Mun Geun-young -- Thoughtful Beyond Her Years

      April 24, 2005 17:02

      Mun Geun-young at 18 is quickly turning into the Queen of TV Advertising. Having just signed a one-year deal with Samsung Electronics as the exclusive face of its “Anycall” cell phone, she has also just finished shooting commercials with beverage maker Lotte Chilsung. As the two brands had previously used top stars Lee Hyo-lee and Jeon Ji-hyeon, there is talk of a generational change for commercial stars. Mun is getting around W500 million for a one-year contract, roughly the same treatment as top actresses such as Choi Ji-woo.

      But she is also still a high-school student.

      In an interview with the Chosun Ilbo, Mun described the tribulations of a full work schedule and being thrown into the world of adults. That she lost two toenails shooting her latest film, “A Dancer’s Pure Love,” is only the beginning. In the film, she plays Chae-rin, a 19-year-old bride from Yeonbyeon, a primarily ethnic Korean region of China.


      Her grandfather died recently. He was unification activist Ryu Nak-jin, a former communist partisan imprisoned for 30 years after he refused to ideologically convert. “About a week before he died, he said this to me. He said I’d never be as pretty as when I used to toddle around with bananas or bread hidden under my skirt. He was in prison at the time, and forbidden private food deliveries. Frankly, I couldn’t even remember that time very well. I cried a lot. It was the same with Eun-ju (actress Lee Eun-ju, who recently committed suicide), and I’ve learned there are many things in this world I don’t know. I’ve learned that things you feel, think and see aren’t everything.”

      Mun read the eulogy at Lee Eun-ju’s funeral.


      “I’m very greedy. I want to play a vengeful woman like Lee Yeong-ae in ‘Sympathy for Lady Vengeance,’ or with the sensuality of Lee Mi-suk in ‘Scandal,’ or the coolness of Son Ye-jin in “The Eraser in My Head.” But that’s for later. I’ve made up my mind not to be hasty.”

      Senior year

      “I go to school every day at 7:15 a.m. When I finish my self-study in the evening, it’s midnight. I hadn’t missed a day until my grandfather died last week. I’m worried, though, because I might miss a lot with my movie debuting next week. I want to go to a university in Seoul to study Korean literature or history. I’m not sure if I can, though.”

      A senior at Gwangju International School, Mun takes the college entrance exam this year. She has an additional criterion for choosing films beyond those of most actresses -- they have to be shot during her vacation. She is also considering library science as a major, because her mother is a librarian.

      The right way

      She is renowned for contributing most of her earnings in entertainment to social and educational groups. She gave W300 million (US$293,000) to social welfare groups, and since last year has made four donations for a total of W100 million. She asked that the W50 million in donations made at her grandfather's funeral be spent on the unification movement, and the family sent the money to the Pan-Korean Alliance for Reunification.

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