This is the first article in a series of articles tracing the careers of various Korean actors and actresses. These will be written by a guest writer. Without further ado, this is Lee Jong Suk.
You may recognize Lee Jong-Suk from many things. It could be School 2013. It could be W-Two Worlds. It could be, and most likely is, Pinocchio. Or you could be one of the lucky ones, like me, who fell for him in Secret Garden earlier in his career. But no matter what you know him from, you can at least recognize that he’s one of the top trending actors in the Korean Drama Industry.
Lee Jong-Suk, 27, is famous for all the right reason: be it his endearing glances, his believable chemistry with almost every actress he worked with, or his fashionably long legs. When Lee Jong Suk cries, you can’t help but cry with him, which is why he’s earned the right to work with the top female stars of the industry like Han Hyo Joo, Park Shin Hye, Park Bo-young, Yuri, Suzy, and Lee Bo Young.
Not only is he successful in his career, Jong-Suk has graduated from Konkuk University majoring in Professional Motion Pictures Art in 2016. Due to his success in China, a wax figure of the him went on display in Hong Kong’s Madame Tussauds.
He also maintains a friendly and humble persona while sharing updates about his life on his Instagram account (@jongsuk0206). His friends include Kim Woo-bin, Lee Sung-Kyung, Yoon Kyun-Sang, Kim Young-Kwang, and Park Shin Hye.
From modeling to drama to movies and winning multiple awards, Lee Jong-Suk continues to rise to worldwide popularity with the attributes that have come to define him: persistence, hard work, and impeccably raw talent.
In 2005, Jong-Suk debuted as a runway model, becoming the youngest male model ever to participate in Seoul Fashion Week. He worked with heartthrobs Kim Woo-bin and Kim Young-Kwang, and the beautiful Lee Sung-Kyung. He also won the “Star of New Advertising Models” award by the South Korean Superstar Selection Competition in 2005, as well as the “Most Photogenic Award” in the SMART Model Contest in 2006. He continues to represent many brands and appear in massive ad campaigns of leading companies.
Lee has challenged himself with various types of roles, mostly as a leading actor in highly popular dramas. As the list continues to grow, I’ve described the acting projects that paved Lee Jong-Suk’s way to stardom chronologically.
- 2005: A minor role in a film called Sympathy as a character named Lee Han-sol.
- 2010: Lee Jong-Suk landed three projects for his official acting debut.
Prosecutor Princess: He played a minor role in as Lee Woo-Hyun.
Secret Garden: Wearing the typical don’t-give-a-hoot teenage expression, Lee Jong-Suk gained worldwide attention as Han Tae-sun, a young talented music composer who was being sought out by the second male lead in the drama. The drama itself is a fantasy rom-com that is considered legendary in the industry. It follows the love story between a stuntwoman played kickass Ha Ji-won and a department store CEO played by a tracksuit-wearing Hyun Bin, who bizarrely (umm magically) swap bodies one day.
Ghost: Lee Jong-Suk made his movie debut in the same year when he played a small role as Baek Hyun-Wook in this horror film. I haven’t watched it because it’s horror, so watch at your own risk.
- 2011: High Kick 3: He played the role of Ahn Jong-Suk, a minor role in the sitcom High Kick: Revenge of the Short Legged. I’m sure the title has nothing to do with Lee Jong-Suk because he is definitely not short-legged.
- 2012: School 2013: Lee finally made a breakthrough in his career with the first lead role in School 2013 as Go Nam-soon, an ex-delinquent who gets elected class president. Not only did he get to act with the popular Jang Nara, Lee had the most legendary bromance in dramaland with Kim Woo-bin. This story was all about the reconciliation between two best friends whose relationship had been terribly torn. It started off with a very tense and angry dynamic between two sworn enemies where every scene felt like a battle with tempers raging high, but all the while, the show kept giving constant hints and teasers about their past. The curiosity pulled you in and when you figure it out, you never want to come out and accept that it’s unreal.
With School 2013, Lee received massive public recognition with his costar Kim Woo-bin and received his first acting award as Best New Actor at the 2012 KBS Drama Awards. He also ranked in fifth place in the nationally recognized survey ‘Actors Who Lit Up 2013’ by Gallup Korea.
R2B: Return to Base: The same year, he also acted in a movie, which was a loose remake of the critically acclaimed film Top Gun.
- 2013: I Can Hear Your Voice: Lee Jong-Suk starred in another hit fantasy drama as the main lead. The drama was partly rom-com and partly a legal thriller, with a touch of fantasy, and it did true justice to all those elements. Lee played the role of Park Soo-ha, an intelligent young character who is able to hear people’s thoughts. His partner was played by the famous Lee Bo-young, a girl who saved his life from a murderer when he was a child. Lee Jong-Suk fell in love with her when she saved him and pulled off the noona romance so convincingly. She herself was a great character who was strong, intelligent, independent, and hilarious, basically everything we aspire to be. Not surprisingly, the drama was a major ratings hit because of the cast and intelligent writing and directing that it was extended by two episodes.
Lee won numerous awards through this drama, including the Excellence Award in the male category, as well as the “Best Couple” award alongside Lee Bo-young at the APAN Star, SBS Drama, 21st KCEA, and Korea Drama Awards. He was also named “The 21st Century Gentleman” at the 6th Style Icon Awards, as well as the “Hallyu Grand Award” in 2013.
