Press Coverage

Living Local with Daniel Dae Kim - The Honolulu Advertiser

A man walks into a bar. Not exactly what we expected. The joke's on us...

Living Local with Daniel Dae Kim - The Honolulu Advertiser

March 19, 2010
By Kawehi Haug

A man walks into a bar. Not exactly what we expected. The joke's on us.

At around 9:30 last Thursday morning, the plan was to watch actor Daniel Dae Kim walk through the door of Side Street Inn.

This is how it was supposed to go down: We'd meet, we'd sit, he'd
answer a few questions, his phone would ring, and he'd say that he's
needed back at the set and is that all for now?

We'd say yes, thank you, and by 10 a.m. we'd be back in real life,
where we're an annoyance to the stars, and the stars are very important

So, this man walks into the bar. He doles out hugs and handshakes and
makes us forget for the next 60 minutes that we're not in fact talking
to some man who just walked into a bar.

Sitting in the empty eatery ? owner Colin Nishida opened the place
early to let us do the interview here because it's one of Kim's favorite
Honolulu haunts ? the actor looks the part. His overgrown hair, an
essential prop for his role on the television show "Lost" as Korean
businessman Jin stranded on the kind of island where personal grooming
takes a backseat to survival, is slicked back into submission, Miami
Beach style.

He's got that don't-hate-me-because-I'm-beautiful glint in his eye.
Perfect teeth, golden tan. If we're just talking about the skin-deep
stuff, the guy has every right to be an insufferable cad. A
Hollywood-bred philistine. The kind of person we'd rather not have in
our city of aloha, never mind how much cash and good publicity their
big-budget motion picture projects generate for the Islands.

But, take our word for it: We want this guy. And he wants us, which, even if he didn't look like a dream, counts for a lot.

On this day, Kim is between shooting the final few episodes of ABC's
mega-hit series "Lost" and filming the pilot for a CBS network remake
of "Hawaii Five-0" in which Kim will play Detective Chin Ho Kelly.

If the series takes off, it will be filmed here, ensuring that Kim,
his wife and two sons will be able to stay on O'ahu, where he says they
feel most at home.

Six years ago this week, Kim, 41, who was born in Busan, South Korea,
and raised in New York and Pennsylvania, arrived in Honolulu to start
work on "Lost," and hasn't wanted to leave the island since.

These are busy times for Kim, but if he's worried we're going to take
up too much time on his big-star schedule, he's not letting on. He
settles in on one of the black vinyl bar stools, elbows on the bar, eyes
alert and welcomes the onslaught of questions.

Let's start with "Lost." Did you have any idea that it was going to be as big as it is?

I've been around long enough to know that just because you're excited
about a project doesn't mean that the world is going to be excited
about the project. I was cautiously optimistic about its prospects
because I had a lot of faith in J.J. Abrams, and I thought what he was
trying to do was really ambitious.

To be honest, when I first heard about the show, I wasn't very
optimistic. It just doesn't seem like anything filmed here in Hawai'i is
ever very successful.

At the time, "Hawaii," "North Shore" and "Lost" were all filming. I
remember people saying that "Hawaii" was going to be the one show to
stay around, and others said "North Shore" was going to stay around
because it had beautiful women. No one wanted to work on "Lost." It's
kind of ironic that we're the last ones standing.

In "Lost," you play a Korean-speaking Korean. Was it daunting to have to act in a different language?

Yes. It was one of the biggest challenges of my career. Even though I
was born in Korea, English is very much my first language. I would
speak what I call "household Korean" with my parents, but nothing beyond
that. To act in Korean was a double challenge. It was daunting, but
I'm happy to say that after six years, my Korean has never been better.

And what about speaking English with a Korean accent?

That was also a challenge! Because my parents still speak with a
Korean accent, I've learned over the years to tune it out. And while
it's easy for me speak with an English accent or a French accent, it was
difficult for me to hear the Korean accent objectively so I could make
the sounds. It took some doing.

This is the final season of "Lost." Will you miss it?

Yes, of course. It was the most significant role I've ever had. It
was the project that brought me to Hawai'i. It was the project that gave
me a sense of financial security. It was the project that raised my
profile in the industry. It gave me countless blessings, and I'll always
be grateful for it.

