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'Madame Cheetah' from 'Reply 1988' wants long, unremarkable life

All News 18:00 January 29, 2016

By Park Sojung

SEOUL, Jan. 29 (Yonhap) -- "Reply 1988" has revived many of the 1980s trends in South Korea -- sales of nostalgic goodies like Ghana Chocolate skyrocketed and old pop songs reappeared on music charts -- but it has also given rise to a new star: actress Ra Mi-ran, a.k.a. "Madame Cheetah."

Traditionally a theater and musical actress, Ra had been, for the most part, unknown in the TV scene, with some noteworthy roles here and there but none as nearly as eye-catching as her role as Jeong-bong's mother in "Reply 1988."

Her biggest break was perhaps a scene from episode 16 in which she realizes she'd brought the wrong cassette for background music at a national singing contest -- the one she picked happened to be an advertisement for eggs.

But Madame Cheetah, her nickname because she loves animal print, mustn't forfeit. She'd already missed her chance at the same contest five years ago when she got too drunk to perform.

So sporting her favorite animal-print shirt and retro glasses, Ra gets in the zone, dancing freestyle and syncopating the background music.

"I didn't think that scene was funny though," Ra, no longer in that ridiculous outfit, told reporters at a press conference in Seoul on Friday. "Think about how desperate she must have been after five years. I mean, yes, I panicked when I read the script, but I knew that for Ra, it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

The "Reply 1988" staff apparently had to comb through traditional markets to secure Ra's extensive animal-print collection on the show.

"Not a lot of stores carry that kind of print anymore, so our fashion team had to do a lot of work, searching the traditional markets," she said. "Even then, there were times when I had to settle with rayon, which is really not appropriate for winter."

Ra has had an unprecedented streak in the movie scene, too. She appeared on "Ode to My Father," "The Himalayas" and "The Tiger" between 2014 and 2015.

"It wasn't my plan to become so famous, but I failed at that after all my movies became hits," she said, laughing. "My goal is to lead a long, unremarkable life. Some people say I should take a break, but I think I should continue acting. This year, I'll try to be less conspicuous."


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