No Breathing: In the same year, Lee Jong-Suk also played the leading role in a successful sports film alongside Seo In-Guk and SNSD’s Yuri. He played the swimming champion who was trying to master the difficult “no breathing” technique that highlighted the theme of the drama: talent vs. hard work. While Lee’s character was the more serious one, Seo In-Guk played the cutest most adorable underdog who was a naturally gifted swimmer, which led to a really fun bromance between the two leads. Plot or no plot, I would watch this movie on repeat because of these two.
The Face Reader: Lee Jong-Suk also played a supporting role in this all-time box office hit. It was a historical film that gave him the opportunity to work with such high caliber and gifted actors in the movie industry.
2014: Hot Young Bloods: Let’s talk about the good one first. In 2014, Lee Jong-Suk starred in a teen romantic comedy movie with Park Bo-young. Park Bo-young shed her cutesy image and played the role of a foul-mouthed gangster while Lee Jong-Suk was an unabashed playboy. Both being in the same school, she used her gangster status into trying to make him date her. It was a hilarious movie full of heart with characters coming of age growing up in a small town and dealing with difficulties of their lives. I could feel all the emotions of longing, heartbreak, and anger because of the superb acting by both leads as they portrayed layered characters and revealed each emotion so perfectly.
In 2014, Lee Jong-Suk won the Model Star award at the 9th Asia Model Festival Awards.
Doctor Stranger: Sadly, this drama is also in his resume. Lee Jong-Suk played Park Hoon, a genius surgeon who is kidnapped and taken to North Korea as a child. He later tries to leave for South Korea with his lover, only to make it out alone. The drama gained huge popularity in China and worldwide but it did almost nothing that it promised.
- 2015: Pinocchio: Lee transformed into Ki Ha-Myeong, a man who becomes a reporter despite despising the media for framing his father and breaking his family apart. His costar was none other than the famous and talented Park Shin Hye. She played a character who is unable to lie and hiccupped every time she tried. This drama was a lot similar to I Hear Your Voice since it was by the same writer, and was just as excellent. It was basically about characters struggling with the ideas of justice and truth in a world where everyone hides the facts. Lee’s character was again layered with heartache and tragedy, as well as love and adorableness. Lee won many awards for his role in the film, including a top excellence award, most popular TV actor and a best couple award with lead actress Park Shin Hye.
In the same year, Lee Jong-Suk won the “Most Popular Actor (TV)” award at the 51st Baeksang Arts Awards, the Grand Prize at the Korea Brand Stars, as well as the “Prime Minister Award” at the 6th Korean Popular Culture & Arts Awards. He also became the youngest actor to win the Best Actor award at the 27th Grimae Awards, chosen by television cinematographers.
- 2016: W-Two Worlds: Last year, Lee played the role of Kang Chul, a manhwa character who comes out of into the real world. This fantasy thriller gave him the chance to act alongside the talented and beautiful Han Hyo-Joo. She played the daughter of the manhwa writer who first travels across the two worlds. It was an amazing drama with such a fresh and crazy set up, full of twists and mind-boggling revelations and topped popularity charts worldwide. Lee wore the most chaebol-ey outfits for this role and looked totally believable as a manhwa character. Even though the ending felt very poorly planned, the writing of this drama was so intelligent and the directing and cinematography was the best I had seen in a long while. Lee won the Daesang (Grand Prize) at the year-end MBC Drama Awards.
Seven First Kisses: The same year, he co-starred in this promotional web minidrama for Lotte Duty Free. There wasn’t much of a story here but I don’t think anybody cared about that since our heads were spinning because SO many super stars headlined it.
- 2017: VIP: We’ll get to see Lee Jong-Suk star in this upcoming crime film where he plays his first lead role as a villain.
Jade Lovers: Lee was cast in his first Chinese drama a while back alongside actress Zheng Shuang. The drama was filmed in Shanghai and will also air this year. It is described as a fantasy romance series set in the 1930s.
While You Were Sleeping: This one has been reviewed separately.
Variety and Music Video Appearances:
Along with a few cameo appearances in popular dramas such as Potato Star in 2013, Gogh, The Starry Night and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo in 2016, Lee Jong-Suk has made five music video appearances. These include 2NE1’s “I Don’t Care” in 2009, CHI CHI’s “Don’t Play Around” in 2011, Nicole Jung’s “Lost” in 2012, Jung Yup’s “My Valentine” in 2015, as well as Davichi’s “Love Is” in 2016.
His guest appearances in variety include Episodes 63-64 & 131-132 in Strong Heart, Episodes 245 & 260 in Happy Together, Episodes 138 & 181 in Running Man, Episode 16 of Hwasin, and Episode 5 of Rain Effect.
He has the most endearing and somewhat shy personality in interviews and variety appearances where he doesn’t always say politically correct things, which makes him awkward and adorable. He doesn’t answer by the book and is completely honest and straightforward, and that leads to very funny situations.
There are so many reasons to love Lee Jong-Suk. Not only is he a super star with broad shoulders and long legs, he looks beautiful in everything he does. His multiple looks displayed below prove that he is visually amazing:
My fascination with Lee Jong-Suk is not from his looks, and he is definitely not my all-time favorite. I love Lee Jong-Suk because he is dedicated to his craft and really good at playing his characters with sensitivity and charm. He portrayal of romance is so believable , which makes viewers think he’s actually in love with his costars in real life. I love that he is best friends with Kim Woo-bin and that he is very humble and supportive of everyone who works with him. With a solid career behind him and multiple opportunities ahead, Lee Jong-Suk is one of those stars who’ll keep gracing our screens for a long time.
That’s all I can offer to help your Lee Jong-Suk itch/obsession. Stay tuned for more stars to feature in this space! Send your suggestions and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org 😊