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[HERALD INTERVIEW]VJ links Korea to world

2007/02/12 Source

As a singer, Ida Simmons (Kim Isak), a 21-year-old Frankfurt-born Korean-American, was not exactly a top act, although she has the potential to be one. As a new VJ for Arirang TV's popular show "Pops in Seoul", she is literally "meeting with the world". The program meant to introduce Korean pop music to the rest of the world is being aired in 188 countries.

"Is that how many different countries it goes to? Wow", she exclaimed during an interview with The Korea Herald, saying that she didn't quite realize that her program was available in that many countries. "Whenever I watch programs like 'E News Hollywood', I was always interested in being that person, like °¶you know, talking about news and current events", she added.

On the program being aired everyday for 30 minutes from 9 p.m., Kim leads K-pop fans all over the world on a journey through the latest hits, introducing popular Korean music videos and catching up on the latest entertainment news. "I don't really need to study because I used to be a singer and I know so many people around the business", said the VJ who is also hosting the network's radio program, "Mid-Day Break".

The member of the female R&B duo ISAK N Ji-Yeon is pretty, and her voice is rich and evocative - as is Lina's, her partner. The only problem with the duo formed in 2002 by SM Entertainment was timing: Kim had to go back to her home in southern California because of her family situation (her American father and Korean mother separated). Although Lee, the other member of the duo, is currently involved in SM's new project named "TSZX The Grace", a four member Korean girl group that sings, dances and acts, Kim says that the partnership is not done yet. "Nobody knows when the new album will come out, but we do talk about it a lot", said Kim, who was found by the Korean entertainment giant through its first talent search in the United States in 1999, when she was only 14 years old.

Back then she could barely open her mouth to say hello in Korean, but now her Korean is fluent enough to ask reporters whether to do the interview in Korean or English. "I wanted to get to know my mom's culture, instead of my dad's culture that I've grown up with. So I wanted to come to Korea, I came to Korea and I love Korea", said the VJ whose dad was a retired American soldier who met her mom during his service in Korea before being transferred to Germany where she - their only child - was born.

Currently, she is more known as a comedian than as a singer, as she acts in "Solitary Killers", a popular skit of MBC's weekly comedy variety show "Gag-ya", in which she portrays a beautiful but quirky female character. "One thing I love about being on the program is not spending so much time acting. It's more like going up on the stage and having fun", Kim said.

She said, however, the comedic acting is just to show her fans more of her - "a lively, upbeat and vibrant me", according to her - and nothing more. "All the other comedians are something I wouldn't even dare. They study actual comedy while I'm just trying to be one", she added.

While in the United States, she took acting classes at the New York Film Academy to make herself an all-around entertainer, but she sees no reason to rush it. "I don't want to be just another person who just speaks English", she said.

Although she has little difficulty speaking in Korean, she points out that acting in Korean is a different matter. "When I have a script before me, there are so many different things to think about".

She probably could, like Daniel Henney, take advantage of her racial background and slightly awkward conversational Korean (and of course fluent English) to become a star, but that is the last thing she wants to do with her acting career. "I want to take on Korean roles and be accepted by the Korean population", she said.

By Lee Yong-sung

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