Haeundae-gu, Busan, Republic of Korea,
Lee Jooyoung’s latest work Baseball Girl (2020) depicts the coming-of-age story of a girl playing baseball, as the title suggests. If you grew up watching Hollywood movies, you’d recall the film A League of Their Own (1992). The story of women achieving the goal that the world denies to them, especially in the male-centered sports world, is universally favored by commercial films. However, Baseball Girl is nothing like A League of Their Own.
The protagonist of Baseball Girl, played by Lee Jooyoung, is a baseball player with natural talents but is urged to quit baseball in the absence of a women’s baseball league. She is also aware that she cannot match the physical strength of male players. Instead of going to find a league only for women, she joins the tryouts for the professional teams with male players. When she faces a professional male player with a knuckleball instead of a fastball, cheers burst out from the bench watching the test. The actor herself is just like the main character of Baseball Girl, in terms of having natural talent, brilliant ability to use a difference to her advantage, and audacity that elicits support.
Lee went to college initially for a physical education major, but she changed her major to the department of theater and film, after falling for the play she encountered by chance. Passionately joining in several short films, Lee Jooyoung finally appeared in Sisters on the Road (2013), directed by cineaste Jang Ryul, and drew attention through Jang’s another film A Quite Dream (2016). In the dreamy love story, the actor played Jooyoung who has a crush on a fascinating woman (Han Yeri) loved by everyone.
This ‘gender free’ character helped Lee leave a strong impression as an actor, and later became the cornerstone for her to play free-spirited characters. She also played a man who decides gender identity on his own in the TV series Itaewon Class. It is quite meaningful that she was loved by the general audience as a gender minority character in a TV series, which is more conservative compared to an independent film. However, Lee Jooyoung is not an actor who wants to be associated with a certain image. She is expanding the scope of her characters by new challenges in independent films while showcasing her unique personality in commercial films. Lee’s next film is Broker (working title), directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. It is indeed a smart move of the actor who can throw changeups carefully and constantly. Park Hyeeun