15 March 1973 |
Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea
Master's degree in Theater and Film
|Revised Romanization||I Jeong-jae|
Lee Jung-jae (born 15 March 1973) is a South Korean actor. He debuted as a fashion model, then began his acting career on television, notably in the campus series Feelings (1994) and the iconic drama Sandglass (1995). After his acting breakthrough in An Affair (1998), Lee's film career took off. He has starred in a variety of film genres, among them romantic films such as Il Mare (2000) and Over the Rainbow (2002), melodrama Last Present (2001), comedy Oh! Brothers (2003), action films The Last Witness (2001) and Typhoon (2005), heist film The Thieves (2012), film noir New World (2013), and period film The Face Reader (2013). He won Best Actor awards at the Blue Dragon Film Awards for City of the Rising Sun (1999), and at the Fantasporto Director's Week for The Housemaid (2010).
1993–1997: Beginnings and Rising popularity
Lee Jung-jae was discovered by designer Ha Yong-soo while he was working at a café in Apgujeong, then worked as a fashion model for a number of years. Upon making his acting debut with the 1993 TV drama Dinosaur Teacher, Lee became a star practically overnight, and was almost always cast in lead roles thereafter. A year later, he received favorable reviews for his first big screen role in Bae Chang-ho's The Young Man, but it was the 1994 hit campus drama Feelings that made him a household name.
In 1995 what was supposed to be a small supporting role as the heroine's silent, devoted bodyguard in ratings behemoth Sandglass turned Lee into a national heartthrob, such that his screen time was increased throughout the series' run.
1998–2006: Breakout roles and Mainstream popularity
Lee's acting breakthrough would come in late 1998 in the award-winning film An Affair by E J-yong. This was followed up by another success, City of the Rising Sun, for which he won Best Actor at the Blue Dragon Film Awards and the Korean Association of Film Critics Awards.
Though his time-travel romance Il Mare was not a popular success in 2000, since then it has developed a loyal fan base a la Somewhere in Time and attained the status of a minor classic among Korean cinema fans (Keanu Reeves played Lee's role in the 2006 Hollywood remake The Lake House). Lee followed up with melodrama Last Present  alongside Lee Young-ae and action mystery The Last Witness directed by Bae Chang-ho; both of which were considerable successes.
In 2003, he starred opposite Lee Beom-soo in Oh! Brothers, a comedy about two brothers, one of whom has an unusual disease. The film was one of Lee's biggest hits ever, topping three million admissions at the local box office. Nonetheless he remained out of the limelight for the next couple years. Finally at the end of 2005 he returned in Typhoon, a big-budget action blockbuster by Kwak Kyung-taek, the director of Friend.
2007–2009: Career slump
With the period action comedy The Accidental Gangster and the Mistaken Courtesan, Lee said he wanted to try his hand at playing a different kind of role, a comical loose cannon type of character. Though it was not successful at the box office, he still considers it one of his most memorable films.
2010–Present: Career resurgence
Lee rejuvenated his career in the high-profile 2010 erotic thriller The Housemaid, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival, and Toronto International Film Festival. Lee nabbed a Best Actor award at the Fantasporto Director's Week. As his next project, he joined the star-studded ensemble cast of The Thieves, a 2012 heist film that became the second all-time highest-grossing movie in Korean cinema history.
El Fin del Mundo ("The End of the World") is a 13-minute split screen film made by visual artists Moon Kyung-won and Jeon Joon-ho, which depicts the destructive environmental changes the world faces in the future and the subsequent end of art and birth of new art based on dialogue between two artists in different times and space, played by Lee and Im Soo-jung. The film was screened at dOCUMENTA in 2012, considered the world's most prestigious and innovative contemporary art platform. A longtime art collector and honorary ambassador for the National Museum of Contemporary Art in 2011-2012, Lee also narrated the 2013 TV documentary Contemporary Art, Bury the Boundary which highlighted homegrown Korean artists.
In the noir thriller New World (2013), he played a police officer who goes undercover in a crime organization. Lee said he was grateful to co-star Choi Min-sik, who suggested casting him to the director. He later signed on to be exclusively managed by C-JeS Entertainment, reportedly choosing the agency after he worked with Song Ji-hyo in New World.
Lee then portrayed Prince Suyang opposite Song Kang-ho in the period film The Face Reader (2013), for which he won Best Supporting Actor at the Blue Dragon Film Awards and the Baeksang Arts Awards. This was followed by action-comedy Big Match in 2014, where he played a mixed martial arts fighter trying to save his brother by winning an elaborate high-stakes game.
In 2015, he reunited with The Thieves director Choi Dong-hoon and actress Jun Ji-hyun in Assassination, set in 1930s Korea and Shanghai during the Japanese occupation. Lee won a Best Actor award at the 24th Buil Film Awards and was named Actor of the Year at the 3rd Marie Claire Asia Star Awards.
