘very challenging’ to play and being able to live her role had given her a deep sense of satisfaction — that she has made it in the very competitive film industry.
Chatting with Winnie K
Another celebrity thesundaypost talked to was Malaysian singer Winnie Kok, popularly known as Winnie K, who performed at the ATA pageant.
She said what she loved about Kuching or Sarawak is the friendliness and warmth of the people, adding that the moment she touched down at Kuching International Airport, she was overwhelmed by the warm welcome awaiting her from a group of ‘very friendly people’.
She thanked the organiser for the invitation to perform at the event and doing a very good job.
She said she felt very excited about coming to Kuching after a lapse of some 10 years and was looking forward to returning more often.
On her career, she expressed the hope to come up with a latest single, a Malay song, this year.
“I haven’t had a song for few years already. It’s not easy coming by good songs. I’ve been looking for quite some time and finally found a very good musician-producer. Hopefully, I can have my new single this year. I can’t reveal the title yet because everything is not finalised.”
Kok said one of the best parts of her career was the opportunity to travel to perform in different places. She has been to many countries and met a lot of people — an enriching experience she attributed to her love of travelling.
She had just got back from Australia after representing Malaysia at the Asian Festival in Sydney which attracted 16 countries. During the event, she made friends from around the world.
Asked which the song she personally likes most, she rolled her eyes, thought for a moment and said Kau Ada Di Mana.
“It’s a Malay song with a very catchy tune and the feedback is very encouraging. It’s even used as the theme song for a local TV series called Mertua vs Menantu, with actress Erra Fazira in the lead role,” she added.
Kok has been in the music business for about 20 years. In that time, she has recorded Malay and Chinese albums in Malaysia as well as Malay albums in Indonesia — the first Chinese Malaysian to do so.
She said she was happy to know she had a lot of fans in Sarawak and was especially touched by their warm welcome.
“I’m grateful for their support. I hope they will continue to not only support me but also all the local singers.”
Any plans to get into films? To this, Kok said acting was quite a common path taken by recording artistes, adding: “If there’s an offer with a suitable script, why not? I love to try.”
Asked if given a chance to be in a Hollywood movie, who would she like to work with, she said she admired actor Jim Carrey and would love to be his co-star.
“To me, he’s a very good actor. He can be funny and serious, depending on the role he is playing. He can make people laugh and cry. His facial expressions are a class act.”
Another actor Kok idolises is Will Smith.
“Like Jim Carey, he’s very versatile and can handle a variety of roles — comedy or serious,” she said.