In a heartfelt chat with Producer Na Young Seok on his YouTube channel “fullmoon,” Lee Dong Wook opened up about his personal struggles following a career slump. The star of the Disney Plus original series A Shop for Killers divulged for the first time the depth of his crisis post the drama Life, saying, “I’m speaking about this for the first time, but I had a severe slump after ‘Life.’ I didn’t leave my house for about a month.”
Reflecting on the time, Lee Dong Wook expressed his frustration and disappointment, which led him to consider drastic measures. “I was criticized for my performance and the negative reviews of the work and myself became a target for attack. I was so disappointed that I didn’t want to act anymore. I seriously considered emigrating; I was thirty-seven at the time,” he shared.
Lee Dong Wook felt that the disappointment surrounding the project was attributed to him, causing him to doubt his career choice. “It seemed like all the regrets about this project were directed at me. I felt like it’d have been more loved and successful had I not been a part of it. I thought, ‘I shouldn’t be an actor.’ The only time I left the house was to work out. After one or two weeks, I felt useless and had negative thoughts, so I moved my body. Working out cleared my head,” he explained.
The turning point came with the fellow actor Gong Yoo. “I was consistently working out, but I also drank afterward, so my body wasn’t getting any better. Gong Yoo was the person who dragged me out of the house,” Lee Dong Wook recounted. “He called me to come out around 11 p.m. I was worried he might bring up my struggles, but he didn’t mention any of it. Just having everyday conversations made me realize, ‘My real world is right here,’ and I gradually escaped my slump.”
While sharing his journey, Lee Dong Wook also expressed admiration for veteran actors like Jung Woo Sung, Lee Jung Jae, and Lee Byung Hun. “These guys born in 1970 and 1971 are still going strong. There’s no room to barge in. They are holding on too tightly,” he noted with respect, adding, “I will work hard to catch up.” Yet, he clarified that his feelings leaned more toward admiration than jealousy, “I used to be a bit jealous when I was younger, but there’s no point. It’s more about envy and aspiration.”