Before getting popular and winning Best Actress at Baeksang Arts Award 2022, Kim Taeri used to juggle multiple part-time jobs and struggle to nail even a minor role.
A funny coincidence that happened at the 58th Baeksang Arts Award was that both the Best Actor and Best Actress didn’t debut in the acting field. In particular, Kim Taeri, the newly-crowned Baeksang Best Actress, used to work for a year as the technical staff of a theater in Daehakro.
The actress was then selected to be a substitute for the 2012 play “Spoonface Steinberg”, but did not get the opportunity to perform on stage. Taeri’s life only changed after starring in “The Handmaiden”, where the actress earned the title “hot scene muse” due to the many explicit shots she performed with senior actress Kim Min Hee.
Winning the Baeksang with a controversial role
Kim Taeri was recently named the Best Actress of the 58th Baeksang Arts Awards, thanks to her role as Na Hee Do in “Twenty Five, Twenty One”. Taking place during Korea’s financial crisis in 1998, the series started to gain attention for starring Taeri alongside famous actor Nam Joo Hyuk. It then started to become well-known and praised for the nostalgic plot, gripping writing, and beautifully written dialogues.
“Twenty Five, Twenty One” follows the life of high school student Na Hee Do and her relationship with the university dropout Back Yi Jin (played by Nam Joo Hyuk). Both of their lives were severely affected in 1998, where a financial crisis struck Korea.
Basically, the crisis uprooted both of Hee Do and Yi Jin’s life, and they struggled to grow up and pursue dreams while having each other’s support.
The 16-episode series ended back in early April with a viewership rating as high as 11.5%, and here, the 31-year-old Kim Taeri transformed successfully into a highschool student, to the surprise of many audiences.
When asked about her feelings while playing a bright, energetic, and happy 18-year-old girl, Kim Taeri admitted: “I feel really pressured, having to take care of my skin.” However, in an interview with Korea JoongAng Daily, the actress also added that she and Hee Do shared a lot of characteristics, and so she can empathize with Hee Do’s thoughts and actions.
Most of the audience agreed that Kim Taeri delivered a perfect Na Hee Do. However, some find this role of the actress quite controversial. In particular, netizens on the Korean online forum theqoo, have expressed opinions that Kim Taeri exaggerated her expressions too hard to play a young student, making it cringey to watch.
“Her acting was way too exaggerated, I can’t stand it”, “Her screaming voice is pure annoying, but I like everything else.” – mixed opinions like these can be found under many topics praising Taeri’s acting.
However, as Na Hee Do matured throughout each episode, Kim Taeri also changed her acting style to match, leaving behind all criticisms. She even ended up winning Best Actress at Baeksang, to the congratulations of many viewers.
Difficult past, rose to stardom with adult film
After graduating from Youngshin Nursing Business High School and finishing Journalism and Communication at Kyung Hee University in 2012, Kim Taeri started to juggle various part-time jobs like serving at KFC, selling milk at the supermarket, being a cashier at a convenience store, waiter at a cafe…
Then, she became a technical staff for a theater in Daehakro, and started to enter the showbiz via small plays and commercials. She also continuously failed at casting sessions, the actress admitted.
After years of effort, Kim Taeri finally rose to fame after starring in the 2016 film “The Handmaiden”. To earn this role, the actress had to overcome 1500 other actresses, and was later rewarded with many awards worthy of her performance. Most noticeably, Taeri was named Best New Actress at the Blue Dragon Film Awards and the Busan Film Critics Awards.
Through time, Kim Taeri only seems to become more popular, earning more and more awards and nominations every year. In 2017, she starred in “1987: When The Day Comes” with seasoned actors Kim Yoon Seok and Yoo Hae Jin. Then, in 2018, she was nominated to become Baeksang’s Best Actress for her role in “Mr. Sunshine”, where she co-starred with famous actor Lee Byung Hun.
After her big break with “The Handmaiden”, all of Kim Taeri’s projects have been huge successes with both high ratings and critical acclaim. While the actress’s international fame was not as outstanding as some of her colleagues, Kim Taeri is undoubtedly a top star in Korea. It seems that all of her efforts have finally paid off.
In “Twenty Five, Twenty One”, the work that brought Taeri the prestigious Baeksang awards, the actress also showcased intense determination. According to Taeri, filming for this series only took 7 months, but she spent an extra 6 months practicing fencing.
“It took 7 months to film, 6 months for me to be decent at fencing, and about 2 years since I first mentioned the project. At the time, I couldn’t imagine that ‘Twenty Five, Twenty One’ would be so well-received. To me, this is an invaluable and wonderful experience. I’m just super excited,” the actress shared.
She also recalled her fencing days, saying: “Fencing is a cool sport that also makes you miserable. Since I do everything with my heart and soul like Hee Do, I spent five months laughing and crying because of fencing. ”
In addition, according to Taeri’s co-star Bona, the 31-year-old actress was so passionate she even started running with sandbags all around her body, in order to improve her stamina.