By Chung Ah-young
When Kim Sun-young made her debut in the musical "Fame" in 1999, the local industry was just beginning to blossom. Ten years later, she is enjoying her heyday amid the ever-flourishing popularity of musicals in South Korea.
Currently playing the role of Seol-hee in the blockbuster musical "Hero," produced by Yun Ho-jin, head of A-Com International, Kim is planning to hold a solo concert to mark the 10th anniversary of her debut.
"I am so lucky because I have been together with the development of the musical industry. Due to its growth, I have been able to take the big roles. If I had debuted later or earlier, I would have never been successful like this," Kim said during an interview with The Korea Times at a caf? in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul.
The 35-year-old actress shot to the stardom with the title role in the musical "Evita," for which she won Best Actress in the Korea Musical Awards and the Musical Awards in 2007.
She has also garnered attention with her roles in "Miss Saigon," "Jekyll and Hyde" and "Man of La Mancha." Renowned for her powerful, expressive vocals, she recreated the roles using her own interpretations.
"When I was doing 'Man of La Mancha,' it was really tough and hard for me to play Aldonza, who is a physically and mentally tortured character. So I didn't want to do it again. But after finishing the musical, I realized how the character was attractive and meaningful for me," she said.
Kim, who will perform in "Miss Saigon" and "Man of La Mancha" next year, said that when she takes roles she has done before, the characters come to her from a totally different angle.
"In the case of Aldonza, she lived a miserable life but was reborn as a new, pure woman. It is very touching. I realized this only after the musical ended. So when I play the role again next year, I will do it with great pleasure and with new interpretations," she said.
"I have coveted roles such as Judas and Jekyll for a long time. But they are for males. So in my concert, I'd like to show my ability to sing the musical numbers that have long been regarded as the men's realm," said Kim.
Kim believes musical actors are blessed because they can act and sing to the audience. But to her, singing is the most important talent for them. "So I want to showcase various music genres in the concert based on my musical taste. This will be different from the musical numbers, which are limited by the roles," said Kim.
Despite her success, Kim maintains that it is not easy for an actress to succeed in the musical arena, even in this booming era. "It takes a lot of elements to succeed in this area. The most important thing in this career is to have strong sense of self confidence. There are many directions that actors can go - such as the film acting and television soap operas - to earn a reputation. But I believe that sticking to the musical profession can work to solidify the ultimate position in our own field," she said.
But pursuing the same profession over 10 years is not an easy task. "Actors should know why they are doing each role to give the energy they are feeling on stage to the audience. If we are not fully immersed in the roles, the audience cannot be moved by our acting anyway," she said.
"I am always excited to stand on stage even though they are the same characters. I recreated the roles for every production."
She said that her current role in "Hero," which depicts the story of Korean independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun, has been a fulfilling challenge for her. "The character is very unfortunate and tragic. But it's a fictional role. So it's hard to interpret the role and show the energy in the very few scenes. But now I can understand my character's agony and life, which was filled with patriotism and sacrifice," she said.
Her solo concert will be held Nov. 25-26 at Sejong M Theater in central Seoul. Tickets cost from 20,000 to 60,000 won.
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