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Posted 4/10/09 , edited 7/13/09

The Latest News on Lee Yo Won

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Lee Yo-Won Talks 광식이 동생 광태 (When Romance Meets Destiny) | 2005.12.02

Sometimes a little rest is all it takes, ask Lee Yo-Won.

It was just around 2003, when the young star announced her marriage with a pro-golfer, and her temporary retirement from the entertainment scene. People were surprised, both because of her marriage at an early age, but particularly because she got out of the limelight right as she was starting to climb the ladder in Chungmuro. Starting as a model in the late 90s, she debuted on TV at the age of 18. But it wasn't until 1999 and the huge success of 주유소 습격사건 (Attack The Gas Station) that she started getting recognized by the public. And when she played a young woman in love with a married man in 푸른 안개 (Blue Mist) -- directed by Pyo Min-Soo and written by the great Noh Hee-Kyung -- some eyebrows were raised: can this pretty face really act, too?

All it took to prove that was Jung Jae-Eun's delightful debut 고양이를 부탁해 (Take Care of My Cat), still one of the most beloved Korean films overseas, achieving cult status at home. Next to another up and coming young star, a certain Bae Doo-Na, she played the posh city girl who quickly realizes how vapid and superficial her 'world' has become. But with the exception of Choi Wan-Gyu's fantastic Historical Drama 대망 (The Great Ambition), she mostly focused on her film career, with star vehicles that didn't take advantage of her acting talent, and didn't make that much money either. With a growing number of 'Anti-sites' building on the net, with people questioning her acting skills, she seemed to be left out of the growing popularity of Chungmuro and the Korean Wave. So she packed up her bags, left for the US, and spent two years there. Doing what, studying, honing her skills? No, just resting. Imagine that, a normal married life...

Fast forward two years, and here we are. The success of her latest Drama 패션70s (Fashion Seventies) was followed by a great opening weekend for her first film in three years, the romantic comedy 광식이 동생 광태 (When Romance Meets Destiny). She's getting more offers now, to be a lead, mostly because something changed. She gained a little weight, she looks fresh and well rested, confident in her abilities as an actress, but most importantly, she's matured. Be it because of marriage, or simply sitting down and reflecting on your past, without worrying about where your next fat paycheck will come from, but she looks like a new person. Her acting has improved by leaps and bounds, too. In 'Fashion Seventies' she more or less reprised her 'innocent girl' role, but she did so with a touch of realism, of maturity, of sincerity that you couldn't find on similar roles she did in the past.

Lee Yo-Won sat down for an interview with Film2.0, discussing her latest works, and her return to the industry after a long break. Here's some highlights:

Looks like you gained a little weight, you look good.
Lee Yo-Won: I guess it's because I took a break. After we finished shooting 'Fashion Seventies' this Summer, I only worked on some magazine shoots and rested a little. As the release of the film was approaching, I got a little busier.

You debuted at quite a young age. Even if a lot of actors debut while in High School nowadays, there aren't a lot of people who do serious roles at that age.
Lee: That's because I was 18 back then, I was really young. People think I debuted in 1999 with 꼭지 (Ggokji), but I actually was a model before that.

When you started your modeling career, was becoming an actress your main goal?
Lee: Up to my first year in High School, I didn't really dream of becoming anything in particular. I attended school in Seongnam, and I was just a quiet student back then. Didn't really think that much about my future goals, I was the kind of girl who would just do whatever she was told, and accept any situation. But then, by chance, I stumbled upon an ad for a model audition on a magazine, and I thought... why not. My friends always told me I was tall and thin, so I just gave it a try. I took the audition, and that's where it all started. I first worked for a few magazines, then I got a chance to do CFs, and that eventually led to auditions for Movies and Dramas.

Even if you behaved well, your parents must have been surprised about your acting career.
Lee: More than my parents, it was my grandfather who was really against it. My father was a really strict person, but my mother had always been the kind of person who trust you and lets you do what you want. So if I said I wanted to do something, they usually allowed me to do it. Sometimes I even think about how much different my life could have been, if my mother was just a little stricter (laughs). More than my parents, my friends were really surprised. They were all shocked I was on TV, they'd often say "That's you?". I wasn't exactly the center of attention in school, so that surprised them a lot.

