Lee Bon Back in Showbiz After 7-Year Sabbatical

      December 12, 2011 07:29

      Lee Bon

      Lee Bon is a mistress of reinvention and a one-woman recipe for success in Korea's celebrity circles, having seen her career transition from TV actress to radio DJ to host on a reality TV show.

      She said talent alone is not enough to cut it in show business, but that inexhaustible passion for your craft and a tireless work ethic are also necessary ingredients to survive in the notoriously tough industry.

      "I never took one day off while I worked as a radio DJ for nine years and six months," she said. "I think I had someone stand in for me just once."

      Lee debuted in 1993 as an actress on domestic soaps and earned public recognition after performing in five TV dramas. She then made a career change and rose to stardom as a radio DJ. Having worked her way into listeners' hearts as the voice of "Volume Up" on KBS 2FM, her next move came as something of a shock: she abruptly stepped down in October 2004 and announced her intention to leave showbiz.

      "I got tired of it and I wanted to take a break for a while. That's why I decided to quit," she said. "Now that I look back on it, I think I needed that time out sooner or later."

      "After I left, I never listened to radio. I think I intentionally avoided because I feared I would miss it," she added.

      She recently returned to the spotlight after seven years of silence with a reality survival show on SBS Plus. The show features singers who enjoyed their heyday in the 1990s and are looking to revive their flagging careers.

      During her extended sabbatical, Lee decided to spend the rest of her 30s exploring the world, but it was the Big Apple that captured her imagination.

      "I was barely in Korea," she said. "I traveled around Europe for seven to eight months, and stayed in New York for quite some time. I tried to do everything I wanted to do without feeling limited by time."

      As she was recuperating from her years as a workaholic, she began entertaining vague thoughts of making a comeback. "I was so happy during my break. I learned so much and met so many good people, so I was never bored. But the thought of returning to the industry just started to stick," she said.

      "To be honest, it feels like I came back from a very long trip. I can't even feel that I was away for such a long time. It would be a lie to say that I'm not nervous and excited at the same time, but I also feel strangely relaxed," she said.

      "When I met the staff in the recording studios, they were almost the same. The only different thing now is that there are more unfamiliar faces, and the number of cameras increased from three or four to seven or eight," said Lee.

      She said she hopes to appear "more often in TV series as a serious actress" in the future.

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