Ironically, a certain similarity runs between the two utterly different characters of a seedy tearoom waitress and a gorgeous daughter of the president when played by Jeon Do-youn, one of the nation's most bankable actresses.
In the two contrasting characters, viewers discover a similar naive and fragile soul which seems to speak for itself. The 32-year-old actress fills up every role she takes with the same honest soul, giving life to the fictional characters.
Thanks to the nation's acting queen, director Park Jin-pyo
's movie "You are my Sunshine
" and the SBS weekend primetime drama "Lovers in Prague
" are overwhelmingly popular simultaneously. The movie is currently a No. 1 box-office hit, filling 917,000 seats in the first week of release, and the drama is also enjoying a commanding popularity with an over 20 percent viewer rating in its first week.
In "You are my Sunshine
", Jeon plays the role of a pitiful tearoom waitress who is also a sex worker. The waitress moves to a rural area away from Seoul to escape her abusive husband, and later falls in love with a farmer who showers her with love and gives her new hope. But as the cruelty of life flows, she is faced with the fact that she is infected with HIV, and her new love turns into another despair.
From the hardened woman, Jeon manages to bring out a fragile soul which arouses the viewers' sympathy. When played by Jeon, the woman is no longer just a pitiful sex worker, but instead, becomes a vulnerable - and perhaps even humdrum - woman with a lust for love and affection.
The same effect occurs in the TV drama "Lovers in Prague
", when Jeon turns the charming daughter of the nation's most powerful man into a clumsy woman who likes eating junk food on the streets like every young Korean woman. From this character that appears to have everything - wealth, fame and beauty - Jeon manages again to bring out a soul of a naive and ordinary woman who has a lust for love like everyone else.
When a first love announces that he is leaving her, the "superwoman" replies "So, does this mean I'm being dumped?" without much feeling. But through Jeon's acting, viewers can see how much hurt the character is holding back in those numb words.
It is rare for a movie and a drama with the same leading actor or actress to become major hits at the same time. And often, actors and actresses avoid such cases, due to the risk of confusing audiences.
But Jeon managed to pull both roles off perfectly without causing any confusion.
While presenting lifelike acting for two completely different characters, Jeon never fails to turn the roles into her own, by blowing her own soul into each character.
When Jeon made her debut in the campus romantic drama "Our Heaven" in 1992, she was recognized as "just another" young and charming actress who arrived in TV land.
But since the 1997 movie "Contact", Jeon is considered by producers to have established herself as one of Korea's most-wanted actresses for the big screen.
Unlike other popular actresses who often face setbacks after a few major hits, Jeon's acting career has been a string of successes with hits like " The Harmonium in My Memory
" and "Happy End"
Jeon is regarded as an actress who has a "perspective-view" for choosing the right roles that can be best acted by her. And after making a choice, Jeon immediately pours all of her passion into the role.
"Often, it's hard to get back to real life after I finish a movie or a drama, because I truly believe that I am the character while the shooting is in process", Jeon once said in an interview with a local monthly magazine. "It's a bit like suffering from a broken heart, seeing from a fact that I always end up mourning over the characters as if they had been my lovers".
While acting, Jeon chooses to remain an "ordinary" person you expect to find on the streets, unlike other actresses who often strive to stand out from other people. Thus to women, Jeon is someone they could never hate or be jealous of, and to men, she becomes a symbol of an ordinary but lovable woman whom they hope to meet in real life one day.
Jeon's major power on the screen and TV was evidently not formed in one day. The actress' continuous efforts to develop a "sixth sense" for the right roles and to grasp viewers' expectations appears to have brought her the current success.
By Shin Hae-in