'Dancing Queen' Uhm Returns to Screen After Thyroid Surgery

Singer and actress Uhm Jung-hwa returns to the silver screen with the movie "Dancing Queen," in which she plays a tough aerobics teacher. Uhm plays a woman who had to abandon her dream of becoming a singer after marrying her elementary school sweetheart, who turns out to be a dud as a husband.

As the film features numerous dancing and singing scenes, critics said it hardly represented a test of Uhm’s talent and must have been a walk in the park for her. The actress said this was why she had hesitated before accepting the role, lest audiences assume there was no difference between the actress and the role she inhabited. Accepting this as a challenge, she said she dug deeper into the character to wring out a stronger performance.

Uhm Jung-hwa Uhm Jung-hwa

Uhm debuted in show business in 1993 and still remains popular two decades later. Approaching her mid-40s, she still gives idol groups a run for their money as a singer, while also commanding leading roles in dramas and movies as an actress.

"As I didn’t have any role models when I was younger, I remember thinking, 'So why not becoming a role model myself?'" she said. "Some younger actors say in interviews that they want to follow my example. So I seem to have achieved [what I intended to do, to a certain degree]," she said.

"You can't avoid getting older, so you don't need to lose confidence in yourself simply because of your age. Instead, it seems better to think about how you can lead a more wonderful life."

Although she usually plays women with strong characters, she considers herself a timid person. "Whenever I complete a project, I often find myself filled with regrets and worries," she added.

She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer but fully recovered after surgery last May. Uhm said she felt a little afraid leading up to the surgery, but rather than being discouraged by the pain she was experiencing, she made up her mind to dedicate herself to helping others by inspiring them.

"I want to use my talent and influence in a meaningful way," she said.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 14, 2012 08:15 KST