Lee Na-young

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Lee Na-young
Lee Na-young in Jan 2019.png
Born (1979-02-22) February 22, 1979 (age 41)
Years active1998–present
AgentEden 9
m. 2015)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationYi Nayeong
McCune–ReischauerI Nayŏng

Lee Na-young (Korean이나영; RRYi Nayeong; born February 22, 1979) is a South Korean actress. She is best known for her leading roles in TV Series Ruler of Your Own World (2002) and Ireland (2004) and film Someone Special (2004) and Maundy Thursday (2006). Aside from acting, Lee is also known for appearing in numerous commercials.[1]


Lee Na-young began her modeling career in a Jambangee Jeans TV commercial in 1998, then made her acting debut that same year.[2] Following supporting roles in 1999 television dramas Did We Really Love?, KAIST,[3] and Queen,[4] Lee starred in the tepidly received 2000 Hong Kong sci-fi action film Dream of Warrior starring Leon Lai.[5] She also appeared in the 2001 music video for "Catherine's Wheel" by Britpop band Rialto.[6][7]

But Lee rose to fame in 2002 with the critically acclaimed series Ruler of Your Own World.[8] She played an indie rock musician who unexpectedly falls for a terminally ill grifter, and Lee and her fellow cast members were praised for their realistic, nuanced acting.[9] She later reunited with Ruler of Your Own World screenwriter In Jung-ok for Ireland, a 2004 drama about a Korean adoptee who journeys to her homeland, but its reception was less positive.[10]

During this time, Lee had become one of the top-ranked and highest-paid commercial models, endorsing diverse products such as cosmetics (notably Laneige and Lancôme), electronics, clothing lines, beverages, food, telecommunications, and construction companies.[11][12][13] She is considered to have one of the most beautiful and idealized faces in Korea.[14] Lee later became the first Korean to appear on the cover of fashion magazine W Korea, for its November 2009 issue.[15]

But unlike her graceful and glamorous public persona in advertisements, her image in film has been the opposite, with Lee choosing to portray women who are awkward and eccentric.[16] In 2002, she starred in the cyber romance Who R. U.? as an introverted character similar to her role in Ruler of Your Own World.[17][18][19] Lee then played a quirky, English-challenged civil servant in Kim Sung-su's comedy film Please Teach Me English (2003) and the harmless stalker of a struggling baseball player in Jang Jin's romantic comedy Someone Special (2004).[20][21] She won several Best Actress prizes for Someone Special, notably from the prestigious Blue Dragon Film Awards.[22]

Lee again drew praise in 2006, this time for her dramatic chops in Maundy Thursday, Song Hae-sung's film adaptation of Gong Ji-young's novel Our Happy Time about a suicidal rape victim who develops a close bond with a death row inmate.[23] She next played an emotionally tormented sleepwalker in Kim Ki-duk's Dream (2008), and nearly died while filming a scene where her character hangs herself.[24]

In 2010, Lee headlined Lady Daddy, playing a trans woman photographer whose life is disrupted with the sudden arrival of a young boy who claims that she's his biological father.[25][26][27] To promote the film, she made a guest appearance in the sitcom High Kick Through the Roof.[28][29] Lee then returned to television with the big-budget action-mystery series The Fugitive: Plan B, in which she performed her own action scenes without a stunt double.[30][31]

When Lee's contract with talent agency KeyEast expired in 2011 (she had signed with KeyEast in 2006, and with the William Morris Agency in 2009), she joined Eden 9 Entertainment.[32][33][34] In 2012, she starred in Yoo Ha's suspense thriller Howling, about a veteran detective (played by Song Kang-ho) who teams up with a female rookie (Lee) to solve a series of murders involving a mysterious wolfdog.[35][36][37]

In 2013, Lee appeared in a minor role in the two-part Japanese film SPEC: Close. She then played an actress having a secret romance with a boom operator in Sad Scene; it was among the three short films in the omnibus Woman, Man commissioned by W Korea for its 10th anniversary in 2015.[38]

In 2018, Lee returned to the silver screen with the North Korean refugee drama Beautiful Days,[39] which premiered at the 23rd Busan International Film Festival.[40][41][42]

In 2019, Lee returned to the small screen after nine years by starring in the romance comedy drama Romance Is a Bonus Book alongside Lee Jong-suk.[43][44][45] She played a main character named Kang Dan-yi who is a new temporary worker of book publishing company.

