From Seoul to Hollywood for Lost actress

By Rebecca Barry Hill

Yunjin Kim is uncomfortable with the chair she has been given. She requests a lower one. Possibly this is because she is wearing very short shorts. It's more likely she doesn't want to look down on anyone.

She could if she wanted. Kim is a big star, not just through her international break-out role on Lost but in Korea where she is known for breaking box office records. She is sometimes referred to as "the Korean Julia Roberts".

"I'm actually the very first Korean actress to cross over to Hollywood, so that's special," she says, with pride rather than arrogance. "I'm on a show where I'm actually speaking Korean. It's really odd."

It's also odd to see her immaculately made up, just as it's odd to know she has posed for men's magazines and become, like Lost co-star Evangeline Lilly, something of a sex symbol. It's only in the third season Kim has had an opportunity to flaunt her sexuality. Flashbacks painted her character Sun as demure, defeated and desperate at the hands of men. Her father was overbearing, her husband Jin jealous and domineering. Sun was always a bit of a victim.

Kim was happy about this to begin with because it meant she wasn't hated. "Maggie Grace [who played Shannon] - everyone hated her because she was this rich, spoiled girl.

Sun's from a very wealthy family too but she's never come across that spoiled or bratty. She's a good woman overall so I think I got a lot of sympathy."

However, in season three she wasn't as victimised as it seemed. She had an affair with her English teacher, she sailed a boat and she killed one of the Others. Now that she's pregnant she wouldn't be surprised if the father was the island itself, in some kind of immaculate conception complete with "a baby that looks like a monster or something, black smoke coming out of Sun".

"I'm so happy to see her dark side," she says. "I thought she was just a perfect angel. And I kept on saying it doesn't make sense because all of the other characters have killed one or two people at least ... I'm sure she's evil."

Lost is notorious for keeping its actors as much in the dark about the plot mysteries as the viewers but if there's anyone with power over the outcome of the show, it's Kim and her co-star, Daniel Dae Kim.

"In the first season there was a translator but it was a little translation from the lines which in Korean didn't quite flow well. It didn't make sense so a lot of times I had to redo those translated lines to make it more conversational language. And I still do. We're sitting here talking Korean and of course none of them understand. So we could be talking about a pink elephant in the room, and we could go on and on and they won't know."

It would be nice to know there's a bit of nonsense somewhere in the script. Fans of the show have hung in long enough without getting many answers. But Kim bursts the bubble, admitting that they never allowed their shenanigans to make it to film.

Kim almost didn't end up on the show. The producers invited her to meet them, despite not having a role for her in mind. Instead, she read for Kate. Kim has a quality too gentle to make a convincing Kate.

"JJ [Abhrams, creator] was fascinated by the fact that I grew up in America and I went back to Korea for six years and worked there. And I then I decided to come back after being, luckily, very successful in Korea."

Kim first rose to prominence in Korea playing a businesswoman in the mini-series, The Hunch. But her breakthrough was playing a La Femme Nikita-type role in her debut feature, Shiri, as a spy who falls in love with the enemy. She followed that up playing a beaten housewife in Ardor. But it was Shiri that made her a star in several Asian countries.

"It was the very first Korean film to be accepted in Japan and to be loved. So I feel like I experienced a sort of renaissance of Korean [film]. It's great. I'm really, really proud."

It was the chance of working on a show like Lost that brought her back, she says. The role of Sun was written specifically for her, "the best compliment you can have". Three days after Sun was created, her husband Jin was born. Neither of the characters appeared in the pilot but they have been integral cast members throughout the show.

"It means a lot to me that you see a three-dimensional character out of Sun and Jin because how many times are you going to get to see Korean characters on television?"

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