SBS Network’s series ‘The Brother’s River’ in 1997 was the one Lee started her acting career with. The confidence she gained through her first role was instrumental in her exploring thefield of acting even more. The following year, through her second acting role, she became part of a mega budget period drama series ‘The Path of Great Dynasty’. In this series, she got to essay the role of a princess and in the same year, she was seen in ‘My Mother’s Daughters’, a drama series.
Soon she was gaining momentum and because ofthe love she had for her profession, she went on a signing spree, accepting most of the roles that came her way. This made her toappear in as much as three back to back series in 1999. One among them was ‘Did We Really Love’, an acclaimed drama, which was followed by two more roles in ‘Promise’ and ‘Sunday Best’.
She garnered a modest fan following in the next couple of years, owing to the roles she played. Enactment of these roles defined her as a hard working child and she kept working hard, proving herself again and again. She also proved that when it comes to talent, age is really just a number.
She eventually made her film debut at the age of 12 with the film ‘Dance with Solitude’ and in the same year, she appeared in two more films ‘When I Turned Nine’ and ‘Lovely Rivals’. For the former one, she won an award under the category Best Young Actress at the Chunsa Film Art Awards. She was also nominated for some more awards for the film, which revolved around a sweet tale of friendship that blooms between two young kids. Lee played the lead character named Jang Woo-rim.
Her critical and commercial acclaim opened ways for her to feature as a key character in the subsequent films. In 2005, she appeared in the film ‘My Lovely Week’, in which she played a cameo role of an aspiring actress. Although her role had limited screen space, it left a deep impact on the audience, and her performance was acclaimed.
Around this time, because of her busy schedule which involved her film projects and commitments associated with her academics, Lee slowed down on TV projects and appeared in only one series in 2006. The series ‘Unstoppable High Kick’, a comedy drama,eventually became the most successful series of her career until then.
In 2007, she played the character of Soo-ah in the film ‘The Wonder Years’ and then took a temporary break for a couple of years based on her parents’ advise to concentrate on her high school studies. And when she made a comeback, she had grown up, and the days of playing child characters were now far behind her.
She made a solid comeback with a drama series in 2011 titled ‘Bachelor’s Vegetable Store’, which was based on a novel of the same name.
In 2012, she essayed a cameo role as a stalker in the film ‘All About My Wife’ and then played a key role in the big budget period drama ‘The King’s Dream’. She then went on to play an important role in the romance drama ‘Missing You’.
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She became part of the anthology film ‘Horror Stories 2’ in the year 2013 and also did a series titled ‘Goddess of Marriage’, a romantic comedy drama about four modern South Korean women and their respective experiences on love, friendship and men.
Lee then essayed a major role in the series ‘Adolescence Medley’, which was an adaptation of a very popular webtoon. In the series, she played the role of a high school class president who happens to be smart and a highly empathetic girl.
She next played a major role in the series ‘Lovers of Music’, which revolves around four South Korean youngsters and their aspirations to become musicians. Lee played the role of a girl next door, who acts as a rival to the series’ female lead Choi Choon-hee. By now, Lee had become quite popular. Her acting prowess was praised by one and all, but her selection of roles didn’t do justice to her talent.
In 2016, Lee played the lead role in a vampire drama series titled ‘Vampire Detective’, which told the story about a detective who turns into a vampire one night. The series was loved by a wide range of audience, but never quite gelled well with the critics. Nevertheless, the cast benefitted greatly and Lee experienced a great rise in fame around the country.
Lee then appeared in the most critically acclaimed role of her career in the form of Min Hyo-won in the series‘The Gentlemen of Wolgyesu Tailor Shop’. Lee’s role showered her with quite a lot of awards and she won theBaeksang Arts Award and the KBS Drama Award under the category Best New Actress. Interestingly, a girl who started her career so early in her life achieved the fame that she deserved much later when compared to most of her less talented contemporaries.
She then played her first fully fledged leading role of her career in the series ‘Hit the Top’. She played a perky and innocent girl who gets cheated by her boyfriend, resulting in a heartbreak. Her performance received accolades, but the show didn’t.
She is all set to play the lead role in an upcoming web drama series ‘How are you Bread’, which is slated to release in 30 countries all over the world, including China and South Korea.
Apart from her acting roles, she has done music videos for artists such as S.E.S, Black and Jung Dong-ha.