CULTURE

Alan Kim, the Breakout Star of Minari, Came Here to Play

by Lynn Hirschberg
Photographed by Juergen Teller
Creative Partner: Dovile Drizyte
Styled by Sara Moonves

Alan Kim wears a Burberry sweater; Gucci pants; Vans sneakers.
Alan Kim wears a Burberry sweater; Gucci pants; Vans sneakers.

There was no way the pandemic was going to keep Alan Kim from becoming a star. Kim was just 7 when he joined the cast of Minari—studying lines in both Korean and English to play David, the youngest member of a South Korean family that moves to a small farm in 1980s Arkansas. Many of his scenes are with David’s grandmother (Yuh-jung Youn), and their chemistry is a large part of why Minari is making such a splash this awards season. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Kim is simply adorable. For W’s annual Best Performances issue, the third-grader shares his experience at the Sundance Film Festival and hints at his future.

Did you have to audition for Minari?

Yes. I did some of the lines—like, I didn’t want to drink the medicine that the grandma gave me, and some other parts that I can’t remember.

Was it easy to go back and forth from Korean to English in the film?

Kind of. Korean was my first language. And then English.

Do you dream in English or Korean?

English.

Where did you film Minari?

In Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’m never going there in the summer again because it's way too hot.

Was acting something that you were always thinking about?

I was kind of planning it, but I didn’t know it would go this far.

Did you go to the Sundance Film Festival?

Yes, it was really fun. When we were done watching Minari and doing the Q&A, we would play in the snow or watch TV and drink hot chocolate.

Are you planning to stick with acting?

Yes.

Do you have a favorite actor?

I like Sonic the Hedgehog.

What about a favorite song?

“Sugar,” by Macaroon 5.

By Maroon 5?

Yeah.

What was your favorite birthday?

The one where I got a hoverboard, because I just liked it so much. It’s not scary. I've fallen only, like, once or twice.

Kim wears a Gucci jacket and pants; Vans sneakers.

Hair by Bryce Scarlett for Moroccan Oil at the Wall Group; makeup by Emi Kaneko for Fenty Beauty at Bryant Artists; manicure by Michelle Saunders. Produced by Emanuele Mascioni at MAI USA Inc.; local producers: Wes Olson and Meghan Gallagher at Connect the Dots; local production manager: Jane Oh at Connect the Dots; photo assistant: Trevor Pikhart; digital technician: Brad Lansill; retouching: Catalin Plesa at QuickFix; special projects editor: Allia Alliata di Montereale; fashion assistants: Sophia Martin, Alex Assil, Tara Boyette, India Reed, Abigail Jones; production assistants: Cameron King, Jeremy Sinclair, Alison Yardley, Kein Milledge; hair assistant: Christopher Farmer; makeup assistant: Rose Grace; tailor: Irina Tshartaryan at Susie’s Custom Designs, Inc.