South Korean Actor Shin Young-Kyun
Shin Young-Kyun was born on November 6, 1928, in Pyongsan, Hwanghae Province (now part of North Korea). He is a South Korean actor, film producer, and politician. When he was 10 years old, Shin Young-Kyun went to Soul. While studying dentistry at Seoul National University, he participated in a drama club where he got to know Park Am, Gil Yok-yun, and Lee Nak-hoon, who later became actors and a composer.
Shin Young-Kyun’s Profile
|Name||Shin Young-Kyun ( 신영균 )|
|Born||November 6, 1928, Pyongsan, Hwanghae Province (now part of North Korea)|
|Education||Bachelor Degree from Seoul National University College of Medicine|
Shin Young-Kyun’s Still a Leading Man After 317 Movies
Shin Young-kyun could have lived an easy life, but the dental school graduate wanted to be an actor. From a king to a servant, Shin Young-Kyun portrayed Korean men on the silver screen for 18 years. From his 1960 debut film Widow to his last film Flowers and Birds in 1978, Shin did 317 films in genres from war to melodrama to period dramas.
Sick and tired of censorship in the 1970s, however, Shin Young-Kyun decided to stop acting. He led the Federation of Artistic & Cultural Organizations of Korea, one of the largest groups of Korean artists, in the early 1980s and was a two-term lawmaker starting in the late 1990s.
“I didn’t do those works out of political ambition. It was one way for me to gain clout and help my artist friends,” Shin Young-Kyun said during an interview with JoongAng Sunday.
In 2010, he donated both the Myungbo Art Hall in Seoul and Sinyoung Cinema Museum on Jeju Island, worth 50 billion won ($45 million), to establish the Shin Young-Kyun Arts and Cultural Foundation. The foundation supports the Korean film industry in a variety of ways, including scholarships, youth camps, and a 100 million won annual prize.
“You loved me for what I did,” the 84-year-old Shin Young-Kyun said during a ceremony presenting him with the Hermes Director’s Chair award worth 15 million won at the Busan International Film Festival. “Now, what I can do is return your love by supporting the nation’s art and film industry, which I believe is one way to make society better.”
When asked about the huge leap of Korean films and how many movies he still watched, this was the response Shin Young-Kyun gave:
“I try to watch as many Korean films as I can. Most recently, I saw Unbowed and War of the Arrows. I have a list of films that I would love to watch in the near future. I don’t want to miss Pieta which won a top award at Venice Film Festival and The Thieves which attracted 10 million viewers. Gwanghae: The Man Who Became the King, where Lee Byung-hun plays a double role, is also on my list. Personally, I’m so proud of Director Kim Ki-duk [who directed Pieta]. I also have a special memory of the Berlin International Film Festival as A Coachman, which I starred in, received the Silver Berlin Bear award. But, Kim received top awards from the world’s major three film festivals, a feat to be sure. I’d like to meet him in person and congratulate him.”
When asked about a plan to start his comeback like Yun Jung-Hee who returned after 15 years, Shin Young-Kyun replied, “Yun Jung-Hee always tells me that ‘We should do a film together’ whenever we run into each other. In fact, I still receive scripts. I recently got to know someone who was working on a screenplay about a man who misses his wife living up in the North. He said he was writing the story imagining me in the lead role. I told him that I would accept his offer if the story is good enough. If it is a good story, I don’t care whether it is a lead role or support role.”
After starring in more than 300 films, Shin Young-Kyun chose one of the most memorable films, “Among my many works, films that brought me awards, such as Prince Yeonsan, are special. Up-and-coming actors of the time Kim Jin-kyu and Choi Mu-ryong wanted to be in the film. But, I won the lead role. I was so excited about playing the role, I memorized all the lines from beginning to the end. I didn’t have to do that because back then dialogues were dubbed after filming.”
Shin Young-Kyun announced retirement at the age of 50 because “Film censorship was way too harsh, and I didn’t feel like I wanted to act under such circumstances. For actors, the day we die is the day we retire, I believe now. Although I once worked as a lawmaker and was responsible for the association of artists, I think those works have something to do with my acting career. I didn’t do those works out of political ambition. It was one way for me to gain clout and help my artist friends.”
He also talked about what made him step on the stage again, explaining “It was the first play staged by a theater community of Seoul National University. My role was a Roman Catholic priest. Actor Lee Soon-jae recommended me to play the role, but I wasn’t willing to do it because I wasn’t so sure that I could act again. My wife also told me not to do it if I was stressed out because of the offer. When I was thinking about the role, an article came out that I was going to be part of the play. I had to accept the offer because of the article. [laughs] I had to memorize lines day and night by sleeping less. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but younger actors and actresses like Ahn Sung-ki, Lee Young-ae, and Jeon Do-yeon came to see the play. They backed me up a lot.”
In regards to the nation’s biggest film award, many changes were added to the Daejong Film Awards recently. The award is operated by a group in the film industry, but it is not influential as it is used to be after a couple of scandals. He said that “The award is special to me in many ways. I received the first best actor award at the inaugural ceremony back in 1962. As a new director, I want to bring back the Daejong Awards’ old glory. I think the biggest issue the award faces now is conflicts between current and previous members. In order to grow this film festival, I need both parties. Thus, I asked for help from influential figures: Director Im Kwon-taek, Kim Dong-ho, the honorary festival director of Busan International Film Festival, and actor Ahn Sung-ki. I hope everything will get better.
I think this is the last job that will be given to me. I hope I can contribute to nurturing the festival so that it will be able to stand next to the Academy Awards.”