Lee Si-young

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For other people with the same name, see Lee Si-yeong (disambiguation).
This is a Korean name; the family name is Lee.
Lee Si-young
Lee Si-Young (2).jpg
Born Lee Eun-rae
(1982-04-17) April 17, 1982 (age 32)
Cheongwon County, North Chungcheong Province, South Korea
Education Dongduk Women's University - Fashion Design
Occupation Actress, amateur boxer
Years active 2008–present
Agent J-Wide Company
Korean name
Hangul 이시영
Revised Romanization I Siyeong
McCune–Reischauer Ri Siyŏng
Birth name
Hangul 이은래
Revised Romanization I Eullae
McCune–Reischauer Ri Ŭllae

Lee Si-young (born Lee Eun-rae on April 17, 1982) is a South Korean actress and amateur boxer.

Early life[edit]

Born Lee Eun-rae in Cheongwon County, North Chungcheong Province, her family moved to Seoul when she was nine years old. Lee majored in Fashion Design at Dongduk Women's University, and later changed her name to Lee Si-young.



Lee made her acting debut in 2008 in a guest appearance on season 3 of the TV procedural Urban Legends Deja Vu, followed by the historical drama The Kingdom of The Winds.

But 2009 was the year she began to gain attention with several high-profile supporting roles. In the smash hit Boys Over Flowers,[1] Lee played the character of Sakurako Sanjo in the source manga Hana Yori Dango, who was mercilessly teased for being homely as a young girl, then undergoes extensive plastic surgery and becomes a backstabbing frenemy to win the heart of her tormentor. Lee then played the mistress of a married man in the surrogacy melodrama Loving You a Thousand Times.

Five Senses of Eros was an omnibus film from five different directors, and in the segment "Believe in the Moment" three teenage couples decide to swap partners for 24 hours, played by Lee and her fellow up-and-coming actors Kim Dong-wook, Song Joong-ki, Shin Se-kyung, Jung Eui-chul and Lee Sung-min.[2] In the comedy Descendants of Hong Gil-dong (also known as The Righteous Thief), Lee played the love interest of Lee Beom-soo, whose character is the 18th descendant of Hong Gil-dong, a Joseon-era Robin Hood whose family for generations has passed down the tradition of stealing only from the rich and giving to the poor while keeping their actions secret.[3][4]

But Lee rose to mainstream popularity when she joined the cast of We Got Married, a reality show about fake married couples, and was paired with Jun Jin of the boy band Shinhwa. Called the "Gundam couple"[5] by fans for their mutual love of the anime, Lee and Jun Jin began dating off-screen, making them the first couple to officially have a real relationship outside the show.[6] However, after dating for 6 months, they broke up in September 2009.[7]

In 2010, she began hosting Entertainment Relay (also known as Entertainment Weekly), the longest-running entertainment news show on Korean television (her stint ended in 2012).[8] Then in Birth of the Rich (also known as Becoming a Billionaire),[9] Lee was the standout in the cast and was praised for her portrayal of a spoiled, Paris Hilton-esque chaebol heiress, despite mixed reviews for the series itself.[10] Later that year, she starred in Playful Kiss, another series adapted from a manga (in Itazura na Kiss, her character is Sasuiko, a haughty paragon of perfection who becomes the heroine's rival in love).[11] Lee had acquired a reputation for making her second-lead roles memorable and endearing in their own right, giving her characters a human, lovable side despite their role as antagonists in the narrative.[5]

Lee played her first big screen leading role in the screwball romantic comedy Dangerous Meeting (also known as Meet the In-Laws), which portrays the struggles of a comic book writer (played by Song Sae-byeok) to tie the knot with his girlfriend (Lee) over the strong disapproval of their families, as they come from different regions with a long history of antagonism toward each other (the Korean title literally translates to "Dangerous Formal Greeting Between Families of the Bride and Bridegroom"). Deep-rooted regionalism which pits the southeastern Gyeongsang Province against the Jeolla Province in particular, had dogged various aspects of Korean society in the past, including the 1980s which is when the movie is set. Meet the In-Laws became the ninth top-grossing Korean film of 2011, with more than 2 million tickets sold.[12]

Lee's follow-up was the ensemble romantic comedy/caper film Couples, where she again displayed her gift for physical comedy as a shameless gold digger.[13][14] Despite critical praise for its cleverly constructed plot and twists, the film was less successful at the box office.[15] Then in the low-rating action series Poseidon, Lee, along with Lee Sung-jae and Choi Si-won played members of the Coast Guard special forces who investigate maritime crimes.[16][17][18]

In 2012, Lee cut her hair into a short perm for Wild Romance, playing a tomboyish bodyguard who protects an arrogant baseball star after he receives death threats (played by Lee Dong-wook).[19][20][21] Lee said, "I don't see many actresses who are good at tough action roles. I hope I can fill the gap."[22] The series received low ratings but had a cult following.[23]

