Ad Queens Flopping on the Big Screen

By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

Top-class actresses Jun Ji-hyun, Kim Tae-hee, Ko So-young and Moon Geun-young could be considered jewelry in the world of advertising. But when it comes to the big screen, their glitter doesn't sparkle as brightly.

These actresses appear in television and newspaper commercials and on billboards for cosmetics, clothes and beverages _ ads any top-rated actresses would kill for.

But why doesn't their success as brand models lead to the success in the movies?

One of the obvious answers may be the lack of acting skills, which could be true of Kim.

She made her film debut with the local blockbuster fantasy epic "The Restless" last year, but the film sold only 1.5 million tickets nationwide.

Although the film's failure can't be totally attributed to Kim, critics says that her clumsy acting made the weak film worse.

Kim first attracted huge attention because of the high expectations people held of her. In many commercials, she projected the image of being pure, innocent and intelligent.

A student of prestigious Seoul National University, she began her career in show business with a TV commercial and then worked as a model for many brands and products, including mobile phones, cosmetics and snacks. She even starred in commercials in Japan.

But neither of Ko nor Jeon lack acting experience.

With a 13 years career, Ko has been working hard since returning from a three-year hiatus last year. She appeared in movies and as a model in numerous ads for cosmetics, beverages and apartments

But the horror film "A.P.T". she appeared in last year _ her first since her return _ flopped. Her latest film, "Project Makeover" ("Go Go Sister"), has sold only 180,000 tickets nationwide since its release on Jan. 4.

Jeon shot to stardom with her most successful film, "My Sassy Girl" (2001), but since that film, she has had no successes. Her films "The Uninvited" (2003), "Windstruck" (2004) and "Daisy" (2006) were commercial flops.

Jeon enjoys more recognition in advertising. Her face and body appear in numerous commercials selling cosmetics, clothes, beverage and electronic goods.

Perhaps what these women need is to break away from the typical images they have long maintained in commercials and to show new sides of their character in movies. At least, that's the view of Moon.

After the success of "A Tale of Two Sisters" (2003) and "My Little Bride" (2004), Moon enjoyed huge popularity, affectionately being called "the nation's little sister".

Buoyed by that image, she has starred in many advertisements for products ranging from cookies and cosmetics to a bank and an oil refinery.

Last year, the Korea Advertisers Association voted Moon the best entertainer to sell products.

But after her two successful films, her acting career in her next films, "Innocent Steps" (2005) and "Love Me Not" (2006), in which she played a woman in her early 20s were not so successful.

In many recent interviews, she said that she simply wanted to grow up.

"Because I am a girl now, it's only fair for people to see me as a girl. But as time goes by, I believe I will understand sorrow, love and pain", Moon said in a recent interview with Reuters.

In her latest appearance in a TV commercial, she challenged herself to show her other sides as a grown-up sex icon with sexy costumes and dance moves.