South Korean drama It’s Okay To Not Be Okay has been the drama everyone is talking about these days as it explores a unique plot that has intrigued its viewers. Besides heartthrob Kim Soo Hyun, the show also stars Korean actress Seo Ye-Ji. Some of you might have seen her in previous dramas including Lawless Lawyer, but here are some things you might not have known about her.
Born on April 6, 1990 (an Aries!), Seo was relatively unknown internationally before It’s Okay To Not Be Okay aired. Many even thought she was a newbie. But Seo actually debuted in 2013 and has been in showbiz for seven years. She has been taking on roles in various dramas, including Moorim School: Saga of the Brave (2016), Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth (2016), Save Me (2017) and Lawless Lawyer (2018).
Her road to stardom started when she was discovered after she returned to Korea from Spain – where she was studying – to get orthodontic surgery. Seo’s initial ambition was to be a news anchor. As she was not mentally prepared to be an actress, and her family wanted her to complete her studies, she went back to Spain and embarked on the path of an actor in Korea after graduating.
With a height of 169cm, weight of 43kg and waist of 22 inches, Seo is known for her lean and long body. Many have described her figure with terms such as ant waist, palm-sized face, chopstick legs and crane neck (all considered compliments in South Korea).
Seo has once revealed that she has a body type that is difficult to gain weight. Her mother and sister also have a similar slender build. She added that she doesn’t skip meals to lose weight and had even gained two kilograms for the role.
Popular variety show host Yoo Jae-suk once praised Seo for possessing an unconventional beauty. Her cool, noble temperament and her polished movements, possibly attributed to her dance training, makes her exude a unique charm on-screen.
When she was younger, Seo learned ballet, while her current favourite exercise is yoga. Over time, it is no wonder that she has trained her disposition to be graceful and elegant.
Seo has a wide variety of hobbies and interests. She had once revealed on a show that she has accomplished eight different professional certifications ranging from teaching English to children, origami to balloon art. Her most notable achievement is actually being certified in sex education. She had clarified that this certification wasn’t because she was interested in sex, but rather to educate herself and learn how to protect herself.
Her origami skills have since become a stress-relieving hobby. She added that she has loved origami since young, which prompted her to procure the cert. And when she is feeling stressed, she would fold her troubles and worries into roses. We reckon this is worth a try when we feel stressed too.
Seo studied abroad in Spain for three years and graduated from Complutense University of Madrid’s Journalism faculty. In 2013, Seo debuted in the sitcom Potato Star 2013QR3 and she had a scene with a Spanish actor where she showed off her mastery of the language without a hitch.
The reason why Seo took up Spanish had to do with her low vocality. She once revealed in an interview that she had hated her voice as it is low and lacked femininity. The bass quality, however, was perfectly suited for the European language.
In the show, we see Seo sporting light, natural makeup. In reality, she rarely wears makeup. She had once revealed that she takes a minimalist approach to skincare, unlike the 10-step Korean skincare routine we’ve all heard of. She focuses on removing makeup and hydration while ensuring that the skin isn’t excessively cleansed. There are three major steps to her routine: the use of toner, serum and moisturiser, besides cleansing of course. Outside of work, she uses as little makeup as possible with the belief that piling it on will harm and suffocate the skin.
In addition, her jet black locks are also a result of meticulous care. Seo insists on not dyeing her hair for years and gets a trim every three weeks to ensure it looks smooth and lustrous.
It’s Okay To Not Be Okay isn’t the first partnership between Seo and Kim. In fact, the two had collaborated on a pudding dessert commercial in 2015, when Seo’s image was the pure and shy girl-next-door.
Besides Kim, Seo has worked with many notable male celebrities. These include Lee Joon-gi (Lawless Lawyer), Ok Taecyeon (Save Me), Park Seo-joon (Hwarang) and Kim Jae-wook (Another Way). Seo has also starred in Big Bang’s Let’s Not Fall In Love music video where she played the female lead and had many sweet moments with G-Dragon.
After working together on Lawless Lawyer in 2018 with Lee Joon-gi, Seo started gaining some fame internationally. Lee even stated that he had a great impression of Seo and that while he was worried about working with her at the start as he felt that she was one to keep a distance, he eventually discovered that she was a lively and deep person. Despite their eight-year age gap, the two get along as though they are of the same age.
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In 2017, Seo starred opposite Kim Jae-wook in the movie Another Way. The film followed the two person as they are about to commit suicide. Here, Seo faced her the challenge of her first large-scale sex scene where she shyly recalled how she was stiff like a block. The filming of the scene took over 11 hours and eventually a small drink calmed her nerves and she was able to overcome her mental block and finish filming the scene.
While we see Seo as a steely and cold person in the drama, she’s actually a warm-hearted woman who loves to laugh. In her debut production Potato Star 2013QR3, Seo and Go Kyung-pyo played bickering siblings and there were many hilarious arguing scenes that showed off her comedic side.
In the same production, Seo had gotten close to veteran actor Lee Soon-jae, who played her grandfather. In the variety show Grandpas Over Flowers, he had revealed that after learning that he was heading to Spain for a vacation, Seo had written a 10-page long guide to the Spanish language to prepare him in case of emergency. This gesture moved him deeply.
Text: Lee Yen/ICON. Translation by Ho Guo Xiong.