But then, after being so active with your movies and TV Dramas, right after 'The Great Ambition' you surprised everybody announcing your wedding. You were just 22 back then, why did you do it so early?
Lee: Honestly, after marrying I didn't really agonize over my future. After doing films and dramas together for so long, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I never had time to rest and reflect on my career. When I announced my marriage, that created a good opportunity to rest a little. I didn't really plan for it on purpose, but then I just decided to take a rest, since I finally could.

While you were taking a break, Korean films have changed a lot. The size of the market increased as well. If you were thinking of continuing your career as an actress, did you ever reflect on those changes?
Lee: Just a little. Sometimes I thought to myself, maybe if I didn't take a break I'd be a top star now. When I started my break, I kept getting offers to star in films like 태극기 휘날리며 (Taegukgi), 클래식 (The Classic) and 동갑내기 과외하기 (My Tutor Friend), which all ended up becoming big box office hits. I turned them all down, because I decided to rest. But that doesn't mean I regret that. I'm the type of person who loves to work, who would even force herself not to turn down an offer, lest someone else took it. But it weren't for that break, I probably would have worked non-stop until now. To me this break was a good opportunity, I finally had some time for myself.

So what made you finally come back?
Lee: Lee Jae-Gyu, the PD of 'Fashion Seventies', had a big role in my comeback. Actually he wanted to work with me in 다모 (Damo), but I refused the offer. Then, even before we started working on 'Fashion Seventies', he wanted to work with me for another project, and once again I ended up rejecting the offer. But the guy calls me again, saying he wanted me to star in 'Fashion Seventies'. I was about to come back home from the US, and I loved the character (Deo-Mi) so much, I just decided to do it.

You came back on the spotlight with 'Fashion Seventies', but you actually started shooting your film 'When Romance Meets Destiny' first. But compared to the Drama, your role in the film is much smaller.
Lee: 'Fashion Seventies' came first. I came back to Korea in December [2004], and we were supposed to start shooting in January, but it kept being postponed. While that happened, I looked around for something else to do in the meantime, and my manager showed me the script for 'When Romance Meets Destiny'. At first I just had fun reading it, I never realized they really wanted me to take the role (laughs). Even when they asked me If I was interested, I thought they were joking, even my manager had a list of new actors they wanted to cast in the role.

Then how did you end up accepting the role?
Lee: Actually, even if my first role after coming back is small, I wanted something like that from the beginning. I was afraid if the role was too important, it'd be too much burden for me. I was looking for a role that would leave a lasting impression, even if it was a small one in a film with only men. Think of Lee Eun-Joo's role in 'Taegukgi'. But, then again, 'When Romance Meets Destiny' has two men and two women. It was much different from what I expected, and took another direction. But as I read the script one more time, I started liking my character Yoon-Kyung more and more. I liked the fact she was both graceful and had a realistic outlook on life. Just because it wasn't a leading role, I had a lot less burden about my comeback.

People on the set say you've changed a lot.
Lee: (laughs) That's right. I was a little cold back then. You could expect it to a degree, since I was always so busy and tired, but back then I didn't really click with the other actors. I just focused on my scenes and went my way. Even when I was doing interviews, I wouldn't talk for so long, I'd just say a few words (laughs). This film was the first time I really got close with my fellow actors. I didn't just talk more on the set, I also looked at the other actors' scenes, and it was fun working with them.

credits to: Twitch Film
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Lee Yo-won's sexy look! | 2009.02.17

Actress Lee Yo-won has always been the gentle and feminine character.

Here, she has changed into a wild sexy lady!

Lee Yo-won has been modeling for the magazine Maria Claire's March edition where she was transformed into a wild and manish look. This side of her has been the first!

She was phootshooting at the set of the Panama jungle, Boracai beach, and Nice's palm tree backgrounds where she is wearing different colorful looks.

Lee has been in the drama "Sun-deok Queen".

credits to: Cyworld News
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