Lee You Mi, the actor from ‘Strong Girl Nam-soon,’ expresses anticipation for the upcoming year and is eager to evolve and flourish in her acting career.
She was the first S Korean actress to win the Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress for Squid Games in 2022. After scripting history, Lee You Mi now showcases her superhuman strength in SLL’s recent hit Strong Girl Nam-Soon.
A spin-off of the popular 2017 series Strong Girl Bong-soon.
Lee You Mi is Nam Soon, a girl with indomitable strength, a characteristic that only the women in her family possess. Lost as a child in Mongolia, she returns home to South Korea to find her parents, but realises things are not as she imagined them to be. She, along with her mother played by Kim Jung Eun and cop Kang Hee-sik (Ong Seong-wu), get caught in a messy battle involving a drug cartel and the formidable mafioso Ryu Shi Oh (Byeong Woo Seok).
In an exclusive interview with The Hindustan Times, Lee You Mi talks about headlining Nam Soon, her love for Indian films and what would she do if she turned into her character.
We last spoke soon after your Emmy Win, what has the year been like for you?
Lee You Mi: I’ve been shooting JTBC’s Strong Girl Nam-soon as well as Netflix’s Mr. Plankton, thanks to those, I’m having another happy year while growing every day.
You have effortlessly carried Nam Soon on your shoulders and the show has been wholesomely entertaining. Was there any nervousness or anticipation coming into the show, given the popularity of Strong Girl Bong-Soon, and the comparisons that are bound to happen?
Lee You Mi: Since Strong Girl Bong-Soon received a lot of love and was a great piece, I enjoyed it too. I was nervous, under the pressure that I too should be able to pull it off and carry the good series forward. On the other hand, also curious and anticipated the acting involving fantasy elements.
Nam Soon is an endearing character, she is loyal, has a funny sense of humour and her indomitable strength. What was it like playing her, and how did she challenge you as an actor? Are there any similarities between you as a person and Nam Soon?
Lee You Mi: I did lots of wire action scenes, and I can say that I became a master of the wire while playing ‘Nam-soon’ because she is a character with superhuman strength DNA. I reckon that I did many new challenges that I can’t easily experience as an actor. It was pleasant to perform wild action, Mongolian, and pureness together (laughs).
Your chemistry with both your co-actors Byeon Woo Seok and Ong Seong Wu is amazing. What was it like working together?
Lee You Mi: Both actors Ong Seong-wu, and Byeon Woo-Seok, are fun people when you get to know them. As they were around my age, I felt more comfortable with them. So whilst on set, we chatted and joked around a lot while waiting for shoots. It was an enjoyable set for me, thanks to those two actors.
Most enjoyable scene in the show and the one that challenged you most?
Lee You Mi: The most enjoyable scene and the most challenging scene was the same while I was working on Strong Girl Nam-soon. It was a scene where Nam-soon saw that the fire break out and leapt inside the building to save the children and then happened to meet her mother. Since it was my first time with the wire action, it was a massive challenge for me. I think this kind of challenge made me most joyful as well.
If you could be Nam Soon for a day, what would you do?
Lee You Mi: I want to utilize Nam-soon’s terrific speed. I’ve been travelling to several provinces to shoot my next project these days because there is a lot of traffic and it takes a long time to go, I’ve been thinking ‘If I ran like Nam-soon, wouldn’t I already have gotten there?’, ‘I want to have Nam-soon’s speed.’
You have been part of three hugely popular shows in the last two years, Squid Game, All Of Us Are Dead and now Strong Girl Nam Soon. What are the kinds of roles and stories you are looking forward to?
Lee You Mi: I would like to play a character that represents another challenge that I haven’t experienced before. There are so many roles that I haven’t done and so many things that I want to do that it’s hard to pick one right now.
Since the world cannot get enough of Korean Dramas, is it exciting times for actors and has it opened more opportunities in terms of storytelling?
Lee You Mi: I felt it with Squid Game, and after that, I am feeling it a lot more, in some way, I reckon that it is a really exciting time for an actor. I am pleased that the efforts made by all the staff members related to shows and actors on set are recognized by more people. Also, Korean dramas are getting attention worldwide which has led to more opportunities in terms of acting, and characters across various genres and created a thriving environment, which is pleasant to be part of.
India loves K Dramas and K Food, are you familiar with Indian films, have you tried Indian Food?
Lee You Mi: I think the works with India’s dance and songs were already so much loved in Korea. As both Korea and India have ‘fun (in Korean, Heung)’ in common, I guess I feel close to India. I enjoyed the movie 3 Idiots and liked it. It was an amusing movie and left an impression.
Even though I haven’t been to India yet, the Indian curry was so delicious. I enjoy eating it and am very curious about how it tastes when eating locally.
Describe Lee You Mi the actor in one word.
Lee You Mi: Gimbap (Korean seaweed roll). It is my favourite food. As it has different flavours, and before you try it, there is always a curiosity ‘What would this Gimbap taste like?’ I want to be the actor who gives the curiosity and anticipation at the same time like, ‘What kind of acting will Lee You-mi perform in this piece?’, ‘What kind of person is Lee You-mi?’
When not working, what is it you enjoy the most?
Lee You Mi: Since I am a homebody, I tend to spend my time doing many things at home like watching animations and movies. I like going to good restaurants as well, so sometimes I joyfully spend holidays eating delicious food outside.
What are you looking forward to in 2024?
Lee You Mi: In 2023, I met the audience with the fantastic title, Strong Girl Nam-soon, and in 2024, I’m expecting more grown me in every aspect than now. I hope I can be a better person and an actor.
SLL one of the leading studios which gave us hits such as Reborn Rich, All Of Us Are Dead, My Liberation Notes has front-lined several hits this year as well, such as Doctor Cha, The Good Bad Mother, Daily Dose of Sunshine.
Disclaimer: Except the headline and synopsis, this story has been taken from the HT News Service.