Wed, Jun 15, 2011
By Charlene Chua
KOREAN star Lee Byung Hun may have dated a bevy of babes. But he is yet to find a wife.
The 40-year-old has established himself as a top film and TV actor in Korea and as the most successful Korean export in Hollywood with the blockbuster G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra.
But Lee, who won Actor Of The Year at the prestigious Baeksang Arts Awards last month for the crime thriller I Saw The Devil, which opens here in August, told The New Paper: “I have to get married. A long time ago, I wanted to lead a normal person’s private life and I really wanted to get married, even then.
“But then I realised that it all comes down to fate and it has nothing to do with will.”
Lee had dated beautiful Korean actress Song Hye Kyo in 2003 but the couple broke up in 2005. So what is he looking for in a woman?
Lee, who was in town over the weekend for the closing ceremony of the inaugural ScreenSingapore film festival, said in fluent English: “My dream woman is someone who is funny and whom I can have a lot of funny conversations with over wine.
“Yes, there have been women like that whom I have met but somehow they were not meant to be. So I’m still waiting.”
Lee said during our interview at the Capella Singapore hotel that he was shocked some time ago when he saw a bus pull up outside his house.
About 100 fans got off the bus and entered his home as the gate was unlocked, taking pictures with his dogs and trees in his garden.
According to Lee, his manager “took care of them”.
During one summer in Korea, Lee had woken up “feeling hot” and, wearing only his underwear, he opened his window.
He got the shock of his life when he saw fans waving back at him just outside his window.
“I was almost naked, so of course I was taken aback,” he said.
“My house is the most private place to me, so I do want my fans to keep this place private for me.”
And since starring in G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra as the assassin Storm Shadow, he has more admirers from the US.
He is now filming the sequel directed by Jon Chu, the director of Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.
Lee said he takes it in his stride whenever fans in Asia tell him he is “very handsome” or “was really good in a drama”.
But when he walked the red carpet for the G.I. Joe premiere outside the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, he was touched by what some Korean-Americans shouted at him.
Recalled Lee: “Instead of the usual compliments, they said ‘We’re so proud of you’.
“I was representing (my people). That gave me goose bumps.”
Still, Lee admits he sometimes hankers for the ordinary life.
Lee, who grew up in a wealthy family, recalled how, a few years ago, he put on a disguise and borrowed his friend’s taxi for a few days to drive around to see what it was like as a cabby.
Said Lee: “When I was young, I thought that if I weren’t famous, I’d be a taxi driver.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t have a lot of experiences that other people had as I was born and raised so properly.”
Lee said he had borrowed his friend’s taxi though he didn’t have a cab licence, and donned a cap and flu mask for disguise.
“I really enjoyed listening to all the chit-chat from my passengers.”
Lee said he couldn’t accept money as that would be “wrong”, so he told his customers that since he wasn’t sure of the directions, he’d waive the fare.
While aunty passengers happily left the cab, male passengers were more suspicious of this masked do-gooder.
Recalled Lee with a laugh: “When I refused to accept their fares, they just threw the money at me and left.
“What was most memorable was an old man who was telling me about his son who didn’t want to get a job.
“He said to me ‘You’re a nice guy earning an honest living driving a taxi, not like my son’.”
This article was first published in The New Paper.