Lee Da-hae is a popular South Korean actress known for her roles in dramas such as ‘My Girl’, ‘The Slave Hunters’ and ‘Hotel King’. Fluent in Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese, she enjoys a huge fan following in the neighbouring China and Japan. She is also one of the handful actors who have done quite a bit of crossover work in China. Well trained in traditional Korean dances, Lee entered the show business after winning a pageant in 2001 (Miss Chunhyang). She made her acting debut playing small and supporting roles in South Korean television dramas and landed her first lead role with ‘Lotus Flower Fairy’ in 2004. She was immediately accepted by the audiences as she went on to win the Best New Actress award at the Baeksang Arts Award for her role. After gaining popularity in China, she featured in the Chinese dramas ‘Love Actually’ and ‘Best Couple’. Apart from being an actress, she has also worked as a part time host and musician.
Childhood & Early Life
Lee Da-hae was born on 19th April 1984 in Seoul, South Korea into an affluent business family and spent most of her growing up years in Sydney, Australia, where her father had a successful business. Growing up in a strange new country, her eagerness to learn new things and cultures quickly got her accustomed to the Australian way of living and she quickly learned English.
She was different than most kids since her childhood. She liked things that most girls of her age didn’t. She was a bookworm and had this fire in her to learn new things, which included languages. Her mother supported her in all her pursuits and she even moved ahead with learning the traditional Korean dance, which she then performed in front of Australian audiences.
She did her high school education from Sydney and after high school, she moved to Seoul with her mother, while her father and brother stayed back in Australia.
Lee started by contesting in beauty pageants on her mother’s wish and after she won the Miss Chunhyang beauty competition in 2001, her confidence peaked and she immediately started modelling. This got the chance to audition for several TV and film roles and as the fate would have it, it wasn’t very hard for her to find supporting roles in the television, and her quick learning abilities also impressed the producers.
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Lee started acting in 2002 with small roles in series’ such as ‘Park Jong-cheol, a Fine Young Man’ and ‘Ling Ling’. After a few more similar stints, her talent finally paid back and she was chosen to lead the cast of the series ‘Lotus Hearted Fairy’ in 2004, a fantasy drama where she played the role of a clean hearted daughter of Shaman, who gets treated very badly once her true identity is revealed. Her very first lead role got her recognition and she won the Baeksang Arts Award for Best New Actor.
This was a dream beginning for a young actress but it was very hard to maintain the similar level of success with her next projects. In 2005, she appeared in two very successful series’ titled ‘Green Rose’ and ‘My Girl’. The success of these two dramas paved way for Lee to become a national sensation in South Korea. She became popular not only in South Korea but in other countries as well. For ‘My Girl’, she won the excellence award at the SBS Awards ceremony that year.
Another excellence award came her way with her romantic comedy ‘Hello Miss’ in 2007 and she proved her skills yet again that she could take on any kind of character with the same panache. Her next role was another testimony to this fact, as she played a widowed woman in 2008’s drama ‘Robber’. Later that year, she faced a mild controversy after she left the series ‘East of Eden’ mid-way on complaint that her role in the multi-storied series was getting chopped off without taking her into confidence. Nevertheless, the series was a hit, and only did well for Lee’s career.
After taking a break from anything new on television in 2009, she made a comeback in 2010 with back-to-back four successful shows. She appeared in ‘The Slave Hunters’, where she was criticized for exposing her cleavage, and also for overdone makeup.
Then she went on to make her first big screen appearance playing the lead role in the 3D epic, ‘Songs of Spring’, but the film required quite a lot of funding, which never quite came across and the highly ambitious project was subsequently shelved.
In 2010, after making a guest appearance in the hit series ‘The Fugitive: Plan B’, she went on to portray the role of a screenwriter in the hit series ‘Haru, an Unforgettable day in Korea’ and the success of these two was followed by another award winning stint in 2011, in form of ‘Miss Ripley’. She won the Grand Prize for Acting in a Drama at the Korean Culture and Entertainment Awards.
By then, already fluent in Chinese and Mandarin, Lee had a growing fan base in China with more than 6 million fans on different social media sites. She made her Chinese TV debut in the year 2012 with the series ‘Love Actually’. For that, she mastered her Chinese language skills, and became the first ever South Korean actress to actually perform her lines in Mandarin and not taking any help from dubbing.
After the success of the series, she came back to South Korea to star in the series ‘Iris II’ in 2013, which happened to be a sequel to the successful 2009 series.
In 2014, Lee made an appearance in the series ‘Hotel King’, where she appeared as an heiress going through struggle to save her family’s seven-star hotel. For the series, she was nominated for an excellence award at that year’s MBC Drama Awards.
In 2016, she worked in her second Chinese series titled ‘Best Couple’, which got big ratings in China and was just a moderate success in South Korea.
Lee Da-hae has often remained in controversies. She was criticised for unnecessarily revealing her cleavage in ‘The Slave Hunters’. Later in 2013, she was accused by some of the internet users of being involved in a high profile celebrity prostitution racket. The authorities later cleared her name saying that she wasn’t even one of the celebrities that were getting investigated.
In February 2017, Lee her romantic relationship with musician Se7en. She claimed that they have known each other for quite some time, and that they were madly in love.