But now "Hawaii Five-0" will start filming here, with you cast as Chin Ho Kelly. Are you a fan of the original?

It was a little bit before my time, but that theme song is so iconic,
and I do remember that famous shot of Jack Lord on the Ilikai. When
the prospect of this project first arose, I watched a few old episodes
of "Hawaii Five-0," and I realized I was watching them as a local. What
I mean by that is when they're driving their car in Makapu'u in one
shot and two seconds later they're in Diamond Head, I'm like wait a
minute! That's not right. I know now.

If you hadn't taken the "Hawaii Five-0" role, what would you have done after "Lost" wrapped?

My family and I were really trying to find a way to stay here because
we love it so much. I'm not sure what we would have done. There was a
very strong possibility that my family would have stayed here and I
would have tried to commute back and forth to L.A. looking for work.
There was also the possibility that I would have just tried to stay here
and looked for work on local movies and become a local actor. But I'm
just lucky that things turned out the way they did.

What are your feelings about the new role? Excited? Anxious?

I feel like I'm in a bit of a win-win situation. Because we wanted to
stay, and I also didn't want to lower my artistic standards, to have a
show that is written and produced by Peter Lenkov ("CSI: NY"), Alex
Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, it's almost like a blessing that dropped from
the sky. It's not only a show that's well done creatively, it also
puts Hawai'i in a really good light. The thing about "Lost" is, as much
as we celebrated shooting in Hawai'i, it was never set in Hawai'i. The
fact that "Hawaii Five-0" is actually set here, and will actually use
real locations, adds a little bit of extra authenticity.

What is it about Hawai'i that makes you and your family want to stay?

I grew up in a small town on the East Coast, and the thing I loved
about it was that kids were able to stay kids, and I think the same is
true of Honolulu. The options for an actor are generally New York and
Los Angeles, but kids grow up quick over there. I guess I'm of the
feeling that my children have their whole lives to be adults, so why
don't I let them be kids for as long as I can? - KH.

LOST & FOUND - DAMAN Magazine (cover story)

As the star of Lost, one of the most popular TV shows in the world, Korean-American actor Daniel Dae Kim (known to some as DDK), is in the prime of life. He’s the father of two boys, lives in tropical Hawaii, where he recently started a new gourmet burger restaurant, and looks especially dapper in high-fashion suits...

LOST & FOUND - DAMAN Magazine (cover story)

March 2010
By Charles Raver

As the star of Lost, one of the most popular TV shows in the world,
Korean-American actor Daniel Dae Kim (known to some as DDK), is in the
prime of life. He’s the father of two boys, lives in tropical Hawaii,
where he recently started a new gourmet burger restaurant, and looks
especially dapper in high-fashion suits.

At some point, we have all experienced it, the stomach turning,
emotional flutter accompanying a realization that you don’t know where
you are. You look around and think ‘this doesn’t look right. Where am
I?’ You are lost.

Anyone who has had to start over in a new career, a new house, a new
city or even a new country knows that emotional rush all too well.
Handling these situations and waking up a little lost are subjects in
which Daniel Dae Kim must be well versed, and not just because of his
role on TV’s
“deserted” island, time-travel phenomenon, Lost.

From a small town in Pennsylvania to New York to Hawaii, the Busan,
Korea-born actor can call many places home. Oddly enough, his response
to a question that no member of the cast of Lost can avoid, “do you have
any good real-life ‘getting lost’ stories?” is a bit comical. “The
thing that freaks me out the most (laughing) is when you wake up and for
a split second you don’t know where you are. You look around and you
think ‘this is not my room. Where am I?’ (Laughing, again) I still have
that happen to me once in a while and that utter confusion for the first
few seconds…that is something that I don’t experience in any other

Most successful actors, high-powered businessmen, and other
jet-setting types have shared this panicked experience of waking up in
an unfamiliar place. To our question of feeling lost, Daniel could have
brought up the fact that when he was less than two years old, his
parents decided to leave his birthplace in South Korea and emigrate to
the United States. He could have also talked about the subsequent move
as a gradeschooler from New York to a small industrial town, which in
those days, undoubtedly, lacked the comforts of a more diverse
demographic. More recently, he had to make the difficult decision to
uproot his own family and move to Hawaii for his role on Lost.

