Who is Lee Jong-hyun?
Lee Jong-hyun is a South Korean actor, musician and singer, who rose to fame after becoming a member of the rock band CNBLUE. The band started its musical journey in South Korea with the single ‘I’m a Loner’ in 2010, after playing for sometime in Japan.Lee made his film debut in the year 2010 with the anthology film ‘Acoustic’ and ever since, has been part of many TV series and variety shows. As an independent musician, he made his debut in 2016 with his album ‘Sparkling Night’. Though he is a talented actor, music has always been his main interest and he likes to keep his fan base entertained with his solo ventures and also as a band member of CNBLUE. For his OST ‘My Love’, Lee won an award under the category Best OST at the Seoul Music Awards in 2013. After getting nominated for several of his acting performances, he finally won the New Star Award in 2012 for his series ‘A Gentleman’s Dignity’ at the SBS Drama Awards. Recently, he was seen playing the lead role in Netflix’s South Korean historical drama series ‘My Only Love Song’ and is also looking forward to all his upcoming projects, both as musician and an actor.
Childhood & Early life
Lee Jong-hyun was born in Busan, South Korea on 15th May 1990 to a middle class South Korean family as the youngest kid with two older sisters. The family kept moving around and when Lee was four years old, they moved to Japan owing to business purposes. Lee liked it there and in the recent interview, he regarded Japan as his second home. But due to some reasons, that are largely unknown, he returned to Busan with his family and finished his elementary and middle school education in his hometown.
Lee was highly inspired by the American rock music scene and imitated their styles in front of his mirror. Listening to music for longer hours got him interested in exploring a career in music, and finally when he saw Eric Clapton, the popular singer and songwriter, he just decided then and there that he would become a musician. He then enrolled in guitar classes and learned to play it in a short span of time as he was a quick learner.
During his middle school days, Lee also got well acquainted with martial arts. Since it was one of his many passions, he connected with it pretty well. But in the back of his mind, he was always aspiring to become a musician and his dreams got wings when he auditioned for FMC Entertainment in 2007, where he met some of the fellow musicians, who would later become part of his band. Shortly after, Lee began his training in bass technology at the revered FNC Academy.
By 2009, CNBLUE the band had been formed and the group went to Japan to study music and try out their luck in Japan. The Japanese liked their music and the band made some money, playing in live shows and on the streets. As Lee puts it, it was the most exciting time of his life as he learned quite a lot of things about life through ups and downs. Also, it was the perfect beginning for the young lad as the band started working on their first album in mid 2009s in Japan.
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CNBLUE’s mini album, ‘Now or Never’ released in Japan in August 2009. It was an English language album, filled with American inspired rock beats and was received quite well by the people in Japan. Though the success was just moderate, the band immediately started working on their second album ‘Voice’ and released it in November. They used English with a mix of Japanese, and their second album compelled them to move back to South Korea, as social media had done its job of introducing CNBLUE to the South Korean youth.
In January 2010, the band embarked in the South Korean music scene with the release of the single ‘I’m a Loner’. Starting from that and working mostly as an indie band, they have released several successful songs till now. Their songs include ‘Blind Love’, ‘Lie’, ‘Rain of Blessing’, ‘No More’ and ‘Kimio’. They started getting acquainted with the pop culture within a couple of years of making their South Korean debut. The song ‘Get Away’, which was composed by them, was used as the ending theme for the Japanese version of hit American show ‘Gossip Girl’.
In 2010, Lee and one of his band members Kang Min-hyuk appeared in ‘Acoustic’, a drama film revolving around the themes of love, heartbreak and music. Although Lee was deemed perfect for a career in acting, he didn’t quite want to sideline his music career for the sake of acting. He declined to feature in many movies, TV series and variety shows to concentrate more on music.
2012’s series ‘A Gentleman’s Dignity’ attracted him and he became part of the cast. The romantic comedy weekend series revolves around the lives of a few urban youngsters and their antics as they go through a mechanical corporate life, while trying to find the idea of true happiness. Lee’s involvement in the series wasn’t limited to acting as he also composed a song titled ‘My Love’. The series proved to be a game changer for Lee as not only did he receive nominations at top music award shows for ‘My Love’, he also won the Best New Actor award at the SBS Drama Awards.
Juniel, a label mate and Lee started ‘Romantic J’, a duo and released their first digital single titled ‘Love Falls’ in December 2013. Riding high on expectations, it quite didn’t meet them, but even then, it was widely loved by the South Korean youth. The duo promoted the song on SBS MTV and also on a few other platforms but it didn’t even make it to the top 10 list of the Melon Charts.
Lee then did two back to back cameo roles in ‘Adolescence Medley’ and ‘One Sunny Day’. As his popularity kept rising, not only in South Korea but in Japan as well, he set up a solo fan meeting in Tokyo for his Japanese fans in 2015. 10,000 of his fans came to the meeting and Lee was overwhelmed by the love he received there.
In May 2015, Lee appeared in ‘The Orange Marmalade’ and played the role of a vampire, which was well received by the audience and in 2017he played a major part in the historical drama ‘My Only Love Song’.
In July 2016, Lee came out with his solo, full length album titled ‘Sparkling Night’ and it became a hit in Japan and South Korea among his fans and general music lovers. The album sold more than 13000 copies and Lee embarked on his first solo concert ‘Welcome to Sparkling Night’, shortly after the release of his album.
Lee Jong-hyun has remained quite secretive about his personal life but when he became a cast member of the variety show ‘We Got Married’, he was linked to his on-screen wife Gong Seung-yeon by the local media. When Lee’s parents appeared on the show, they revealed that Lee had a lot of girlfriends in middle school and he would bring them over, every now and then. Although he was quite shy around girls, he loved their company.
Lee is an out and out dog-lover, and owns two dogs as of now. He also takes them along to some of his holidays.