September 26, 2009 08:14
In the film "Closer to Heaven," there is a scene where actor Kim Myung-min, who played the role of a patient suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, weighs himself. The scales point to 51.6 kg, and that figure was not retouched but was Kim's actual weight. The 37-year-old actor says he now weighs 61 kg after "much recovery." After a "full recovery," he will be 72 to 73 kg.
Kim's cheeks were still visibly sunken when the interview took place on Tuesday. The legs sustaining his 180 cm-tall frame were as thin as those of a female supermodel. How did he manage to shed over 20 kg? "I ate vegetables and tofu only. When that didn't work, I didn't eat at all and only drank water," he says. "Shooting began on Feb. 10, so I had the last rice meal on Feb. 9, and until May 25, I never had any carbohydrate in my diet."
Asked if he could have resorted to an exercise regime instead of starving himself, Kim says, "ALS patients lose muscle. I couldn't exercise, because if I did, I might lose weight but I'd gain muscle."
Is it possible to lead a normal life when you are starving? "I intentionally drew the curtains in my hotel room in Busan [where the film is set], and kept the room dark. I couldn't sleep because I was so hungry. I spent most of my free time lying on my bed, watching movies, listening to music or shopping online with my laptop," he says.
Kim twice fainted in the shower. When the hot water touched his body, which had become extremely sensitive, the veins expanded and he fainted. Why did he have to go such extremes? "I wasn't confident to play the role of a patient with Lou Gehrig's disease and meet audiences on the screen if I didn't feel like one," he says. "It would have been very unnatural if I played the role without losing weight."
When he was offered the part, Kim initially "turned it down and ran away." "It wasn't a role that I took up because I was ambitious. There are roles that you get to do inevitably against your will, and there are roles that you can't do even though you desperately want them," he says.
Kim has not decided what his next project will be. "It would be irresponsible for me to ink a deal when I'm not 100 percent physically sound."
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