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Veteran Actress’s Career Has Completely Changed Since Leaving SM Entertainment

In an interview with Arena Homme Plus, actress Lee Yeon Hee talked about leaving SM Entertainment after 20 years , her career goals, and more.

Lee Yeon Hee

Leaving SM felt like graduating from school. It was a natural thing and a beautiful parting. I wanted to get new, positive motivation by joining an agency that was dedicated to actors.

—Lee Yeon Hee

In early 2020, Lee Yeon Hee announced her marriage in her fan cafe. She said, “I hope the public sees me as actress Lee Yeon Hee rather than anyone’s wife or someone who has a husband.

Lee Yeon Hee was very timid at the start of her acting career. Many directors cast her for pure roles because of her “first love” image, but she admitted that she wanted to tell them that she has other sides as well.

| SM Entertainment

In the 2020 K-Drama SF8: Manshin, Yeon Hee played Toh Sun Ho, a rough and wild character who rode a motorcycle and was very different from any other role she has played.

It’s a tough, noir drama. I liked how the director Roh Deok saw me. She saw my filmography and knew that I want to challenge myself. Other directors would have asked me, ‘You’ve only played innocent characters, will this role be okay?’ But she didn’t look at me like that, so I was happy.

—Lee Yeon Hee

She also discussed her then-upcoming movie New Year Blues (2021). New Year Blues tells the story of four couples who must overcome different fears and problems during the beginning of a new year. She played Jin Ah, a woman who worked hard all her life but went to Argentina without planning. Lee Yeon Hee shared that she was once like her character.

I’ve been working hard since I was young, but I burnt out in my mid-20s. I did my best, but I was stressed because of the way people perceived me. I wanted to go somewhere no one knew me, so I bought a ticket to Paris without a manager. I really enjoyed it, and I was happy. After that, I went to Paris every year until COVID-19 happened.

—Lee Yeon Hee

At the end of the interview, she expressed her desire to play unique roles in the future, especially those that are different than what she has already done.

I want to play a realistic, everyday character. I think that’s the foundation for growing as an actor. In Chungking Express, Faye works at a fast food restaurant and is really charming but realistic. I want to play someone like her or a rich character who doesn’t care about others.

—Lee Yeon Hee

Since then, Lee Yeon Hee has also had a lead role in the 2022 K-Drama Welcome to Wedding Hell and the 2023 K-Drama Race. 

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