Actress charms with idealism, intellectStar actress Moon Geun-young is not your average 18-year-old living in the 21st century. She isn’t cell phone savvy or chatty online, but instead reads classic literature from the Joseon Dynasty. Just listen to this iconic figure on the Korean movie scene with her trademark sparkling eyes.
“Such classic literature is maudlin,” she says. “It carries more weight even when talking about the same love. That was a time when you could not easily show your heart to others, right? There was no e-mail, no messenger, nothing, which makes all the difference,” Ms. Moon says.
Even her speech is different in that she articulates every syllable in a respectful way. Ms. Moon is also far from having sex appeal, which seems to be a sure-fire quality of today’s Korean entertainment scene, considering the phenomenal success of another iconic star, Lee Hyo-lee.
But the public, especially teenagers, still goes crazy over Ms. Moon. And she’s not just popular but also critically acclaimed. Critics do not hesitate to call her the future movie scene queen, which is now void of big time actresses.
Ms. Moon also made quite a name not only on screen but also as a philanthropist, as the news of her charity got out last year. But Ms. Moon, however, just smiles shyly and plays down her contributions, saying that they are not as significant as people say.
It’s not that she does not appreciate people’s attention. From TV appearances that made her famous to her latest film “Dancer-ui Sunjeong” (Pure Love of a Dancer) opening this Friday, Ms. Moon has quite a lot of ambition as an actress.
And the ambition has never changed since she badgered her mother in 1997 to send her to acting classes. Her mother, who is a librarian, eventually resolved the situation by setting a condition.
“Okay, if Kim Dae-jung is elected president,” the mother said.
And that was exactly what happened in the 1997 presidential election, and now Ms. Moon is called one of the most promising young actresses. After making her first appearance on a TV show, she was picked by a TV producer to star in dramas and then was scouted for movies.
In the new film, Ms. Moon stars as Chae-rin, an ethnic Korean girl who came to Seoul from Yanbian, China, to chase a Korean dream. Life is not easy for an illegal alien, but when she enters the world of dancing, things start to change, and she finds her true love. The film may be nothing but another romantic comedy, but if you’re a fan of Ms. Moon, it’s still worth seeing. She is the film’s vehicle, who shows versatility with dancing talent and pulls off a Yanbian accent.
To learn dancing, Ms. Moon spent months in training and ending up losing three toenails, but now she’s an expert in Latin dance, from the samba to the rumba. But dancing is not the only skill she learned.
“I got familiar with the genre of movies from ‘A Tale of Two Sisters,’ followed by ‘My Little Bride,’ where I learned how to act with my heart,” she says. “In ‘Pure Love of a Dancer,’ I learned how to act with a brain.”
She still has a lot to learn, however, to fulfill her big ambitions, which include a dream to star in musicals someday. She knows she has to make a lot of effort. Her attitude makes her more mature than her age.
Ms. Moon, however, is only 18 years old, and she still believes in many ideals. When asked if she believes in true love, Ms. Moon does not hesitate in saying, “I do.”
Ms. Moon says her ideal type would be someone with a pretty smile. When asked to show anger in front of the camera, she still has a trace of a smile, and many people are falling in love with that smile.
by Park Jeong-ho, Chun Su-jin