A woman fell in love after meeting a man. They promised to marry. They promised to become the most reliable ‘lighthouse’ in each other’s lives, setting sail together. Although this is an event that could happen to anyone, upon listening to Lee Min Jung’s love story, it seems like an illusion where only these two people in the whole world would promise to marry after falling in love. No matter how magnificent and grand the wedding ceremony was, no matter how loud their world became after the media spotlight shone on them, Lee Min Jung and Lee Byung Hun’s love is just theirs alone. That’s the aspect that has people envious of this beautiful couple.
The woman who replied “Yes” bashfully to the question of whether to pledge her marriage rolled her eyes. Without even knowing that the screen was closing in on her own expressions, she tilted her head and her lips wavered. Her smile exploded all over the place. It was just ten minutes ago that this woman was walking down the “virgin road”. The delightful energy that she wasn’t able to contain is her true color. It’s not possible to conceal her sensitivity, even in a famous wedding that unfolds dramatically as if one is watching a documentary. The woman with that kind of sensitivity calmly spoke. She said that she wanted to create a project that could become a memory so that one day she could revisit the memory as if she opened a page of a book. She even came up with ideas and did calligraphy. What is a reminiscence that becomes a memory to an actress? It couldn’t possibly be the feelings of a character that they experienced in a production. The item that Elle is paying attention to is the sensitivity of the woman about to get married. It’s not the kind of sensitivity that causes one to toss and turn, but it’s the view of letting one’s body flow along life’s natural stream. With a flashback, this story turns around and goes upstream. Looking back on the memories of the love where one salivates as if desiring Dutch coffee, Lee Min Jung is asked about the first time she met top star Lee Byung Hun and their first date, starting with her memories of breaking up.
Do you remember your interview with Elle back in 2010 when Cyrano Dating Agency premiered? You said “However, if an actor got married, wouldn’t their level of immersion fall if they were to say that they were someone else’s person?”
Back when Cyrano opened in theaters, I was severely attacked with questions such as “Have you ever broken up with someone?”, “Have you ever been dumped?”, “Have you parted ways with someone?” and the like. At the time, I had broken up with Lee Byung Hun, so I was thinking of him when talking. I first met him in 2006, as it was the first time I entered a dating agency, and he asked if I wasn’t pleased with this line of work. I asked “Do I have to do this?” Although there are people who would believe that meeting a top star while one is just a rookie would be a benefit to their career, I was against it when looking at my own situation. Even after breaking up with him, he was still an actor racing towards the top, and since I was in the middle of paving my own path as an actress, it was a time when the thought “Us meeting isn’t an actor meeting with an actress” sprouted in my mind.
I’ve seen articles where Lee Byung Hun stated the reason for breaking up at that time was that “It felt like I was blocking the path of a friend who had a lot of things that she wanted to do.”
After experiencing the job of an actor, during times when I’m being knocked over by many people, there has to be one person to embrace me. It was at a time when I thought it would be difficult for the other person if he was living a life where many people were also knocking him down. After we separated, I intentionally strived to pick projects where I wouldn’t be linked with him, so I became immersed into the time that only belonged to myself.
How long did you meet the first time?
It was a little over a year. We matched well to the point where it was amazing, seeing as the two of us couldn’t stop talking when we were together. It’s not good if two adults who are the opposite sex talk so much, and there was even time when we lived together, expressing ourselves through words was even more difficult, but that was about seven-eight years ago, and due to me being young, it was like he was my first love. He communicated well, he was kind, and more than anything else, he was a person that I could learn a lot from. Even after we broke up, his after image didn’t linger around me. Those memories were always inside me as being beautiful, and those experiences from that time became help to me throughout my life as an actress.
The thought of gaining a senior who can suggest a direction in your life as opposed to gaining a husband must have gone through your mind.
