January 25, 2020 08:16
Jung Yu-mi has drawn praise from filmmakers and critics alike for her unique screen presence. They are praising her candor and the blank canvas she presents to slip into a range of completely different roles without bias.
Her talent seems almost sponge-like in its ability to absorb the traits of different characters. Since debuting in the short film "How to Operate a Polaroid Camera" in 2004, Jung has appeared in numerous films.
She says an actor's job is to understand the life of others even when they have not experienced it -- whether single or married, with kids or without, they must transcend time and social spheres to understand and transform themselves.
Her real breakthrough came last year, when she starred in the adaptation of Cho Nam-ju's best-selling 2016 novel "Kim Ji-young, Born in 1982." Jung received rave reviews for her delicate portrayal of the character, who endures gender bias in Korea’s patriarchal society. "Ji-young" was the most-common name given to girls born in the 1980s.
"Doing the movie didn’t require particular courage," she said. "Acting is just my job, and it was my responsibility to make the story appealing. I had to become quite single-minded to focus on the role. I'm the type of person who chooses not to dwell on things that I find difficult, and I don't want be preoccupied by anything other than my project."
What the movie taught her is that "nothing should be taken for granted" in life and that the unseen sacrifices of others need to be appreciated.
In the film, Ji-young has a 26-month-old child and quits her job to become a full-time housewife, but despite a loveable child and sweet husband, the routines of domestic life make her feel suffocated and trapped.
It made her reflect in the differences with her own life. "How did my mother raise me?" she asked herself. "Were my friends hurt by my insensitivity? I realized there were things I was oblivious to while observing the lives of others in the past."
The movie adaptation reflects subtle changes in the social climate since the time the book was written. In the book, Ji-young cries silently, but the movie character is feistier in confronting those who criticize her by asking them, "Do you know me?"
"I can't describe it exactly in words, but I think I've chosen cinematic roles that I can sympathize with rather than simply liking the story or characters."
Her fans are ardently looking forward to her next choice.
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