Jeon Ji-hyun Back in 'My Sassy Girl' Mode for TV Soap

Jeon Ji-hyun Jeon Ji-hyun

From the classic romantic comedy "My Sassy Girl" to the more recent "The Thieves," actress Jeon Ji-hyun has more than earned her acting stripes. She has now returned to the world of TV soaps for the first time in 14 years with a starring role in an SBS drama.

Reflecting on her 16-year acting career, as well as her real-life role as a housewife, she said on Monday at a press event for the drama, which began airing on Wednesday, that she feels like she has entered a new stage of her life.

"People have certain thoughts about how you're supposed to behave at a certain age, such as being more mature and getting married. My life has changed a lot in the last few years, and at some point I realized that I had become a grown-up. I think this made me feel more confident about what I'm doing and relaxed about my life," she said.

Jeon is enjoying renascent popularity in the wake of two box-office hits -- "The Thieves" in 2012 and "The Berlin File" in 2013.

But it is her comic skills that come to the fore in the new soap, a fantasy romance involving a top actress and a man who comes to Earth from another planet.

When asked whether she hesitated before accepting the role in the new soap, she said, "I've played several characters in the past that required me to show different sides of myself, or things that I'm not used to, but I was able to do it based on the confidence I got from the people around me, as well as my fans. I think now it is time for me to figure out which roles I can do best and focus on them."

Jeon debuted as a model for a fashion magazine in 1997 when she was 16 and shot to stardom in the late 1990s by appearing in several TV ads.

She became a teen idol after appearing in "Il Mare" in 2000 and "My Sassy Girl" in 2001, but in the following decade her movies received scant attention. Her career got a second wind after she married last year.

"I started acting when I was young. Sometimes I wanted to give it up, but now I want to keep doing it for a long time. After all, actors express themselves through their works. I feel like acting is my destiny," she said.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 21, 2013 08:10 KST