His initial acting pursuits saw him striving to get a foothold in the show business performing trivial roles in several TV productions including in ‘Romance’ (2002), ‘Nonstop 5’ (2004) and ‘Recipe of Love’ (2005).
Although at one point, as suggested by his agency, Lee started using stage name Lee Min, later he dropped it and used his original name.
The role of Park Du-hyun in the EBS series ‘Secret Campus’ (2006) marked his official debut role. That year he met with a severe car accident, which injured him severely, making him bedridden for several months.
After recovery, Lee landed up with his first starring role of Cha Gong-chan in the SBS high-school sitcom ‘Mackerel Run’ (2007). Although the series was slated for 24 episodes, the low viewership ratings forced it off air after 8 episodes.
Working on TV productions like ‘I Am Sam’ (2007) and ‘Get Up’ (2008), Lee forayed into films. He played Jung Ha-yeon in the sequel of ‘Public enemy’ (2002) and ‘Another Public Enemy’ (2005) titled ‘Public Enemy Returns’ starring Sol Kyung-gu and Jung Jae-young. The film released on June 19, 2008.
In 2008, he also featured as Oh Sang-hoon in the South Korean comedy drama flick ‘Our School's E.T.’ that released on September 11 that year.
Balancing between small and big screens, in 2009 Lee landed up with his breakthrough role of Gu Jun-pyo in the KBS romantic comedy drama TV series ‘Boys Over Flowers’. The series was an adaptation of the famous Japanese Shōjo manga series bearing same title.
The immense popularity of ‘Boys Over Flowers’ across South Korea added with remarkable performance by Lee brought him to limelight not only garnering him huge fame but also a number of awards and endorsement deals. His skyrocketing popularity resulted into the development of yet another Korean Wave across Asia making him an emerging Hallyu star.
He then played Jeon Jin-ho starring opposite Son Ye-jin in the romantic comedy drama TV series ‘Personal Taste’ (2010).
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One of the most notable roles played by him was that of Lee Yoon-sung, the title character of the South Korean action-drama TV series ‘City Hunter’ (2011) based on popular Japanese manga series by Tsukasa Hojo bearing same title.
‘City Hunter’ not only garnered positive reviews from critics but also became a commercial success throughout Asia thus increasing Lee’s popularity further, particularly in China, Philippines, Japan and in some European countries.
His brilliant performance in ‘City Hunter’ fetched him several awards including Best Actor award at the 4th Korean Drama Awards. He was also chosen as Hyundai Veloster’s brand ambassador in China.
The historical-medical-drama TV series ‘Faith’ (2012) saw him playing lead role of Choi Young starring opposite Kim Hee-sun. Although the series was not a success, Lee’s performance earned him accolades and several awards.
A wax statue of Lee was unveiled in Shanghai’s ‘Madame Tussauds’ in April 2013.
He next performed the starring role of Kim Tan in 2013 in the romantic-drama-teen series ‘The Heirs’ also called ‘The Inheritors’. The series became a huge hit in South Korea as also across Asia with more than one billion hits on iQiyi, an online video platform in China.
‘Heirs’ earned him several SBS Drama Awards and also soared his popularity locally while upping his international fame, especially in China.
On January 21, 2015, the South Korean noir action flick ‘Gangnam Blues’ released starring Lee and Kin Rae-won. The film became a box-office hit earning him kudos from both public and critics apart from fetching several awards.
He then starred opposite Jun Ji-hyun in the 2016 fantasy-romance-drama TV series ‘The Legend of the Blue Sea’. That year he also played the role of Yi San in the action-comedy-drama flick ‘Bounty Hunters’, a South Korean-Chinese-Hong Kong co-production. The film that released on July 1, 2016 in China grossed US$ 31.1 million.
Apart from acting, Lee also forayed into music and released two albums titled ‘My Everything’ (2013) and ‘Song For You’ (2014).
He has featured in a few web series as well including ‘Line Romance’ (2014) and ‘First Seven Kisses’ (2016).
His contribution and popularity as an actor has earned him several honours and recognitions. Such feats include becoming Honorary Ambassador of Love Net campaign for UNICEF during 2009-2010; and winning the ‘Prime Minister Award’ at the 5th Korean Popular Culture & Arts Award in 2014.
The philanthropic side of the superstar saw him delving into charitable work including establishing the PROMIZ website in 2014 to raise funds and awareness for charitable and social issues as also donating W100 million to UNICEF in 2015 in aiding Nepal earthquake victims.
Le has also emerged a social media sensation with 22.5 million fans on Weibo, 17 million fans on Facebook and over 3 million followers on Twitter.
On May 12, 2017 he commenced on his mandatory military service, however the leg injuries he suffered due to the 2006 accident restricts him from serving as an active duty soldier.