Lee Joon-gi

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Lee Joon-gi
Lee Jun-ki at "Moon Lovers - Scarlet Heart Ryeo" press conference, 24 August 2016 02.jpg
In August 2016
Born (1982-04-17) 17 April 1982 (age 36)
Busan, South Korea
Other namesLee Jun-ki
EducationSeoul Institute of the Arts
OccupationActor, singer, rapper, dancer model
Years active2001–present
AgentNamoo Actors[1]
Korean name
Hangul
Hanja
Revised RomanizationI Jun-gi
McCune–ReischauerYi Chungi
Websitewww.leejoongi.co.kr

Lee Joon-gi (born 17 April 1982)[2] is a South Korean actor, singer, rapper, dancer, and model. He rose to fame on his first leading role playing a clown in the film The King and the Clown (2005). Since then, he has starred in television series My Girl (2005), Iljimae (2008), Arang and the Magistrate (2012), Gunman in Joseon (2014), Scholar Who Walks The Night (2015), Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016) and Lawless Lawyer (2018).

Early life[edit]

Lee Joon-gi first became interested in the performing arts as a high school student after watching a performance of Hamlet. He moved to Seoul with a dream to work in the entertainment industry rather than getting into college. For the next couple of years, Lee worked at various part-time jobs before he got accepted into the Seoul Institute of the Arts.[3] He debuted as a model in 2001.

Career[edit]

2005: King and the Clown and rising fame[edit]

In January 2006

Lee had his first major acting role in the 2005 film The King and the Clown, in which he played the historical figure Gong-gil, an effeminate clown in the Joseon Dynasty.[4] The film, which achieved both critical and commercial success, propelled the then-unknown actor into Asia-wide stardom.[5][6] Apart from winning numerous Best Newcomer recognition at the Korean Film Awards, Grand Bell Awards and Baeksang Art Awards,[7][8][9] Lee also won the Best Actor Award at the Max Movie Awards.

Producer Lee Joon-ik revealed the story of how he chose Lee for The King and the Clown by just seeing him do handstands, saying, "Just because of handstands, Lee Joon-gi became the person he is today."[10] After the film, Lee became "an icon" of the South Korean "pretty boy" trend.[11][12] Lee has since tried to downplay this kkonminam image, saying that his character Gong-gil in the film felt like a foot chain for him so he wanted to escape from it: "After my performance in The King and the Clown, I found myself at the forefront of this ‘pretty boy’ trend, whether or not that was my intention. Suddenly, people were interested in me, and there was all this praise and criticism all at the same time. Everything was just so overwhelming. I felt like I was floating on air."[13]

Lee was against the halving of screen quotas in South Korea that allows foreign films to be shown in theaters on certain days, while domestic films are allotted another amount of days. He believed that without the screen quotas, The King and the Clown would not have been as successful in competing against foreign films.[14][15]

2006–2007: Overseas popularity[edit]

Lee was then cast in SBS's My Girl alongside Lee Da-hae and Lee Dong-wook. The romance comedy series became a hit during its run both domestically and across Asia, further catapulting Lee into Korean Wave stardom.[16][17]

For his follow-up film Fly, Daddy, Fly, directed by Choi Jong-tae and produced by Dyne Film-Guardtec, he was reportedly paid ₩100 million, relatively low given his rising popularity following King and the Clown. This is because the contract was signed in early December before the film's release when Lee was an unknown actor.[18][19] The film garnered much attention and media coverage among Chinese viewers.[20]

In 2007, Lee filmed a joint Korea-Japan movie entitled Virgin Snow with Japanese actress Aoi Miyazaki, in which he plays a Korean exchange student.[21] Virgin Snow was successful as it placed 9th at the box office chart and set a new ticket admissions record for a Korean film released in Japan.[22] Lee later received the Rising Star Award at the 27th Hawaii International Film Festival.[23] The same year, he participated in the film May 18, which is based on the events surrounding the Gwangju Massacre of 1980. 18 May achieved excellent box office results, and was later awarded the Gold Orchid Best Feature Film for the year of 2007.[23] However, there was criticism that both of these productions, along with Fly, Daddy, Fly, had "either fallen short of expectations at the box office or cast Lee in minor roles."[13]

Lee also took on his first drama leading role in MBC action drama, Time Between Dog and Wolf, in which he played a violent NIS agent.[24][25] He won the Excellence Award at the 2007 MBC Drama Awards for his performance.

