Ex-Miss Korea finds new life as yoga expert

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Ex-Miss Korea finds new life as yoga expert

Since wrapping up the TV series “Seonnyeowa Sagikkun” (The Fairy and the Crook) last August, the actress Choi Yun-yeong has created two yoga videos and opened a yoga studio. In April, she added a book to her yoga credentials: “Choi Yun-young’s Daily 30 Minute Yoga.” So it’s little wonder that Ms. Choi has become better known as a yoga teacher rather than an actress.
“I actually learned yoga when I was in high school in New York, but I didn’t like it much back then,” said the 29-year-old studio owner. “It was only three or four years ago that I began to get into yoga, after being exhausted by show business; yoga really worked this time.”
She harbored no plans to open a yoga studio until people who became interested in yoga by watching her videos started asking where they could learn it themselves. At the time, centers offering yoga instruction were uncommon; that helped motivate her to dive into yoga-teaching herself and eventually run a yoga center and a yoga Web site.
Things weren’t quite as smooth for her while making the second video in Thailand this March. She was introducing exercises to do on the bed when the police rushed in and confiscated all of the tapes she’d been shooting under the assumption that they were pornographic.
Though the tapes were eventually returned, she described the experience as frightening and frustrating. After departing from the island after the film shoot, the boat stopped in the middle of the sea for no obvious reason, and it was a while before she returned to the mainland.
Asked whether she has given up her career as an actress, Ms. Choi firmly said, “Not at all,” adding that she intended to focus on yoga only until the business became stable.
In fact, she has been keeping up with the acting all along: She has been featured in the occasional commercial and will be in a TV series as well as a movie this fall or winter.
Nine years have passed since she debuted on the TV series “Papa,” one year after being crowned Miss Korea in 1995.
“It was a spontaneous decision to participate in the Miss Korea contest,” she said. “At that time I was attending college in Boston, and my mom and her friends suggested I should enter the contest. My conservative father, who wouldn’t have approved of it, was out of town on business, so that is how I went and became Miss New York, and the second Miss Korea.”
At first, acting posed a sizeable challenge. “I never went to acting school, and my Korean sounded awkward. I was under a lot of pressure since I had to play the main character,” she said.
“I always thought that my part came up too often. When it was my turn, I would feel it was too soon. People seemed to like the show, however. Some people even said I should marry Jeong Chan, whom I was paired with to make a couple because we looked perfect together,” she said.
Ms. Choi has been on many other TV series since then, but she also said being a yoga instructor has been counterproductive to her acting career. “Before I became better known as a yoga teacher, I would get normal roles, but now I keep getting manly roles, involving stunts. Anyhow, I think that a good actor should be able to play different kinds of characters.”
One subject that the actress declined to address was her love life. She said only that marriage should be an option, not an obligation. But Ms. Choi still predicted she would be married within 10 years since she doesn’t like to be lonely.

by Joo Jung-wan
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