has remained on top by playing diverse roles, including the roles of intelligent middle-aged urban women and completely illiterate old ladies in rural villages. It has been 43 years since she started her distinguished acting career. She continues to maintain her vitality in acting ever since she started acting in the early days of TV dramas until now, accumulating over 40 years of experience. What is the source of her energy?
In TV dramas, you mostly played the roles of cold-hearted ladies in rich families, or mothers with strong personalities. What is your real personality like?
As I examine myself, I can see coldness in my facial expression. But I easily break into tears in contrast to my stern countenance. When I had arguments with my friends as a young girl, I could not say anything because I burst into tears first. After I came back home, I would reflect that I could have beaten my friend in the argument if I had not cried. I was that kind of girl.
I still tend to weep a lot. If someone says something negative to me, I will cry. I probably have weak personality. Still, I play roles of vicious people ? I often wonder why myself.
You started a new drama, right?
I will star in a new KBS mini series entitled "Loveholic
" which will start airing on May 2. As the title says, it is a story about four men and women who are crazy for love. Singer Kangta plays the hero. I play his grandmother, who raises her grandson alone after he lost his father a long time ago.
You played the role of a grandmother more than any other role, despite your actual age. What is the percentage of your roles in which you portrayed a grandmother?
I would say about 50 percent. Strangely, I played grandmother roles on TV since I was very young. I starred in many movies in the 1960s and 1970s, and at that time I more often played the roles of sexy young ladies. Looking at my current image, you might expect I never did any kissing scenes, but I can tell you that I performed kissing scenes with late actor Park Noh-shik.
What is the age of the oldest person you portrayed during your acting career?
I starred in a drama called "Gannanni" in 1983 in which I played an 80-year-old lady while I was in my late 30s. I agonized over how I could look older at that time. You know many grandmothers in rural villages have lost their teeth or had them become black stubs due to cavities. I closely studied them, and made myself up to look like them.
Nowadays, we have good makeup techniques, but at that time makeup techniques were not well developed. So I colored my teeth with a black marker, and I really looked as if I had lost my teeth on a TV screen. Whenever we began shooting, I would mark my teeth in black, and erase it afterwards, and mark them again for the next shooting.
How do you prepare your acting when you play the role of, say, an 80 year old lady, who is much older than you actually are?
When I play the role of a character, I study someone among the people around me who is similar in personality to that character. I continuously study how she speaks and behaves. When I took the role of the 80-year-old lady, I examined old ladies passing by. I checked how they walked, what kind of shoes they were wearing, and how they moved their hands. Just as professors do studies at laboratories, we collect information and materials and study for acting this way.
Do you remember your first work?
The work was entitled "When the Day Comes", and it was a special drama to celebrate Independence Day on August 15. It was a portfolio work which my colleagues and I, who had become actors and actresses through the first KBS public audition, created after completing a training course. The screenplay was written by Director Jeong So-young
, and directed by Hwang Eun-jin, who has since passed away. All of the 26 actors and actresses involved played heroes and heroines. I played the female leader of a village. The character was about in her mid-40s. I think I played her role pretty well although I was only 21 back then.
You made your debut through the first KBS public audition to recruit actors and actresses. What made you to become an actress?
I didn't know how he got the information, but one day my father told me "Hyeseon, KBS is holding an audition to recruit new actors and actresses". Then he himself bought me new clothes, and took me to a radio broadcasting company in Namsan. Not many people knew about TV back then, but over 23,000 people applied for the audition. KBS selected 26 of them and I managed to pass three rounds of testing, and have been acting until now. It was 1961, and it has been already 43 years since I became an actress.
You seem to have been quite talented when you were very young, considering your father took you to the audition in person?
I think I was talented somewhat in arts and entertainment when I was young. My original name is Young-ja. If grownups asked me, "Youngja, why don't you sing a song", I would sing a song without hesitation. I was young but I sang pretty well, and used to be selected as a contestant for student art contests. I studied public speech when I was a middle and high school student.
As your father saw you appearing on TV, he must have been very happy.
Unfortunately, he did not watch me on TV for long because he passed away at a young age. He did not see me playing a heroine, and only saw me playing smaller roles as a supporting actress before he passed away.
For an actress, you married at a very young age, right?
My marriage is the biggest failure in my life. I got married with an actor who was my colleague when I was in my early 20s. We had one son and two daughters, and I got a divorce after 11 years of marriage. My husband was seeing another woman. I had my performance earnings seized because my husband had incurred a huge debt after failing in his business. So I paid back all his debt over five to six years, and then signed a form to file for divorce. Before getting a divorce, I lived separately from my husband for a couple of years, and I only thought I would be happier if I got a divorce at that time. I did not know much about life and marriage at that time because I was only in my early 30s. I was not mature enough. As I was walking away from my husband after signing the divorce form at a ward office, I felt like I was walking aimlessly in a daze; I felt like I was walking in zero gravity for the first time.
How did the pain from your divorce affect your acting career?
It was very helpful. When I play the role of a mother who raises children alone after getting divorce, I feel really moved. I think an actor or actress need to have mental suffering in their heart. Without knowing pain, an actress cannot play a role properly. We cannot play the roles of good and happy characters all the time. I always ask my younger colleagues to fall in love. I told them if they don't fall in love, they cannot perform well. As I examine my younger colleagues, I find their acting matures further after they get married.
Is there any type of character you have not played so far?
What I feel most proud is that I played many different roles in dramas and movies, not to mention the huge wealth gap of the characters I played in the works. I have played all different characters ranging from the most underprivileged person to a queen.
I was told you do good things for society extensively.
I always try to participate in volunteer activities organized by the actors and actresses' association, including medical services and activities to support farmers in rural villages. I also a member of other charity organizations and participate in their activities. I am also donating a small fund to a fashion school for scholarships. I will try to do more of these activities in the future.
Finally, what kind of an actress do you want to be remembered as by viewers?
I want to be remembered as an exemplary actress who was respected by everyone in all aspects, including my private life as well as my acting.
She chose to become an actress because that's what she really wanted. She has been loved and highly sought after by many people watching her acting, because she loves what she does so much. She is a truly happy person as an actress because she is loved by her colleagues as well, both old and young. "
Somebody made this remark about Jeong Hye-seon
. Jeong Hye-seon
has become a fulfilled as an actress because she underwent her own time of suffering and pain which she effectively overcame through acting. That is the reason her tears are all the more precious.
Born in Seoul in 1942
Made debut as voice actress with KBS Daejeon Radio in 1960
Make debut as an actress through the first KBS public audition in 1961
Best acting award of the first Korea Broadcasting Awards in 1973
Acting award of Baeksang Arts Awards in 1983
Acting award of Baeksang Arts Awards in 1993
Acting award of Baeksang Arts Awards in 1994 and many other awards
TV- Some 400 works including "KBS Nonfiction Theater", "The Third Area", "Gannanni", "Son and Daughter", "Blue Fog", "Perfect Love"
Movies and plays ? "A Woman Who Walk on the Water", "The Sun Shines Now", "We Dirty Mob (Nonsense)", "Hamlet", "Sound of Music", "Glass Zoo", etc.