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Bae Jong-ok (배종옥)

In a career spanning over three decades, Bae Jong-ok has built an impressive body of work, collecting awards almost from the time she debuted. It’s even more astonishing to learn that amid all this, she managed to become Korea’s first actress to earn a doctorate, getting the mass communications degree in 2009.

GwenchaNoona | Actor's Profile: Bae Jong-ok

Photo from HanCinema

Birthday: May 13, 1964

Instagram: @baejongok

But perhaps most inspiring of all, is that she turned to the academia to hone her acting, and that this dedication to perfecting her craft was in response to an infamous incident with a k-drama writer critical of her performance early in her career.

“I think I’m the most alive when I’m acting. Actually, I envy genius actors. I’m a person who grows while studying. That’s why I’m here today,” she said in an interview while promoting her 2020 movie Innocence. Her performance in that film earned her a coveted Baeksang Arts Award nomination.

With legendary performances in more recent k-dramas such as Monster (2016), Live (2018), Graceful Family (2019), Mr. Queen (2020), and Secret Royal Inspector and Joy (2021), Bae Jong-ok is now a respected senior in the industry who shares her knowledge as a visiting professor at her alma mater Chung-Ang University. And yet, until today, she says: “I’m constantly working on my acting.”

That dedication is certainly something younger actors would do well to learn from her.

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