Korean actress Lee Min Jung on how she kept marriage to actor Lee Byung Hyun strong despite scandal

Actress Lee Min Jung says having a son has been life-changing for her and actor-husband Lee Byung Hun.
Actress Lee Min Jung says having a son has been life-changing for her and actor-husband Lee Byung Hun.PHOTO: ONE

In the three years South Korean actress Lee Min Jung has been married to A-list actor husband Lee Byung Hun, their union has produced a one-year-old son, but it has also been hit by a blackmail scandal.

Two female entertainers - a model and a member of a now- defunct pop group - were charged last year with threatening to upload a video in which the actor made lewd remarks to them.

Lee Min Jung has kept mum about the controversy, but she alludes to it when sharing her secret to main- taining a loving marriage.

In an e-mail interview with The Straits Times, the 34-year-old says: "Every relationship has problems but you don't throw it away when it's not working. You fix it, just like how everyone used to fix their telephones and television sets. These days, people just throw them away and buy new ones."

She was promoting her new drama, Please Come Back, Mister. The fantasy comedy, which also stars singer-actor Rain, is about deceased souls inhabiting the bodies of other people to fulfil their unfinished business. It is airing in Singapore on Channel One.

Lee's marriage seems to be back on track. Talking about the joys of being a first-time parent, she says: "It's life-changing - our lifestyle, the places we dine at, the time we go to bed. People start talking to you about your child more than the beauty products you are using.

"I've always wanted to be fully ready to be a mum, but I realised no matter how much preparation you make, you will never be fully ready. I love it so far, it's beautiful to wake up to see my son. I don't remember the days when my life was without him."

She adds that her husband, who had starred in Hollywood action flicks Red 2 (2013) and G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra and its sequel (2009, 2013), helped out with the diaper- changing when she was busy shooting Please Come Back, Mister, her first drama after becoming a mother.

Another sign that their marriage has not suffered from the scandal came earlier this month, when Lee Byung Hun, 44, thanked his wife and son for "all the love and support through good times and bad" in his acceptance speech at the Asian Film Awards for Best Actor Award.

She admits that as a working mother, it is hard to be away from her son.

"Work-life balance is a goal that nobody really achieves. You can never stop thinking about something if it matters to you. I think of my son even when I am at work," she says.

When it comes to parenting, she says she is likely to be the bad cop. "We haven't talked this through yet, but I think I'll be the strict mum, although daddy looks fiercer. I'll answer you again when we get there."

•Please Come Back, Mister airs on One (Singtel TV Channels 513 and 604, and StarHub TV Channels 124, 820 and 823) on Thursday and Friday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'K-stars' marriage survives blackmail scandal'. Print Edition | Subscribe