Actor Lee Kyu Hyung, currently playing the role of Cho Kang Hwa in the K-Drama series Hi Bye Mama featuring actress Kim Tae Hee as his co-star, actually began building his acting career with plays and musicals — before he expanded out to dramas and movies.
I love the stage. The theater is like my soil, where I planted my roots and grew. It supported me with such strength that I was able to reach where I am today.
— Lee Kyu Hyung
And while his pure talent and stellar visual have been more than enough to charm many theater-goers, he is also well remembered by an incident that occurred amidst the performance of one of his popular plays, The Purloined Book.
As the play includes a scene in which Lee Kyu Hyung must light a cigarette (often made fake with herbs) and smoke on stage, the theater officially announced and warned the audience about this specific detail prior to starting the show.
1. The box office opens one hour prior to show.
2. The ticket cannot be transferred or refunded on the day of the show.
3. The show is for audiences over 13 years of age.
4. The doors will remain shut once the show begins.
5. The use of cameras is prohibited for this show.
6. The theater does not allow outside food and drinks in the building.
7. The show includes a scene where one of the actors smokes on stage to portray the character and build the plot. Thank you for understanding.
Unfortunately, during one of the show nights, as Lee Kyu Hyung got into the scene and lit the cigarette — he heard a voice call out from the audience. A man in the house — allegedly present with his girlfriend who “does not like cigarette smoke” — yelled from his seat, “Please put that out. Excuse me? Please put the cigarette out.”
Shocked speechless by such an irreversible interruption, Lee Kyu Hyung quickly made the call and put the cigarette out. He, however, could not control his frustration with the whole situation and ended up muttering “F*ck…” on stage. The show went on, because the show always must go on, but it was an experience ruined for both the actors and the viewers.
After the curtain call, the cast ended up apologizing to the audience for “failing to put on the perfect show”. Lee Kyu Hyung also tweeted, following the show:
I would like to apologize to those of you who ended up watching a three-person play tonight… I will make sure the [smoking scene] disclaimer is made even more clearly and that it is reminded again in the announcements.
— Lee Kyu Hyung
Since then, among Korean theater-goers, this has remained one of the most frequently discussed incident when it comes to theater manners and general show-watching etiquette.