Kim Sun-a returns to small screen as prosecutor in ‘The Empire’

By Lee Gyu-lee

Actress Kim Sun-a is returning to the small screen as a privileged, high-class prosecutor in JTBC’s new legal crime series, “The Empire,” set to air on Saturday. Her last appearance in a TV drama was in the 2019 SBS drama series, “Secret Boutique.”

“The series’ script is written by actual lawyers. So when I first got the script, I found it was very realistic and had the details only people in the legal world would know. I learned that (the script) came after years of development and effort,” Kim said during an online press conference for the series, Thursday.

Led by director Yoo Hyun-ki, who helmed the 2018 rom-com “Matrimonial Chaos” and the 2011 medical series “Brain,” the new series follows the scandal and dark secrets of a wealthy, privileged family with a deep law background.

Kim plays the daughter of the family, Han Hye-ryool, who leads a special investigation team at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. Her whole family works in the legal field ― a law professor mother, a lawyer father, who runs the biggest law firm in Korea, and a law professor husband Na Geun-woo (Ahn Jae-wook) who is a potential presidential candidate.

Despite Kim’s background, she has always felt the pressure to meet up to her family’s high standards and wanted to break free.

Kim, who has never played a prosecutor in her previous works, said that she found herself being more drawn to the series as the script unfolded.

“The biggest reason (I took the role) is the script … The overall sentiment (of the series) was very unique. Reading from the first episode to the second and then to the third, I would have more questions (on the story),” she said. “It was very intense but I would get so curious about what happens next. I fell for the thrill that the series gave. It has amazing, cliffhanger endings.”

Kim said that she had a hard time memorizing the legal terms for the series.

“The legal jargon is difficult. So I just kept practicing by reading, memorizing and repeating. I read the script so many times. I feel like I’ve studied harder than I did in school,” she said.

Aside from Kim and Ahn, the series also stars a number of veteran actors Shin Goo, Lee Mi-sook, and Song Young-chang, as Hye-ryool’s family.

She said that working with them has encouraged her to put more effort into portraying her character.

“I came to work with these senior actors whom I used to watch on TV growing up. And seeing them working so hard (in making the scenes), I just had to work harder and would think that to myself every day,” she said.

“The Empire” airs Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 p.m. on JTBC.

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