In 1997 she commenced on a modelling career with ‘Ecole Magazine’ adopting the stage name Jun Ji-hyun.
Gradually she earned name as commercial model and particularly shot to fame after featuring in a commercial for Samsung My Jet Printer in 1999. Her pose, posture and dance moves in the ad made her some sort of an icon among the young Korean populace.
Meanwhile she made her debut in films with the starring role of Jung-min in the February 13, 1999 released Korean romantic film ‘White Valentine’ which however failed to garner much viewership. She also made her television debut that year with the South Korean TV series ‘Happy Together’
She then played the lead role of Eun-joo in the time-travel romantic flick ‘Il Mare’ that although released to little success on September 9, 2000, but eventually emerged as a minor classic among Korean movie lovers.
Her big break came in 2001 when she landed up portraying the starring role of ‘The Girl’ in the comedy flick ‘My Sassy Girl’ that released on July 27 that year. This blockbuster hit film not only emerged as the all-time highest grossing Korean comedy at that time but also clinched the numero uno spot in Hong Kong for two weeks.
Following the success of ‘My Sassy Girl’ she worked in other South Korean films namely psychological-horror ‘The Uninvited’ (2003); and romantic comedy ‘Windstruck’ (2004).
By such time she became a popular face featuring in several Korean billboards and television advertisements as also in other nations across Asia. She was counted among top ten most bankable stars in the Korean film industry by leading filmmakers in a 2005 survey.
She then played Hye-young in the urban romantic melodrama film ‘Daisy’ directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Andrew Lau. The film shot entirely in Netherlands had two versions, an Asian cut and an international cut. It premiered in South Korea on March 9, 2006 and in Hong Kong on April 13, 2006.
The 2008 released South Korean film ‘A Man Who Was Superman’ saw her chop her long and silky hair to sink in to the character of Song Soo-jung, a cynical documentary producer. The film where she shared screen space with famous South Korean actor Hwang Jung-min grossed $3,848,034 at the box office as of February 17, 2008.
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The English-language horror-action film ‘Blood: The Last Vampire’ co-produced by Hong Kong company Edko and French company Pathé and released in Japan and other Asian countries on May 29, 2009 and later in the UK and the US marked her debut in Hollywood. It credited her as Gianna Jun, the Westernized name she adopted prior to the film’s release.
Meanwhile in 2008 she came up with "Gianna by True Religion", her own luxury jeans brand.
In July 2010 she featured in the American edition of ‘Vogue’ marking her first Korean actress to garner a spot in the prestigious fashion and lifestyle magazine.
Her next English-language film, a historical drama, ‘Snow Flower and the Secret Fan’, adopted from bestselling novel of Lisa See bearing same title was released on July 15, 2011. It succeeded at the box office however garnered generally negative reviews from critics.
The star-studded South Korean heist film ‘The Thieves’ where she portrayed the character of Yenicall became a blockbuster hit. The film that released on July 25, 2012, presently ranks as the fifth highest-grossing flick in the history of Korean cinema.
She then played a translator Ryun Jung-hee in the January 31, 2013 released South Korean spy thriller film ‘The Berlin File’ which again emerged as a blockbuster hit. The film not only received kudos from critics but once again proved beyond doubt her status as a top Korean actress.
After a hiatus of over a decade she returned to television with the South Korean series ‘My Love from the Star’ that aired on SBS for 21 episodes between December 18, 2013 and February 27, 2014.
Her brilliant performance earned her Daesang that is "Grand Prize" at the ‘Baeksang Arts Awards’ and ‘SBS Drama Awards’ in 2014. She also received the President's Award at the Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards.
Her next film the 2015 released espionage action flick ‘Assassination’ was yet another commercial success that became the highest-grossing Korean film of that year. She earned Best Actress award at the ‘Max Movie Awards’ and ‘Grand Bell Awards’ for the film which is presently the seventh all-time highest-grossing film in the history of Korean cinema.
She then featured in the fantasy romance drama TV series ‘The Legend of the Blue Sea’ that aired on SBS from November 16, 2016 to January 25, 2017.
Personal Life & Legacy
On April 13, 2012, she married banker Choi Joon-hyuk, grandson of famous hanbok designer Lee Young-hee and son of fashion designer Lee Jung-woo, at Shilla Hotel in Jangchung-dong, central Seoul.
On February 10, 2016, the couple welcomed their first child, a boy and according to an announcement by her agency ‘Culture Depot’ her second child is due in January 2018.