Jun Ji-hyun at a promotional event in 2009
30 October 1981
Seoul, South Korea
|Other names||Gianna Jun
|Alma mater||Dongguk University
Theater and Film
|Agent||Culture Depot Co., Ltd|
|Spouse(s)||Choi Jun-hyuk (m. 2012)|
|Revised Romanization||Jeon Ji-hyeon|
|Revised Romanization||Wang Ji-hyeon|
Jun Ji-hyun (born 30 October 1981), also known as Gianna Jun, is a South Korean actress. She is best known for her role as "The Girl" in the romantic comedy My Sassy Girl (2001), one of the highest grossing Korean comedies of all time. Other notable films include Il Mare (2000), Windstruck (2004), The Thieves (2012), and The Berlin File (2013).
Wang Ji-hyun was born in Seoul, South Korea. Her childhood dream was to become a flight attendant, but at the age of 16, she was discovered on the street by a fashion editor. Using the stage name Jun Ji-hyun, she began her career as a model for Ecole Magazine in 1997.
Jun first became well known as a commercial model and as a TV actress. Although she made her film debut in the little-watched White Valentine in 1999, it was not until later in the year when she was featured in a commercial for Samsung My Jet Printer that she became a popular sensation. The dancing and attitude expressed in the ad made her into an icon for Koreans in their late teens and early twenties.
After continuing her TV and modelling career, Jun made her first well-publicized film appearance in late 2000 with Il Mare. A handsomely shot melodrama set on Ganghwa Island, the film did respectably well at the box office (despite opening on the same day as blockbuster Joint Security Area) and solidified her status as a star.
Jun's breakout film was comedy My Sassy Girl, which became a huge hit both in Korea and throughout Asia with its tale of a gullible college student and his slightly unhinged girlfriend. The film spent two weeks at No. 1 in Hong Kong, and turned her into Korea's most recognizable star in the Chinese-language market. She also won as Best Actress at the 2002 Grand Bell Awards. Two years then passed before she appeared in her next film, an "occult thriller" titled The Uninvited which wowed critics but failed to catch on with viewers. Throughout this time she was a constant presence in TV ads and on billboards in Korea and also in other Asian countries.
2004 saw her return to the big screen in another film by Kwak Jae-yong, the director of My Sassy Girl. Windstruck cast her in the role of a policewoman, but many viewers felt it was too similar to My Sassy Girl. There were also signs that her popularity had started to suffer because of overexposure in advertisements. Nonetheless, Windstruck became the best-performing Korean film in Japan at the time, where My Sassy Girl was not as well known. In a 2005 survey of influential movie producers, she was ranked among the top ten most bankable stars in Korea.
Jun's next project Daisy teamed her with Jung Woo-sung (who frequently appeared together with her in Giordano and 2% Lotte Chilsung Water advertisements), and drew attention for its 100% location shooting in the Netherlands, and for using the Hong Kong director Andrew Lau (Infernal Affairs). Nonetheless the film disappointed at the box-office and drew weak appraisals from viewers.
In late 2006 it was announced that Jun would be making her long-predicted jump to Hollywood to take the lead role in Blood: The Last Vampire. The international co-production, which was filmed in China and Argentina in 2007, is the live-action adaptation of a popular Japanese anime. She went through three months of hard training to play the sword-wielding martial arts heroine. During the filming and promotions for the movie prior to its 2009 release, she adopted the Westernized name Gianna Jun. "Gianna by True Religion" was launched by the luxury blue jeans brand in 2008, its first celebrity line. Jun was reportedly involved in every stage of their production, from design to deciding on fit and wash and their decoration with accessories.
For the film A Man Who Was Superman, Jun cut off her signature long silky hair to play a cynical documentary producer who meets an odd, Hawaiian-shirt-clad modern-day hero who battles urban apathy and preaches the virtues of lending a hand. Of initially feeling pressured at the opportunity to work with acclaimed actor Hwang Jung-min, she said, "Although luck was probably involved, I think it's destiny for an actor to 'meet' new work. On the first day I met him, I realized that I have much to learn from him, not only from his acting, but also as an individual."
In 2010, she acted opposite Chinese actress Li Bingbing in the English-language film Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, based on Lisa See's bestselling novel of the same name, which was directed by Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club). The film, set in remote 19th-century China, features the lifelong friendship between two women, Lily and Snow Flower, and their imprisonment imposed by the strict cultural codes of conduct for women at that time. She was photographed by Annie Leibovitz for the July issue of the American edition of Vogue, the first Korean actress to be included in the iconic fashion magazine.