True to his easy-going nature, Daniel focuses on none of the
potentially harrowing stories of those moments in his life and instead
relates a universal human experience. When pointedly asked if he would
have preferred to grow up somewhere more diverse like New York or Los
Angeles, he could say nothing negative.

“You know sometimes when I was a teenager I would think ‘yeah, it
would be nice to live somewhere where I don’t feel like an outsider all
the time.’ But in retrospect, I think growing up in an area like that
gave me an extra motivation to do something with my life. So as
difficult as it was, at times, during my childhood, I don’t think that
I’d go back and do anything differently. I’m happy with where I am
today. If it would have changed the trajectory of my life, then I would
rather not do it.” The ability to take life in stride and make-do with
what you are dealt are enviable traits.

Clearly motivated by the manner and environment in which he was
raised, Daniel’s journey into acting started in college. “I was a
political science major and I had taken all of my core requirements, so I
was starting to take some electives in things that I just wanted to
explore. One of the things I took was an acting class. Once I took that
class I realized how interested I was in it. It woke something up inside
of me that made me want to explore it further.” While most of his
classmates spent a semester studying abroad in Europe, Daniel studied at
the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Connecticut. After graduating from
Haverford College with degrees in political science and acting, he
enjoyed a successful onstage career in New York and eventually went on
to earn a master’s degree in fine arts from NYU.

While many actors may not even complete a bachelor’s degree, earning a
graduate-level degree is not a path many of his contemporaries choose
to follow. “It has made me stronger as an actor; there is no question,”
Daniel continues, “for some…pursuing an advanced degree is the worst
thing they can do. For others it is the only way they can achieve their
goal.” In Daniel’s case it was more than just a means to an end.

For many young Asian people in America pressure to pursue a career in
medicine, law or science is heavy and persistent. Often their parents,
or grandparents, gave up longestablished careers as professionals to
move their families to the U.S. The Kim family was no exception and
Daniel’s career decisions certainly strained his relationship with his

Why wouldn’t two professionals be worried about their son pursuing a
career as an artist? It is hard enough to succeed in show business as a
Caucasian American; doing so as a Korean or Asian-American probably has a
success rate similar to that of winning the lottery. To appease his
parents and his own desire for a safety net, Daniel initially applied to
both law school and drama school. Consistent with his nature, and as
time and kids have a way of changing perspectives, he looks back on his
parents’ concern and harbors no grudge.

“You know, I realize now that everything they did was just out of
concern for me. So, things were tense for a little while between my
family and me. When I decided to go to graduate school and pursue my
master’s degree in acting, I think they started to change their
perspective on my career because they saw how serious I was about it. At
that point, (he chuckles) they knew that if I graduated with that
degree, I could always teach (laughing, again). So they knew I wouldn’t

Starving artist is certainly a label Daniel has never had to wear. As
acting careers often do, his started with small roles in everything
from comedies to science fiction to dramas, appearing in series such as
Seinfeld, Star Trek: Voyager, and NYPD Blue. On the big screen, his
early credits include The Jackal, For Love of the Game, Hulk, Spider-man
2, and the Academy Award-winning Crash. He has even lent his voice to a
number of video games and animated series.

His on-screen success took off in earnest as he landed a number of
recurring guest roles on shows like Angel, ER and Fox’s hit thriller 24.
Since, we have known Daniel as the conflicted,but proud and dedicated,
husband Jin-Soo Kwon on Lost. Daniel’s success has not stopped there. In
his next big-screen exploit, he works with Matt Damon on The Adjustment
Bureau, a sci-fi/ romance/coming-of-age story set to be released later
this year.

Despite his achievements, Daniel has certainly not been immune to the
limitations that Hollywood writers and executives seem to place on the
roles available to Asian actors, a topic he tackles headon. “I take a
little bit of pride in that I don’t feel like I’ve taken any roles that I
regret in terms of cultural representation. I’ve never done the
stereotypical Asian nerd or anything like that. But that’s not to say
that there isn’t that kind of dynamic in Hollywood…There is definitely a
categorization of Asian males, in particular, (pauses) what I mean to
say is though the roles might not be overtly offensive, they are
definitely secondary and exist only to serve another character. For
instance, a lot of roles that I have played have been in support of the
leads and I was there to deliver exposition. They’re not stereotypical
roles but they are representative of a ceiling that a lot of us face.”

