Feisty bossy role gets the thumbs up from actress

My Horrible Boss' hot-tempered female boss Ok Da Jung is played by Lee Yo Won (above).
My Horrible Boss' hot-tempered female boss Ok Da Jung is played by Lee Yo Won (above).PHOTO: JTBC

Korean actress Lee Yo Won relished the chance to portray a hot- tempered female boss in the office comedy, My Horrible Boss, in part for viewer gratification.

In an e-mail interview, the 36-year-old explains that the draw of the drama lies in the atypical female and male characterisations.

Her feisty character Ok Da Jung is at odds with her angelic, meek male subordinate Nam Jung Gi (Yoon Sang Hyun).

"I also felt that many viewers will be satisfied vicariously by my role, which is why I took on the challenge of playing Ok," adds Lee, who is famed for playing the titular protagonist in historical series Queen Seondeok (2009).

Off-screen, the roles are reversed, Lee says. "I haven't encountered many horrible bosses in real life, but I tend to act like Nam in front of horrible bosses."

Still, Lee professes to sharing common ground with her on-screen character, even candidly admitting to losing her temper at times.

"I also stick to my own belief and say what I think is right. Since Ok was similar to the real me, the shooting was really fun for me too," adds Lee, who wed professional golfer Park Jin Woo in 2003.

The drama's scriptwriter injected an element of fun by penning a fantasy scene where Ok transforms into the Japanese comic heroine Sailor Moon.

The mother of three donned the sailor-inspired costume, complete with pigtails. She says: "It was the first time for me to shoot that kind of scene, so it was awkward and embarrassing for me.

"But Yoon made it comfortable for me, so it was much easier. We shot the scene together joyfully. People around me said the Sailor Moon costume fit me really well."

The adventurous actress tells The Straits Times that her idea of an ideal role is a character she has never portrayed.

She has a penchant for unusual roles and plots.

In the mystery movie, The Recipe (2010), a TV producer searches for Lee's mysterious character, whose tasty soya bean paste soup leaves a murderer on death row craving the dish as his last meal.

In the supernatural romance drama, 49 Days (2011), Lee's depressed convenience-store worker is possessed by a ghost on a mission to return to life.

TV audiences will best remember her turn as the charismatic Queen Seondeok, based on the first female ruler in Korean history.

She says: "Since Queen Seondeok was a great woman in history, it was quite an impactful role for me. I believe it will be hard to surpass that role, since I can't have the role of president."

•My Horrible Boss is available on StarHub's online streaming service, StarHub Go.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Feisty bossy role gets the thumbs up from actress'. Subscribe