Veteran K-drama actors trade serious roles for comedy
Korean TV comedy series My Horrible Boss joins a long list of “boss from hell” entertainment offerings about the terrible taskmasters who make our humdrum modern corporate life a living nightmare.
Think Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, Sandra Bullock in The Proposal, Steve Carell in The Office and of course, the Hollywood flick Horrible Bosses and its sequel.
My Horrible Boss, which goes by the alternative title of Ms. Temper & Nam Jung Gi, follows the misadventures of meek, subservient marketing dude Nam Jung Gi (Yoon Sang Hyun) as he finds himself mentally — and sometimes, physically — tormented by his new female boss, the demanding, fiery-tempered Ok Da Jung (Lee Yo Won).
The 16-parter is slated to premiere on StarHub Go, StarHub’s online streaming service, on Aug 20.
It is a refreshing turn for both Yoon, 42, and Lee, 36, who are veteran stars in Korean showbiz and best known for playing super serious characters.
Most K-drama fans will remember Yoon for his role as a gritty cop in thriller Gap-Dong (2014) and Lee as the titular protagonist in historical epic Queen Seondeok (2009).
In an e-mail interview with The New Paper, father of one Yoon and Lee, who has three kids, share the joys of filming a show where hilarity is the order of the day...
There are a couple of outrageously hilarious scenes in My Horrible Boss. In one, Nam (Yoon) accidentally rips Ok’s (Lee) blouse in front of everyone and exposes her bra. Minutes later, she angrily rips his shirt open for revenge.
In another scene, Nam mistakes her actions as an act of seduction and takes off his clothes to “sacrifice” his body, only to get whooped and thrown out of the room by the latter. Was it embarrassing doing these scenes? Did you have a great laugh?'
Korean actress Lee Yo Won's (in pic) character Ok Da Jung gets her blouse accidentally ripped in public by her subordinate Nam Jung Gi. PHOTO: MYASIANTV.
Yoon: I actually enjoyed acting in these hilarious scenes. At times, I was even worried that I had gone “overboard” by doing more than what our director had planned. Thankfully, our director liked my comedic acting. Lee was really shy and she broke into laughter pretty often. We had many NGs (film terminology for bad takes).
Lee: Yes, it was my very first time shooting such scenes, so for me, it was awkward and embarrassing.
Thanks to Yoon though, who made the whole setting more comfortable. He made it easier for me and we filmed together joyfully.
Yoon, your character Nam is timid and a total pushover. In contrast, Lee’s character is strict, fierce and has a short fuse. How different or alike are you from your characters?
Yoon: I have the opposite personality of Nam. In real life, I am much more similar to Ok. At first, I really couldn’t understand Nam’s timidness. In fact, I couldn’t stand his character. I began to observe people around me who were more like him and learn how to be timid. Eventually, I feel that I’ve learned so much through playing Nam.
Lee: In reality, I am quite similar to Ok. Sometimes I am impatient and I have a temper. In real life, I also stick to my own beliefs and say what I believe is right.
Lee, most local audiences remember you as Queen Seondeok. Will you do another historical drama in the future? And Yoon, you were very memorable in crime thriller Gap-Dong. How different is it going from such heavy-hitting stuff to light-hearted fare like My Horrible Boss?
In one hilarious scene, timid marketing dude Nam Jung Gi (in pic) mistook his female boss' actions as an act of seduction and he psyches himself up for a night of sex with her by taking off his clothes. PHOTO: MYASIANTV
Lee: I think Queen Seondeok was so beloved by many because she is a real person in history, and a great one for that matter. Shooting historical dramas is a very challenging piece of work, I’d have to seriously consider the prospect.
Yoon: I know I was loved by many viewers through Gap-Dong, but back then, I was seriously considering quitting my path as an actor with Gap-Dong as my last project. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to act, or if acting was just another means of making money. I was facing a slump 12 years into my acting profession.
Then, I made up my mind to take on My Horrible Boss. As I did this drama, I realised that happiness comes when I do my best in front of the cameras. It seems as though My Horrible Boss has given me my second career wind.
How are both of you enjoying the comedy genre?
Ok Da Jung (left, played by Lee Yo Won), takes revenge by ripping open her subordinate Nam Jung Gi's (right, played by Yoon Sang Hyun) shirt. PHOTO: MYASIANTV
Lee: I like it that My Horrible Boss is very realistic, yet very comical at the same time. This is the kind of drama that I’ve never tried before. I really wanted to take on the challenge and do it.
Yoon: I love acting hilariously. It’s because my role model is Hong Kong comedian Stephen Chow. When I was younger, I used to watch movies that he acted in or directed, and ask myself why there are no movies like his in Korea. It is my longtime wish to be part of a movie like that of Chow’s. Even better if I could act in one of his movies.