Exclusive interview: South Korean actor Lee Chung Ah on Hide and being a fan of Irrfan’s The Lunchbox | Web Series ullu-web-prime.com

Exclusive interview: South Korean actor Lee Chung Ah on Hide and being a fan of Irrfan’s The Lunchbox | Web Series ullu-web-prime.com

South Korean actor Lee Chung Ah tells us with a laugh, “If I were given the chance, I would like to work on a story like The Lunchbox or a romance, or melodrama in Bollywood. But I guess it would have to be a Korean student or a traveller because of the language, right.” (Also read: Exclusive interview with Korean star Lee You Mi: On love for 3 Idiots, Strong Girl Nam-soon and Squid Games’ success)

Lee Chung Ah in a still from Hide.
Lee Chung Ah in a still from Hide.

“There is something so characteristically beautiful about Indians, which comes out evocatively in their cinema regardless of genre. Black, The Lunchbox, Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire, and Jawan which I have yet to finish, are films I have thoroughly enjoyed,” she tells Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview from Seoul.

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SLL’s recent crime thriller Hide, an adaptation of the Welsh TV series Keeping Faith, is a taut drama which centres around a Na Mun Yeong (Lee Bo young), who is investigating her husband’s sudden disappearance. Lee Chung Ah is Ha Yeon Ju, Mun Yeong’s friendly neighbour, who is hiding a huge secret and could well be Mun Yeong’s nemesis in disguise.

Said no to Hide at first

Lee Chung Ah reveals she had turned down the part when she was first offered it. “It is a character with such a big narrative, and even though she might be seen as evil in the series, she has to believe that what she’s doing is right and good. I was so worried about how this would be portrayed in the drama, that I tried to run away from it. But, it was director Kim Dong Hwi who convinced me that I had it in me to play Yeon Ju, a woman whose good-natured face made people trust her, unbeknownst of what she was capable of. So, I took it upon me as a challenge.”

The dynamics between Mun Yeong and Yeon Ju form the core of the show. Sharing screen space with a seasoned and well-known actor like Lee Bo Young (I Can Hear Your Voice, Mother), Lee Chung Ah says they shared a comfortable vibe off-screen and it was easy to translate it into the tense scenario on screen.

“The energy an actor brings to the set is reflected on screen, more the vitality the better it is. With Lee Bo Young we added to each other’s energy, rather than feeding off it and it created an exciting synergy. When the camera was rolling, there was an intense energy, which made it tense, but it was also a friendly and lovely set.”

Lee Chung Ah in a still from Hide.
Lee Chung Ah in a still from Hide.

Lee Chung Ah was last seen in the thriller Celebrity, which navigated around the murky world of social media and influencers. Having been part of edgy narratives, like VIP, Awaken is she a fan of the thriller/ mystery genre?

“I don’t dislike it, but I am also a fan of genres involving mental gymnastics or a fantasy genre which fuels your imagination, tends to excite me. That’s why I participated in the series Awaken. The mystery genre implicitly captures big secrets and dramatic moments in life, so I find the tragedy in the drama-tragicomic when I step back and look at it. As an actor, it’s a genre I want to play in, but there are many stories in it that I wish had never happened in my life.”

On choosing right scripts

Lee Chung Ah landed her first leading role with Temptation of Wolves in 2004, but it was the rom-com Cool Boys, Ramen which brought her into the spotlight. Her filmography also includes legal dramas such as One Dollar Lawyer. She says the process of choosing scripts has become more strict now.

“There are many things to consider when choosing stories, but since my 30s, I have been choosing works based on whether the story stimulates me and whether I am intrigued by the character. A character I don’t relate to would be someone who doesn’t appeal to me. I wouldn’t have gone with the characters I’ve played if I couldn’t resonate with them at a human level, I need to have compassion for the character. In that sense, Yeon Ju in Hide made me want to try interpreting her. Now, I’m trying to build up my filmography by taking more diverse aspects into account. These days, I’d like to meet the story to bring warmth and comfort to the public as my next work.”

India holds second place after Indonesia in the global consumption of South Korean content. With the exponential rise in the mainstreaming of Korean content, Lee Chung Ah says it’s exciting times for the industry across the board.

“When I first started my acting career, I guess K-dramas weren’t as big as they are now, but I feel like I’m working in a very blessed time. I’m so happy, and I’d like to continue to be a part of many more stories in the future.”

Hide is yet another hit in SLL’s roster of successes this year which includes Welcome To Samdal-ri and Doctor Slump. Hide is currently available on Viki.

 

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