Childhood & Early Life
-Lee Joon was born Lee Chang-seon in Busan, South Korea on April 17, 1982. He was always a very curious kid and would often ask questions from his parents, which he playfully remembers now in his interviews.
He grew up to be a restless kid and wanted to do something different with his life, but in the back of his mind, he always knew that his family background won’t allow him to follow a unique career path. He was interested in acting since his childhood days.
He grew up with a younger sister in a very average family. In the elementary and middle school, he kept himself busy with plays and dramas, apart from studies.
He saw a performance of the play ‘Hamlet’ in his school play and he was so much blown away with it that he decided to become an actor at any cost. Contrary to his fears, he found out that his parents were pretty much supportive of his aspirations, when he finally told them that he wanted to be an actor.
Lee always had a relentless competitive spirit and wanted to be number one in whatever he did - be it the academics or sports, or his drama performances. Fresh out of the high school, his parents wanted him to enter college for a safer future in case acting doesn’t turn out good for him. But Lee was hell bent on plunging himself into the show business and moved to Seoul, right after he was done with his high school.
The life in the big city wasn’t very kind to him in the early phases and he struggled to become a model, while doing some small jobs on the side, to keep him well fed. He managed to enrol at the Seoul Institute of Arts and that was when his life turned around and his first modelling assignment came in the year 2001.
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After coming upfront as a model, Lee started trying out for TV roles and got a few. His first TV endeavour was a small part in ‘Nonstop 4’ in the year 2003. It was followed up with some slightly bigger roles in ‘Drama City: What Should I do?’ and ‘Star’s Echo’. Although the roles were smaller, they provided Lee with all the necessary contacts and experience in the industry.
In 2004, he bagged some minor roles in the Japanese film ‘The Hotel Venus’ and a Korean film ‘Flying Venus’. Considering his experience, his performance was surprising for the producers, and thereafter he grabbed the biggest film role of his career, which would shape his future career.
In 2005, he appeared in the period drama film ‘The King and the Clown’, in which he played the second lead role. The film became one of the highest grossing Korean films of the year, paving way for Lee to earn bigger and better roles in the future. For his performance in the film, Lee became a favourite at the award functions, eventually bagging awards such as Korean Film awards, Baeksang Arts Awards, Grand Bell Awards and many more.
After the success of the film, he came to be called as the new ‘Pretty boy of Korea’ but Lee did not like it. Shedding that image was important for Lee to let his acting talent speak up and hence, he did ‘Fly, Daddy, Fly’ an emotional family drama film. The film did well with the critics and the box office numbers as well, establishing him as a competitively good actor.
He next appeared in a romantic TV series ‘My Girl’ in 2006, which became a major hit in Korea and across Asia. It was hailed as one more solid product of the Korean Wave, which was hitting the continent strongly with rise in quality in South Korean productions.
In 2007, Lee appeared in a Japanese-Korean co-production film titled ‘Virgin Snow’, which turned out to be a big hit in both the countries, for which Lee was also honoured at the Hawaii International Film Festival.
He was part of another award winning 2007 film ‘May 18’, which was based on the notorious Gwangju Massacre of 1980. The year wasn’t finished yet, as he produced another excellent performance in the drama series ‘Time between Dog and Wolf’, for which Lee received Top Excellence Award at the MBC Drama awards.
By now, Lee had successfully shredded his image as a lover boy and became one of the most popular Korean film actors of the time. He starred in ‘Iljimae’, a period drama for which he was honoured at the MBC Drama awards.
In May 2010, Lee went to do his mandatory military work and made a return in 2012 with ‘Aarang and the Magistrate’, which was a horror romance drama. The series became the most expensive TV series to be sold to Japan, and received high ratings in both Japan and South Korea.
In 2013, Lee appeared in the action thriller TV series ‘Two Weeks’, where he played the role of a father going on adventures to save his daughter.
He appeared in a vampire romance series in 2015, titled ‘Scholar who walks the Night’. The series received moderate ratings but Lee’s performance was highly appreciated.
In 2015, he was signed up for his first Chinese film ‘Never Said Goodbye’ and in January 2016, Lee was seen in ‘Moon Lovers’, which was remake of a very successful Chinese mini-series. The series turned out to be a failure critically, but commercially it did well enough to be regarded a hit. In the same year, he became a part of the web series ‘First Seven Kisses’.
Lee was the first choice to play the lead role in the Korean remake of the successful American crime thriller ‘Criminal Minds’ and the series premiered in 2017 to a huge critical and commercial acclaim.
Lee Joon-gi also happens to be singer and has produced many albums such as ‘My Dear’, ‘Exhale’ and ‘J Style’.