Jiyoung, a former member of Korean girl group Kara, will make her movie debut in Eiichiro Hasumi's "Ansatsu Kyoshitsu" ("Assassination Classroom"), which opens in local theaters March 21.

Based on Yusei Matsui's popular manga series of the same name, the film is a bizarre, humorous story about a skillful octopus-like teacher who trains students to kill him in order to save the world. Jiyoung (real name Kang Ji-young) plays Irina "Bitch-sensei" Jelavic — a Russian assassin working undercover as an English teacher.

"It was a lot of fun playing such a sexy character," Jiyoung tells The Japan Times. "You could say I had that kind of role before when I was singing on stage, but it's my first time as an actress so I felt a lot of pressure going into it. Once the cameras start rolling, though, you forget the nerves and just perform to the best of your ability," she says.

"It's the kind of part I've always wanted: someone really strong and seductive. I just wish she had some fighting scenes, as I've been taking action-stunt lessons and that is something I would love to do more of in the future."

Jiyoung is determined to step out of Kara's shadow and become a well-respected actress in her own right. She has already appeared in two Japanese TV dramas and last year traveled to London to study at an acting school.

"It's not easy doing this job in a foreign language, but I enjoy a challenge," she says with a smile. "I've been working really hard to improve my Japanese. I'm also learning English because I want to work in Hollywood in the future. It's a big dream, but I think it's possible."