By Han Eun-jung
Actress Uhm Jung-hwa
is probably best known for her portrayal of leading ladies in warm-hearted feel-good romantic comedies.
Her characters are mostly successful career women who, by the time the credits come rolling, have won over the object of their affection, or in some cases, the other way around.
Just a run-through of her filmography is all it would take to figure out that no other actress has done as many films.
Um, starting off in show business in 1989 as a singer of a local television station chorus, went on to pursue an acting career on the small screen in soap operas. She also released a string of dance albums starting in the late 1990s and into the millennium. Many of her songs, which include "Paebanui Changmi", "Chodae", "Molla" and more, went on to top the local charts.
Her breakthrough performance in a feature film, after several minor roles, was her portrayal of a headstrong woman not willing to give in to commitment in "Marriage Is a Crazy Thing
", a movie that takes a looks over the traditional custom through the eyes of a modern day man and woman. It not only earned her a Best Actress Award at that year's Baeksang Arts Awards, but also secured her spot in Chungmu-ro, Seoul's equivalent of Hollywood.
And consequently, the film roles kept on coming.
The following year she joined the cast of "Singles"
, a film that circles the lives of four young single men and women living in Seoul. Um played the role of the outgoing and sexy Tong-mi, whose life takes an unexpected turn after a one-night stand with a long-time friend.
In 2004's "Mr. Handy
" she played a city girl who, after opening a dental practice in a small rural village, finds herself continuously crossing paths with the town handyman.
Playing in theaters today is "My Lovely Week
", a omnibus-style production in which she plays the role of a thirty-something psychiatrist, who sports designer outfits and enjoys fine dining, but, as the film progresses, finds herself falling for a man she had never imagined herself with: a fast-talking, macho detective.
But it is in her latest work that she brings to life a character-type she never has taken on before _ a serial killer.
The soon-to-premiere "Princess Aurora
" tells the story of Chung Sun-jong, a unhappy woman who, for a reason not revealed until the latter half of the film, goes on a bloody killing spree in the upscale neighborhood of Kangnam.
Um said at a press screening last Thursday in Seoul that while she appreciates the fact she is able to reach people through films, she had always wanted to play as many different characters as possible.
"It occurred to me at one point that I could get trapped in a certain character-type for intentions not necessarily my own", the 34-year-old actress said.
"Which is why I felt the need to go out and find roles on my own", she said adding that she went straight to the director as soon as she read the script.
, for whom this film happens to be her directorial debut, while praising Um of her many talents said, "Apart from the side that is cheerful and lovable, there is a darker one of pain, hurt and sorrow. This was Um's opportunity to show that she is no different from anyone else".
Whether her newest challenge will be received with as much enthusiasm as her past works, is up to the judgment of fans.
opens in theaters nationwide on Oct. 27.