Nowadays, many Korean women pick as their ideal man, someone who is Tsundere, a person who is initially cold and even hostile toward others, before gradually showing his warm side. Kook Cheon-soo, a key supporting character in the TV drama, Emergency Couple, is a typical Tsundere who loves the heroine of the program. Emergency Couple is about a divorced couple who met as interns at a hospital after 6 years of being divorced. They begin to love again by finding each other. In this drama, Kook Cheon-soo is the chief surgeon and two main characters’ boss. Actor Lee Pill-mo who plays the role of Doctor Kook gained a lot of popularity as “Tsundere Kook”, a thoughtful man but a callous doctor. Having built his acting career as an unknown actor for more than 10 years, today however, Lee has his own filmography and is one of Korea’s most famous actors. The Hanyang Journal (The HJ) met him to learn more.
Filmography as an Actor
Q. You have worked for a long time in the industry and finally made your popular debut at the age of 32. Can you tell us your story?
A. Since I was a middle school student, I had dreamed of being an actor after watching a Hong Kong noir film. I studied in order to become an actor and I started acting in a little theater in Daehangno. I tried to find advertising agencies to support me with my profile photos. When I failed to get the chance to show my passion because I was not a famous actor, I felt deeply frustrated. Also, as with most poor actors, acting was not a sufficient source of income. So because I was busy earning my living by doing miscellaneous work, I did not have a lot of time to think about my popularity and honor. However, on the stage, I devoted myself solely to acting.
Q. What is your view of acting?
A. As most actors have said, acting is an opportunity to experience the lives of others indirectly. In addition to this, I think it is one of the ways to live a worthy life. When acting, I feel catharsis and relaxation and acting helps me see the world as a more beautiful place. I also see acting as an opportunity to share my emotions with audiences, which can help them express any suppressed feelings vicariously.
Filmography as Kook Cheon-soo
Q. You gained popularity as the Tsundere character, Kook Cheon-soo in the drama Emergency Couple. As the actor who played Kook Cheon-soo, what has been the most memorable scene in the drama?
A. I am always thankful to my fans for loving my character. However, I do not care about my popularity, since popularity is easy to change at any time. Instead, I reflect on my performance in order to check whether I was totally immersed in performing my role. It is hard to pick the most memorable scene since all have been so meaningful to me. However if I were to pick one, I would say the scenes with Oh Jin-hee, the heroine in the drama, have been the most memorable for me because many viewers love them. Kook’s considerate attitude such as taking off his coat to prevent her from getting wet in the rain was a memorable scene and it shows Doctor Kook’s affection toward her.
Q. Your work, Emergency Couple has received favorable responses from audiences. What has this work meant to you?
A. Even though shooting the drama Emergency Couple has at times been a tough job, it has been meaningful in the sense that all the actors and staff overcame difficulties together. Also, I will always remember my character Kook Cheon-soo because of his fascinating personality.
Q. Are there any interesting stories behind the scenes?
A. On the last day of shooting for the drama, I had to perform the scene where Doctor Kook drank alcohol thinking about Oh Jin-hee. I was actually completely drunk when I was in the scene and I totally passed out as soon as I finished the shooting.
Filmography as a Hanyangian
Q. Why did you decide to transfer to Hanyang University (HYU) in your thirties?
A. Before enrolling at HYU, I had already begun studying at Seoul Institute of the Arts in my twenties. I had been acting in plays since my twenties, so I had always been eager to be involved in campus life as a normal university student. That is why I decided to transfer to the Department of Theater and Cinema at HYU from Seoul Institute of the Arts in 2010.
Q. What was the best part of your university life as a Hanyangian?
A. I think it was very valuable for me to learn the basics of acting all over again as though I was a freshman. I think it is important for actors to be reminded about the basics of acting, in order to win battles of endurance with one’s self. Also, spending valuable time on campus helped me build up my acting career. One regret I have was that I did not have much time to interact with other Hanyangian actors or actresses. Due to our busy schedules in the acting industry, we didn’t have a lot of time where we could bond and talk over drinks as other Hanyangians do.
Q. Do you have any last words for fellow Hanyangians?
A. It is important to give serious consideration to what youant to do. For a long time, I was an actor without a spotlight and finally managed to make my debut when I was 32 years old. In order to fulfill one’s dreams, it is important to stay on track no matter what happens.