Not long ago, people all over the world chose the word "mother" as the most beautiful word in English. But regardless of language, a mother is no doubt the warmest and most beautiful creature in the world. The word "mother" symbolizes safety and warmth to everyone. In Korea, there is a woman who has become the role model of the present-day mothers. It's actress Go Doo-shim
. In 2004, she made the headlines by winning best actress awards from KBS and MBC for her role as a sacrificing mother in television dramas. Let's find out her own perception of what a mother should be like.
Your name is usually associated with the word "mother". And you as an actress have represented Korean mothers for a long time. When did you start playing the role of a mother?
I debuted in 1972, and have been acting for 33 years. I don't remember myself playing a single woman. I might have played the role of a single woman in a couple of dramas in the earlier days of my career. But since my first role as a mother with a child, I have been playing this role to this day. I wish I had more opportunities to play a single woman, especially when I wasn't married yet in real life.
How did you become an actress?
When I was very young, I wanted to become a movie star. Every time I watched movies in theaters, I dreamed of becoming a movie star, which seemed quite unrealistic to me back then. My older brother would often bring a cinematographer and show me movies at home. I still remember how he showed me silent movies starring Charley Chaplin. After graduating from high school, I came to Seoul at the pretext that I would cook for my brother, who was studying here. Later, I found a job at a small trade company in Seoul. As I was working there for about four years, I was in charge of multiple tasks, including accounting, contacting and secretarial job. I was so indispensable in the company it would not operate properly without me. But despite all that, I never forgot my dream of becoming an actress. So in 1972 I applied for an audition at MBC and passed it.
In your award acceptance speech in 2004, you said you wanted to thank all the mothers in the world. What kind of person was your mother?
My mother was a very ordinary woman; she was also illiterate. All her life, she worked on a farm. She had a larger-than-life and beautiful personality. Like other women in Jeju, who are known to be so independent that they prepare their own meals even when they have daughters-in-law, my mother always tried to avoid burdening her children. She was neither educated nor rich. But she lived her life happily and passed away beautifully. If I had a chance to be born again, I want to be born as the daughter of my mother again. I once told my mother, "If it is too hard for you to be my mother, then I will be reborn as your mother and take care of you in afterlife".
What kind of mother are you?
I am not that kind of a mother who sacrifices everything for her children. I feel embarrassed when my children say jokingly that I am so different from my characters, who sacrifice their all for the sake of their children in dramas. When I was starring in "Bravo, Mother", I truly admired my character because she always stayed in touch with her family. But in real life, I don't talk to my family that much. I am somewhat brusque. When I was a student, I used to chat a lot with my friends and had an outgoing personality. But after I got married and had two children while continuing my acting career, I became less talkative in real life. That is why I didn't have many opportunities to hold frank conversations with my children. But my roles in dramas have taught me that communicating with family members is very important.
You played the role of a strong-willed single mother with five or six children several times. What do you think is the ideal mother should be in our age?
If you are married and have children, you must take responsibility for your family. Even if a couple is divorced, the mother should continue to take care of her children. And if you are poor and have nowhere to live, you still have to keep the children with you, even if that means you will have to carry them on your belly. That's what a mother should be. She has to be proud of being a mother and confident about her role.
It would be too early to ask you this question. But how do you see yourself in 30 years?
In my twilight years, I would like to live in my hometown on Jeju Island, taking care of a farmland. If anyone who will still remember me as a former actress Go Doo-shim
visits me in the future, I will treat them to fresh homegrown vegetables. That's how I envision my life when I become older. I want to spend my senior years living independently close to nature, just like novelists Park Kyung-ni
and Park Wan-seo.
All Koreans seem to know that your hometown is on Jeju Island. Your love for your hometown seems to be extraordinary...
I love my mother. I love everyone who is loved by my mother and everyone who loves my mother. I also love Jeju because my mother loved it, and because it reminds me of her so much.
Your recent letter to the Buddhist nun Jiyul, who was fasting to preserve the environment in Mt. Cheonseong, touched many people's hearts after it was publicized. How did you feel when you were writing it?
We cannot exchange life for anything. Life and the environment are equally precious. Through fasting, Jiyul demonstrated that the environment and life do not exist separately, but are inextricably intertwined with each other. Life is a mother. If we embrace everything with maternity, we can solve any problem.
You are a co-head of the civic group "Ajummas (housewives) Are The Pillars Of The Nation". And you are also a co-chairwoman of the NGO "Righteous Lady & Grandmother Kim Man-deok". Do you plan to continue your social work in the future?
I wanted to support these organizations rather than be their co-heads. It is great to be able to do volunteering work, but it also costs money. I felt sorry that those groups had to raise money on their own to provide volunteering services. So I thought if I supported them, more people would join us in helping our society. It is better to live for others than solely for myself, isn't it?
One television drama producer said about Go Doo-shim
that she is as strong-willed, generous and perseverant as women-divers on Jeju Island, who stop breathing underwater in order to sustain their families' livelihoods. The character of the mother portrayed by Ko Du-sim, a Jeju-born woman, is self-sacrificing and giving. When we think of the prototype of Korean mothers, who have endured numerous hardships for the sake of their children, we feel closer to the mother impersonated by Go Doo-shim
. She moves the hearts of viewers in today's era.
Born in Jeju
Graduated from Jeju Girls' High School
Made a debut through the 5th audition on MBC in 1972
Best Supporting Actress at the 28th Asia Pacific Film Festival ("Envy")
Best Actress, KBS
Best Actress, MBC
Best Acting Award at Baeksang Arts Awards, 1993
Best Actress, SBS
Best Supporting Actress at the 3rd Korea Films Awards, 2004
Best Actress, MBC, 2004
"Seoljungmae", "The Bridle Of Love", "Dancing Gayatgo", "Deogi", "Bravo, Mother", "Hangangsu Taryeong"
"Envy", "Flagman Without A Flag", "My Mother, the Mermaid