2008–2009: Tourism ambassadorship and contractual dispute[edit]

In Shanghai on May 2009

From April to July 2008, Lee played the titular role in SBS's Iljimae, a period-action drama based on Chinese folklore from the Ming dynasty about a masked Robin Hood-esque character during the Joseon era.[26][27] The final episode achieved a rating of 31.4% viewership, and Lee later received the Top Excellence Award at the 2008 SBS Drama Awards. The drama was also aired in Japan on the channel TV Tokyo.[13]

On 29 July 2008, Lee was chosen as the Ambassador for the 2008 Seoul Hallyu Festival. He was also appointed the first Honorary Legal System Officer since the constitution of the Government Legislation Agency to commemorate their 60th anniversary.[28]

In September 2008, Lee had a contractual dispute with his agency Mentor Entertainment, whom he was signed to since March 2004 in an exclusive contract for five years. Lee was being sued for ₩500 million for breach of contract and for supposedly hiding ₩1 billion in an attempt to "established his own agency in association with his manager". Lee countered that he "underwent significant financial damage as the company was poor in dealing with tax affairs and profit distribution" and he is said to have notified them of contract cancellation in February.[29]

On 5 August 2009, Lee was appointed promotional ambassador of the Korea Tourism Organization.[30][31] The same year, he starred in the comedic-action drama Hero, playing a reporter.[32][33]

2010–2012: Military service[edit]

In February 2010, upon the expiration of Lee's contract with Mentor Entertainment, he signed with a newly established independent agency, JG Company.[34]

On 3 May 2010, Lee enlisted in the Republic of Korea Army to serve his mandatory military service. He first underwent five weeks of basic training at Nonsan military training camp and was later drafted into active duty.[35][36] He had initially applied for a postponement because he was in the midst of shooting Grand Prix with actress Kim Tae-hee, and was cast to star in television drama Faith. He was also chosen to represent Korea as a goodwill ambassador at the 2010 Shanghai Expo.[37] However, Military Manpower Administration declined and sent a final notice for enlistment, leading him to pull out of both projects.[38] He served within the public relations department of the Ministry of National Defense.[39][40]

In August, Lee co-starred with fellow actor Ju Ji-hoon in military musical, Voyage of Life to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.[41] The musical was co-produced by the Ministry of National Defense and Korea Musical Theatre Association, and was shown from 21 to 29 August in the National Theater of Korea.[42][43] After serving 21 months of active duty, Lee was discharged on 16 February 2012 from the Defense Media Agency at Yongsan-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul.[44][45] On the day when he was discharged, Lee held a fan meeting, "Reunion JG" at Sangmyung Art Center, Seoul.[46] This was followed by fan event tour of Japan, titled Coming Back in Nagoya, Yokohama and Osaka from 16 to 19 March.[47]

2012–2013: Comeback[edit]

In May 2012, Lee co-starred with Shin Min-a in MBC's period horror-romance Arang and the Magistrate, his first project after his enlistment.[48][49] The series was a success and became the most expensive drama to be sold to Japan by MBC.[50] Lee was later recognized at the Seoul International Drama Awards, winning the Outstanding Korean Drama Actor award.[51]

On 27 September 2012, Lee Joon Gi's JG Style was shown on Mnet Japan, documenting Lee's comeback to the entertainment industry. The series was later awarded the Grand Prize in the Korean wave category at the Skapa Award 2012 in Japan.[52][53]

In 2013, Lee starred in the action thriller Two Weeks, playing a father struggling to save his daughter from leukemia while fighting a murder charge.[54][55] He received Top Excellence Award in the male category at the 2nd APAN Star Awards.[56]

2014–present: Historical dramas and action roles[edit]

Lee signed with a new management agency, Namoo Actors.[57] He then starred in the period drama Gunman in Joseon (2014) and was named Outstanding Korean Drama Actor for a second time at the Seoul International Drama Awards.[58][59] This was followed by the vampire romance series Scholar Who Walks the Night in 2015,[60][61] which earned Lee a "Top Ten Stars" award at the MBC Drama Awards. The same year, he was cast in his first Chinese movie, Never Said Goodbye.[62][63]

In January 2016, Lee was cast in the lead role of Wang So in Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, a Korean remake of the Chinese television series, Scarlet Heart.[64][65] The 20-episode drama, budgeted at US$13 million, premiered on 29 August 2016.[66] The production was not well received domestically,[67] but averaged 100 million cumulative views per episode during its simulcast on the Chinese video hosting site Youku and led to a rise in popularity for Lee in China.[68][69][70] On 1 November, Lee hosted a free fan meeting titled “My Love Lee Joon-gi” where fans were able to watch the final episode of Moon Lovers with him in attendance.[71]

On October 2016, Lee signed as a new model for Lotte Duty Free Shop. He also co-starred in a promotional web drama titled 7 First Kisses for the company.[72] Lee then made his Hollywood debut with an appearance in the sixth and final installment of the Resident Evil series titled, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter which was released worldwide in January 2017.[73][74]

