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Jun Ji-hyun / Gianna Jun (전지현)

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

In the increasingly competitive Korean entertainment scene, only a few Korean actors achieve top Hallyu status. And within this elite group, even fewer are as critically acclaimed, athletic, charismatic, and influential as Jun Ji-hyun (My Sassy Girl, 2001). She has proven her talent as an actor regardless of platform and genre, winning the Baeksang Best New Actress for the k-movie White Valentine (1999) and later the Baeksang Daesang (Grand Prize) for the megahit rom-com k-drama My Love from the Star (2013). Her on-screen persona comes across as relatable, making even her ads a phenomenal success, and she, a beloved cultural icon.

GwenchaNoona | Actor's Profile: Jun Ji-hyun

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).

She's rumored to star with Kang Dong-won in the new espionage drama The North Star (Polaris) in 2023 although nothing has been confirmed.

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