He readily admits that these decisions are not due to racial issues,
and that any production requires supporting roles. However, the
realities of the current situation in the  industry have mainly
relegated Asian actors to these smaller roles. Aware of his position to
influence future generations of Asian artists, Daniel is hopeful that
one day the dynamics will change such that Asian-Americans “are the ones
being talked to and the ones making the decisions” in Hollywood.
Optimistic, but realistic, he goes on to say that it is up to future
generations of aspiring artists to look at their influences, the way he
did with George Takei and Bruce Lee, and think ‘wow that is someone who
looks like me, doing something really cool.’ Then, like any successful
artist, they have to find the conviction and passion to make it happen.

Passion is something Daniel must have in abundance. Even with a wife,
two young boys and an immensely popular TV show, he has found the time
to pursue other interests. Recently he managed to headline in a
production of the King and I at the Royal Albert Hall in London and open
a gourmet burger joint in Hawaii, The Counter. His reasons for both
endeavors speak to things that he cares about in life, his family, the
community that has embraced him and his craft. He describes his
restaurant as the kind of place you can take your family to get upscale
comfort food and “not break the bank.” As a classically trained actor,
the “immediacy” and “energy” of a live performance are things he finds
“irreplaceable” and has no desire to give up.

Knowing his audience, Daniel even took the time to offer some sound
advice to aspiring actors in Asia. “There are so many things beyond your
control in show business; it behooves you to do everything you can do,
to the best [of your abilities], at the things you can control. If that
means getting training, then that means get training. If that means
learning English, then that means learn English flawlessly. All of those
things that you can control that can help you get your job, your break
or your next job; you should do, without question. That way you won’t
look back and say I could have done this…I should have done this.
Sometimes it may not happen for everybody, but at least you won’t be an
obstacle in your own path.”

Interestingly, Daniel faced the opposite language barrier when he had
to relearn Korean for his role on Lost. Sharpen his language skills he
did, and for five seasons we have watched his character grow and
develop. As the sixth and final season of Lost approaches and the time
warp of TV history prepares to swallow another victim, rest assured that
Daniel Dae Kim is one standout actor who will not be disappearing
anytime soon. DA

Lost’s DDK on Which Jin He Likes Better - New York Magazine

In last week's episode of this final season of Lost, we visited a mysterious cave whose ceiling bore a numbered list of possible candidates to replace Jacob as the Island's protector...

Lost’s DDK on Which Jin He Likes Better - New York Magazine

By Mike Ryan
February 23, 2010

In last week's episode of this final season of Lost, we visited a
mysterious cave whose ceiling bore a numbered list of possible
candidates to replace Jacob as the Island's protector. One of the names
was "Kwon," though the cave rudely neglected to specify whether it was
referring to Jin-Soo Kwon or his wife, Sun-Hwa Kwon. So we phoned the
show's Daniel Dae Kim, beloved portrayer of Jin, to see if he could shed
any light. Kim also spoke with Vulture about which Jin he prefers:
2004's less likable version or the messy-haired, Island-stranded,
English-speaking one.

We said the same thing to Terry O'Quinn last week, but, hey, we missed you in last week's episode!

Oh, yeah, I don't remember not being in that episode. I could have
sworn I was supposed to be in it. I'm not sure what exactly happened. We
shot it so long ago that I can't remember whether they moved some
scenes around, which is very possible.

In the season premiere, the contrast between the laid-back,
Island-based Jin and the 2004 slick-haired, crappy-attitude-having Jin
is pretty shocking. We'd forgotten about that guy ...

Yeah: "I didn't like him ... Now I remember ... " It's actually kind
of refreshing to go back to that Jin because it does highlight the
journey that he's taken. For him to have come so far and return to it,
in a way, nostalgically, is kind of great to be able to play.