In 2017, Lee starred in tvN's crime procedural drama Criminal Minds, based on the American series of the same name.[75] His convincing acting performance as a criminal profiler garnered him plaudits from critics and viewers.[76][77]

In 2018, Lee was cast in tvN's legal thriller drama Lawless Lawyer.[78][79]

Personal life[edit]

Lee enjoys learning and practicing different types of martial arts during his spare time.[80]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2004 The Hotel Venus Boy Japanese production [81][82]
Flying Boys Dong-wan
2005 The King and the Clown Gong-gil
2006 Fly, Daddy, Fly Go Seung-suk [18]
2007 May 18 Kang Jin-woo [83]
Virgin Snow Kim Min Korean and Japanese co-production [21]
2016 Never Said Goodbye Jun Hao Chinese production [62]
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter Commander Chu International co-production [73]

Television series[edit]

Year Title Role Network Notes Ref.
2003 Nonstop 4 Himself MBC Cameo
2004 Drama City: What Should I Do? Seong-ho KBS2 Cameo, Ep 234 [82]
Star's Echo Chan-gyu MBC
Fuji TV
[84]
2005 My Girl Seo Jung-woo SBS [17]
2006 The 101st Proposal Himself Cameo [85]
2007 Time Between Dog and Wolf Lee Soo-hyun / Kay MBC [25]
2008 Iljimae Yong / Lee Geom SBS [26]
2009 Hero Jin Do-hyuk MBC [32]
2012 Arang and the Magistrate Kim Eun-oh [49]
2013 Two Weeks Jang Tae-san [54]
2014 Gunman in Joseon Park Yoon-kang / Hasegawa Hanjo KBS2 [58]
2015 The Scholar Who Walks the Night Kim Sung-yeol MBC [60]
She Was Pretty Himself Cameo, Ep. 9 [86]
2016 Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo Wang So (Gwangjong) SBS [87]
2017 Criminal Minds Kim Hyun-joon tvN [75]
2018 Lawless Lawyer Bong Sang-pil [79]

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Network Notes Ref.
2016 7 First Kisses Lee Joon-gi Naver TV Cast Ep. 1-2 [72]
2018 Secret Queen Makers Lee Joon-gi Ep. 6 [88]

Reality show[edit]

Year Title Network Notes Ref.
2009 World Special "LOVE" - Indonesia with Lee Joon-gi and Kim Ha-neul tvN 21 and 28 March [89]
2012 Lee Joon-Gi's JG Style Mnet Japan [90]
2013 Lee Joon-Gi's JG World
2018 Lee Joon-Gi's JG Island DramaH

Musical[edit]

  • Voyage of Life (2010)[41]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Name Track listing
2006 My Jun, My Style
  1. "One Word"
  2. "Don't Know Love"
  3. "Foolish Love" (Babo Sarang)
Nam Hyun-joon - One & Only
  1. "Fly High" feat. Seo In-young
2009 J Style
  1. "J Style"
  2. "Soliloquy"
  3. "I'm Ready"
  4. "Selfless Dedicated Tree"
  5. "Fiery Eyes" (Japanese album)
2012 Deucer[91]

Released: 16 March (limited edition)
25 April (regular edition)

  1. "Together"
  2. "The Rain"
  3. "Born Again"
  4. "Sweet Memory"
2013 CBC / Case by Case[92]

Released: 29 January

  1. "The Answer (Intro)"
  2. "Tonight"
  3. "Case By Case"
  4. "Closer"
  5. "Lost Frame"
My Dear[93]

Released: 10 December

  1. "Fever"
  2. "My Dear"
  3. "Fiery Eyes (New ver.)"
  4. "Foolish Love (New ver.)"
  5. "Selfless Dedicated Tree (New ver.)"
2014 Exhale[94]

Released: 21 November

  1. "Ma Lady"
  2. "U"
  3. "For A While"
  4. "Bring Da Beat" (Feat. Yoo Seung-chan)
  5. "Ma Lady (Inst.)"
  6. "For A While (Inst.)"
2016 Thank You[95]

Released: 3 December

  1. "Thank You"
  2. "Now"
  3. "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
2018 Delight[96]

Released: 10 December

  1. "Accepted"
  2. "For Us"
  3. "Can't Be Slow"

