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 46)
EducationKorea National University of Arts - BFA in Acting[1]
Years active2001–present
AgentHodoo Entertainment
(m. 2009)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationI Seon-gyun
McCune–ReischauerI Sŏnkyun

Lee Sun-kyun (born March 2, 1975)[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[3] Lee also headlined Paju,[6] 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.[7]

With Pasta, in which he played a brilliant-but-abrasive chef, Lee successfully shook off his "gentle" TV drama image,[8] and the series' popularity made him a bankable romantic leading man.[9][10][11] Petty Romance reunited him with his My Sweet Seoul co-star Choi Kang-hee,[12][13][14] and one-upmanship action comedy Officer of the Year (also known as Arrest King) soon followed.[15][16]

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.[17]

2012–2017: Rising success[edit]

In 2012, he starred in two consecutive well-reviewed big-screen hits—mystery thriller Helpless[18] and romantic comedy All About My Wife.[19][20] Reuniting with Pasta director Kwon Seok-jang, Lee played a trauma doctor in Golden Time.[21] His third collaboration with Kwon was Miss Korea, a drama set amidst the IMF crisis in the 1990s.[22][23]

Lee returned to the theater opposite wife Jeon Hye-jin in Mike Bartlett's stage play Love, Love, Love in 2013.[24] 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.[25][26][27] In 2015, Lee starred in courtroom drama film The Advocate: A Missing Body.[28][29]

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

In 2018, Lee starred in the critically acclaimed television series My Mister.[30][31] The same year he starred in the action thriller film Take Point.[32]

In 2019, Lee is set to star in the legal television series Prosecutor Civil War.[33]

In 2021, Lee is appearing in political drama film Kingmaker as political strategist. The film is set to release in December.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea. He married his girlfriend of seven years, actress Jeon Hye-jin on May 23, 2009.[35][36][37]

Their sons were born on November 25, 2009, and August 9, 2011.



Year Title Role
2001 The Rocky Horror Show Brad Majors
2003 Grease Danny Zuko
2005 Indangsu Love Song
2013 Love, Love, Love Kenneth


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]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2004 KBS Drama Awards Best Actor in a One-Act/Drama Special Dr. Love Nominated
2007 43rd Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actor (TV) White Tower Nominated
MBC Drama Awards Golden Acting Award, Actor in a Miniseries Won [38]
Excellence Award, Actor Coffee Prince Nominated
2008 Korea Advertisers Association Good Model Award N/A Won
2010 11th Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival Best Actor Paju Won
CETV Awards Top 10 Asian Stars Pasta Won
MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actor Nominated
Best Couple Award with Gong Hyo-jin Won [39]
KBS Drama Awards Best Actor in a One-Act/Drama Special Our Slightly Risque Relationship Won [40]
2012 5th Herald DongA TV Lifestyle Awards Best Dressed N/A Won [41]
MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Golden Time Nominated
2014 MBC Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Miss Korea Nominated
35th Blue Dragon Film Awards Best Leading Actor A Hard Day Nominated
23rd Buil Film Awards Best Actor Nominated
2015 20th Chunsa Film Art Awards Nominated
51st Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actor (Film) Won [42]
2018 24th Korean Popular Culture & Arts Awards Prime Minister's Commendation N/A Won [43]
6th APAN Star Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) My Mister Nominated [44]
2nd The Seoul Awards Best Actor (TV) Nominated [45]
2019 55th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actor (TV) Nominated [46]
2020 25th Critics' Choice Awards Best Acting Ensemble Parasite Nominated [47]
26th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Won [48]


