Edited by Hwang Hong Su
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
The gloomy film industry, due to the aftermath of COVID-19, received great news from overseas. On March 6, actor Shim Eun Kyung won the Best Actress Award for her work, The Journalist, in Japan Academy Film Prize. This is the first time for a Korean actor to receive the award since 1978, when the ceremony was launched.
Shim Eun Kyung made a debut in 2003 with the drama Jewel in the Palace, and has been active since. She starred in numerous dramas and movies, and now she has grown up to be a recognized actor in both Korea and Japan. As we congratulate her on winning the Japan Academy Film Prize, we will look back into her major works that prove her acting prowess.
Possessed – So Jin
The film depicts an older sister’s struggle to find her sister, who suddenly disappeared. Through this film, Shim Eun Kyung broke away from her images of a cute child actor and showed off a strong presence. So Jin, played by Shim Eun Kyung, is seemingly an ordinary girl but possesses a mysterious ability to prophesy death and cure illness. To perfectly understand her role, Shim Eun Kyung even purposely spent time alone away from people on the set. As a result, she was able to deliver the horror by displaying ghastly looks and thrilling performances that overwhelmed the audience.
Sunny – Nami
Sunny is about a middle-aged woman who tries to fulfill her friend’s dying wish by reuniting the group from their high school days. This was the actor’s first major role in the big screen. Shim Eun Kyung played the role of Nami, a transfer student from Beolgyo to Seoul, and led the audience to a world of memories with a delicate portrayal of the teenage girl’s emotions of the time. In particular, the hilarious scene where she blurted out the curse words during a match with the rival group, presented a whole new side of her. Sunny was a huge success, surpassing 7.4 million viewers nationwide.
Masquerade – Sa Wol
In Masquerade, Shim Eun Kyung played Sa Wol, a food taster for the king, who had been sold to the palace at an early age. Despite being a small role, she showed impressive performances that changed the atmosphere of the rigid play and elicited sympathy from the audience. The scene where Shim Eun Kyung decided to die on behalf of King Ha Sun and eat red bean porridge is considered one of the most brilliant parts of the movie. Even among the prominent actors such as Lee Byung Hun, Ryu Seung Ryong, and Han Hyo Joo, she presented such amazing presence as a “scene-stealer” responsible for the laughter and emotion of the film.
Missing You – Hee Joo
Along with Possessed, Missing You is a work that shows the actor’s dramatic changes. Unlike the romantic title, the movie tells the story of a girl who pledges the revenge on the day her father’s murderer is released from prison. Shim Eun Kyung played the role of Hee Joo, a girl who witnessed her father’s murder 15 years ago right in front of her eyes, perfectly portraying the cold-blooded side of planning a revenge and the innocent and vulnerable girl at the same time. Unfortunately, the movie was not a big success, but Shim Eun Kyung’s performance was believed to be mesmerizing.
Miss Granny – Oh Doo Ri
Miss Granny is the work that allowed Shim Eun Kyung to stand as one of the most promising actors in the movie industry. With the movie pleasantly portrays a grandmother who returned to her 20s overnight, Shim Eun Kyung plays the role of Oh Doo Ri, the “granny” in her youth. Before the official release of the film, there were many concerns about whether she could lead the movie as a lead role, but when the box was opened, the movie would not have been completed if not Shim Eun Kyung was in it. She flawlessly performed a character who looks young but really is old inside, and in the scene of performing on stage, Shim Eun Kyung personally sang the songs herself, showing off her singing prowess. With such passionate performances, Miss Granny swept the theater, drawing a total audience of 8.66 million to become the most successful movie of the actor. She also won the Best Actor Award in 23rd Buil Film Awards, the 19th Chunsa Film Art Awards and the 50th Baeksang Arts Awards.
Queen of Walking – Man Bok
Queen of Walking depicts a story of a girl, who cannot use the public transportation due to congenital motion sickness syndrome, challenges the race walking. Shim Eun Kyung played Man Bok, a high school girl who only wishes small happiness in life. She later said that she filmed this movie when she faced a lot of worries regarding her acting career and that starring in this helped her a ton. Maybe that’s why. In an era where only passion and effort are emphasized, the movie’s message of “it’s okay to walk slow” mixed with Shim Eun Kyung’s sincere acting conveyed simple consolation and sympathy.
The Journalist – Erika Yoshioka
The Journalist is indeed the work that proves Shim Eun Kyung’s worth. She faced the difficulty of acting the entire film in Japanese as she played the role of Erika Yoshioka, a reporter in the social affairs department of the Toto newspaper, but was able to pull it off smoothly after learning the language for the past three years. Many actors have reportedly declined the Journalist, but director Michihito Fujii stated that he wanted to cast Shim Eun Kyung from the get-go, and Shim Eun Kyung, too, performed her best. As a result, she became the first foreign actor to win the Best Actress Award at the Japan Academy Film Prize.