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Lee Soon-jae as King Lear
Photo Credit: Yang Hae-sung

South Korean actor Lee Soon-jae has appeared on the small and big screen for over 60 years. In Fall 2021, Lee accepted the role of King Lear in a new production directed by Lee Hyon-u, English professor at Soon Chun Hyang University, vice president of the Shakespeare Association of Korea, and a longtime collaborator of the MIT Global Shakespeare Project. The script which was translated by Professor Lee remains faithful to William Shakespeare’s original play. However, actress Lee Yeon Hee played both Cordelia, Lear’s youngest daughter, and the Fool. In this play, Cordelia disguises herself as the Fool, traveling with Lear until she is able to bring the French army to her father’s aid.

Lee Yeon Hee as Cordelia with Lee Soon-jae as King Lear
Photo Credit: Yang Hae-sung

The play was performed in the CJ Towol Theater at the Seoul Arts Center. Regular performances ran from 30 October to 21 November 2021, and encore performances ran for another two weeks from 24 November to 5 December 2021. Each performance had a running time of 200 minutes. Lee Soon-jae who was also the artistic director of this production played the role of King Lear in all the performances. During the regular performances, the eldest daughter Goneril was played by So Yoo-jin and Ji Joo-yeon, and the second daughter Regan was played by Oh Jeong-yeon and Seo Song-hee. In her stage debut, Lee Yeon Hee alone played the roles of Cordelia and Fool. For the encore performances, the roles of Cordelia and Fool were played by Park Bo-hyeon, and Goneril was played by King Sun-ae and Ji Joo-yeon.

Lee Yeon Hee as Cordelia
Photo Credit: Yang Hae-sung

Lee Yeon Hee as the Fool with Lee Soon-jae as King Lear
Photo Credit: Yang Hae-sung

For additional information, here are articles about this production of King Lear.

Lee Soon-jae becomes oldest King Lear in Korea : The DONG-A ILBO (

At 86, Lee Soon-jae uneasily assumes crown of Shakespeare’s Lear (

INTERVIEW: Lee Yeon Hee Celebrates First Stage Acting In “King Lear” (



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