Updated: Oct 30
Jun Ji-hyun (My Sassy Girl, 2001; Assassination, 2015) is not only a multi-awarded film and TV actor but also a beloved cultural icon. She won the Baeksang Daesang (Grand Prize) for the megahit rom-com k-drama My Love from the Star (2013).
Photo from Stonehenge/HanCinema
Birthday: 30 October 1981
Jun Ji-hyun Effect (noun) - A phenomenon where everything that Jun Ji-hyun touches, the world buys, cutting across national borders, genre, and media
Setting the course for the "Jun Ji-hyun Effect" in 1999, she won Best New Actress in the 35th Baeksang Arts Awards for the romantic film White Valentine directed by Yang Yun-ho.
If that acting debut wasn’t explosive enough, her expressive dance in a Samsung ad became a hit among Korean youth, establishing her foothold in the advertising space.
Her unnamed character in the rom-com My Sassy Girl earned her the Best Actress award in the 39th Grand Bell Awards. The second highest-grossing Korean film of 2001, the movie was so popular in Asian countries that it spawned various adaptations. In a society dictated by decorum, the Asian audience appreciated the gender-role reversal: a violent "Girl” and a submissive man.
Recognizing her widening international fan base, she adopted the name “Gianna Jun” while promoting the action-horror film Blood: The Last Vampire (2006). This was followed by Snowflower and the Secret Fan (2011), The Thieves (2012), and The Berlin File (2013).
Her next film, Assassination, was the highest-grossing Korean film of 2015 where she won Best Actress in the 52nd Grand Bell Awards for her portrayal of a Japanese-era sniper.
Next on her trail was reconquering TV. She won the Daesang (Grand Prize) in the 50th Baeksang Arts Awards for her depiction of Cheon Song-yi, a popular actor who falls in love with an alien, in the critically acclaimed TV series My Love from the Star (2013). Credited with the Hallyu resurgence in Asia, the rom-com started a craze in chimaek (fried chicken and beer), a children’s novel, and South Korean tourism, among others. She is indeed not only a phenomenal star but also a cultural icon.
In 2021, she returned to TV after five years in the Netflix political period piece Kingdom: Ashin of the North and led the path back to the peak in the iQIYI mystery thriller Jirisan (also on Netflix).