For actor Daniel Dae Kim, life’s a beach

March 16, 2006

For actor Daniel Dae Kim, life’s a beach

Though his Lost character Jin has it rough as a castaway on a mysterious island, the actor is enjoying the work and the Hawaii life.

By Associated Press
Published February 9, 2006

HONOLULU – Beaten, kidnapped and tossed in a pit, Jin Soo Kwon hasn’t had many pleasant days on ABC’s hit drama Lost.He’s stranded on a mysterious island with plane-crash survivors who don’t speak his language and carry way more baggage than the suitcases they brought on ill-fated Oceanic Airlines Flight 815.

In real life, actor Daniel Dae Kim, 37, who plays Jin, the Korean tough guy, couldn’t be happier. He’s living with his family in Hawaii, where the show is shot, he’s earning a regular paycheck doing what he loves, and a day at the office means hitting the beach.

“I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity,” Kim said. ” Every day I’m at work and I look out at the ocean and see the crystal blue waves crashing on the beach, I just look up and thank the universe for putting me here.”

Working on Lost (which airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC) wasn’t always so smooth for Kim, however.

In the series’ Emmy-award winning first season, Jin was portrayed as a detached and chauvinistic thug who was overly protective of his wife, Sun. The character drew sharp criticism from some Asian viewers, who accused Kim of perpetuating stereotypes .

But as audiences learned more of the character through flashbacks, and as Jin warmed up, so did his critics.

“All these characters have layers, secrets inside of them,” Kim said. “It was difficult, but the thing that kept me hopeful was my trust in the producers.”

Creator Damon Lindelof has said speaking English was not an option for Jin and Sun, who talk to each other only in their native language (although Sun, it was revealed, speaks English). He noted that subtitles are not used when Jin speaks to other castaways, because he wants the viewer to share the frustration of trying to communicate.

Kim, trained in classical theater, said acting in Korean has been a challenge . Not only did he have to master the language quickly, but he tried to shed his rural accent. Jin did speak perfect English in a short scene in which Hurley, played by Jorge Garcia, was dreaming and speaking Korean. “His pronunciation was fantastic,” Kim said. “I was going around saying maybe he should be the one speaking Korean and I’ll speak English and say ‘dude’ a lot.”

Born in Busan, South Korea, Kim grew up in the blue-collar steel town of Easton, Pa. He was on a path to becoming a lawyer but decided to pursue acting. It was an unpopular decision with his family.

After earning a master’s from New York University, he had recurring roles on 24, ER, and Angel. He had small appearances in Seinfeld and NYPD Blue as well as on the big screen in Spider-Man 2, The Hulk and Crash.

“It’s not about money or fame. I really enjoy the craft of acting,” he said. “Whether it’s on a small stage in front of 50 people or on a television screen in front of 20-million, it’s still what I enjoy doing. It’s the same.”

Unlike his character, Kim is easygoing, educated and quick to smile. Some fans have approached him with caution, however, fearing he’ll be like Jin.

Recently, Kim was featured as one of People magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive.” Not bad for a married guy closing on his 40s with two sons, ages 9 and 4.

“It’s flattering,” he said. “It’s something you can’t ever take seriously. On a larger level, for Asian-Americans, I think it’s really a fantastic step.”

As for Lost, Kim said he’s just as anxious as devoted fans are to see how the stealthy story unfolds.

“We don’t have answers as actors,” he said. He does promise many more surprises and turns. “One thing viewers will be reminded of, the stakes are very high on this island. It’s always life and death.” [Last modified February 8, 2006, 15:03:03]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: