Kim Tae-ri is finally brave enough to say how she really feels

Actor Kim Tae-ri as a mysterious character who is dubbed as "a woman who shoots thunder" in "Alienoid Part 1." [CJ ENM]

Actor Kim Tae-ri features as director Choi Dong-hoon’s gun-firing muse in his latest sci-fi fantasy adventure “Alienoid Part 1.”

Dubbed as the "woman who shoots thunder,” her character Lee Ahn is a mysterious figure living in the late Goryeo period (918-1392) who carries a watch and a gun on her mission to be the first to get her hands on a fabled holy sword.

According to Kim during a press interview at a cafe in Samcheong-dong, central Seoul on Tuesday, she was “honored” that she was cast for the hit filmmaker’s first sci-fi film, a term she has been reluctant to use in the past.


“I was thrilled, ecstatic and honored,” Kim said with a beaming smile, scribbling the words on a notepad in front of her. With her hair rolled up in a messy bun, all throughout the 50-minute interview the actor remained animated, her voice high and clear, using big hand motions to explain her character. “I rarely use the latter term because I don’t want it to sound like my casting was the result of pure luck plopping right out of the sky, something that people [and the media] want me to say, just for the expression of it. Even for interviews in ‘The Handmaiden’ [2016], I tried hard not to use that word, but for this film, I was honored. I thought I was given way more credit than I deserve.”

Kim is the third gun-toting actor among Choi's films following Kim Hye-soo in “The War of Flower” (2006) and Jun Ji-hyun in “Assassination” (2015).

But the role of a confident, charismatic female protagonist seems to suit Kim as seen in her other works such as aspiring, high-spirited teenage fencer Na Hee-do who goes on to win an Olympic gold medal in tvN drama series “Twenty-Five, Twenty-One” (2022), independent activist Go Ae-sin in “Mr. Sunshine” (2018), and Captain Jang, the leader of her spaceship in Netflix film “Space Sweepers” (2021).


“I think it’s because I look that way,” the actor replied immediately when asked why she believes she is constantly being offered such roles. “In my voice, I think I have a kind of firmness — you know how you can presume just from the sound of people’s voice whether they’d be sensitive, delicate, stubborn or easygoing? I think I’m that kind of [firm, confident] person, I look like a chestnut, someone you can count on to portray a character like Go Ae-sin from ‘Mr. Sunshine.’”

For the role of Lee Ahn, who has a complex past, the actor tried not to overcomplicate the narrative of what her character had gone through.

Lee Ahn, also known as "a woman who shoots thunder," is looking for the fabled sword as her allies and enemies are in "Alienoid Part 1." [MANAGEMENT MMM]

“I just took it in as the situation itself,” Kim explained. “If I dive deeper into it, I don’t think there would be an end [...] She would have been lonely and hollow at that time period by herself — I could build as many layers as I wanted with her, but I came to find out that it was all useless. No matter how much effort I put into this character, all the audience see is this one side of her. There is this interview that I really like with director Park Chan-wook where he said that it’s unrealistic to think that one can portray two emotions simultaneously. What’s important is how fast you can fluctuate between those two emotions. That turnabout is what good acting is, and what [defines] a good actor. I really agree with that. [For Lee Ahn] I tried to alternate my expressions efficiently based on the situation and the people she meets.”

Kim's breakthrough role came in the beloved “Twenty-Five, Twenty-One,” which went viral globally after the series was made available on Netflix.


“I can’t actually explain this in words — it would take me three days and nights to tell it all,” Kim said. “But I was really going through some dark times [before the series] — the times where you hit rock bottom and it seems like it couldn’t get worse but I seemed to be falling even further. But you eventually manage to climb your back way out to the world, and it was a different world than the one I knew before. It gave me courage to look back on my past works, like ‘Twenty-Five, Twenty-One’ or ‘Mr. Sunshine’ — I’ve never done that before. I see the changes when I see the past clips. Before, I was worrying and agonizing over many, many things and that seeped into my speech as well. Now, I’m not embarrassed to say what I want to say and feel braver in every aspect [of my life]. That’s the kind of world I’ve made my way into.”

"Alienoid Part 1" was released in local theaters on Wednesday.