Although she’s been on the Korean movie scene for over ten years, it was her performance in Yang Ik-june’s 2008 feature ‘Breathless / 똥파리’ which brought her to most peoples attention, including myself. The movie, starring the director himself in the main role as a violent debt collector with a traumatic family history, quickly became a festival hit through word of mouth. Ik-june plays a character seemingly hell bent on inflicting pain on everything and everyone he come across, brutishly violent with a vocabulary to match, he appears to have no redeeming qualities at all, until he accidentally crosses paths with spunky schoolgirl Yeon-hee, played by Kko-bbi.
Kko-bbi holds her own against Ik-june’s powerhouse performance, as she slowly brings out the humanity in his character, while it’s gradually revealed that her own home life is as far away from domestic bliss as perhaps his own. The relationship between the two characters form the backbone of the movie, and she walked away with the Best Actress award at the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival, and Best New Actress honors at the Blue Dragon Film Awards as well as the Daejong Film Awards on home soil in Korea.
Kko-bbi started her film career as an extra in the 2001 movie ‘My Boss, My Hero / 두사부일체’, during which she was spotted by one of the production staff and asked to apply for a role in ‘Jealousy is My Middle Name / 질투는 나의 힘’ made the following year. She was successful and got the part, and would mostly remain in bit roles in various movies most people aren’t even aware she’s in for the coming years. If you’ve ever wondered who plays the ‘razor wielding high-school girl’ in Ryoo Seung-Wan’s popular movie ‘The City of Violence / 짝패’, well, look no further than Kim Kko-bbi.
Thankfully she decided to take things into her own hands and turn her attention to Korea’s indie movie scene, which eventually lead to her crossing paths with Yang Ik-june and getting the part in ‘Breathless’. The movie drew audience numbers that were unheard of for an indie movie, let alone one from Korea, and things have been on the up since then.
Her selective choice of roles continued when she starred alongside Kim Hyo-jin and Seo Hyeon-jin in the 2010 movie ‘Life is Peachy / Ashamed / 창피해’. Essentially classed as a lesbian romance, the movie centres around the three females leads, who in the movie are all named Ji-woo, as it blurs the lines between what is imagined and what is reality through a tale of lost love. It was another step for Kko-bbi in carving out a unique identity for herself in an industry were being an individual, especially as an actress, is becoming increasingly difficult.
As well as starring in a series of short movies, she also provided her voice to not one character but two, in the dark Korean animation ‘The King of Pigs / 돼지의 왕’. Made in 2011, the movie was shown at KOFFIA 2012, and proved to be very popular with audiences through its hard hitting tale of two middle-school friends, who meet up with each other fifteen years after they graduate, and reflect on the cruel days of the past.
2012 kicked off with Kko-bbi taking part in Boo Ji-young’s quirky documentary ‘My Selves / 나 나 나: 여배우 민낯 프로젝트’. Ji-young stated that she had always been curious about the lives of actresses outside of their work in the movies, and wanted to see what made up their everyday lives. The way she decided to do this was to give three real actresses a camera each, and asked them to record their daily lives, which would later be edited into a documentary. The three actresses came in the form of Seo Yeong-joo, Yang Eun-jong, and of course Kim Kko-bbi. Clocking in at a brief 90 minutes, Kko-bbi travels abroad with her some of the actors from ‘Breathless’ and throws a party, as well as spending time with her sister and brother, giving us a rare glimpse into the actresses lives outside of their roles.
In the same year she once again featured in a powerful indie drama, Shin Su-won’s ‘Pluto / 명왕성’, about a group of elite high school students who go to increasingly extreme lengths to ensure they get into a prestigious university. The movie drew high acclaim upon its release, and makes the brave move of openly taking a swipe at the highly competitive Korean education system, which every year drives several students to suicide. ‘Pluto’ is an unflinching piece of cinema, and not only is it showing at this years Korean Film Festival in Australia, but Kim Kko-bbi herself, along with the producer Lim Chung-geun and director Shin Su-won will also be in attendance. Highly recommended!