JEON HYUN-MOO (Dept. of English Language & Lit. & Dept. of Sociology), a former Yonsei University student from the class of ’97, is one of the most popular people in the world of entertainment. Jeon pursued his dream as a TV anchor and has now become one of the funniest, most handsome and most skillful MCs in Korea. He is currently the host of more than five TV shows, yet he still finds time to meet people, learn foreign languages, and have fun. The Yonsei Annals interviewed Jeon as a source of inspiration for Yonseians.
What kind of student were you during your years at Yonsei?
I can’t say I was a model student. Of course, I always did my best to maintain a relatively high GPA but it was just impossible. The girls back then were the only hardcore students, and they were the ones who received the high grades in the relative grading system.
Instead, I became a member of Yonsei Broadcasting Station (YBS), which is one of the official newspaper & broadcasting services at Yonsei, along with *The Yonsei Annals* and *The Yonsei Chunchu*. Honestly, my life as an anchor at YBS consumed about 70% of my college life, since it is a very demanding and time consuming position. Yet I was able to get a taste of the career of my dreams and gain valuable experiences that helped me in my future as an anchor at KBS.
An incident from your college life that you will never forget?
I will never forget the time when I was an anchor at the *Yon-ko* United Broadcasting Festival held once a year right before the *Yon-ko* games. That year, the games were held at Korea University, and I was co-hosting the event with a female anchor from Korea University Broadcasting Station (KUBS). As you can imagine, there were far more students from Korea University in the audience than those from Yonsei.
I was a bit reckless back then, and I started making fun of Korea University. As soon as the female anchor from the opposite side introduced herself, I laughed, saying “Hey, the cat is talking!” Of course, the female co-host was embarrassed and perhaps even offended, but I just could not stop talking. In the end, she got so mad that she left the stage after the first period of the show. The funny thing is that while I was working in the TV show, “Man’s Qualification” a few years ago, the main PD came to me and reminded me of that event. That is when I realized; he was the head organizer of the *Yon-ko* festival during that same year, who was as offended by my attitude as the female anchor from his team. That was, overall, a funny, embarrassing and eye-opening experience that I will never forget.
How did you pursue your dream as a college student?
From the very beginning, my dream was to become a news anchor, a man involved in broadcasting services. That is also why I joined YBS. Looking back, however, what helped me the most in fulfilling my dream was getting a “dream insurance.”
What I hate the most, is when I hear people telling college students to find a job that they like and follow that path until the end. That, in my opinion, is a very irresponsible thing to say to a person looking to make an important life-changing decision. Things don’t always happen the way we expect them to. That is why I got my own “dream insurance.” I made a list of my top three career choices and prepared myself for all of them. My first choice was to become an anchor, which I experienced by becoming a member of YBS. The second choice was to become a reporter, which I prepared for by studying for the exams, and the third was to become a teacher, for which I got the official certificate.
As a result, I felt prepared for any possible circumstances. I would go to job interviews with a calm, relaxed mind, thinking “if I don’t get this job, so what? I have so many other options available.” This confidence evident throughout the whole interview leaves the interviewers impressed and, most likely, eager to pick you.
Why did you change from being a news anchor to being a TV host?
I started off as an anchor at KBS which came with many limitations. I was interested in gaining a variety of experiences, such as acting, participating in TV shows, and shooting TV commercials. Yet when you are an anchor at a main channel like KBS, you cannot participate in any of these activities. I hated having to reject all the offers or open possibilities for the sake of a stable job and income. That is why I decided that leaving KBS would be the best for my colleagues and myself, and started working as a freelancer.
Of course, being a freelancer has its disadvantages. You are often anxious about the uncertainty of your future. If you work as an anchor at a TV channel, you are in a safety zone with a steady income. Yet when you are a freelancer and there are no shows available for you, you do not have a source of income. But I think that this uncertainty is what motivates me and pushes me to do my best under any circumstances. I work hard; when I look back at myself, I appreciate the opportunities I have.
What are the advantages of being an MC?
An MC acts as an intermediary for people who want to meet and interact with each other. He can be the intermediary between a guest and the audience, or the one who connects the guest speakers by giving them topics to talk about. The biggest advantage of this position, however, is being able to help others boost their self-confidence and show their talents throughout the show.
For example, when I see that a guest wants to make an impression in front of the audience but is shy or nervous, I jump in and ask him questions to help him find his lost self-confidence on stage. In some cases, I might even start dancing or singing to show him that “if the MC can do it, you can do it way better.” The guests appreciate such actions, and I also get pleased by seeing them improve and become satisfied with their performance on the show.
How would you describe your life so far?
My life so far has been like that of a sunflower. You can say that my dreams, to me, are what the sun is for a sunflower; I always pursue my dreams like the sunflower turns its direction towards the sunlight. When I make a decision, I turn myself completely towards that direction, until I am satisfied with the outcome. That helps me improve myself and reach for new opportunities throughout my life. I could also describe myself as the “sponge” of the entertainment world. I believe that one of my biggest abilities is being able to absorb the skills of the people that I work with, in order to adapt well in my new environment. When I worked with Yu Jae-seok, for example, I learned how to care for and respect my colleagues, while during a show with Kim Koo-ra, I started to read a lot. I always try to find the skills that differentiate some people from others and do my best to absorb these traits to help me improve as a person.
A piece of advice for your fellow Yonseians?
I am sure that you guys have a lot of talents and opportunities, and I believe that you can accomplish anything if you truly want it. You just have to find the best career that matches your dreams and aspirations. And of course, get your own “dream insurance.” That is my personal advice for those who have a sincere passion for the path they have chosen to follow. There are a lot of opportunities available at each field, so do not get disappointed if you do not accomplish your goals at once. Just try again and again, since you have your “dream insurance” to back you up.