Lee Si-young did not hesitate when offered the role of Seo I-kyung, a strong woman who fights monsters in the new horror k-drama Sweet Home. She previously appeared in Killer Toon, a film about a webtoon designer whose real life starts to mirror her gruesome creations, and she has long been a webtoon fan. A webtoon-based drama that offered action scenes was hard to resist.
“I have liked comics since I was a kid and the movie Killer Toon was the first movie I did based on comics,” said Lee. “I didn’t have any reason to ponder and I was honored to be part of it.”
In Sweet Home, a drama based on the horror webtoon of the same name, Lee plays a resident of Green Home, an apartment building where the human residents are becoming monsters. The monsters they become depend on what they wanted most when they were human. It will take a strong woman to stop these monsters and that woman is I-kyung.
“I am a retired firefighter in the series so I tend to protect people from danger,” said Lee. “When you have to confront monsters, it has to be me. Everyone encounters the monsters and so do I.”
The series is directed by Lee Eung-bok, known for such drama hits as Descendants of the Sun and Guardian: The Great and Lonely God. Lee’s Sweet Home co-stars include actors Song Kang, Lee Jin-uk and Lee Do-hyun. A chance to work with this particular cast and crew made the project even more desirable.
“I had no reason to reject working with the amazing director and actors,” said Lee.
A script that features fighting monsters provides ample opportunities for action scenes. For Lee, such scenes offer another way to express herself.
“I recently found out that I like using my body,” she said. “I am drawn to the fact that I can deliver emotion in action scenes.”
Lee has acted in both comedies and melodramas, as well as appearing in and hosting reality shows. She likes to perform her own action scenes, as she did—without CGI or stunt doubles—in the 2019 film No Mercy. She’s done action scenes in multiple dramas including Wild Romance and Guardians. She even learned boxing moves in preparation for a drama role. The drama never aired but boxing unexpectedly changed her life.
“I was thrilled by boxing, which was a totally different job than being an actress,” said Lee. “Appearance was one of the key factors of being an actress, whereas in boxing, your appearance didn’t count at all but, is rather under a risk of being damaged.”
Despite fighting opponents with more experience, Lee quickly established herself as a boxer by winning multiple amateur titles.
“I felt alive when I was on the ring,” said Lee. “I like the fluorescent light in the gym instead of the red carpet. I like the fact that every single drop of sweat counts instead of how pretty I look. Maybe I wanted to punish myself who was lazy and full of complaints back then.”
The actress dreamed of representing Korea as a boxer at the 2014 Asian Games, however injuries eventually forced her to retire from the sport.
“Boxing became another dream of mine,” she said. “It became a significant part of my life so I had no regret of things I had to give up. Acting had aspects that boxing didn’t and boxing had aspects that acting didn’t. They were complementary. Winning a boxing match didn’t matter. Because I knew better than anyone how hard I tried. What people think about me was not important. My challenge was completed and that was all that mattered.”
Lee credits the years she devoted to boxing with increasing her confidence.
“I met boxing in my hardest times and it made me stronger. In my eyes I am beautiful as who I am now. My match is still ongoing.”
Since playing Gu Hye-sun’s two-faced frenemy in the 2009 drama Boys Over Flowers, Lee has appeared in a drama every year, plus fitting in a few films. Over the last three years she’s appeared in the dramas Risky Romance, Liver Or Die and an episode of SF8.
Her character in Sweet Home does not exist in the original webtoon and was added to create a dramatic story arc. Lee is not sure how fans of the webtoon will react to this change, but as always she will work hard to bring her character to life.
“The director wanted a strong woman, and I did my best.”
Although Lee does not need CGI to film her action scenes, the drama’s special effects do make the monsters she fights even more terrifying. Lee says the Sweet Home scenes with CGI monsters are her favorite.
“I guarantee people will love those scenes in “Sweet Home,” she said.