The new 2004 Locke and Hurley seem to be happy and in a
better place. The new Jin seems to be the same old guy. Or worse,
considering the last time we saw him, he was about to be interrogated by

What I would say about that is that there are little twists and turns to every character. And Jin will not be an exception.

Has any character in television history gone from more misunderstood to more beloved than Jin-Soo Kwon?

That's a good question. I think for our show, that's fair to say. The
journey he's taken from where he started in the pilot to where we are
today ... He's done a complete 180. Who knows? He might be coming back
around to do a complete 360.

In the clip released by ABC for tonight's episode,
"Lighthouse," it appears Jin forms a new alliance with Claire after she
saved him from a bear trap. Has she become the new Danielle Rousseau?

We had a bunch of scenes together and it was great to work with
Emilie [de Ravin] again. I think there are definitely elements of
Rousseau's character in her, for sure. I think you're right to pick up
on that. How far [do] those similarities go? We'll see.

Jin and Sun have been apart for two seasons now. Will we see them finally reunited at some point?

That's a really good question. I'm not sure whether the Jin and Sun
story is meant to have a happy ending or a tragic one. It could be all
tied up in a bow, like a lot of television stories are, or it could be a
Romeo and Juliet situation.

In last week's episode, "The Substitute," we see that "Kwon"
is written on the cave as a "candidate" to rule the island. Does that
refer to Jin or Sun?

If it's Jin, that means all the numbers ? all of the designees ? are
men. If it's not, then Sun would be the only woman on the list ? and I
wonder what the ramifications of that might be.

If, in the first season, you look at it from Jin's
perspective: Not only did his plane crash, but he's also surrounded by a
bunch of Americans and Australians that don't understand him ? which
makes it all the more terrifying.

That's a great point. And as I do my work as an actor, that's what I
think about: He's in a job that he hates, doing a task he doesn't want
to be doing for the woman that he loves, but the relationship is already
strained. Now he's among a bunch of strangers, he doesn't speak any
English, and he's suspicious of people already. It's kind of the
worst-case scenario for him.

Is it fun to play Jin now that he can actually communicate
with the other characters? In season one he was blamed for setting an
escape raft on fire, basically just because he was the only person who
couldn't say, "Nope, it wasn't me."

Exactly! It is liberating to be able to play different kinds of
scenes with the other actors. There's great drama to come out of a
literal misunderstanding, but, at the same time, it can be somewhat
limiting in terms of some of the dynamics you can explore.

For the first three seasons you had to play a character that,
at best, spoke very broken English. Considering English is your main
language, how great was it to play that Hurley hallucination scene in
the hatch during season two when you spoke in a perfect American accent?

I tell you, when I shot that scene, I felt like I was on a different
show [playing] a completely different character. It felt like water to a
man dying of thirst. I was thinking, Well, there's one scene I don't
have to prepare as much for as the others. Though Korean is technically
my first language, I'm more comfortable in English. So it requires more
work, on my part, to prepare all the Korean scenes.

It's nice Jin was living in 1977 for three years. It's a plausible explanation for why he speaks English so well, now.

That was a great solution on the part of the writers. After three years
he will have some working command of the language. Plausible is a
relative term on our show, but it's nice to have a feasible explanation
on how he learned English.

You're attached to the new Hawaii Five-O pilot. Unless
there's a Magnum P.I. remake in the works, that sounds like your best
shot at staying in Hawaii ...

My family has really grown to love it here. And I have a couple of
children that have established themselves over the past six years. As a
dad, I want to give them as much continuity as possible. And let's face
it: Being asked to live in paradise is not necessarily a tough call. I
also have to take care of things like my career. Maybe I'll be in a
position where I can have my cake and eat it, too.

The King and I, Royal Albert Hall - Express.Co.UK

I’VE BEEN in love with this musical ever since watching the classic 1956 film with Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner about 50 times as a child. It may be old-fashioned but The King And I is still irresistible...

The King and I, Royal Albert Hall - Express.Co.UK

Friday June 19,2009
By Julie Carpenter

I’VE BEEN in love with this musical ever since watching the classic
1956 film with Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner about 50 times as a child.
It may be old-fashioned but The King And I is still irresistible. The
story of a Victorian English governess who has come to Siam to teach the
children of an autocratic king delivers an exotic Eastern setting, an
East-meets-West culture clash, hordes of gorgeous Siamese children, a
romantic story and such sweep-you-along Rodgers and Hammerstein classics
as Getting To Know You and Shall We Dance?

