One spring afternoon, this Post reporter ran to MBC located in Yeouido. I was hurrying because I thought I was be late for an appointment with some guy. As I was running, I was thinking about the comedian Lee Gyung-gyu.
When I was a boy, I liked listening to the radio. At that time, the most popular program was Lee Mun-sae's Byul-bam. I especially liked Lee Sun-mi, a popular woman comedian who appeared as a regular on the show. One day, she did not appear on this program. There was no reason. The show had to get somone to fill her shoes. Finally, an un-known voice took her place. I couldn't believe my ears! Who is he?
He had the audience roaring with laughter. During the program he repeated the same expression, "I'll be back" in a harsh local patois. Would he really "be back"? Of course, he would. Lee Gyung-gyu's era had just begun! He caught the imagination of the whole nation. Then we saw him on the TV programs "Molae-camera" and "Yangsim-nangjanggo." Recently, he still appeared the Braun tube by concept of "Dumb & Dumber" and "Sanguine Temperament."
When I finished my sweet reminiscence I was at the front gate of MBC. I barely kept the appointment.
In the gallery cop cnnected the waiting-room, I met the great comedian and alumnus of Dongguk University (DU). He looked very different from what I'd expected. He was charismatic and I felt something special about him; like the Force from the movie "Star Wars". Anyway, I started the interview in a halting voice.
"When I was a boy, I was just ordinary. However, I dreamed of being a performer because it perfectly suited my personality. And then, I decided to become a performer when I was a high school student. To fulfill my dream, I matriculated at DU. In the College of Arts, I learned basic skills through performing in movies and plays. This helped me."
Mr. Lee spent a lot time as an unknown actor after his debut. "Every business is made up of completely unknown people. When you are a greenhorn, you must suffer the hardship of an unknown. But, it is good for you even though you do not want to spend this time as an unknown. But I think you must experience the hardship of life. If you do that, you will succeed in your life. In my case, I couldn't feel any fear and anxiety because this way is what I liked and wanted. During this period, I prepared to turn professional by studying. Subsequently it was very helpful to me. You must stake your whole life on what you want. If you don't, you won't succeed."
As we know, he ambitiously made the film "Bok-su-haeul-jun" in 1992. However, the film wasn't a box-office success. Unfortunately, this failure became material for other funny men. What does he say about that? "It doesn't matter. I did it to myself. Anyway, I'll make a new film this year." According to the newspapers, Mr. Lee already established a production company. Why is his heart set on film-making? "Films contain music, acting, comedy, etc. It is often called the composite art. This is why I make films."
I asked the Mr. Lee about his school-days. "I liked every sport when I was in high school. You know, I've got a very busy timetable these days. But I always find the time to exercise at my health club for about 30-40 minutes per day. Um....in the college life, I was active in Baekssang. The memories of cheering the DU baseball team are still fresh in my mind." He enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane.
Does Mr. Lee even think about retirement? "Age has nothing to do with a person's capabilities. I think it's an apparent contradiction of our society. Retirement means death to me." During the conversation, I found he was still remarkably spry for being over us. I wondered what's the secret of his youthfulness. "Try every new thing and always thinking about new ways to develop yourself. I never collected material from books. I am always thinking."
I could feel his passion throughout the interview. Ha! You might feel envious about my experience! I felt that he was so different from what I expected. At the end of the interview, he passed on a special message to Donggukians: "When you got out into the real world, you might consider your high school friends as life companions. However, college friends are different. They give you a sense of pride in your school. Their achievement might motivate you to succeed. You should take more pride in your school."
Kim Hyung-jong firstname.lastname@example.org
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