At Busan International Film Festival, 22 July 2012
30 October 1981
Seoul, South Korea
|Other names||Gianna Jun|
|Alma mater||Dongguk University
(Theater and Film)
|Spouse(s)||Choi Joon-hyuk (m. 2012)|
|Children||1 and now pregnant|
|Revised Romanization||Jeon Ji-hyeon|
|Revised Romanization||Wang Ji-hyeon|
Jun Ji-hyun (born Wang Ji-hyun on 30 October 1981), also known as Gianna Jun, is a South Korean actress. She rose to fame 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), The Berlin File (2013) and Assassination (2015).
Jun has also starred in television series My Love from the Star (2013-2014) and The Legend of the Blue Sea (2016-2017). The success of her films and television dramas internationally established her as a top Hallyu star.
Jun was born in Seoul, South Korea. Her mother and her mother's friends all encouraged her to be a model or actress due to her tall and slim body shape. Her childhood dream was to become a flight attendant, but later gave up after a plane flight experience. At the age of 16, her high school friend who was a model introduced her to a photographer. Using the stage name Jun Ji-hyun, she began her career as a model for Ecole Magazine in 1997.
1997–2005: Career beginnings and breakthrough
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.
The following year, 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, a tale of a gullible college student and his slightly unhinged girlfriend. The film became the highest grossing Korean comedy of all time in Korea and also spent two weeks at No. 1 in Hong Kong, launching Jun into pan-Asia stardom as one of the biggest Hallyu star in the Chinese-language market. The huge success of My Sassy Girl also solidified Jun's domestic popularity, and she was given the title of the "Nation's First Love". Jun's growing popularity resulted in many companies requesting her endorsement. She also won the Best Actress award at the 2002 Grand Bell Awards.
In 2003, Jun starred in physiological thriller film, 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. She reunited with Kwak Jae-yong, the director of My Sassy Girl in 2004, appearing as a policewoman in romantic comedy Windstruck. However, viewers felt her role 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).
2006–2010: Hollywood debut
In late 2006, it was announced that Jun would be making her long-predicted jump to Hollywood as 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. Jun then launched her own luxury jeans brand in 2008, named "Gianna by True Religion", her first celebrity line. She 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.
2012–present: Career resurgence
As part of the star-studded cast of The Thieves, Jun was a scene stealer in Choi Dong-hoon's 2012 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 next 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. Jun's success on the big screen reaffirmed her status as one of the top actresses in Korea, as well as being one of the biggest box office draw in chungmuro.
14 years after Happy Together in 1999, Jun made her highly anticipated return to television in fantasy romance My Love from the Star, opposite her The Thieves co-star Kim Soo-hyun. Jun plays a present-day top actress who falls in love with an alien who landed on earth 400 years ago during the Joseon Dynasty, played by Kim. The series was a ratings success, sparking trends in fashion, make-up and restaurants. Jun won the Daesang (or "Grand Prize"), the highest award for television, at the 2014 Baeksang Arts Awards and the 2014 SBS Drama Awards. The drama reestablished Jun as a leader of the Hallyu, and she was given the President's Award at the Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards.
In 2015, she reunited with director Choi Dong-hoon for Assassination, an espionage action film set during the 1930s colonial era in which she played a sniper who assembles a squad of independence fighters to kill a Japanese army commander and a pro-Japanese Korean business tycoon. The film was another box-office success for Choi and Jun; Assassination was the highest-grossing Korean film of the year as well as the seventh all-time highest-grossing film in Korean cinema history. Jun was awarded Best Actress at the Grand Bell Awards and Max Movie Awards.
In January 2016, Korean entertainment and media company CJ E&M acquired her agency Culture Depot. The same year, Jun was ranked 8th on Forbes Korea Power Celebrity. It was her second consecutive year in the top 10, having been ranked 4th in 2015.
In November 2016, Jun made her small-screen comeback in the SBS fantasy romance drama The Legend of the Blue Sea with Lee Min-ho, reuniting with My Love from the Star scriptwriter Park Ji-eun. Jun ranked 9th on Gallup Korea's list of the 10 best actors of 2016, becoming the only woman to be included.
