[September 2014 – Grazia] Lee Gook Joo – Inside her heart


Grazia - Lee Guk Jool


What did you think of today’s concept?

I really enjoyed this change. Such change is like a dream for gag women, especially for someone like me who portrayed fun and crazy characters. I used to look at other people’s photo shoots as if it weren’t for me and I thought “ah, so pretty”. Being able to experience this myself was really great.

Althought you didn’t get almost any sleep and you’re tired?

I’m fine because it’s about doing something different. Most of my activities are similar, so I feel like I was breaking away. And I was treated quite well, so I didn’t have a hard time.

Your facial expressions are the most important aspect of your acting. You’re very talented.

I have the talent but no style. I must have my own style.

So what should be said? It feels like you’re loving yourself more. Like you figured out what people love about you and your standards about beauty are established.

It’s not like that when I’m in front of a man I like. I feel little. I’m not confident about my looks, so I wonder if I shouldn’t be prettier. However, I’m feeling that I’m working on more exciting things and I care more about that than love these days. Before, love was my everything. I had to have someone I liked in my life.

Your style is to make your life just about love?

Yes. It was more about love than work for me. However, I feel like I’m a bit over this now. Work is going well for me and I really don’t have time to worry about anything else. As a gag woman, as a human being, I feel like my self-confidence is at its best right now.

What do you think about a lot these days?

I wasn’t busy for the past 9 years. I wasn’t funny. I hear “you’re so funny” these days so much that I’m sure that I’m definitely working hard. I tell myself that I was really an ordinary gag woman before. I really had a lot of free time. At that time, I used to tell myself that life was tough, but this isn’t the hard part. Right now, I’m telling myself “here are the many things I can do on broacast”.

You were chosen as the number 1 disliked celebrity in the past. However, things turned around and you’re completely loved. I think you know better than anyone else the limit between “love” and “hate”.

Now when people see me they laugh. There aren’t that many people who dislike me. I’m thankful for that. Technically, I actually weight more today. Almost 20kg. I think the reason for me being liked now despite all of this is because I’m entertaining. My job is more about making people laugh than giving them emotion, so there are reactions like “ah, here comes again the funny girl”. I feel like people got used to see me this way and they like me now.

When it comes to “make people laugh”, there must be subtle adjustment about it because the same joke can make you hated or liked.

I must know the standards of the general audience or the viewers. There are many times  when there’s division between us about what’s strong and what’s weak. This is something we must be aware of and know. I don’t show my stomach. There are sunbaenims who think it’s funny when a chubby person wears a tank top and moves around, but I never like it. Of course, when I must wear short pants and dance, there’s a synergy, but I think my stomach is something I’m a bit more sensitive about.

Instead of saying things like “yes, I’m fat. I’m a pig” in a way of self-torture, the reactions are good when I say things like “I’m okay. Y’all are the weird ones.” And my partners on stage also dislike talking to me with words like “fatty, pig”. That’s why I always try my best to go out strong more than trying to make people laugh by revealing my body.

But in Korean TV programs, when there’s a corner with beautiful people and non beautiful people, each one of them has to match the role they’re required to play. Isn’t it frustrating?

There’s nothing frustrating about it because it was my choice to become a gag woman. I made the choice to do what I was offered to do. It’s something gag women are really cool about. I know exactly which role I should play, so I get nervous when another character like me appears in a scene. I wonder if she’ll captivate others. It shows how much I’m not depressed or get stressed because of the set character I play.

Still, there must be times when you have a mental breakdown. Who doesn’t?

To be honest, I don’t have an answer. If I couldn’t bear it, I’d have no other choice but quit. However, when I think about what I would do if I quit, there’s no answer either.

Have you already thought about that?

Of course! If company workers don’t think “I want to quit”, then it means they actually don’t go to work. They can’t go because they think “what will I do if I quit?”. I used to draw until college. When I was going through a hard time in my rookie days, I wonder if I should go back to drawing and 9 years have already passed since then. Even if I were to go back to this path, it would take a long time. Yet, I went through so many happy and enjoyable experiences to get here. I did it because I wanted to, so I can endure the rest.

You mean you can endure it because the enjoyment is bigger?

If I hadn’t endured it for the past 9 years, I wouldn’t have been able to do this kind of photo shoot, I wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to go on “Infinity Challenge” and “Running Man”. Living good things like this makes everything great.

You often use the word “amazing”. What is the thing you’re doing these days that you find amazing the most?

I am so exhausted. So when I tell myself “am I going to this program?”, this is the most amazing thing for me. The best programs of the 3 channels made me offers. It is so exciting to go to these programs.

