Uhm Jung-hwa is a South Korean actress, dancer and singer. She has fought against all odds to become an inspiration for women around the world. She lost her father at a young age and overcame poverty to establish a strong foothold in the show business. She battled against thyroid cancer for eight long years and came back to perform on film and television as well as release her music albums. She is one of the pioneers in electronica music and was awarded the Best Electronic Dance Music Award at the Korean Music Awards ceremony for her album ‘Prestige’. Though she aspired to be a singer, her natural talent for acting got recognised with her award winning performance in the film ‘Marriage is a Crazy Thing’. Her other hit movies are ‘Princess Aurora’, ‘Dancing Queen’ ‘Wonderful Nightmare’. She has appeared in a number of television serials including the prime time shows ‘Mystery Melodrama’, ‘Get Karl! Oh Soo-jung’, ‘He Who Can’t Marry’ and the latest serial ‘You Are Too Much’. She also has her own clothing and lingerie line called ‘Corner Suite’ and ‘ZHUM’ in New York that have made huge profits.
Childhood & Early Life
Uhm Jung-hwa was born on August 17, 1969 in Jecheon, North Chungcheong Province, South Korea to Yoo Gyeong-sook and Uhm Jin-ok. Her father was a music teacher from whom she inherited her talent. Unfortunately he died in a road accident when she was six years old and she was brought up with her brother, Uhm Tae-woong by her mother.
The family had a difficult time financially in the absence of her father. However, her mother managed to give both her children basic education so that they could follow their father’s footsteps.
Uhm aspired to be a singer from childhood and started performing at a young age. She was a chorus member of MBC from 1987 to 1990. As she grew older she realised her natural talent for acting and took to films and television as well.
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She released her first studio album titled ‘Sorrowful Secret’ in 1993. This was followed by a series of singles that got her recognised as one of South Korea’s top singers. Her fourth album titled ‘Invitation’ caused a sensation and became the highest selling album of the year. By the year 2000 she had released five albums that were on top of the charts.
During this period she appeared in a number of television serials, starting with ‘Sarang’ in 1990 ‘Remember to Love’ in 1995 and ‘Beautiful Sin’ in 1997. She also acted in the movies ‘Marriage Story’, ‘Blue Seagull’ and ‘How to Top My Wife’.
From 2000 onwards she concentrated on her acting and soon established herself as one of South Korea’s top actresses. She won the Best Actress Award for her performance in ‘Marriage is a Crazy Thing’ in 2002 and again walked away with the Best Actress Award for her role in the Movie ‘Dancing Queen’ in 2012. A few of her other movies that were hits at the box office are ‘Princess Aurora’, ‘Five Senses of Eros’ and ‘Wonderful Nightmare’.
In recent years she has reduced her television appearances and focussed on a few prime time shows that include ‘Get Karl! Oh Soo-jung’ (2007), ‘He Who Can’t Marry (2009) and ‘Witch’s Romance (2014). Her latest appearance is in the television serial ‘You Are Too Much’ which was aired in 2017.
As her career in the entertainment world flourished, she experimented with electronica music that is based in synthesised pop intended to create an atmosphere for relaxing as well as stimulated dancing. Her double album ‘Self Control’ took the music world by storm and won praise from her fans as well as music critiques.
Her ninth album ‘Prestige’ was released in 2006 about the same time as her hit singles ‘Come 2 Me’ and ‘Song of the Wind’ hit the stands. Her innovative style got her the Korean Music Award for the Best Electronic Dance Record in 2007.
She co-opted with members of the boy band called Big Bang to release her album titled ‘D.I.S.C.O.’ that was a hit and made the way for a remix version titled ‘D.I.S.C.O. Part 2’ that was equally popular.
Her studio albums include ‘Sorrowful Secret’ (1993), ‘Uhm Jung-hwa 2’ (1995), ‘Self Control’ (2004), ‘Prestige’ (2006), ‘Come 2 Me New Remix’ (2006) ‘D.I.S.C.O.’ (2008), and ‘The Cloud Dream of the Nine Part 2’ (2017)
She has appeared in a number of television serials including the prime time shows ‘Mystery Melodrama’ (1994), ‘Beautiful Sin’ (1997), ‘Get Karl! Oh Soo-jung’ (2007), ‘He Who Can’t Marry’ (2009), ‘Witch’s Romance’ (2014) and ‘You Are Too Much’ (2017).
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Uhm Jung-hwa has acted in the movies ‘Marriage Story’ (1993), ‘How to Top My Wife’ (1994), ‘Marriage is a Crazy Thing’ (2002), ‘Princess Aurora’ (2005), ‘Five Senses of Eros’ (2009), ‘Dancing Queen’ (2012), ‘Venus Talk’ (2014) and ‘Wonderful Nightmare’ (2015).
Awards & Achievements
She won the Best Female Solo Award for her number ‘I Don’t Know’ at the Mnet Asia Music Awards, 1999.
She was awarded the Bonsang Award thrice at the Golden Disk Awards ceremony in 1998, 1999 and 2000 for her numbers ‘Poison’, ‘I Don’t Know’ and ‘Escape’ respectively.
In 2007, she was awarded the Best Electronic Dance Music Award at the Korean Music Awards ceremony for her album ‘Prestige’.
Her acting awards include the Grand Price Award thrice at the SBS Gayo Daejejeon, KBS Song Festival and SBS Gayo Daejeon awards ceremonies in 2000, 2001 and 2003 respectively.
She won the Best Supporting Actress at the 17th Golden Scene Awards in 1993 for her role in ‘On a Windy Day We Must Go to Apgujeong’.
She won the 30 Years Old and Above Award at the MBC Gayo Daejejeon in 2001.
She has been awarded Best Actress five times for her performances in ‘Marriage is a Crazy Thing’, ‘Princess Aurora’, ‘Bestseller’, ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Montage’.
She won the Excellence Award (Actress) for her performance in ‘Wife’ at the KBS Drama Awards in 2003.
She was honoured by a Special Award at the 27th Blue Dragon Film Awards in 2004 for her role in ‘Mr Handy’.
She was judged as the Fashion Icon of the year at the 2006 Donga TV Fashion Beauty Awards ceremony and awarded the Friendship Award at the Gala Dinner Party sponsored by FKCCI in 2007.
She was awarded the Grand Prize Best Actress at the Korean Culture Entertainment Awards and Year-end Movie Star Award by the Korean Film Actors Association in 2013.
Uhm Jung-hwa was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to undergo surgery in 2010. After recovery from the disease she has dedicated her life to help patients suffering from cancer to cope with the anxiety.
Having gained celebrity status, Uhm went on to launch her own clothing and lingerie line called ‘Corner Suite’ and ‘ZHUM’ in New York. The venture proved to make a huge profit.
Her brother Uhm Tae-woong too is a successful actor.