More than 600 guests, including celebrities, close friends and family of the star, attended her wedding to banker Choi Joon-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 gave birth to the couple's first child, a boy, on 10 February 2016, around 10 a.m.
Jun, along with six other South Korean stars (Jung Woo-sung, Kim Sun-a, Jo In-sung, Ji Jin-hee, Cha Tae-hyun and Yang Jin-woo), sued local monthly movie magazine Screen in 2006 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, which was later renamed to Culture Depot.
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.
|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|
|1999||Happy Together||Seo Yoon-joo|
|2013-2014||My Love from the Star||Cheon Song-yi|
|2016-2017||The Legend of the Blue Sea||Shim Chung/Se-hwa|
|1999||"The Beginning of Love (사랑의 시작)"||Leon Lai|
|2000||"Hey Girl"||Jang Hyuk (T.J Project)|
|"Love of the Sun and the Moon (일월지애)"|
|2002||"Love Is Always Thirsty (사랑은 언제나 목마르다)"||Yumi|
Jun is one of the most in-demand celebrity endorsers in South Korea. In 2014, she earned an estimated ₩20 billion from advertising and endorsement fees. Market research in that same year showed that based on the value of real estate holdings, she ranked first among South Korean female celebrities, and fourth out of both male and female. In 2016, Jun earned ₩14 billion for the 14 commercials she has filmed, regaining her position at the top of advertisement rankings.
A lipstick she wore on My Love from the Star, YSL "Rouge Pur Couture No. 52" sold out worldwide, while the same coat she wore on the show caused a surge in sales of over 2,500 in ShesMiss stores in ten days.
Awards and nominations
|1999||35th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best New Actress||White Valentine||Won|
|SBS Drama Awards||New Star Award||Happy Together||Won|
|Netizen Popularity Award||Won|
|2001||22nd Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actress||My Sassy Girl||Nominated|
|2002||39th Grand Bell Awards||Won|
|2006||43rd Grand Bell Awards||Best Actress||Daisy||Nominated|
|2012||56th Asia-Pacific Film Festival||Best Supporting Actress||The Thieves||Nominated|
|2013||7th Asian Film Awards||Nominated|
|49th Baeksang Arts Awards||Nominated|
|7th Mnet 20's Choice Awards||20's Movie Star - Female||The Berlin File||Nominated|
|17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival||Producer's Choice Award||The Thieves, The Berlin File||Won|||
|33rd Korean Association of Film Critics Awards||Best Actress||The Berlin File||Nominated|
|2014||50th Baeksang Arts Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang) for Television||My Love from the Star||Won|||
|Best Actress (TV)||Nominated|
|InStyle Fashionista Award||N/A||Won|
|Korea Tourism Awards||Star of Korean Tourism||N/A||Won|||
|41st Korea Broadcasting Awards||Best Actor/Actress||My Love from the Star||Won|||
|7th Korea Drama Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang)||Nominated|
|3rd APAN Star Awards||Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries||Nominated|
|Hallyu Star Award||Won|
|SBS Drama Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang)||Won|||
|Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Drama Special||Nominated|
|Top 10 Stars||Won|
|Best Couple Award (with Kim Soo-hyun)||Won|
|2015||24th Buil Film Awards||Best Actress||Assassination||Nominated|
|6th Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards||President's Award||N/A||Won|||
|52nd Grand Bell Awards||Best Actress||Assassination||Won|||
|36th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Nominated|
|2016||11th Max Movie Awards||Won|||
|52nd Baeksang Arts Awards||Nominated|
|SBS Drama Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang)||The Legend of the Blue Sea||Nominated|||
|Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Fantasy Drama||Nominated|
|Best Couple Award (with Lee Min-ho)||Won|
|Top 10 Stars Award||Won|
|K-Wave Star Award||Nominated|
|Idol Academy Award - Best Eating (Meokbang)||Won|
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