  1. ^ "Outstanding Alumni". Korea National University of Arts. Archived from the original on 2014-05-08. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  2. ^ "이선균" [Lee Sun-kyun]. Daum 100 (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  3. ^ a b "LEE Sun-kyun". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  4. ^ "Political drama isn't TV". Korea JoongAng Daily. 17 February 2007.
  5. ^ Oh, Jean (10 June 2009). "MBC's new series a Triple threat". The Korea Herald.
  6. ^ "Lee Seon-kyun Comments on His Role in Paju". KBS Global. 27 October 2009. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  7. ^ Hong, Lucia (30 March 2010). "Lee Sun-kyun wins best male actor at Las Palmas film fest". 10Asia.
  8. ^ Choi, Ji-eun (29 December 2009). "Lee Sun-kyun says not pressured by new image in Pasta". 10Asia.
  9. ^ Beck, Una (7 April 2010). "Interview: Actor Lee Sun-kyun - Part 1". 10Asia.
  10. ^ Beck, Una (7 April 2010). "Interview: Actor Lee Sun-kyun - Part 2". 10Asia.
  11. ^ Beck, Una (7 April 2010). "Interview: Actor Lee Sun-kyun - Part 3". 10Asia.
  12. ^ Beck, Una (14 October 2010). "PIFF Interview - Actor Lee Sun-kyun". 10Asia.
  13. ^ Wee, Geun-woo (9 December 2010). "Interview: Actor Lee Sun-kyun - Part 1". 10Asia.
  14. ^ Wee, Geun-woo (9 December 2010). "Interview: Actor Lee Sun-kyun - Part 2". 10Asia.
  15. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (28 April 2011). "Arrest gives '90s comedy zesty spin". The Korea Times.
  16. ^ Park Joong Hoon: "Playing Detective Is Both Easy and Difficult" Archived 2014-04-13 at the Wayback Machine. KBS Global. 8 April 2011.
  17. ^ Chae, Ki-won (1 June 2010). "Lee Sun-gyun says single-episode dramas "got me where I am"". 10Asia.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Suk, Monica (15 March 2012). "Lee Sun-kyun, Lim Soo-jung film to be released May 17". 10Asia.
  20. ^ "'Helpless': director's oversight drags film down". The Korea Times. 8 March 2012.
  21. ^ Suk, Monica (20 June 2012). "Lee Sun-kyun to play doctor in new TV series to mark Golden Time of his life". 10Asia.
  22. ^ "Lee Sun-kyun picks project". Korea JoongAng Daily. 1 November 2013.
  23. ^ "Lee Yeon-hee, Lee Sun-kyun to Pair Up for New MBC Series". 10Asia. 31 October 2013.
  24. ^ "Actress Jeon Hye-Jin and actor Lee Seon-Kyun's sparkling youth, Love, Love, Love". K-PopCulture. 24 May 2013.
  25. ^ Kim, Hee-eun (18 April 2014). "Two hot actors to star in new thriller". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  26. ^ Conran, Pierce (23 April 2014). "Director's Fortnight to Have A HARD DAY". Korean Film Biz Zone.
  27. ^ "'The irritated guy' returns to the screen". Korea JoongAng Daily. 22 October 2015.
  28. ^ Baek, Byung-yeul (5 October 2015). "Hard Day star Lee shows egoist-turned hero lawyer in Advocate". The Korea Times.
  29. ^ Kim, Yeon-ji (22 October 2015). "'The irritated guy' returns to the screen". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  30. ^ "'나의 아저씨' 모든 배우의 '인생작'이 되다" ['My Mister' to be a 'life work' for all of its actors]. Naver. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  31. ^ "종영 '나의 아저씨'가 인생 드라마였던 모든 이유" [Finale, all the reasons why 'My Mister' was a life drama]. Naver. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  32. ^ "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.
  33. ^ Choi, Yoon-na (February 27, 2019). "[종합] '검사내전', JTBC 편성 예정…이선균X정려원 "논의 중"". Sports Donga (in Korean). Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ 타 웨딩스토리: 이선균&전혜진 커플 (in Korean). iWedding. 23 May 2009.
  36. ^ "2009 결혼한 스타들" (in Korean). Naver. 23 May 2009.
  37. ^ Oh, Seol-hye (3 May 2012). "Lee Sun-gyun "My wife speaks honest and direct"". StarN News.
  38. ^ "2007 Year-end Korean drama awards round-up". Hancinema. 7 January 2008.
  39. ^ "Kim Nam-joo, Han Hyo-joo win grand prize at MBC Acting Awards". 10Asia. 3 January 2011.
  40. ^ "Jang Hyuk scores top prize at KBS Drama Awards". 10Asia. 3 January 2011.
  41. ^ "Herald Donga TV Lifestyle Awards presented". The Korea Herald. 6 December 2012.
  42. ^ "CHOI Min-shik and REVIVRE Triumph at 51st Paeksang Arts Awards". Korean Film Biz Zone. 27 May 2015.
  43. ^ "대중문화예술상 은관문화훈장에 이순재·김민기·조동진". Yonhap News (in Korean). 16 October 2018.
  44. ^ "이병헌·손예진·아이유 APAN스타어워즈 노미네이트". Star News (in Korean). 27 September 2018.
  45. ^ "'제2회 더 서울어워즈' 10월27일 개최, 드라마-영화 각 부문별 후보공개". iMBC (in Korean). 28 September 2018.
  46. ^ Yoo, Chung-hee (April 4, 2019). "김서형·염정아·김혜자 등 '백상예술대상' TV부문 최종 후보 공개". Ten Asia (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
  47. ^ "Best Adapted Screenplay - Critics' Choice Awards: 'The Irishman' Leads With 14 Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-01-20.
  48. ^ "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. Retrieved 2020-01-20.

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