The graceful performance of a wise man who understands human desires, madness, and anguish

Jung Jinyoung

Playing a character obsessed with madness can be a pleasant challenge for actors with outstanding acting skills. The person of insanity is also a delightful attraction for the audience. However, it is a different level of matter that the character eventually leads us to admit that the person is nothing but our self-portrait. Only actors who deeply understand humankind can perform the relatable acting that we can empathize with the character of madness. Jung Jinyoung is an actor who puts a clear mirror in front of us by playing a contemptible character full of desires all the time. ‘Well, look at it carefully. It is you, me, and us.’ So the moment Jung Jinyoung appears in the movie, we get nervous.

Although Jung majored in Korean literature at Seoul National University, his mind headed for the theatrical stage. So, he began acting in 1988 on the stage of Hangang, the most historic Korean theater troupe, and starred in the first film in Jangsan Gotmae, a film organization for social movements that dreamed of making movies that ask big questions toward the world. The actor played the main character in Love, Liberty, and Labor (1991), which portraits a painful insight into the reality of public education only focusing on competitive entrance exams. However, the film was banned from being released amid government oppression and was secretly screened in universities. Jung’s sharp face was a symbol of censorship in the Korean film industry. (The film was released to the public in 1996 by winning the decision of unconstitutionality of the preliminary review)

However, Jung Jinyoung is not an actor who acts as a speaker to convey social issues. Interestingly, the character that presented him with popularity was a gangster. In the tragic romance A Promise in 1998, he won his first acting award for his role as a warm-hearted gangster. Jung Jinyoung’s signature is the ‘twisted character’ that reveals his humanity in the glaring eyes. The actor always caught the audience napping when he starred in the comedy Hi, Dharma 2: Showdown in Seoul (2004), where he played a very charismatic monk who subdued gangsters, and when he played the infamous craziest king in King And The Clown (2005), the costume drama that attracted 10 million viewers for the first time in Korean cinema history. It is possible because Jung shows the abyss of human beings to the audience, both in comedy and in tragedy.

After filming Once Upon A Time In The Battlefield (2003) and King And The Clown, the actor played as the persona of Director Lee Junik for a decade, enjoying various commercial films, and at one point he naturally established himself in the films directed by Cineast Zhang Lu, and Hong Sangsoo. And in 2020, actor Jung Jinyoung, who has more than 30 years of acting experience, began to find another way to understand human existence. Me and Me (2020), Jung’s directorial debut, is a fable about the ironic situation of a man who has to live as ‘I who is not me.’ The main character, played by Cho Jinwoong, is a weird and attractive character created by actor Jung Jinyoung’s self-confession, who has lived as a different person all his life. Only a wise man who understands human nature profoundly can act and direct that kind of character and movie. Jung Jinyoung’s role we look forward to in the future has been double up. Park Hyeeun