Kim Tae-ri makes extra efforts for teen character in ‘Twenty Five Twenty One’

Star actress Kim Tae-ri said she made extra efforts to look as young as she could to play the part of a teenager in her latest TV series “Twenty Five Twenty One.”

In the tvN’s rom-com, which released its final 16th episode Sunday, Kim, 31, plays Hee-do, a member of a high school fencing team that is about to be disbanded due to financial issues stemming from the Asianwide financial crisis that affected the country in the late 1990s.

In an online media interview held Wednesday last week, the actress admitted she was bothered by the fact that she had to portray a girl who is about 14 years younger than herself.

“I don’t say I didn’t think of it at all,” said the actress, who is regarded as a celebrity who doesn’t look her age. “I’d received dermatology treatment as often as I could during filming. Every time I finished my fencing practices, I went to the clinic. I strived a lot.”

But the younger appearance was not the only effort that Kim, who rose to stardom for her role in Park Chan-wook’s period thriller “The Handmaiden” (2016), made for the character in her second TV project after the historical romance “Mr. Sunshine” (2018).

“When I got the offer for this project, I was filled with bright energy and in high spirit, and wanted to do something cheery with that brio,” she said. “And Hee-do came to me at that time.”

Despite the advice to quit fencing from her mother and coach, Hee-do does not give up her dream to be a big fencer and tries to move to a neighboring school that maintains its fencing team.

The teenager gives off optimistic and an energetic vibe, and encourages her friends, especially her boyfriend Yi-jin (Nam Joo-hyuk), whose family went bankrupt due to the nationwide financial turmoil, to overcome their difficulties.

So the actress has poured her cheerful and optimistic energy into Hee-do, and created a lovely, beaming and light-hearted girl who never surrenders during a time of social upheaval in South Korean modern history that affected many young people.

Moreover, Kim said “Twenty Five” has helped her find something interesting in being absorbed into the character by presenting her in a more unflattering and candid way.

“Hee-do is a downright person, direct and straightforward in her behavior and speech, and that makes her attractive,” she said. “So I tried to be Hee-do completely, not paying attention to my face, voice or tone and not thinking about the camera. That was very new to me.”

For her outstanding performance, and well-rounded storytelling of love and the lives of young people in the late 1990s, “Twenty Five” has become one of the most talked-about TV shows at home and abroad.

Premiering on Feb. 12, tvN’s weekend primetime series posted 10.9 percent in viewership for its 11th episode, marking the highest numbers among high-profile weekend TV series on the cable channel over the past year.

The series, which is simultaneously available on Netflix, has also stayed high on the streamer’s weekly viewership chart of non-English TV shows for five weeks in a row, taking second place in the last two weeks.

“It’s light and cheerful, and, particularly, easy to understand,” she said. “‘Mr. Sunshine’ is a good, well-made drama, but foreign viewers have to learn Korean history to fully enjoy it. But for ‘Twenty Five,’ all you need is just to turn on the TV, and watch and laugh. I think this appealed to global audiences.” (Yonhap)

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