Lee Un-jeong may not be a household name, but everyone knows Lee Sa-bi. The two are in fact the same person, but the glamour model decided to return to the name she was born with to make the leap from scantily clad Playboy photographs into acting. She has already been a part of five productions including dramas and movies. The Chosun Ilbo got a glimpse into the world of Lee Un-jeong.
Not long ago you released a diet video. Do you enjoy yoga?
Of course. On days when I don’t have much going on, I can spend two or three hours doing it. People who don’t know think it’s at the same level as stretching or warm-ups, but if they really give it a try they will see just how hard an exercise it is.
We heard that you were in Thailand for a shoot; did anything fun happen?
I look a little bit Thai myself. Maybe that’s why I had a few embarrassing moments when the locals thought that I was Thai and would come up to me speaking in Thai. It’s a fun memory.
If you could have any part, what would it be?
Something that also expresses my unique personality. Honestly, there is nothing special or extraordinary about me. I don’t have a pretty face. My mom even says, ‘You sure were born at the right time. In the old days, do you think you would have even been able to dream about a career in the movie business?’ But I’m fairly tall (173 cm) and I look all right, and the overall harmony is not bad. So what I want to do is a drama that shows a friendship among women. I’d also like to play an action character, as Angelina Jolie has.
No I didn’t, because I thought that you have to be pretty to be an actress. But after appearing in Lost Memories, I saw my face fill up the big screen and was really attracted to acting. I felt my heart thumping. At that time I resolved to become an actor.
Even though you changed your name, you might not be able to escape your image as Korea’s first Playboy model.
It’s a label that may follow me even after I retire from the entertainment industry. But it was also what made me famous. When you get something, you lose something. So the way you accept it is what’s important in the end. Sometimes I feel sad about people who look at me in a negative way, but I keep working hard with a belief that some day they will recognize me as an actor.
This job might give you a lot of stress. How do you handle it?
I usually go to a club and dance like mad. Shouting and singing at noraebang (karaoke rooms) is another thing I do. In summer, when the typhoon sweeps through, I run around the neighborhood in bare feet in the rain and scream.
What is the secret of staying in good shape?
I think eating well and moving a lot is important. I eat often little, and move a lot. I work on yoga, but more importantly I always walk when it’s not too far.
You appeared in five productions. How do you feel about that?
I’m very happy about that because it makes me feel that I keep working on something and something is building in my life. And I’m also happy about not being at the top, because there is still something to climb over. I’ll do my best. Keep your eye on me.