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More Than a Pretty Face

2005/11/09 Source

Good Acting Proves More Important Than Being Traditionally 'Handsome'

By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

Local actor Jung Jae-young made his cinematic debut with the 1996 comedy film "The Adventures of Mrs. Park". He had such a minor role that if you blinked, you would have missed him. With his much-too-plain appearance, many thought him unsuited to play the leading character in a movie.

Jung continued to act in many films, but was barely noticed by moviegoers. Almost 10 years later, the 35-year-old is now one of the most welcomed actors in Chungmuro, the Korean equivalent of Hollywood, after this year's biggest hit film "Welcome to Dongmakgol".

"When I made my debut, people said I had too plain a face (to be a successful actor)", Jeong said in a recent interview with local newspaper Chosun Ilbo. "But now they say that I can play various roles because of my normal appearance".

After the success of "Welcome to Dongmakgol", where he plays a tough yet warm-hearted North Korean soldier, he is now waiting for the release of his 19th film "Wedding Campaign", in which he will take on another completely different character _ a shy 38-year-old farmer who has never had a girlfriend.

The turning point of Jeong's career came after he starred in last year's blockbuster "Silmido", in which he plays one of the prisoners who were secretly trained for a deadly mission to assassinate North Korea's leader in the late 1960s.

It was a supporting role but he put on an impressive performance, which helped him capture the leading role in the Romantic Comedy "Someone Special".

Jeong began his career as a stage actor after graduating from a college. Now, it seems that the long wait has finally paid off, but he didn't just wait for the opportunity to come to him.

Behind the perfect portrayals of all the different characters, he takes a long time to prepare to show what is hidden behind his plain appearance.

In the "dark period", as he recalls, when he was eager to act but no one seemed to need him, he set up a video camera in front of him and played various roles, which helped him develop a diversity of emotions for different characters.

However, Jeong is not the only actor proving that good acting is more important than good looks.

Behind the success of latest two romantic movies "You are my Sunshine" and "All for Love" - "My Lovely Week" stands Hwang Jung-min, who also went through the period of playing minor characters in films.

Debuting in the 2001 comedy film "Waikiki Brothers", Hwang has starred in a total of 10 movies playing various roles, including a kind and thoughtful man in "YMCA Baseball Team", a homeless person in "Road Movie", a mean lawyer in "A Good Lawyer's Wife" and a gangster in "A Bittersweet Life".

Given that five of his 10 films were screened this year, it is no doubt that he's enjoying the best time of his acting career.

Hwang may be far from the conventional handsome actor admired by teenage girls, but what helps him bring the variety of characters alive is the years of acting experience gained as a stage actor _ all boosted by a passion for acting.

As "You are my Sunshine" is based on a true story of a man who fell in love with a woman who later found out she had AIDS, he gained 15 kilograms then lost 7 kilograms in 10 days in order to realistically portray a person overwhelmed by grief and sorrow.

"It's not a big deal to gain and lose weight. What I care is whether my acting was good", Hwang told reporters in a news conference after the screening of "You are my Sunshine".

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