His slow walk, humble fashion, gracious face and intellectual speech... His subtle charisma instantly disarms and infatuates people around him. Where does this ability come from? Here's the story of Jun Moo-song
, a veteran actor with a 40 year acting career.
Dream of sailor turns to acting
Jeon was born in Haeju, Hwanghae province in 1941 and was raised in Incheon, Gyeonggi province.
He played baseball in elementary school and the clarinet in a band in high school. But he fell in love with theater after watching Hamlet while in high school. He learned acting from the well known Mr. Yoo Chi-jin and debuted in 1964 in the traditional Korean play 'Chunhyang
'. He was in the first graduation class of a drama center academy that was the predecessor of the Seoul Institute of the Arts. Well-known veteran actors such as Shin Gu, Lee Ho-jae
and Ban Hyo-jung
were his school colleagues, and he's particularly close with Lee.
His childhood dream was to become a sailor as he spent his early years in the port city of Incheon. He believed as a child the ocean was the most splendid place to be. He wanted to join the Naval Academy but he failed the eyesight test. Fated or not, he instead went into acting. In retrospect, he did often go to the movies during his high school years when he attended the Incheon Electronic Technical High School. He was recognized for his talented acting in numerous plays including 'Death of a Salesman' and 'Waiting for Godot'. He is currently the art director of the Gyeonggi provincial drama company and focused on fostering junior talent.
His family his firm supporters
Jeon went through a great deal of suffering in the early years, which his wife also shared. In financial straits, she sold their piano and other precious wedding gifts to make ends meet. After 20 years of acting, Jeon shot his first film 'Mandara'. Financial difficulties began to ease as he started a career in broadcasting. And in 1981, when he was 40, he received the New Actor and the Best Supporting Actor awards at the Daejong film festival for his performance in Mandara. He soon became popular.
But whenever he made money on TV and in films he always went back to the stage. In 2005, he received the Lee Hae-rang drama award, usually given to producers and not actors. His suffering was only regarding finance. Hunger paled in comparison to the search for his inner heart. Maybe he has found the answer, as he now looks at ease on stage.
What he never let go in his busy acting life was his trust and love for his family. He says his family is his number one sponsor. Typically, stage actors tend to pay less attention to their families because they're extremely busy and use up all energy on stage. But Jeon is different. The actor--from head to toe--completely changes when he comes home. He is kind, responsible and still receives pocket money from his wife. He discusses the smallest problems with her and their children and respects their opinion. His son Jin-woo, a stage director, says he hasn't once been whipped or scolded by father, who respects his opinion at all time. All he said when his son and daughter also hoped to work in theater was, "If you're going to do it, do it well", which was as stern of advice as he ever gave. The tightly-knit family gathers and chitchats before a practice or rehearsal. The daughter takes her father's arm and still likes to play around.
A person before an actor
Jeon still bears in mind the advice his teacher Yoo gave him when he was young. He was told to become the dandelion seed of the drama world, and to above all first become a respectable person. While active on TV and the silver screen, Jeon does at least one or two stage productions every year. He asks himself if he has lived up to Yoo's request. He may find the answer through the staging of the Death of a Salesman prepared by the Gyeonggi provincial drama company. He played Willy Loman in the play for the first time in 1984 when he was in his 40s. He will again play the father character, this time while he is Willy's real age.
Anyone can try their hand at acting but to be remembered as a true actor is a tough call. A few awards can't fully reflect Jeon's delicate and sophisticated acting. To experience his stage presence may be the only way to reveal his true talent.