Illness is no barrier to actress’s education

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Illness is no barrier to actress’s education

A 61-year-old actress, Lee Ju-sil, obtained a second college degree last week while continuing a decade-long battle against breast cancer.
“I didn’t know that the pleasure of learning would provide such great vitality to my life,” said Ms. Lee, who received a degree in social welfare from Kkottongnae Hyundo University in North Chungcheong province.
In 1993, she was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer, and had to undergo surgery twice, along with chemotherapy.
Ms. Lee made the decision to study social welfare and counseling theory while she was teaching theater arts and doing counseling at Youngsan Sungji High School in Yeonggwang, South Jeolla province. “Many people tried to dissuade me from studying because of my health condition,” Ms. Lee said.
She entered the university in 2001, while taking medicine that frequently produced nausea, and so she always sat near the exit of a classroom. Ms. Lee even fainted once while taking an exam.
But things began changing for her last year, when she was in her senior year, as she regained strength and stopped the medication.
Breathing the fresh air on a campus in a rural town had some benefit. Ms. Lee stopped covering her pale face with makeup and began wearing jeans. She hung out with people of her children’s age and joined a choir.
Ms. Lee said she was very interested in her courses, which included Korean literature. “Homework was overwhelming and my grades were bad, but I indulged myself in learning,” she said.
She plans to continue her studies as well as do volunteer work for North Korean defector students, and also plans to return to the stage this year.
Ms. Lee has appeared in the hit plays “La Femme Rompue” and “Mayonnaise.”


by Ahn Nam-young
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