Personal life[edit]

Lee married actor Won Bin on May 30, 2015 in a small, private ceremony in a wheat field near an inn in Won's hometown, Jeongseon County, Gangwon Province, South Korea.[46][47][48][49][50] The couple belong to the same talent agency Eden 9, and reportedly began dating in August 2012 (though Eden 9 only confirmed the relationship in July 2013).[51][52][53][54] A press release from Eden 9 on December 19, 2015 announced that Lee had given birth to the couple's first child, a son.[55][56][57][58]



Year Title Role Notes
1999 Eiji Mae-hwa Japanese film
2001 Dream of a Warrior Shosho
2002 Who R. U.? Seo In-joo
2003 Please Teach Me English Na Young-ju
2004 Someone Special Han Yi-yeon
Sweet Home short film
Leaving Me, Loving You (cameo) Hong Kong film
2006 Maundy Thursday Moon Yu-jeong
2008 Dream Ran
2010 Lady Daddy Ji-hyeon
2012 Howling Cha Eun-young
2013 SPEC: Close Woman who speaks Korean Japanese film
2015 Woman, Man segment: "Sad Scene"
2018 Beautiful Days Mother

Television series[edit]

Year Title Role Network Notes
1998 One Day Suddenly So-hee, a ghost (bit part) SBS
Three Guys and Three Girls (bit part) MBC
MBC Best Theater
"What Was I to You?"
Did We Really Love? Kang Jae-young MBC
MBC Best Theater
"Goodbye Audrey Hepburn"
Queen Oh Soon-jung SBS
Magic Castle Hong Yoon-hee KBS2 [59]
Love Story "Message" So-young SBS [60]
2000 Cool Friends Broadcasting writer Lee Na-young KBS2 [61]
2002 Ruler of Your Own World Jeon Kyung MBC
2004 Ireland Lee Joong-ah
2009 High Kick Through the Roof Lee Na-bong (guest, episode 85)
2010 The Fugitive: Plan B Jini KBS2
2019 Romance Is a Bonus Book Kang Dan-yi tvN

Music video appearances[edit]

Year Song title Artist
1998 "Kiss Me" Park Jin-young
"The Last Lie" Yoon Sang
"Miracle" Kim Dong-ryool feat. Lee So-eun
2000 "Only You Wouldn't Know" As One
"My Love" Im Chang-jung
2001 "Catherine's Wheel" Rialto
"Goodbye, My Love" Jo Sung-mo
2006 "Eternal Love" Lee Seung-chul

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2002 MBC Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Ruler of Your Own World Won [62]
2004 12th Chunsa Film Art Awards Best Actress Someone Special Won [63]
25th Blue Dragon Film Awards Best Actress Won
5th Women in Film Korea Awards Best Actress Won [64]
MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress Ireland Nominated
Popularity Award, Actress Won [65]
2006 6th Korea Advertisers Association Good Model Award N/A Won [66]
27th Blue Dragon Film Awards Best Actress Maundy Thursday Nominated
2007 1st Korea Broadcast Advertising Festival - Model Awards Best Partner Award N/A Won [67]
41st Taxpayer's Day Prime Minister's Commendation N/A Won [68]
2010 KBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Mid-length Drama The Fugitive: Plan B Nominated
Netizen Award, Actress Nominated
Best Couple Award with Rain Nominated


