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Why Does Jin Yinji Have Nine Refrigerators At Home?

We visit her new semi-detached house in Thomson to find out.

Why Does Jin Yinji Have Nine Refrigerators At Home?
Jin Yin Ji, 71, has nine refrigerators at home to store tubs and tubs of kimchi, packets of dried scallops, and more than $10,000 worth of Korean ginseng. All photos by Ealbert Ho

8 DAYS: A few months ago, you moved out of your 6,000 sq ft bungalow where you had been living for the past 25 years to move into this three-storey semi-detached house that spans 4,000 sq ft.
Yes, it was a very difficult decision for me as I had so many good memories there. I cried so much when we moved out. I came to this decision ’cos a fortune teller told my friend out of the blue that I had to move out. This advice came at a time when I was feeling down about my acting career and I started mulling over it. In the end, we decided to heed his advice, and it happened that a buyer viewed our old house and decided to buy it almost immediately. We shifted here, and good things have been happening since. I think this new home brought me good luck! (Laughs)

We guess you are referring to your Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes win at Star Awards in April, your first after 32 years in showbiz.
Yup, I haven’t gotten any trophies before at Star Awards, but I received one after moving here (smiles). At first, I didn’t like that my unit had the number four in it, ‘cos it’s not as auspicious but I remembered that [comedian] Mark Lee loves that number. Since it’s his lucky number, I tell myself that I will be lucky as well!

You live here with your husband, son, daughter-in-law, three-and-a-half-year-old grandson and a helper. Who keeps the house clean?
As you can see, my house is very neat and tidy. I’m someone who doesn’t like clutter lying around — it not only makes me uncomfortable, it’d make my guests feel unwelcome too. We used to have two helpers but we only have one now, so I help out with the housework daily. I wasn’t that used to it initially, but these days, I see it as a form of exercise. It’s good to move around instead of sitting on the couch all day long.

What’s your relationship like with your daughter-in-law?
We’ve been living together for five years and we get along fine. I think it’s all about mutual respect. For example, my daughter-in-law doesn’t like it when I buy clothes for my grandson, so I have never bought any clothes for him since he was born four years ago. Likewise, I like to use Korean-style covers for the cushions on the sofa, and she respects that and doesn’t ask me to change them.

Which celebs do you invite to hang out at your place?
I think I was one of the first few actresses to hold gatherings and invite fellow artistes to my house. Zoe Tay, Chen Liping, Xie Shaoguang, Pan Lingling, Zheng Geping and many many more have visited my old bungalow during Chinese New Year. I’d usually make dumplings for them and they love it. My old house has a karaoke room so the younger ones would often gather there while the adults would hang out in the living and dining areas. In fact, I didn’t tell many people about my move here, but somehow the artistes found out and visited on the third day of Chinese New Year!

You have nine refrigerators at home. That’s insane.
(Guffaws) I had 11 in my old house! We didn’t move all of them over as we don’t have enough space here. My daughter-in-law is Korean and she cooks at home, so she’d import dried scallops, dried shrimps and dried fish from Korea for her broths and dishes. I don’t fly to Korea often these days, so if and when I go, I’d stock up on a lot of Korean ginseng. I have one big freezer just for that so that they won’t go bad. I’ve been keeping them for years, and I use some of them to brew alcohol. If I have to estimate the total worth of the ginseng, I think they would be more than $10,000 (chuckles).

What do the artistes say when they see that you have so many fridges?
When they come over, there’s always an abundance of food laid out on the table, so no one questions me. I think they are all more focused on the food (chuckles).

You must enjoy cooking then.
I used to cook a lot more but these days, my daughter-in-law would prepare all three meals. Sometimes, I head out to have dinner with my husband.

Your husband goes to work at his antique shop daily. What do you do at home these days then?
Most of my time now is spent taking care of my grandson. In the past, I’d wake up at 6am to exercise, but I gave that up so that I can spend a few hours with my grandson before he goes to school at 8am. Kids grow up really fast these days, so I want to spend as much time as I can with him. I speak Chinese to him, while his mum speaks Korean, so he’s effectively trilingual. He can speak English, Korean and Chinese — I’m so proud of him! (Laughs)

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