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With Lee Sang-yoon

Feb 17, 2020

Lee Sang-yoon, Actor, from the Department of Physics
Lee Sang-yoon, Actor, from the Department of Physics

Giving back

In the recent promotional videos for SNU’s new Siheung campus, you’ll be able to spot a familiar figure, actor and SNU graduate Lee Sang-yoon. Following the advice of Professor Jeon Heonsu, someone who he had admired since he was an undergraduate, Lee Sang-yoon has taken up the opportunity to give back to his alma mater by serving as an ambassador for the Siheung campus.

“I was deeply impressed by the diversity of educational and research facilities tailored to offer more than just a textbook-based curriculum,” said Lee Sang-yoon in our short interview. “To be honest, I’m sort of jealous. This wouldn’t have been possible when I was a student.”

Lee Sang-yoon joked that, as an undergraduate, he had always been too busy ‘fooling around’ to graduate, but he was unabashedly earnest in professing his passion for physics. He admits that he had often dreamt of remaining in academia and pursuing further education in his field.

“Physics, in its steadfast logic and reason, has helped me to maintain a much needed balance in my life as an actor, where emotion and being poignant in-the-now are of utmost importance.”

Lee Sang-yoon’s acting career started after a coincidental street casting while he was serving in the army. At first, acting wasn’t much more than a part time job, but before long, he fell in love with it. Although he’d chosen a profession completely unrelated to his major, physics and SNU have continued to remain a part of his identity. As such, Lee Sang-yoon hopes to create a network between alumni and current students.

“I believe that there should be a system where graduates who have moved into society can serve as mentors to current students who, in preparing for their futures, constantly face uncertainty. Such a relationship will be beneficial to all the parties involved.”

On acting

15 years after his debut, Lee Sang-yoon continues to feel a sense of responsibility as an actor.

“As an actor, I’m always doing something new. Every day is an adventure. In every new role, I learn about a new facet of society. I’ve become not only more flexible, but also more open-minded.”

Although there are a myriad of reasons that influence his decision to take part in a film or drama, the most important reason is, what he calls, the ‘power of the story’. If he’s inspired by the story, he’ll delve into his prospective character, and if he believes that he’ll be able to elevate the merits of the character, which isn’t always the case, then begins the many headaches and joys of acting.

“Once I’ve decided on a project and we start filming, I only think about one thing: understanding the character better so that I can bring him to life. I think about what my character is trying to say to his audience, and how I can convey that message.”

Almost, Maine

With numerous successful projects that have consolidated his reputation as a top actor, Lee Sang-yoon says he’s only grown more aware of his shortcomings. Thus, following long and serious consideration, he has decided to make his first foray into theater.

A collection of nine vignettes that explore love and loss, Almost, Maine marks yet another fresh start for Lee Sang-yoon. All proceeds will be donated to a children’s hospital, making the production even more meaningful.

Written by Cheesue Kim, SNU English Editor, cheesuerocket@gmail.com
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, tlsmith@snu.ac.kr