[July 2015 – Elle] Uhm Jung Hwa – Miss Diva – Interview

Elle - Uhm Jung Hwa

How do you feel when you get called a diva? It doesn’t really hit home. On the contrary, it makes me wonder when I ever acted like a diva and reflect on myself. It makes me certain that I receive a lot of love as a singer, though.

It might be because the nuance behind the word, but you must feel some pride about having a diva career.
Indeed. It’s cllearly a nickname that means that I managed to create performances people remember. When I watch music programs or when I go to a music festival, instead of having some expectations like “this is where I belong”, “what would it feel like to be back on stage?”, I think to myself “how to renew my style now that I’ve reached this point”.

When were your golden days as a diva? I think it was the best when I was promoting “I Don’t Know” and “Poison” (smiles).

I saw on Instagram that you went to the Seoul Jazz Festival. You really don’t let go of music! I want to have a close feel of this music sense. I think being around musicians is a way not to forget who I am. Sergio Mendes’ performance at this year’s Seoul Jazz Festival was really great.

I heard you had thyroid problem. Is your throat okay? It’s getting better. However, it’s an issue I must deal with if I want to sing. When I’m tired, my voice fails me, but I am preparing a new album.

You released your first album in 1993 which was also the year you debuted with the movie “On a Windy Day We Must Go to Apgujeong”. It’s rare to find people who started a singing career and an acting career at the same time and who manage to maintain a balance between the two for so long. However, my last album was “Disco” and it was released in 2008. I had personal issues meanwhile and I wasn’t able to promote my album like I wanted to. There’s not even concrete plan about when the album I’m preparing right now will be released, but the fact itself of working on a new album makes me happy.

I had some vague expectation when I was watching the “ToToGa” special of “Infinite Challenge”. Preparations had been going on since last year and I was able to stand on the “ToToGa” stage.

What was nice about “ToToGa” was how it wasn’t just about the enthusiastic support of people in their mid or late 30’s. The young generation also liked it. It was thrilling. Being able to make another generation feel what another generation felt before. When I watch old Korean movies, I get the feeling that they’re like European movies. Emotion-wise. Movies like to “Going To Geneva Now” or “Deep Blue Night” in which Jang Mi Hee starred in are really awesome. The stories are refined and the outfits are beautiful.

That reminds me of the “Denim on Denim Fashion” which is quite trendy these days. I truly had no idea bootcut denim jeans like this would be the trend again. In my life.

Somehow I feel like you’ve been living while staying alert. I’ve constantly taken care of myself because I’ve worked without taking a break. I’ve lived being stressed about my body and my health because I’m compared to my peers. In the past, I would go “I must definitely do this”, but nowadays I actually enjoy exercising and taking care of myself. On the contrary, I’m cautious about getting an inferiority complex like “my peers”, “my age”. I think it’s dangereous to get confined in the thought “I must be like this at this age”. Not being consumed and pressured by things like “can I play this role at this age?” or “is it okay for me to wear this item?”. This is how I’ve been living these days without caring about things like this.

This year, I challenged myself by running a 10-km marathon for the first time. How was it? I want to try it too! You’re Nike?

Yes. I realized how true it was that exercising can be a blast. Oh, I feel the same. I’m able to enjoy the happiness my daily life gives me. I’m even thankful and find precious the time spent waiting for a movie to premiere. I do wonder why I changed like this, though (smiles).

I hear that you also enjoy waiting for the August premiere of “Miss Wife”. This movie title is very French-like. Really? We did right, then (smiles). My previous movie was “Montage”. It was a heavy movie. I was thinking that I was hoping to do a lighter project after that one and I came across this project. It was a heart-warming theme and it’s a genre that I was sure I could be good at. It’s meaningful because I was able to experience for a while the emotions a single woman can’t feel.

The movie is about Yeon Woo who is a successful lawyer with no interest in men or marriage and she ends up in a life or death situation and has no choice but to live as a housewife for a month. This woman will be given the choice then, right? She should be given the choice, right (smiles)? You know, there are times when a wall discreetly starts cracking and water starts leaking and the wall just collapses. Yeon Woo runs against the wall called “success”. As she’s confronted to emotions she had never imagined having a family can give, her heart wall starts collapsing. You know how sometimes you don’t make plans or you don’t care because it’s an emotion you don’t know. I think that’s what happened to Yeon Woo.

Have you built your own acting direction through the years? It’s about me wanting to become the character in the project or the story I’m offered. I enjoy mingling with the characters in the story, being confronted to them.

I think you must have also your way to hold out your hand when you meet someone different from you. I like actors. It’s nice to meet in characters and get along with your partner. Rejection can happen when there’s subtle tension, but shooting a movie is something you can do as you talk about it. I like opening my heart to my partner. Even if I get hurt, I think opening my heart is better.

As I’m working on an issue each month, I promise to myself “I must love” doing this interview this month too. It’s a genuine meaning different from this one. More than thinking “I must love it”, it’s just about liking it. Being an actor is like gaining experience as you live your life. Through different roles, you gain experience too. Of course, these are the memories of life. I spend about two months preparing for a role. If filming takes three to four months, the whole project takes about five to six months. If you don’t sincerely take this time into consideration, I don’t have much time left for my life. If you take away the time spent for my job, my youth vanishes in the time of the day. I like acting and I’m sincere in what I do which is equal to loving life for me. I enjoy my daily life and it’s a similar context to feel happy in this situation..

Like Yeon Woo who got through a life reversal, did you also go through a turning point that made your change your approach about life? I did at some point. I don’t know if it was around when I turned 40. I can’t remember exactly. I don’t know. I think there are emotions in life I’m approaching quite naturally. One of them is worrying less than before. I mean except for problems like “ah, what should be my next project?” (smiles).

Still the age of 40 is an important quarter. Until I turned 37 or 38, I thought there would be nothing for me to do once I’d turn 40. That’s why I released the album “Disco”. I felt like I had to do everything before I reached 40, like I had to start preparing my retirement. I think I was a bit uncertain about my future as an actress. However, given time, I actually passed this moment and I’m living just fine today (smiles). While working constantly. I sincerely hope I won’t face any wavering moment in my acting career because I think I can do even better now.

Have you ever thought that you wanted to quit? I have no hope that there’s another job that I would enjoy and like more than what I do. Sometimes, I even like my job more than who I’m dating. I don’t know why I like it. It’s a lot of pain, distress and worries. I don’t know if it’d be accurate to call it my ultimate dream, but I had two dreams ever since I was a kid. Acting and singing.

Is it because what you’re doing is giving you a great sense of accomplishement? Clearly, there’s a sense of accomplishement. However, here’s what I think. If a movie or drama I do or each song I release failed, would I have been able to like this job? I think I would have been very unhappy.

Were you born with great luck or is because of your efforts? It’s true that I made efforts, but I think I’m really lucky. However, I’m aware that I’m a late bloomer compared to others.

Is there something you always want to show us? No matter what the story is, I hope I’ll be able to show a truthful image. Because people will be able to relate it and not because it’s forced. Any actor feels this way. Being natural in their acting because they own it and not because something is very funny or because they create a character. This is what’s important.

Translation: @thesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Rob says:

    Uhm Jung Hwa is making a new album after all these years? Can’t wait! I loved her “Prestige” album from 2006. I thought she had quit music after “D.I.S.C.O”, and it’s great to know she’s coming back to music soon.

    1. 1sunnylady says:

      This interview was made around May or June, so it was a year ago and she hasn’t released anything yet. Korean singers can prepare and release a song in less than a month, so she could comeback anytime. 😀

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