Lee Sun-kyun

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Lee Sun-kyun
Lee Seon-gun in Oct 2018.png
Lee in 2018
Born (1975-03-02) March 2, 1975 (age 48)
EducationKorea National University of Arts - BFA in Acting[2]
Years active2001–present
AgentHODU&U Entertainment [ko]
(m. 2009)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationI Seon-gyun
McCune–ReischauerI Sŏnkyun

Lee Sun-kyun (born March 2, 1975)[3] is a South Korean actor. After beginning his career in musical theatre, for many years Lee was relegated to minor and supporting roles onscreen, only getting to play lead characters in one-act dramas on KBS Drama City and MBC Best Theater. In one such Best Theater project, he worked with TV director Lee Yoon-jung on Taereung National Village (2005), which led to him being cast in her later series Coffee Prince in 2007. Coffee Prince, along with medical drama White Tower brought Lee mainstream popularity, which he followed with Pasta (2010), Golden Time (2012) and My Mister (2018).

Meanwhile, on the big screen, he received a Best Actor award from the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival for his role in Paju (2009), followed by critical acclaim for mystery thriller Helpless (2012), romantic comedy All About My Wife (2012), and crime/black comedy A Hard Day (2014). Lee also continues to collaborate with auteur Hong Sang-soo, and his arthouse films with Hong include Night and Day (2008), Oki's Movie (2010), and Nobody's Daughter Haewon (2013). In 2019, he starred in Bong Joon-ho's Oscar-winning black comedy film Parasite.


Lee Sun-kyun entered the Korea National University of Arts in 1994, and graduated in the first ever batch of its School of Drama. In 2001, he made his acting debut as Brad Majors in the stage musical The Rocky Horror Show.[4]

2007–2012: Acting beginnings[edit]

Playing small supporting roles for many years, he eventually achieved his breakthrough in 2007 with the critically lauded medical drama White Tower and the highly popular romantic series Coffee Prince.[5] Besides Coffee Prince, he has worked with director Lee Yoon-jung two other times—in the sports-themed Taereung National Village in 2005, and in slice-of-life drama Triple in 2009.[6]

Lee was appointed as ambassador for the Health Insurance Review Agency in 2007, and won an award from the Korea Advertisers Association in 2008.

Despite his burgeoning fame, Lee then turned to low-budget arthouse films to polish his acting caliber. Night and Day, Lost in the Mountains, Oki's Movie, Nobody's Daughter Haewon and Our Sunhi were all directed by Hong Sang-soo, an auteur renowned for his realistic portrayal of ordinary lives.[4] Lee also headlined Paju,[7] for which he won the Best Actor award at the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival held in Spain. Film distributor Myung Film quoted the judging committee as handing Lee high points for portraying the anguish his character felt for loving his wife's younger sister.[8]

With Pasta, in which he played a brilliant-but-abrasive chef, Lee successfully shook off his "gentle" TV drama image,[9] and the series' popularity made him a bankable romantic leading man.[10][11][12] Petty Romance reunited him with his My Sweet Seoul co-star Choi Kang-hee,[13][14][15] and one-upmanship action comedy Officer of the Year (also known as Arrest King) soon followed.[16][17]

Lee showed his support for the revival of Drama Special (formerly Drama City) by starring in Our Slightly Risque Relationship (his acting was later recognized at the KBS Drama Awards). He has continually defended the importance of the short drama format as a training ground for young talent, acknowledging its contribution to his own career.[18]

2012–2017: Rising success[edit]

In 2012, he starred in two consecutive well-reviewed big-screen hits—mystery thriller Helpless[19] and romantic comedy All About My Wife.[20][21] Reuniting with Pasta director Kwon Seok-jang, Lee played a trauma doctor in Golden Time.[22] His third collaboration with Kwon was Miss Korea, a drama set amidst the IMF crisis in the 1990s.[23][24]

Lee returned to the theater opposite wife Jeon Hye-jin in Mike Bartlett's stage play Love, Love, Love in 2013.[25] The following year, he headlined the film A Hard Day, which screened at the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, and became a critically acclaimed sleeper hit at the box office.[26][27][28] In 2015, Lee starred in courtroom drama film The Advocate: A Missing Body.[29][30]

2018–present: Return to television and resurgence[edit]

In 2018, Lee starred in the critically acclaimed television series My Mister.[31][32] The same year he starred in the action thriller film Take Point.[33]

In 2019, Lee is set to star in the legal television series Prosecutor Civil War.[34] More recently, he had a starring role in the critically acclaimed film Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-ho, which became the first South Korean film to win the Palme d'Or, as well as the first to be nominated for and win the Academy Award for Best Picture. His role was Park Dong-ik (Nathan; 박동익; Bak Dongik), the Park family father.

In 2021, Lee played a brain scientist trying to solve the mysterious death of his family by hacking into the brains of the deceased. Dr. Brain is the first Korean-language show produced for Apple TV+. As the drama series debut of renowned filmmaker Kim Jee-woon, sci-fi thriller is based on the Korean webtoon of the same name.[35] For his performance He was nominated for a Best Actor award for the 50th International Emmy Awards.[3]

In 2021, Lee is appearing in political drama film Kingmaker as political strategist. The film was released in December.[36] He was nominated for award for best actor in this film, however the award go to his costar Sol Kyung-gu.

