The Extreme Lengths Actress Lee Sung Kyung Went To For “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo”

The iconic role was too demanding on her body.

With almost a decade-long acting career, Lee Sung Kyung is one of the most beloved faces in the Korean entertainment industry today. And there is no denying that one of her breakthrough roles that truly catapulted her to prominence was in the 2016 K-Drama Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo.

Lee Sung Kyung | @heybiblee /Instagram
Lee Sung Kyung as Kim Bok Joo | MBC

Lee recently appeared as a special guest on BTS Suga’s YouTube show Suchwita, where she talked in detail about her acting career, divulging more about the grueling process she underwent to perfect her appearance as Kim Bok Joo.

Lee Sung Kyung with Suga on “Suchwita” | @BTS/YouTube

Lee Sung Kyung mentioned that she had to put on a lot of weight for the role since Bok Joo’s character was a weightlifter. While filming the drama, she was almost 10 kg heavier than her current weight. The transformation had to be done very quickly since she had only 15 days between finishing the filming for another show, The Doctors, and starting with Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo.

Even within those 15 days, Lee had to finish other commercial shoots before getting her hair cut into a short bob for the role. So, the time she had to put on that significant amount of weight was cut even shorter.

In order to perfect her appearance as Bok Joo, Lee had to resort to an unhealthy shortcut — eating spicy braised short ribs (Galbijjim) — though she could never handle spicy food that well. As a result, her face got puffy in the morning, achieving the same effect as gaining weight.

Lee Sung Kyung also mentioned that she was not worried about gaining weight but about not looking the part. As a supermodel who had the image of a thin body, she went to extreme ends to change her looks as Bok Joo, like eating late at night before going to bed, which ended up hurting her body with indigestion.

These extreme methods also left a lasting impression on the actress’s body, as she pointed out that she still has the stretch marks she got from such a drastic change in her body.

While Lee Sung Kyung admitted that it was physically demanding for her to transform into Bok Joo, she also considers the role a milestone that made her feel like a true actress.

Suga, too, was in consensus with Lee and her many fans who hold a special place for Kim Bok Joo in their hearts, saying that it is the most memorable role of Lee Sung Kyung in his opinion.

You can read more about Suga and Lee Sung Kyung’s friendship here.