Voice acting is the art of presenting a variety of voices to portray characters such as Optimus Prime from the Transformer movies and Pikachu in Pokémon. It is a unique and rare talent that not many have unless it is inborn or attained through several years of tough training. The Hanyang Journal was able to interview Lee Yong-shin, an alum- nus of our university, who works as a voice actress, also well known as Moonlight Angel.
I. Lee Yong-shin as a Voice Actress
Q. As one of the most famous voice actresses in Korea, what was the starting point of your career, or what encouraged you to become a voice actress?
A. When I was young, I used to record myself reading poems or letters on cassette tape. That revealed my passion of using my voice and talking, which naturally led me to think of working as a singer, a lawyer, or an announcer in the future. I used to do a lot of jobs like as an MC for a military entertainment concert. One day, one of my seniors recommended to I take an exam to become a voice actress, so I gave it a shot. To be honest, I didn’t expect that much but I got a call from the department on my birthday telling me that I had passed the test, which I guess was the best birthday present of all.
Q. What has been your happiest or saddest moment while working as a voice actress?
A. I would say the happiest moment was the performance I recently did at Ewha University, because there were so many fans who sang along with me. I still feel grateful that they remembered the song “Luna” as one of their memories from childhood, even though it has been 15 years. On the other hand, the saddest moment was when my voice changed after giving birth. Since my voice is basically my job, I was very frightened at first that I might not be able to do voice acting work again. However, that pushed me to work harder to get my old voice back.
Q. How do you generally take care of your voice?
A. I was diagnosed with vocal cord nodules while working as a voice actress for six or seven years. Since then, I went to hospital and have tried some folk remedies related to helping my voice condition. Additionally, I worked out through pilates or jogging to maintain my health. Sometimes I used a “fake method” to enhance my voice when I had to sing at a high pitch, but I also taught myself how to do abdominal breathing and to use ‘head voice’ and ‘chest voice’. Sometimes I also look up my old video clips to give myself feedback and get some concept of how I sang before.
Q. Since you work with lots of different characters that have very distinct and eccentric personalities, has your self-identity ever been threatened by the vocal characters that you portray?
A. I think my self-identity hasn’t changed just because I have worked on many different characters. However, I do agree that being a voice actress requires one to be dissociated with their character promptly. Sometimes, I synchronize with a sexy character like Ari in League of Legend, while on other occasions adjust to an annoying ego like Artessa from The Twin Princess in Wonderful Star that makes you want to hit her.
II. Lee Yong-shin: Besides Being a Voice Actress
Q. Since you have many careers at the moment, do you find it hard digesting all your busy schedules while also raising your children? And also could you explain inadept about the extra activities you do?
A. Yes, it is definitely hard both mentally and physically. But since they’re jobs that I’m really passionate about, I enjoy doing them all. For instance, on my Podcast, I invite guests, edits the audio myself, and uploads it. And as a professor at the Korea Art Conservatory (KAC), I teach my students what I have experienced over my last 15 years in the business through my stories. I heard that a lot of students have written in their essay assignments that they want to be like me, which is very flattering. I feel very grateful even though I don’t consider myself really qualified to hear those compliments. I guess these kind of feelings encourage me to continue working hard though it is tiring sometimes. Additionally, I have been working as a guest lecturer teaching a class called ‘Endure and Enjoy, Opportunity Shall Come Again’ for the University Student’s Leadership Academy. Also I told my middle school students, which I have went for lectures that most jobs are going to become obsolete, since robots of the 4th industrial revolution are going to be able to do those jobs instead. But it is not easy to replace a job like mine which requires a lot of different unique voices mingled with human emotions. For example, when I worked on the Blade and Soul game system update, my voice needed to be updated regularly as well.
Q. What kind of job would you have rather than voice actress if you had the opportunity to choose?
A. First of all, I am really good at getting along with people I meet for the first time. Additionally, I love talking, explaining, persuading others, and shouting for justice when I encounter unfair situations and issues. Considering all of these features, I think a politician might have suited me, so that I could help others.
Q. How do you usually spend your free time when you are not working?
A. I am really into BTS these days. Spending time just listening to and singing their songs is my way of enjoying my free time as a huge fan of BTS. One day my husband suggested covering some of my favorite BTS songs and uploading them onto YouTube, so I uploaded BTS cover songs sung in the voices of 10 different anime characters, which now has 117 millon views.
III. Lee Yong-shin: Plans for the Future
Q. After the concert at Ewha University, many people are curious about your upcoming plans. Do you have any plans for this coming September or October?
A. I have lectures to do in September, and a few concerts are planned during autumn festivals. I am also planning lots of different contents for my YouTube channel such as ASMR and more covers, which my subscribers have requested. There will definitely be more chances to communicate with the audience and my fans.
Q. What is your goal for this year?
A. It has been exactly 15 years since I started acting for Moonlight Angel, which was first shown in 2004, so I can say this year is very special for me. To celebrate it, my goal for this year is to make an official Moonlight Angel album.
Q. Most of our young readers grew up listening to your voice. Additionally, many students who aim to become voice actors look up to you. As an alumnus of Hanyang University and a mentor, do you have anything you want to say or advice for the Hanyang University students?
A. When I was a university student, the situations surrounding me were not really good since IMF hit us at that time. I experienced different kind of jobs and also got some scholarships. I tried my best not to take a break and was able to graduate after all. Many experiences from part time jobs have become my assets. I began to find out what I really wanted to do for my future career and was able to distinguish between the jobs that did not match me and the jobs I truly took interest in. Also, when opportunities were presented, I had the courage to let go of what I was doing and grab others. A lot of young people and even adults are afraid of quitting something, because it is considered as failing in our society. However, you have to know that letting go allows something better to come in as well. Therefore, I would like to tell the readers and our Hanyang University students not to be afraid of giving something up. You are still young and have so much time for better opportunities.