By Lee Hyo-won
Actress Yeo Woon-gae, who had been battling lung cancer, passed away around 8 p.m., Friday, at Incheon Catholic Medical Center. She was 69.
In 2007, the veteran TV personality had been diagnosed with kidney cancer while shooting the SBS drama ``King and I,’’ but continued taking on her signature feisty grandmother roles. She had apparently recovered, and the husky-voiced actress had been starring in the ongoing ``Janghwa and Hongryeon’’ (KBS2).
She had to quit the show however due to pneumonia, which was later determined to have been a side effect of cancer metastases. The kidney cancer had apparently spread to her lungs and Yeo was checked into an intensive care unit earlier this month. According to local reports she is said to have lost consciousness a few days ago and had since been on life support.
Yeo stepped into the world of acting while she was a high school student and continued her passion as a literature major at Korea University. In the 1950s and `60s she was known, along with other veteran actors including Lee Soon-jae, as the original stars of ``daehakgeuk’’ or amateur student theaters.
In 1962 she made her professional debut as part of a theater troupe and then moved to TV. She is famous for having assumed ``grandmother’’ roles since her 20s, from ``Toji’’ (1986) to ``Jewel in the Palace’’ (2003).
A ceremonial funeral hall for Yeo will be set up in Yonsei University Severance Hospital.