30 years at the top and going strong

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30 years at the top and going strong


Currently in the middle of rehearsals for the musical “Pippin,” premiering on Nov. 18 at the Chungmu Art Hall, Yoon Bok-hee, 59, is celebrating 30 years in show business. When asked how she could be in the industry for so long and still look so young, her response was frank.
“Today I don’t know how much time I spent putting on makeup,” she said. “I wear fake eyelashes and put on lip gloss.” Ms. Yoon is very straightforward, somewhat unconstrained and very unpredictable.
“In the past, if you decided to become an entertainer, you would be kicked out of your house,” she said. “I did not care what other people thought and bet my life on the stage. I have lived quite a difficult life for almost 60 years.”
Ms. Yoon started appearing in musicals in 1976, joining the Hyundai Theater Company and taking the main role of Edith Piaf in “Padam Padam Padam.” Since then, she has been a leading figure in show business.
With regard to her life onstage, Ms. Yoon said, “I first appeared on stage when I was six years old in 1952. My late father, Yoon Bu-gil, directed a piece titled ‘Christmas,’ and it involved singing and dancing. Speaking of it in today’s terms, it would have been called a musical. It was a trivial role, but I started my 53-year-long acting career with a musical. So my debut was more than 30 years ago.”
She has a fondness for Robert Louis Fosse, the dancer and writer of the musical, “Pippin.” “In the 1970s when I was in the United States, my dance teacher was the best pupil of Robert Fosse. Their dances have such refinement and I am going to show that onstage.”
Her off stage life is also as dynamic as her musical roles. A month ago, she moved into a 100-square-meter (1,076 square feet) apartment in Gwangju, Gyeonggi province.
“From my apartment I can see creeks and the forest. The house is cheap too,” Ms. Yoon said.
When preparing for a show, she often goes without eating all day. “I call it fasting, because I feel guilty when I perform with my stomach full,” she said.
Ms. Yoon was divorced 30 years ago, and has been single ever since. “I’m almost 60 years old, but there are still men who propose to me,” she said, laughing.
She added, however, that she is unlikely to remarry.

by Choi Min-woo
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