Miss Kim: A Story of Gina Kim

By Jin Kim

Miss Kim,” which opened to a sold-out audience on its opening night, is the cathartic, autobiographical story of Gina Kim, who co-wrote and plays herself, and her journey as a survivor of sexual abuse. In the play, Kim was molested by her uncle when she was eight years old and raped in two separate instances in her twenties. The trauma is worsened by a mother she can’t talk to, debt and unsatisfying psychologists, and the resulting lack of direction in life.

“Miss Kim” first premiered in the 2010 at the New York International Fringe Festival and has now been revived for its first commercial release. The current production is funded through a combination of donations and ticket sales, and part of the proceeds go to not-for-profit organizations that help survivors of sexual abuse.

The cast masterfully creates a host of characters, quickly adding or discarding shirts, hats and other basic accessories to bring new characters to life, which is made possible by the accurate synchronizing among all the cast members and the clever lighting of David S. Goldstein, who allows the audience to effortlessly focus on specific parts of the action in the 50-seat theater stage.

The actors—led by Matthew Corozine, an acting coach on the Meisner technique—act out Kim’s narration and seem to illustrate what it would be like to get inside her head. The mood wavers from somber to funny and back to somber again in short spans, and the audience can see Kim’s thought process and life without getting emotionally involved themselves.

Photo by Susan Quinn

The writing, however, may benefit from some editing and clearer focus. There are too many events and characters at once, making the central theme not very easy to identify. Perhaps Kim could have explored the significance of her family’s Korean immigrant background more deeply and brought to light how Asian American caretakers are half as likely as members of other groups to report child sexual abuse, and much more likely to maintain the abuse a secret due to shame and a lack of awareness of available resources for victims of sexual abuse, according to a study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (Details: www.digitalcommons.unl.edu)

But Kim deserves encouragement from the community for writing and producing this play, as “Miss Kim” brings to light the current lacking response to sexual abuse and mental health issues in the Asian American community. The play not only brings the issue to light, but it has real-world effects as part of the proceeds will go toward two not-for-profit organizations helping victims of sexual abuse: the Korean American Family Service Center (KAFSC), which aims to to prevent and end domestic violence and relationship abuse through counseling, education and advocacy in the New York Tristate area, and RestoreNYC, an organization looking to restore freedom, safety and hope to foreign-born survivors of sex trafficking through long-term, holistic aftercare, and working with authorities to prosecute sex offenders.

“Miss Kim” plays in The 45th Street Theater (354 W. 45th Street – 2nd Floor) from January 19 to January 28. More information and tickets are on sale at www.misskimtheplay.com.

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