Lee returned to the romantic comedy genre in 2013 with How to Use Guys with Secret Tips, playing an overworked and undervalued assistant director who one day buys an inspirational video, "Instructions on How to Use Men," and reluctantly follows its guidelines. She becomes drastically transformed into a woman much-sought after by all men, including a top actor (played by Oh Jung-se). The film received strong word of mouth for its comic timing and witty gags, the charismatic performances of its leads and its tackling of gender equality issues.[24][25]

She then headlined the horror film Killer Toon, playing a writer of webcomics (called "webtoon" in Korea) who becomes the number one suspect after a series of murders are committed that mimic her famous comics. Co-starring Um Ki-joon as the detective on the case, the movie overlaps crime scenes with CG animation.[26] In an interview, Lee said she picks roles if she is drawn to and can empathize with the character. Killer Toon attracted more than 1 million viewers, only the third Korean horror film to do so after A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) and Death Bell (2008).[27]

In 2014, Lee was cast as a principled prosecutor in the drama series Golden Cross.[28] She also starred in the film The Divine Move, about a baduk player's quest for revenge.[29][30] This was followed later in the year by Valid Love from cable channel tvN, in which her character has an extramarital affair.[31][32]


Lee never formally debuted as a singer, but she has made contributions to several of her films' soundtracks. She was also featured in one track on then-boyfriend Jun Jin's EP Fascination in 2009. And after she sang two tracks on Honey Family's fifth album Resurrection in 2010, band member Park Myung-ho praised Lee for her vocal talent.

In 2012, she and Jay Park appeared in Music and Lyrics, an MBC Music reality show in which an actress and a male singer are paired together as lyricist and composer, respectively, to create a song, showing their meetings and songwriting process.[33][34] The song they composed, Polaris, was recorded by the girl group Tiny-G.[35]


Aside from her entertainment career. Lee is also an amateur boxer. Despite taking up the sport in her late 20s and fighting opponents who are much more experienced and younger, in just three years, Lee has established herself in the sport by winning a number of amateur titles in the 48-kg class.

She initially took up boxing in early 2010 to prepare for her role as a female boxer in a TV drama for MBC, training with Hong Soo-hwan, a former WBA bantamweight and super bantamweight champion. The drama ended up not getting produced, but she quickly became enamored of the sport. Lee said, "I kept it up as a hobby and was told that I had potential, so I trained really hard. Boxing changed who I am. I became more honest and extroverted, with more confidence in who I am."[22] She continued training, reducing her body fat from 9.9 kg to 4.7 kg, and began boxing competitively.

Lee's passion for the sport has caused her agency anxiety. There are worries she may hurt herself, especially if she sustains facial injuries. A staffer said, "But no matter how hard we try to dissuade her, she doesn't want to quit."[36]

To the surprise of fans and experts alike, Lee entered and won the 7th Annual Women's Amateur Boxing Competition in 2010, and the women's 50-kg category in the 10th KBI National Lifestyle Athletics Boxing Championship in November of that same year.

Her momentum continued throughout 2011, winning the women's 48-kg category in the 47th Seoul Amateur Boxing Match in February, and by RSC (Referee Stopped Contest) in the 7th National Amateur Boxing Championships in March.[36][37][38] Lee Seung-bae, head coach of the Korean national boxing team, said Lee "has a very accurate left punch. She is tall and has long arms, a very good body for boxing," while coach Baek Seung-won said she has "the fire and the perfect physique" to become a professional boxer, but added, "She is a bit old (to turn pro now)."[39][40] She later won the rookie of the year award for Seoul-based boxers.

More wins followed in July 2012 with the women's 48-kg category in the 42nd Seoul Boxing Prematch/Amateur Boxing Federation,[41][42][43] and the 33rd President's Cup Amateur Boxing Contest.[44]

In December 2012, she tried out for the first time for the national women's boxing team by competing in the under-48 kg light flyweight category in the National Amateur Boxing Championships, which doubled as the 2013 first national qualifying round. The 28-year-old was the oldest participant at the national championships with a 17 to 34 age limit.[45][46][47][48] But Lee was defeated in the final of the 66th National Amateur Boxing Championships.[49][50][51]

In January 2013, she became the goodwill ambassador for the 2014 Asian Games to be held in Incheon.[52][53] Shortly after, she further showed her serious commitment to the sport by joining the Incheon City boxing team.[54][55][56][57][58] After moving to Incheon from Seoul to save time for training, Lee underwent surgery for a slipped disk, and suffered from a knee injury, which meant she was unable to maintain her training program.[59][60]

