Handsome bodyguard of South Korea President Moon Jae In speaks up about 'surreal' global attention

Netizens have been aflutter over a bodyguard of South Korean President Moon Jae In, likening Choi Young Jae to Kevin Costner's character in the Hollywood movie The Bodyguard.
Netizens have been aflutter over a bodyguard of South Korean President Moon Jae In, likening Choi Young Jae to Kevin Costner's character in the Hollywood movie The Bodyguard.PHOTO: TWITTER/ELENA YIP

SEOUL - A bodyguard of Moon Jae In has spoken of his embarrassment over "stealing the limelight" from the South Korea President, days after sparking an international media frenzy with his chiselled good looks.

"It does not feel real yet," Choi Young Jae, 36, told The Korea Times on Tuesday (May 16). "I feel good...but I'm concerned about the spotlight and attention focused on me.

"Attention should be paid to the President, not me. I don't want to steal the limelight." 

The commando-turned-businessman, who shadowed Moon during the latter's presidential campaign, has become a global sensation after snapshots of him went viral.

Some news outlets have even compared him with Kevin Costner in the 1992 Hollywood hit movie The Bodyguard.

Choi is not a professional bodyguard, reported the Korea Times. He studied security service at Yong In University and served in South Korea's Special Warfare Command as an officer for 10 years, the report said.  

During that time, the master of multiple martial arts was sent to Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates as a member of United Nations peacekeeping forces where he taught and implemented counter-terror campaigns, VIP protection and other confidential missions.

He assembled a 10-member security team -- all trained at the Special Warfare Command -- for Moon in February, shortly after he secured intelligence of a terror plot against the then presidential hopeful, and protected him until the role was handed to the presidential security team last week, the Korea Times said.

 

"I volunteered to help accomplish his great cause to 'rebuild the country'. We paid for the entire expense of the bodyguards ourselves," he told the paper.

"As a longtime supporter of Moon, I just wanted to help him," Choi added. "I just wanted to play a small role in helping Moon accomplish his long-cherished mission of rebuilding the country."

Choi, who is married with two daughters, was now enjoying a short break before returning to his business, but he did not disclose what it was.

"I couldn't play with my children for a long time," he said. "I would like to spend time with my family before returning to my work."

He concluded the interview with this message for Moon: "You belong to Korean citizens now. Please stay safe and healthy! Only when you are healthy can you make a country worthy of being proud of, where its citizens are cared for as the first priority. Please stay healthy!"