....Maria Friedman as Anna bustles along nicely with ever wider hoop
skirts until she resembles a giant fondant fancy or Christmas bauble.
She is an affectionate, kind, utterly believable Anna with a soar-away
voice and just the right streak of obstinacy and independence.She is
matched by Lost star Daniel Dae Kim as the King. If the muscular Kim is
not quite as testy as Brynner, he still gives it a pretty good shot. He
looks the part (even with his full head of long hair) and delivers some
of his comic lines with perfect deadpan delivery. Their polka dance is
shot through with pleasing chemistry...

Taking On the King of Siam - BBC News Entertainment

"People think that everyone who plays this role should be bald when in fact, the king himself was not bald - it was only Yul Brynner who was bald," says actor Daniel Dae Kim...

Taking On the King of Siam - BBC News Entertainment

June 18, 2009
By Genevieve Hassan
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

"People think that everyone who plays this role should be bald when
in fact, the king himself was not bald - it was only Yul Brynner who was
bald," says actor Daniel Dae Kim. The Lost star is in London taking on
the role of the King of Siam in a £3 million production of the Rodgers
and Hammerstein classic The King and I, while his hit US TV show is on a
summer hiatus. But Kim is aware that Brynner's performance in the 1956
film adaptation became so iconic that he set the standard for all actors
who followed him.

"I am bound to be compared to other people who have played the king,
but I will bring something different to it," he says defiantly. "It
always makes me laugh that in productions of the King and I, every
single person who played the king either shaved their head or put on a
bald cap and I thought if that's not a lasting testament to the work of
one actor then I don't know what is."

Dream Role

Best known for his role as Korean-speaking character Jin Kwon in
Lost, many will be surprised to discover the 40 year old received his
acting training on the stage and has performed Shakespeare, Beckett and
Chekhov. Although he has never starred in a musical before, nor sung
professionally, the star says he chose The King and I for his London
stage debut because he missed treading the boards - and is a huge
Rodgers and Hammerstein fan.

"I was looking around for the right opportunity and this one came
along," he says. "This is a dream role - for an Asian American man there
aren't many roles that are written for us where we play royalty, where
we are leaders." Kim has been preparing to be the king for some time.
Apart from renting a karaoke room to sing his heart out on occasion, he
flew his drama school singing teacher out to Hawaii (where he lives
while filming Lost) to give him tips on vocal warm-ups - a pretty good
gig by anyone's standards. "She might have said no if it was somewhere
like Iowa," he jokes.

Lost Ending

Even though he has vast stage experience under his belt, the star
admits he still suffers from first night nerves, but hopes "with any
luck that that will be coupled with excitement and gratitude". He also
has friends and cast mates from Lost flying over from America to see one
of his only 20 appearances, which will be performed in-the-round. So no
pressure there, then. The TV series is about to enter its sixth and
final season which fans hope will explain all the mysteries behind the
island that the passengers from Oceanic Flight 815 crashed on.

As someone who was born in South Korea and moved to the US with his
family when he was aged two, Kim sees his role of Jin as a way of
connecting back to his roots.

"I've never had the chance to speak Korean to this degree in a role
before," he says, adding that he auditioned for the role speaking his
parents' native tongue. "The script is written in English - there's
someone who does the translation first and then we take the dialogue and
change it to be as colloquial as possible." With the show's producers
reliant on Kim's knowledge of Korean, the star could have a bit of fun
with what he says on screen. "I could say what I want," he says, "I
might not have a job the next day - but I could!"

So how will it all end? Does Kim know? Do the scriptwriters even know?

"They have an idea how it ends and as we get closer it obviously
needs to get more specific," Kim says without giving anything away. "I
have a general idea of some things, but this whole process is very
malleable and things change on the way - so even though I may have some
idea, it may be very different to when it comes to actually shooting."

The King and I is at the Royal Albert Hall until 28 June. Lost returns to UK TV screens in early 2010 on Sky1.

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