While in South Korea for summer vacation in 1996, Kim stood in for a friend in a modeling job, thus inadvertently making her entertainment debut. Despite her inexperience in show business, she left college and subsequently appeared in a Hanbul Cosmetics commercial with the slogan "I felt his scent on a strange woman," which jump-started her career. She then appeared in a music video by Kim Hyun-cheol, and in 1997 began getting cast in supporting roles on TV but did not emerge as a star. Kim would first become well known as a film actress, debuting in the big-budget box office failure Yesterday, but going on to play a lead role as a student teacher in the unexpected hit Wet Dreams. Initially Kim had considered a singing career and successfully auditioned to join Park Joon-hyung and Park Jin-young's project mixed-gender group "GOT6" in 1997 but left the following year to pursue acting. The group then became the five-piece boy band g. o. d. Kim's identity as the anonymous female singer who was originally part of "GOT6" was only revealed by Park Joon-hyung and confirmed by Kim herself in 2015.