Lee then starred in his first Chinese film, crime drama Tik Tok. He returned to the Korean screen with the box office hit, Operation Chromite, playing a South Korean lieutenant in the navy, the man responsible for reversing the tide of the Korean War.
In August 2008, Lee was awarded his master's degree from Dongguk University's Department of Theater & Film Art in the Graduate School of Cultural Arts. He made his first foray into theater in December of that same year, taking on the titular role in Hamlet in Water. The play ran for four days at his alma mater's Lee Hae-rang Theater.
Apart from his acting, Lee is known for launching a chain of upscale Italian restaurants in Seoul named after his movie Il Mare. Having studied interior design, he himself took responsibility for designing the interiors of his restaurants. Lee also founded the real estate development company Seorim C&D in 2008, and owns several businesses with actor Jung Woo-sung, his best friend since they starred together in City of the Rising Sun. In May 2016, Lee and Jung established and became CEOs of their entertainment label called the 'Artist Company'.
|1993||Love Is Oh Yeah!|
|1994||The Young Man||Lee Han|
|Father vs. Son||Park Su-seok|
|1999||City of the Rising Sun||Hong-ki|
|The Uprising||Lee Jae-su|
|Il Mare||Han Sung-hyun|
|Asako in Ruby Shoes||Woo-in|
|2001||Last Present||Jung Yong-ki|
|MOB 2025||Dust||Short film|
|The Last Witness||Detective Oh|
|2002||Over the Rainbow||Lee Jin-su|
|2003||Oh! Brothers||Oh Sang-woo|
|2008||The Accidental Gangster and the Mistaken Courtesan||Cheon-doong|
|2012||El Fin del Mundo||Short film|
|2013||New World||Lee Ja-sung|
|The Face Reader||Prince Suyang|
|2014||Big Match||Choi Ik-ho|
|2016||Tik Tok||Kang Seung-joon|
|Operation Chromite||Jang Hak-soo|
|2017||Warriors of the Dawn||To-woo|
|Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds||God of Death (King Yeomra)|
|1994||The Lonely Man||Jae-jung||KBS2|
|Love Is Blue||SBS|
|1998||White Nights 3.98||Lee Young-jun||SBS|
|2007||Air City||Kim Ji-sung||MBC|
Awards and nominations
|1995||31st Baeksang Arts Awards||Best New Actor (TV)||Sandglass||Won|
|Best New Actor (Film)||The Young Man||Won|
|33rd Grand Bell Awards||Best New Actor||Won|
|16th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best New Actor||Won|
|15th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards||Best New Actor||Won|
|SBS Drama Awards||Best New Actor||Sandglass||Won|
|1997||33rd Baeksang Arts Awards||Most Popular Actor (Film)||Firebird||Won|
|1998||19th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||An Affair||Nominated|
|1999||35th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actor (Film)||City of the Rising Sun||Nominated|
|Most Popular Actor (Film)||Won|
|36th Grand Bell Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|20th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||Won|
|19th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards||Best Actor||Won|
|2001||38th Savings Day||Prime Minister's Commendation||N/A||Won|
|38th Grand Bell Awards||Best Actor||Last Present||Nominated|
|2006||43rd Grand Bell Awards||Best Actor||Typhoon||Nominated|
|29th Golden Cinematography Awards||Best Actor||Won|
|2008||1st Style Icon Awards||Style Icon Actor||N/A||Won|
|2010||4th Mnet 20's Choice Awards||Most Influential Star||N/A||Won|
|2011||31st Fantasporto Director's Week||Best Actor||The Housemaid||Won|
|2013||50th Grand Bell Awards||Best Actor||The Face Reader||Nominated|
|34th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Won|
|33rd Korean Association of Film Critics Awards||CJ CGV Star Award||New World, The Face Reader||Won|
|Best Actor||The Face Reader||Nominated|
|2014||5th KOFRA Film Awards||Best Supporting Actor||The Face Reader||Won|
|9th Max Movie Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|19th Chunsa Film Art Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|50th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Supporting Actor (Film)||Won|
|23rd Buil Film Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|2015||51st Baeksang Arts Awards||InStyle Fashionista Award||N/A||Won|
|24th Buil Film Awards||Best Actor||Assassination||Won|
|3rd Marie Claire Asia Star Awards||Actor of the Year||Won|
|36th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|2016||11th Max Movie Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|8th Style Icon Awards||Bonsang ("Main Award")||N/A||Won|
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- Chun, Su-jin (15 March 2001). "For How Long Will Looks Trump Talent?". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- Oh, Jean (10 June 2009). "MBC's new series a Triple threat". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
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- "The Housemaid". Festival de Cannes. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
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- Lee, Hye-ji (28 August 2012). "The Thieves stars Lee Jung-jae, Kim Hye-soo join Song Kang-ho's 1st historical film". 10Asia. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
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