South Korea is a country known for its absolutely gorgeous presidential bodyguards with beauty and poise that would inevitably distract even the most focused of assassins. Earlier this year, Choi Young-Jae blew up the Internet with his chiseled jaw and smoldering gaze. Fans of all things badass and beautiful will be fascinated to meet Lee Su Ryeon, South Korea’s first female bodyguard for the Blue House.
From an early age, Lee trained in martial arts. After studying English in college and working as a reporter for a time, she applied to be one of the president’s personal bodyguards. Her friends, family, and news colleagues were bewildered that she applied and got the job.
Training for the job was rigorous, and Lee had to wake up as early as 4 AM to train in martial arts like Taekwondo, Judo, and Hapkido as well as military exercises. A presidential bodyguard has to be prepared for anything, and Lee gained skills from working with the special police squad, the Marine Corps, airborne, and even the underwater demolition unit.
While the experience was grueling, Lee remembers it fondly. She said “Though it was tough, I was able to hang in there with a sense of pride. It was special that I was turning myself into someone willing to be killed on behalf of others.”
In her decade long career, Lee even got to be head of security at G20 and ASEM summit, but admits that she experienced sexism: “he unit was composed of experienced soldiers and policemen who were older than I. Their reluctance to work with a young female was quite obvious.”
She’s protected politicians from all over the world, including George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in addition to three South Korean presidents.
While collaborating with American soldiers, she was asked if she was ninja because they reasoned that someone of her size and gender had to have special skills to be in her line of work.
In her mid 30’s, Lee made a career choice nobody could have foreseen. Stepping down from her security role to become an actress.
She adds ” I thought it would be boring to live a life that is too predictable.”
At first, Lee found acting to be a challenging change of pace, recounting that when she was a bodyguard, “I had to kill the feelings inside me to carry out my role. I had to numb myself, sadly, to cover up my actual feelings.”
She’s a big fan of action movies like Kingsman: The Secret Service and thrillers like Gone Girl.
However, the uncertainty was short-lived, and Lee adores her new vocation, saying, “Now I love acting. The more I try to bring out the feelings inside me, the more I can understand the feelings of other people. I feel alive.”
Just as she paved a way in the field of security, Lee hopes to be a face of diversity for women and Asians in the entertainment industry.
Photos from Koreaboo