There’s also that aspect. However, dating and marriage starts with the relationship between a man and a woman. Although Byung Hun is an amazing role model as an actor, we have only talked about his good qualities (laughs). Honestly, in our everyday life, I’m more of a “societal senior” to him. Byung Hun didn’t spend much time as a normal person, so everyday things like restaurant reservations, meeting with a group of friends, doing busywork at the post office and bank, and stuff like shopping is where I’m vastly superior to him. Looking at it like that, I’m thinking of what my father once told me.
What did he talk about?
When I first told him I’m going to stand on the path of becoming an actress, he said “If you’re an actress, everything will be fine if you gain fame. But is it okay if you become a person who doesn’t even spit (on others) once while traveling down that path?” and “You may become a person who cannot even go around by yourself socially, and become a person in that anyone who has only assisted you may become a social obstacle.” Upon actually experiencing this life, my father’s words were correct. At the time, there wasn’t even an occurrence where I spat (on others), but I could have become such a person due to my circumstances, and it’s a fact that as my face was becoming more known, I couldn’t be free. I have only lived this kind of life for around seven years where someone like Lee Byung Hun has lived this kind of life for over twenty years, so the gap between normal life and with normal people is closer with me than it is to him. When it comes to doing movies, Byung Hun is a bit more maniacal whereas I have the preferences that the general public has. Even when he read the scenario for “Masquerade”, he said “This is going to be amazing,” uttering a remark as if this was the perfect project for him.
Do you remember your first date?
Of course I do. I even remember the first thing he said. Through a friend’s introduction, we first saw each other for dinner, having our first date then. As soon as we met, he said something like “Due to seeing you from a bright spot, you’re a dark circle!” Ah, as the back of my neck was becoming numb, I broke out into a cold sweat and even my face became red and flustered, so all I could utter was “Huh?”
Your anxiety must have been alleviated due to the joke.
On the contrary, I became even more nervous. Due to me being timid on the inside, I went home and thought about the “dark circle” for a long time. I even thought “I have to cover this” while reciting to myself “It’s not that extreme…” (Laughs)
At the time, you two must have mainly dated inside a car.
It was a time when no one knew who I was, so we could even go to a chophouse. He wasn’t able to even eat a meal at ease as I looked at him, but despite that, I thought he was a very awesome actor with a personality where he would shamelessly make such a situation happy. Back then and even today he has that same easy going charm. He has these Nike training pants that he always wears when he goes out. I ask him “Aren’t you wearing that too often?” when he’s leaving the house and pulling up to the house in his car, but on days when filming ends, he shows up in a suit with a tie. I still remember how hard my heart was beating because it was as if he just met another celebrity. (Laughs) Last year after admitting our relationship, the most exciting thing was that we could go to our “it place”. Why can’t actors want to dress themselves up as handsome or pretty and date in a public area? Then again, those training pants…Haha.
When you two revealed that you were dating, were you rather relieved?
It wasn’t just that. Just like our conversation when Cyrano opened in theaters, if one actor meets another, the after image of the partner is lingering, so as an actress, I felt like I gained the responsibility of having to do homework. Despite that, there are a lot of actors and seniors who are able to complete that task well, so I received a lot of consolation from people. Thankfully our country’s citizens’ awareness is changing a lot, so there are many people who can differentiate our work from our private lives. I certainly think now is the time to become stronger, even if there were many distressful days when we acknowledged our relationship. I may even change into “Grouchy Smurf” this year (Laughs).
Did you even have the hunch that you would marry this man when you two decided to start seeing each other again?
Byung Hun is surprising in that he doesn’t have any romantic ideas about marriage. Don’t all women have romantic ideas about marriage and the wedding dress that they want to wear? In some aspects, I lack the womanly detail. I think it’s very cool that Lee Hyori said that she would have a wedding without a ceremony. I wanted to do that, but I thought that living together is important as well as having formalities. However, Byung Hun expected to work for quite a while, so instead of doing what he liked, he’s the type of person with the etiquette to think of others first. He gathered that it would be difficult to have a ceremony with only the families at the exclusion of friends, so he prepared for it.
Translation: The Real CZ @ Hallyu Interview