On April 24, 2013, Lee won the women's 48-kg title at the 24th National Amateur Boxing Championships in a controversial 22-20 decision,[61][62] making her the country's first mainstream entertainer/celebrity, male or female, to become a national team athlete for any sport.[63][64]

Lee said that her dream was to represent the country at the 2014 Asian Games, and her ultimate goal to win a medal there. Since her weight class is not included in international competitions such as the Asiad and the Olympics, she upgraded to the heavier under-51 kg class.[60][65] But Lee was unable to participate in the Asian Games when she failed to enter the March 2014 final tryouts (as well as the two previous ones). Kim Won-chan, manager of the Incheon City boxing team, said, "She didn't have enough time to build up her skills for the bout. But we will keep working on her conditioning with the aim of getting her into the 2014 AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships on Jeju Island."[66]



Year Title Role Notes
2009 Five Senses of Eros Jung Se-eun "Believe in the Moment"
"The 33rd Man"
The Righteous Thief Song Yeon-hwa
2010 Sooni, Where Are You? Jo-yeon cameo
2011 Meet the In-Laws Da-hong
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil Red Puckett animated, Korean dubbing
Couples Na-ri
2013 How to Use Guys with Secret Tips Choi Bo-na
Killer Toon Kang Ji-yoon
2014 The Divine Move Bae-kkob

Television series[edit]

Year Title Role Network Notes
2008 Urban Legends Deja Vu - Season 3 Sun-ah Super Action episode 2: "Syndrome"
The Kingdom of The Winds Yeon-hwa KBS2
2009 Boys Over Flowers Oh Min-ji KBS2
Again, My Love Son Jung-hwa KBS2 cameo
Loving You a Thousand Times Hong Yeon-hee SBS
2010 Becoming a Billionaire Bu Tae-hee KBS2
Playful Kiss Yoon Hae-ra MBC
2011 Poseidon Lee Soo-yoon KBS2
2012 Wild Romance Yoo Eun-jae KBS2
2014 Golden Cross Seo Yi-re KBS2
Valid Love Kim Il-ri tvN

Variety show[edit]

Year Title Role Network Notes
2009 We Got Married - Season 1 Herself MBC paired with Jun Jin (episodes 42, 45-55)
2010 Dalgona (당시에는 파일럿 프로 시절 때 였음) MC SBS
2010-2012 Entertainment Weekly MC KBS2
2012 Music & Lyrics - Season 2 Herself MBC Music paired with Jay Park
2013 Running Man Guest SBS episode 131
2014 Happy Together Guest KBS2

Music video[edit]

Year Song Title Artist Notes
2009 "Hey Ya!" Jun Jin
지지리 ("Awfully") Beige
2010 언제나 ("Always") Huh Gak


Year Song Title Artist From the Album
2009 바보처럼 ("Like a Fool") Jun Jin feat. PS Jun & Lee Si-young Fascination
지지리 ("Awfully") Lee Si-young digital single
"Hero" Lee Si-young The Righteous Thief OST
"Just Love" Lee Si-young
2010 사랑이 뭐길래 ("What is Love") Honey Family feat. Gary, Lee Si-young Resurrection
내 스타일이야 ("That's My Style") Honey Family feat. Poppin' Hyun-joon, Lee Si-young, Q☆B
2011 세월이 가면 ("When Time Passes") Lee Si-young Meet the In-Laws OST
빛나라 우리 사랑아 Gong Hyung-jin, Kim Joo-hyuk, Lee Si-young, Oh Jung-se, Lee Yoon-ji Couples OST

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2009 Andre Kim Best Star Awards Female Star Award N/A Won
Men's Health Cool Guy Contest Vital Woman Award N/A Won
2010 7th Max Movie Awards Best New Actress The Righteous Thief Won [67]
KBS Entertainment Awards Best Female Newcomer in a Variety Show Entertainment Weekly Won [68]
KBS Drama Awards Best New Actress Becoming a Billionaire Won
2011 47th Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actress in TV Becoming a Billionaire Nominated
KBS 감동대상 Hope Award N/A Won
KBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Poseidon Nominated
2013 22nd Buil Film Awards Best Actress How to Use Guys with Secret Tips Nominated


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  30. ^ Sunwoo, Carla (27 June 2014). "High stakes set in risky baduk flick". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
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  61. ^ Yoon, Min-sik (25 April 2013). "Lee Si-young's victory marred by bias talks". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2013-07-08. 
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  67. ^ Ko, Kyoung-seok (10 February 2010). "Old Partner wins Best Picture at Max Movie Awards". 10Asia. Retrieved 2013-07-08. 
  68. ^ Choi, Jun-yong (27 December 2010). "Lee Kyung-kyu wins grand prize at KBS Entertainment Awards". 10Asia. Retrieved 2013-07-08. 

External links[edit]