As part of the star-studded cast of The Thieves, Jun was a scene stealer in Choi Dong-hoon's heist film about thieves from Korea and China who team up together to steal a diamond worth US$30 million, which is locked in a special room at a casino in Macau. The Thieves became the second top-selling Korean film of all time.
She played a translator married to a North Korean intelligence agent in the 2013 spy thriller The Berlin File, and director Ryoo Seung-wan praised Jun's action scenes and her North Korean dialect.
14 years after Happy Together in 1999, Jun made her highly anticipated return to television in fantasy romance Man from the Stars. Kim Soo-hyun (Jun's costar in The Thieves) plays an alien who landed on earth 400 years ago during the Joseon Dynasty, then falls for a present-day actress (played by Jun).
In 2006, Jun along with six other South Korean stars (Jung Woo-sung, Kim Sun-ah, Jo In-sung, Ji Jin-hee, Cha Tae-hyun and Yang Jin-woo) sued local monthly movie magazine Screen for commercially using their pictures without permission. Seoul Central District Court ruled in 2007 that the publisher must pay from ₩5 million to ₩15 million to each star for infringing their publicity rights.
In 2009, police discovered that Jun's cell phone had been illegally cloned. Seoul Metropolitan Police arrested a private detective identified as Kim, who testified that it was ordered by SidusHQ (Jun's then-agency of 13 years), for which he was paid ₩6.4 million in cash by the brother of CEO Jung Hoon-tak. Police believed Jun’s management company used the cloned phone to keep tabs on her, in an attempt to exert control over all aspects of her life. SidusHQ denied those allegations. Jung Hoon-tak was later cleared after police could not find any concrete evidence of his direct involvement. Kim was sentenced to one year in prison for invasion of privacy, Jung's brother received suspended jail terms. Because of the scandal, many expected her to leave once her contract expired, but she surprisingly extended her contract with SidusHQ for one more year. Then in 2011 she set up her own management agency J&Co. Entertainment.
In 2011, SidusHQ CEO Jung Hoon-tak was accused of illegally using Jun's bank account to pocket profits from a merger and acquisition. Jung allegedly made ₩200 million after purchasing a stake in the junior KOSDAQ-listed Stom E&F in 2009 with an account under Jun's name and announcing through a public filing several months later that he would buy Stom E&F. Jung and Stom E&F's former CEO Kwon Seung-shik were reported for gaining unfair profits by leaking information on the M&A beforehand. Upon investigation by the Financial Supervisory Service, Jun testified that she had not even been aware of such an account existing under her name. Jung issued a denial.
More than 600 guests, including celebrities and close friends and family of the star, attended her wedding to banker Choi Jun-hyuk on 13 April 2012 at Shilla Hotel in Jangchung-dong, central Seoul. Choi is the grandson of famed hanbok designer Lee Young-hee, and the son of fashion designer Lee Jung-woo. Jun graced the cover of Elle Korea's May 2012 edition as well as the magazine's China, Singapore and Taiwan editions with a pictorial of herself in various wedding gowns.
|2001||My Sassy Girl||The Girl|
|2008||A Man Who Was Superman||Song Soo-jung|
|2009||Blood: The Last Vampire||Saya Otonashi|
|2011||Snow Flower and the Secret Fan||Sophia/Snow Flower|
|2013||The Berlin File||Ryun Jung-hee|
|1997||The Season of Puberty||MBC|
|1998||Fascinate My Heart||Ga-young||SBS|
|1999||Happy Together||Seo Yoon-joo||SBS|
|2013||Man from the Stars||Cheon Song-yi||SBS|
Awards and nominations
|1999||SBS Drama Awards||Best New Actress||Happy Together||Won|
|Baeksang Arts Awards||Best New Actress||White Valentine||Won|
|2002||Grand Bell Awards||Popularity Award||My Sassy Girl||Won|
|2013||Asian Film Awards||Best Supporting Actress||The Thieves||Nominated|
|Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Supporting Actress||The Thieves||Nominated|
|Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival||Producer's Choice Award||The Thieves, The Berlin File||Won|||
|Mnet 20's Choice Awards||20's Movie Star - Female||The Berlin File||Nominated|
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