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Ji Jin-hee (지진희)

In 2004, a historical k-drama about a female Joseon physician was described by the Business Times as the show that swept “through the living rooms of Asia with a tsunami-like intensity.” So popular was Jewel in the Palace (Dae Jang Geum) that it even outperformed the already-beloved Winter Sonata in many territories. In Hong Kong, Chinese New Year celebrations were cut short because families had to rush home just to see the final episode. While the show certainly made a star out of its female lead, it also garnered a lot of attention for the man beside her: this gorgeous actor with the "kind eyes” whom she (and the rest of Asia) eventually falls for.

GwenchaNoona | Actor's Profile: Ji Jin-hee

Photo from HanCinema

Birthday: June 24, 1971

Instagram: @actor_jijinhee

Ji Jin-hee, the said man with the kind eyes, has undoubtedly made an impression strong enough to fuel a productive career in the last two decades. Trained in visual design and photography, he only gave acting a chance because he needed to work during the 1997 IMF crisis. He started taking minor roles in music videos and daytime dramas, then started to get noticed when he appeared in 2003’s melodrama Love Letter. The following year, he was cast as the male lead in Jewel in the Palace, and the rest is — as they say — Hallyu history.

Not one to rest on his laurels and wanting to make the most of his pan-Asian popularity, Ji Jin-hee continued to hone his craft and took on varied roles in Chinese and Taiwanese dramas. He also deviated from his “good guy” roles by starring in unconventional films such as 2005’s Bewitching Attraction and in Old Garden, which was about the Gwangju Uprising. In 2010, he returned to his sageuk roots and reunited with the Jewel in the Palace director to make Dong Yi. He has always played leading roles and villains in k-dramas since then. Still, he veers to other Asian territories every now and then by regularly starring in Chinese movies or Japanese remakes.

In 2021’s k-drama, Undercover, he plays an ex-spy who has to protect his wife as she takes on a new and difficult government role. She goes about her day taking down corrupt officials as he secretly hovers around her, protecting her from all who wish her harm. It is such a quintessential Ji Jin-hee role, no matter how he tries to deviate from it. Whether he is playing the kind Joseon scholar Min Jeong-ho or the self-sacrificing ex-spy Lee Suk-kyu, Ji Jin-hee will forever remain the gorgeous man with kind eyes who upholds all that is right in the world.

Ji Jin-hee joined last year's second season of the acclaimed Netflix series D.P. This year, he will star in the romance series Melo House.

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