Lee Dong Wook Talks About Kim Sun Ah, Tango, and His Bucket List

After his recent release from the military on June 20, Lee Dong Wook returned to the small screen to star in SBS drama “Scent of a Woman.” He said, “Because of the (harsh) filming schedule, I couldn’t even sleep a wink.” However he still looked bright and cheery, and his efforts have been fruitful judging by the increasing popularity of the drama.

“Less than two months ago while I was still in the military, I watched drama ‘Greatest Love’ to relieve stress. Now, my soldier juniors tell me they are watching my drama for the same reason. It gives me an odd and strange feeling,” Lee Dong Wook admits.

“Because I am always at the filming set, I don’t have the opportunity to feel the response of viewers towards the drama. (The drama’s popularity) doesn’t seem real to me. But whenever people say, ‘You are receiving a lot of love these days,’ I feel extremely happy. This is my first work after I finished my military duties, yet it seems as if I’ve made a soft landing (back into drama-land). I feel very grateful for this.”

In “Scent of a Woman,” Lee Dong Wook takes on the role of Kang Ji Wook, a second-generation son from a “chaebol” (large conglomerate) family who has it all – brains, wealth, looks – but is cold and indifferent to everything and everybody, i.e. a “ggadonam” (“hard-to-please urban guy”) character often seen in recent melodramas.

“I feel that the character of Ji Wook is much better than a ‘chadonam‘ (‘cold-hearted urban guy’) or a ‘ggadonam.’ Obviously, a drama with a chaebol male lead is bound to be a Cinderella story. But Ji Wook is not a character who simmers inwardly in angst and loneliness while giving a bold front. Instead of being outwardly capable and resilient, he openly expresses his frustration and helplessness with reality. Compared to the descriptions of being ‘hard to please’ or ‘cold-hearted,’ I would say that he is a reinvention of a chaebol character.”

“I wanted to give a convincing portrayal of how Ji Wook is indifferent to everything in life,” said Lee Dong Wook, right down to the details of how Ji Wook walks. Although some viewers questioned, “How could a chaebol character act that way?”, this response could be interpreted as the start to the reinvention of the chaebol character.

The leading lady in the drama is acted by none other than Kim Sun Ah, also known as the queen of romantic comedies. Lee Dong Wook says unreservedly, “Kim Sun Ah has always been known as a very forthcoming person, so it is very comfortable working with her.”

However, when questioned about their tango scenes, he began to blush.

“I first met Kim Sun Ah at the tango practice hall, where we had to dance together immediately, even before we could greet each other properly. No matter how professional we were, for a man and a woman to be so close to each other and dance right after we first met, it was totally embarrassing. What’s more, tango is a dance where the man is supposed to lead his partner. I was very worried that I would make wrong moves and step on her toes. Fortunately, Sun Ah led me well, enabling the filming to be much easier than I imagined.”

Lee Dong Wook also attracted much interest in his many exposure scenes in “Scent of a Woman.”

“I gained 16 kg while I was serving the military. I was worried that I couldn’t lose the weight after I was released, so I ran 10 km everyday. If I hadn’t exercised before I was released, it would have been downright embarrassing during the exposure scenes.”

When asked how he would feel in real life if he found out his girlfriend was dying, he replied, “I guess it would feel like looking at Kim Sun Ah’s face (in the drama) – my tears will just flow. I really hope that this will not happen to me in real life.”

During the press conference of “Scent of a Woman,” Lee Dong Wook wrote a “bucket list,” which is a list of things that a person most wants to do before he or she dies. At the top of his list? “To conquer the universe.”

He elaborates, “I meant that I wanted to conquer the universe with my acting abilities (laughs). It was written half in jest, so even if I can’t conquer the universe, I want to become a really good actor. Nowadays, I’m receiving a lot of movie offers, but I hope to do one more drama, and I also hope to act in a ‘sageuk’ (‘historical drama’) too. What would my dream be, as Lee Dong Wook the person and not the actor? To be a good husband, and a good father.”