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  2. ^ "[STAR★미니다큐] (11) 이나영, 안방-스크린-CF서 반짝반짝". Sports Chosun (in Korean). 8 October 2007.
  3. ^ "이나영·이규한 SBS 〈카이스트〉합류". JoongAng Ilbo (in Korean). 25 February 2002.
  4. ^ ""연기 재미에 푹 빠졌어요"..SBS '퀸'의 오순정역 이나영씨". Hankyung (in Korean). 10 August 1999.
  5. ^ Kim, Hee-kyeong (16 February 2001). "Dream of A Warrior a sci-fi love story". The Dong-a Ilbo. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
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  7. ^ Joe, Yong-hee (15 January 2001). "British Pop Band With a Particular Warmth for Korea". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
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  9. ^ Naldi, V.X. "Ruler of Your Own World (2002, MBC miniseries)". Koreanfilm.org. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
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  13. ^ "Lancôme Picks Lee Na-young as Its Face in Korea". The Chosun Ilbo. 8 August 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
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  15. ^ "Lee Na-young becomes 1st Korean on W cover". 10Asia. 19 October 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  16. ^ Sunwoo, Carla (22 February 2012). "Lee Na-young unfazed by questions about age, marriage prospects". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  17. ^ <연합인터뷰>「후아유」의 이나영. Yonhap News (in Korean). 2 May 2002.
  18. ^ "Interview: Actress Lee Na-young (Part 1)". 10Asia. 14 January 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  19. ^ "Interview: Actress Lee Na-young (Part 2)". 10Asia. 14 January 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  20. ^ "'English' translates into laughter". The Korea Times. 29 October 2003.
  21. ^ "'A Woman I Know - Someone Special' Shows Even Oddballs Fall in Love". The Korea Times. 24 June 2004.
  22. ^ "Silmido Takes Best Picture at Blue Dragon Awards". The Chosun Ilbo. 30 November 2004. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  23. ^ "Happy Hours and Two Complex Stars". The Chosun Ilbo. 6 September 2006. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
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  25. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (5 January 2010). "Actress Lee Shows Off Handsome Look". The Korea Times. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  26. ^ "Lee Na-young turns man in film Lady Daddy". 10Asia. 5 January 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  27. ^ "Lee Na-young Takes on Transgender Part". The Chosun Ilbo. 16 January 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  28. ^ "Lee Na-young preps on the set of High Kick 2". 10Asia. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  29. ^ "Lee Na-young, Choi Daniel on the set of High Kick 2". 10Asia. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  30. ^ "Lee to play opposite Rain in new drama". The Korea Times. 16 June 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  31. ^ Jean, Oh (27 September 2010). "Comeback kids amp up TV thriller". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  32. ^ "Lee Na-young signs with Hollywood agency". The Korea Herald. 2 April 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  33. ^ "Actress Lee Na-young leaves KEYEAST". 10Asia. 6 April 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  34. ^ "Actress Lee Na-young joins new agency". 10Asia. 2 August 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  35. ^ "Lee Na-young tracking serial killers?". Korea JoongAng Daily. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  36. ^ "Lee Na-young Faces Tough Challenge on New Movie". The Chosun Ilbo. 11 February 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  37. ^ Lee, Claire (8 February 2012). "Howling: Portrait of the minority". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  38. ^ 이나영, 우문기 감독 단편영화 '슬픈 씬'으로 활동 재개. TenAsia (in Korean). 25 February 2015.
  39. ^ "LEE Na-young Chooses Indie Title for Comeback Role". Korean Film Biz Zone. 28 August 2017.
  40. ^ "Lee Na-young's New Film to Open Busan Int'l Film Festival Next Month". The Chosun Ilbo. 22 September 2018.
  41. ^ "[INTERVIEW] In 'Beautiful Days,' Lee Na-young turns hurt into hope". The Korea Times. 18 November 2018.
  42. ^ "Lee Na-young makes a big return with 'Beautiful Days': The actor plays a North Korean defector in her first film in six years". Korea JoongAng Daily. 15 November 2018.
  43. ^ "Lee Na-young returns to small screen with rom-com after 9 years". Kpop Herald. 15 October 2018.
  44. ^ "Lee Na-young and Lee Jong-suk to show romance in publishing industry in new rom-com". Kpop Herald. 21 January 2019.
  45. ^ "Lee Na-young to Appear in Rom-Com Series with Lee Jong-suk". The Chosun Ilbo. 22 January 2019.
  46. ^ "Won Bin, Lee Na-young Tie Knot in Wheat Fields". The Chosun Ilbo. 1 June 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  47. ^ "Won Bin's Quiet Countryside Wedding Strikes Chord". The Chosun Ilbo. 2 June 2015. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  48. ^ "Top stars Won Bin and Lee Na-young tie knot". The Korea Times. 30 May 2015. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  49. ^ "Actor Won Bin ties knot with actress Lee Na-young". The Korea Herald. 31 May 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  50. ^ Yoon, Sarah (31 May 2015). "Won Bin, Lee Na-young marry in secret ceremony". K-pop Herald. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  51. ^ Yoon, Min-sik (3 July 2013). "Won Bin, Lee Na-young dating: agency". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  52. ^ "'Hallyu' stars Won, Lee are dating". The Korea Times. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  53. ^ "Won Bin Admits He's Head Over Heels for Lee Na-young". The Chosun Ilbo. 4 July 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  54. ^ "Won Bin, Lee Na-young confirm they're a couple". Korea JoongAng Daily. 4 July 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  55. ^ "Star couple Won Bin and Lee Na-young to become parents". The Korea Times. 3 August 2015. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  56. ^ "Lee Na-young Pregnant 2 Months After Wedding". The Chosun Ilbo. 4 August 2015. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  57. ^ Jackson, Julie (20 December 2015). "Won Bin, Lee Na-young welcome first child". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  58. ^ "Lee Na-young Gives Birth to Baby Boy". The Chosun Ilbo. 21 December 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
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  63. ^ "When I Turned Nine unexpected winner of Chunsa Film Art Awards". Korean Film Biz Zone. 25 November 2004.
  64. ^ 이나영, 올해의 여성영화인 연기상. Star News (in Korean). 17 December 2004.
  65. ^ "고두심, '2004 MBC 연기대상' 대상 수상". Star News (in Korean). 31 December 2004.
  66. ^ 이나영, 장동건 광고주가 뽑은 좋은 모델상-2006 한국광고주대회. Herald Pop (in Korean). 12 October 2006.
  67. ^ '쇼를 하라' 2007 대한민국 방송광고 페스티벌 3관왕(종합). Star News (in Korean). 18 September 2007.
  68. ^ 이나영 "모범 납세자라니 쑥스럽네요". Yonhap News (in Korean). 5 March 2007.

External links[edit]