Jewel In The Palace star Lee Young Ae returns for her first TV role in 12 years

Korean actress Lee Young Ae and her co-star Song Seung Heon at the press conference to promote K-drama Saimdang, the Herstory in Korea, Gangwon.
Korean actress Lee Young Ae and her co-star Song Seung Heon at the press conference to promote K-drama Saimdang, the Herstory in Korea, Gangwon.PHOTO: GROUP 8

Korean actress Lee Young Ae, 44 , was an eligible bachelorette when she starred in the cult hit Jewel In The Palace in 2003.

Taking on her first TV role in 12 years, Lee is now a wife and mother of twins.

As a working mother, she says that she can identify with her historical character Shin Saimdang,  a famed 16th century painter-poet who is depicted on the Korean 50,000 won bill.

"I can relate to the historical figure Shin Saimdang, who walked the same journey as a mother and a wife. She was also a gifted painter. She's a working mother like myself," says Lee, who has largely remained out of the spotlight since getting married to a Korean businessman, Jeong Ho Yeong, 59, in 2009. She gave birth to twins in 2011.

She was speaking at a press conference alongside co-star Song Seung Heon in Korea to promote the drama Saimdang, The Herstory, earlier on Monday (Nov 30). The session was held at Gangwon-do, where filming is taking place at the historical site of Shin's home.

The drama will alternate between the present and past. Lee takes on a dual role, and will also play a Korean art university lecturer in modern times.

Saimdang, The Herstory will premiere in 2016 on cable channel Oh!K (StarHub TV Channel 816).

Actor Song, 39, is a bone fide Hallyu star, but he is still in awe of  veteran actress Lee. He starred in K-drama hit Autumn In My Heart (2000).

Song, who plays Shin's love interest in the drama, says: "There was a scene where I was angry at Saimdang. I was mad on the surface, but I could hear my heart thumping really hard. I was very nervous around her because it's a real honour for me to act opposite her."

nggwen@sph.com.sg