South Korean heartthrob Lee Seung-gi on training to play a gangster

Multi-talented Lee Seung-gi also hosts variety programme All The Butlers and the recently released reality TV show Produce 48. He hopes to release new music next year.
Multi-talented Lee Seung-gi also hosts variety programme All The Butlers and the recently released reality TV show Produce 48. He hopes to release new music next year.ST PHOTO: SONG TAO

South Korean star Lee Seung-gi gets in shape at martial arts schools for his role in action drama Vagabond

It is out of the fantasy world and into reality for South Korean heart-throb Lee Seung-gi.

The 31-year-old star of A Korean Odyssey, a modern spin-off of the Chinese classic novel Journey To The West, is undergoing intense training for his new role in the upcoming action drama Vagabond, slated for next year's release.

In A Korean Odyssey, his character Son Oh-gong is a powerful immortal based on the monkey king character of Sun Wukong from the novel.

Lee, who met The Straits Times for a 15-minute interview at the Grand Hyatt hotel last Saturday, says through a translator: "In Vagabond, I'm acting like a gangster, it's very tough. I have to use my body for action scenes and there is nothing gentlemanly about this character at all. Most of my acting has been for fantasy-based shows like A Korean Odyssey. But for Vagabond, it is totally different."

To get in shape, he has been training for three hours a day and at martial arts schools as well. After arriving in Singapore last Friday, he even headed to a gym in Orchard Road to continue his exercise regime.

Lee, who was last here in 2013, says: "I went there not expecting anyone to recognise me, but they did and asked for photographs. I hadn't shaved and felt very bad to reject them."

The multi-talented singer-actor held a fan meet last Saturday, co-organised by AC Music Entertainment and Red Spade Entertainment, which was attended by more than 1,400 fans at Zepp@Bigbox in Jurong East.

Dubbed The Ballad King, Lee sang four songs - Because You're My Girl, Unfinished Story, Smile Boy and Let's Go On A Trip. Fans also got up close with the friendly star through various games and activities.

Lee is hoping to release new music next year as it is back to filming for Vagabond this year in South Korea. He will also be travelling to Portugal and Morocco to shoot on location.

And, as far as possible, he has been working on his own stunts.

He says: "We do have body doubles and stuntmen, but it is important for an actor to do the scenes as well, to ensure the action is of good quality."

Vagabond also marks his on-screen reunion with Korean singer-actress Bae Suzy, whom he starred with five years ago in fantasy-romance Gu Family Book.

The busy actor also hosts variety programme All The Butlers and the recently released reality TV show Produce 48.

On which gig - singing, acting or hosting - he enjoys the most, Lee says: "I can't laugh so much in my everyday life as much as I do when I'm hosting. When acting, I can wear another person's clothes and act out the attractiveness of a particular character, which is very interesting for me. Singing is something I love as well. It is whatever I'm doing at that point in time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2018, with the headline 'Training to play a gangster'. Print Edition | Subscribe