What is even more interesting? Between doing programs where you can do ad-libs or show your own charm and going on stage after coming up with ideas.

What’s interesting is to film as if I was just playing a game and having fun and not brainstorming ideas. We filmed for a day. How awesome it was to spend so much energy in one day! I want to try this kind of games whenever I can.

Like you did with Yoo Jae Suk?

Yes, it was really entertaining. I felt at ease. However, what I must definitely do is “Comedy Big League”. No matter how hard finding ideas can be, it’s a program that I can’t afford to miss.


Because these ideas are the reason why work is going well for me. When gag women do variety programs, it often happens that they suddenly give up on doing gags and none of the ones who did give up made it afterwards. (Jang) Dong Min and (Ahn) Young Mi, all of them are working right. I think they’re sensitive and awesome. They hold meetings while they’re also busy working on other things. I’ve been watching them for 9 years, so I think this is the way to really last in this industry.

As people would say, your popularity just went “boom” in just a few months. Do you feel like people treat you differently? In a good or in a bad way?

Things are different. They seem to really pay attention to me and to care. I’m scared when I wonder if this kind of attention will still be here when work won’t be good. I’m scared because it’s my first time receiving this kind of love.

How does it feel? How is it to think that everybody loves you?

I’m not really aware of it. All I do is work. I’ve never been to Myeong-dong or eat in crowded places. I think I’d be shaking if I’d actually feel it.


If I enjoy this situation, won’t I miss out on other things? Even if it’s not a constant feeling, I feel it enough through my work, so I feel like right now is the time for me to just work quietly. Everything I do right now is really taking over my mind.

While you’re a fixed member of several variety programs, you’re preparing the musical “Dream Girls”, right?

I’m working on many projects, so while I’m doing okay physically, things get complicated in my head. I wonder if I can handle doing all of these things. I think now is the time for me to calmly prepare for the long run.

When you feel like this, who do you mostly turn to to share your worries?

Young Mi-unnie and Jung Juri. They’re both successful. They were successful before me, so they really listen to me. When I receive so much attention, they tell me that I must be careful. Whatever comes to me, I ask them for advice to figure out if I should do it or not. They did everything, so they’re not jealous and they give unconditional support. They tell me things like “just enjoy everything and take on all the challenges”, “you don’t know when you hit it big, so just do everything.”

What do you do in your daily life? When you’re not working…

I like eating and watching animation movies at home. I’m managing a big shopping mall, so when I get some free time, I mostly go to the mall. I work over there, I check the samples we receive, the photo shoots with models. I don’t rest easily.

Are you the type to stay at home when you’re having fun?

I don’t really like going out. I have fun by cooking something good and inviting my friends over.

Do you drink alcohol?

I’m a very good drinker?

Your alcohol tolerance?

3 bottles of soju? I’m quite busy these days, so I don’t really drink. I drank once and almost died because I was really going through a hard time.

How is it when you’re in a relationship?

I don’t really have aegyo. If I miss you, I go see you, if I want to give you something, I give you everything.

You’re the caring type like a mom?

Yes, I am. I like difficult men, men who aren’t burdened by being taken care of. Many men left me because they felt burdened. This happiness was too much for them. I like people who accept what I give them and don’t take advantage of me. Like being thankful for eating the food I cook for them and wearing couple outfits.

You even take care of his fashion style?

I must to, if he really can’t dress. It would be embarrassing to walk around with him.

Which type of men do you usually fall for? You know how there’s usually a difference between our ideal type and people we fall for in reality.

Tiny flower boys are my ideal type, but I fall for bad guys. Those who look indifferent. I really hate when they turn the focus on me. If they actually say “do you want something?”, I hate it even more. I guess I have a man’s personality.

You feel burdened when you’re on the receiving end?

Because I think “why give this to me? We’re not dating yet”. I like when people don’t go all in. Ah, and I hate people who graduated from a good college because they were good at studying.


Because it’s burdensome when you feel the other person is always trying to teach you something. There are people who are good at one thing and can succeed. Rather your business is doing good, you have talent and you can have one specialized job, this is the kind of people I like because these people are smart too.

Are you in a relationship?

It’s been 7 months since the breakup.

How long did the two of you stay together?

Up to 700 days? It was the first and last time for me.

Aren’t you still going through a tough time?

I’m much better. Although it wasn’t dating, I did meet many other people. Once we broke up, work picked up for me, so I see things in a positive way. I feel that now it’s the time to work more than it is to love.


t/n: I’ve been working on this translation for more than a month. I’m still not satisfied with it because I feel some things are confusing, especially about her vision of love… But if I don’t post it now, I’ll never post it.

Original article: Grazia
Translation: @onesunnylady – thesunnytown.com


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