Soundtrack[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

Year Title Notes ISBN
2009 "Lee Joon-gi Sawasdee Khrab" Photobook ISBN 978-8996333319
2010 "Hello Korean 1 with Lee Joon-gi " (Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese edition) Korean Textbooks + Audio CD ISBN 978-8994011141 Korean Edition
2011 "O'boy- for Splendid 2wenties of Lee Joon-gi" (Published in Japan) Photobook ISBN 978-4903323527
2012 "Time Between Dog and Wolf with Lee Joon-gi" Drama making book ISBN 928-9201878
2013 "Hello Korean 2 with Lee Joon-gi " (Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese edition) Korean Textbooks + Audio CD ISBN 978-8994011332 Korean Edition
2014 "Hello Korean 3 with Lee Joon-gi " (Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese edition) Korean Textbooks + Audio CD ISBN 978-8994011417 Korean Edition

Ambassadorship[edit]

Year Activities
2006 Honorary Ambassador for the 10th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival[98]
2007 Honorary PR Ambassador for the exhibition of 'Immortal painter'-Van Gogh[99]
Honorary Ambassador for anti-piracy film[100]
2008 Goodwill Ambassador for cultural exchange between Korea and China[101]
Honorary Ambassador for Seoul Hallyu Festival[28]
2008-2009 Honorary Legal System Officer (名譽法制官)[28]
2009-2010 Honorary Tourism Ambassador for the Korea Tourism Organization[30]
2010 Honorary PR Ambassador for the 2010 Shanghai Expo: Korea Pavilion in Shanghai, China[102]
2015-2016 Promotional ambassador of Ritz-Carlton Seoul[103]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2006 27th Blue Dragon Film Awards Best New Actor King and the Clown Nominated [104]
Popular Star Award Won
Best On-Screen Couple Award (with Kam Woo-sung) Won
8th Mnet KM Music Festival Best Actor in a Music Video Grace (by Lee Soo-young) Won [105]
5th Korean Film Awards Best New Actor King and the Clown Won [7]
43rd Grand Bell Awards Best New Actor Won [106]
Popularity Award Won
Korean Wave Popularity Award Won
42nd Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actor Won [107][9]
InStyle Fashionista Award N/A Won
11th Busan International Film Festival Male Rising Star Award Nominated [108]
6th Korea Youth Film Festival Best New Actor Won [109]
14th Chunsa Film Art Awards Best New Actor King and the Clown Nominated
29th Golden Cinema Film festival Best New Actor Won [110]
3rd Max Movie Awards Best Actor Won [111]
2007 10th Shanghai International Film Festival Overseas Star Award N/A Won [112]
27th Hawaii International Film Festival Rising Star Award Won [23]
12th Busan International Film Festival Male Rising Star Award Nominated [113]
26th MBC Drama Awards Excellence Award Time Between Dog and Wolf Won [114]
China Fashion Awards South Korean Artist of the Year N/A Won [115]
3rd Andre Kim Best Star Awards New and Superior Star Award Won [116]
1st Mnet 20's Choice Awards Best Pretty Boy Nominated [117]
2nd Asia Model Awards K-Wave Special Award Won [118]
43rd Baeksang Arts Awards Most Popular Actor Fly, Daddy, Fly Won [119]
2008 3rd Seoul International Drama Awards Most Popular Actor Time Between Dog and Wolf Won [120]
2nd Mnet 20's Choice Awards Hot Global Star N/A Nominated [121]
Hot Drama Star, Male Iljimae Nominated
16th SBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award Won [122]
Netizen Popularity Award Won
Top 10 Stars Won
2009 45th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actor (Television) Nominated [123]
28th MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award Hero Nominated [124]
Popularity Award Won
Tourism Authority of Thailand Special plaque of Appreciation N/A Won [125]
Korean Martial Arts Federation Martial Arts Actor Award Time Between Dog and Wolf, Iljimae Won [126]
2012 5th Skapa Awards Grand Prize, Korean wave category Lee Joon-gi's JG Style Won [52]
31st MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award Arang and the Magistrate Nominated [127]
Best Couple Award (with Shin Min-a) Won
2013 8th Seoul International Drama Awards Outstanding Korean Actor Won [51]
2nd APAN Star Awards Top Excellence Award Two Weeks Won [56]
32nd MBC Drama Awards Excellence Award Nominated [128]
2014 28th KBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award Gunman in Joseon Nominated
Excellence Award Won [129]
Best Couple Award (with Nam Sang-mi) Won [130]
2015 10th Seoul International Drama Awards Outstanding Korean Actor Won [59]
34th MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award Scholar Who Walks the Night Nominated
Top 10 Stars Award Won [131]
2016 24th SBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo Nominated
Hallyu Star Award Won [132]
Top 10 Stars Award Won [133]
Best Couple Award (with Lee Ji-eun) Won [134]
2016 Taiwan's KKTV Awards Actor of The Year Won [135]
2017 2nd Asia Artist Awards Fabulous Award Criminal Minds Won [136]
2018 StarHub's Night of Stars Awards Best Male Asian Star Lawless Lawyer Won [137]

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