Personal life[edit]

Lee married his girlfriend of seven years, actress Jeon Hye-jin on May 23, 2009.[37][38][39] Their agency announced that their first son was born on November 25, 2009.[40] The couple's second son was born on August 9, 2011.[41]


Stage Credit[edit]


Theater play performances
Year Title Role Theater Date Ref.
English Korean
2005 Indangsu Love Song 인당수 사랑가 Valentine's Theatre 3 April 22 to September 11
2013 Love, Love, Love 러브 러브 러브 Kenneth Myeongdong Arts Theatre March 27 to April 21 [42]


Musical performances
Year Title Role Theater Date Ref.
English Korean
2001 The Rocky Horror Show 록키 호러 쇼 Brad Majors the Polymedia Theater in Dongsung-dong July 17 to August 26 [43][44]
2003 Grease 그리스 Danny Zuko Dongsung Art Centre Dongsung Hall August to November 16 [45][46]


Title Year Album
"Ocean Voyage (Choi Han-sung version)" 2007 Coffee Prince OST
"My Sweet City" 2008 My Sweet Seoul OST
"Romantic Christmas"
(with Eugene)
Romantic Island Christmas Story single
(with Yoon Sang )
Song Book: Play With Him album
(with Choi Kang-hee)
2010 Petty Romance OST
"Gift For You"
(with Choi Kang-hee, Song Ji-hyo and Kim Byung-man)
2011 Non-album single

Awards and nominations[edit]

Name of the award ceremony, year presented, category, nominee of the award, and the result of the nomination
Award ceremony Year Category Nominee / Work Result Ref.
APAN Star Awards 2018 Grand Prize (Daesang) My Mister Nominated [47]
Baeksang Arts Awards 2007 Best New Actor – Television White Tower Nominated
2015 Best Actor – Film A Hard Day Won [48]
2019 Best Actor – Television My Mister Nominated [49]
2022 Best Actor – Film Kingmaker Nominated [50]
Blue Dragon Film Awards 2014 Best Leading Actor A Hard Day Nominated
Buil Film Awards 2014 Best Actor Nominated
CETV Awards 2010 Top 10 Asian Stars Pasta Won
Chunsa Film Art Awards 2015 Best Actor A Hard Day Nominated
Critics' Choice Awards 2020 Best Acting Ensemble Parasite Nominated [51]
Herald DongA TV Lifestyle Awards 2012 Best Dressed Lee Sun-kyun Won [52]
International Emmy Awards 2022 Best Performance by an Actor Dr. Brain Nominated [53]
KBS Drama Awards 2004 Best Actor in a One-Act/Drama Special Dr. Love Nominated
2010 Our Slightly Risque Relationship Won [54]
Korea Advertisers Association 2008 Good Model Award Lee Sun-kyun Won
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival 2010 Best Actor Paju Won
MBC Drama Awards 2007 Golden Acting Award, Actor in a Miniseries White Tower Won [55]
Excellence Award, Actor Coffee Prince Nominated
2010 Top Excellence Award, Actor Pasta Nominated
Best Couple Award Lee Sun-kyun with Gong Hyo-jin
Won [56]
2012 Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Golden Time Nominated
2014 Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Miss Korea Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards 2020 Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Parasite Won [57]
The Seoul Awards 2018 Best Actor (TV) My Mister Nominated [58]

State honors[edit]

Name of country, year given, and name of honor
Country Or Organization Year Honor Or Award Ref.
South Korea[note 1] 2018 Prime Minister's Commendation [62]


  1. ^ Honors are given at the Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards, arranged by the Korea Creative Content Agency and hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.[59][60] They are awarded to those who have contributed to the arts and South Korea's pop culture.[61]


  1. ^ 씨네폭스: 이선균
  2. ^ "Outstanding Alumni". Korea National University of Arts. Archived from the original on 2014-05-08. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
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  4. ^ a b "LEE Sun-kyun". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
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  19. ^ Oh, Mi-jung (13 March 2012). "Lee Sun Gyun Didn't Really Want to be in Helpless at First". enewsWorld. Archived from the original on 28 January 2013.
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  28. ^ "'The irritated guy' returns to the screen". Korea JoongAng Daily. 22 October 2015.
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  30. ^ Kim, Yeon-ji (22 October 2015). "'The irritated guy' returns to the screen". Korea JoongAng Daily.
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  32. ^ "종영 '나의 아저씨'가 인생 드라마였던 모든 이유" [Finale, all the reasons why 'My Mister' was a life drama]. Naver. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  33. ^ "Lee Sun-kyun is more than romantic: Heartthrob plays a North Korean doctor in new action film 'Take Point'". Korea JoongAng Daily. 31 December 2018.
  34. ^ Choi, Yoon-na (February 27, 2019). "[종합] '검사내전', JTBC 편성 예정…이선균X정려원 "논의 중"". Sports Donga (in Korean). Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  35. ^ "Apple TV+ Korea to Launch Nov 4 with Kim Jeewoon's Series DR. BRAIN". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 2023-01-31.
  36. ^ Kwak Myeong-dong (November 15, 2021). ""킹조합!" 설경구X이선균 '킹메이커', 그랜드 론칭에 폭발적 반응" [“King Guild!” Seol Kyung-gu X Lee Sun-kyun's 'King Maker', explosive reaction to grand launch]. My Daily (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved November 27, 2021.
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  38. ^ "2009 결혼한 스타들" (in Korean). Naver. 23 May 2009.
  39. ^ Oh, Seol-hye (3 May 2012). "Lee Sun-gyun "My wife speaks honest and direct"". StarN News.
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  43. ^ "[뮤지컬]연출가 이지나 '록키 호러 쇼' 는 일탈 욕구 표출". n.news.naver.com (in Korean). Retrieved 2023-02-08.
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  45. ^ "[문화캘린더/공연]뮤지컬 '그리스'…입소문 타고 관객 발길". n.news.naver.com (in Korean). Retrieved 2023-02-08.
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  57. ^ "Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture - SAG Awards: 'Parasite' Wins Top Film Prize; 'Crown' and 'Mrs. Maisel' Named Best Drama, Comedy Series". The Hollywood Reporter. 19 January 2020. Retrieved 2020-01-20.
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