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K-rush of the Week: Lee Jae-wook

Either as a guest actor or as the lead, Lee Jae-wook compels viewers to be easily annoyed, profusely angry, or effortlessly in love with his character. It’s no wonder then that he has conquered the screen with his versatile acting skills and charismatic presence.

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Lee Jae-wook

Photo from marie claire / HanCinema

Every day this week, let's take a close look at his notable k-dramas!


Memories of the Alhambra (2018)

Available on Netflix

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Lee Jae-wook in "Memories of the Alhambra"

Lee Jae-wook laid the foundation for his burgeoning acting career in this blend of science fantasy and romance. Starring Hyun Bin and Park Shin-hye, the 16-episode Netflix series weaves a tale around an artificial reality (AR) game that blurs reality and the virtual world. Arguably this is the first k-drama to introduce AR gaming as its central plot device, and Lee Jae-wook added a layer of authenticity by playing a key role as the programmer and hacker Marco Han. Though he appeared in only a few episodes, he left an indelible mark on the viewers for his impressive first-ever acting performance.

Search: WWW (2019)

Available on Netflix, Viki

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Lee Jae-wook in "Search: WWW" (photo of Lee Da-hee and Lee Jae-wook)

In the 16-episode drama focusing on the professional and personal lives of women in the tech industry, Lee Jae-wook played Seol Ji-hwan, a rising makjang (over-the-top k-drama) actor who falls in love with one of the tech leaders named Cha Hyeon (Lee Da-hee). In stark contrast to his villainous roles in the makjangs, he is warm-hearted and sweet towards Cha Hyeon. His effortless portrayal of this duality garnered critical acclaim and landed him more prominent roles.

Extraordinary You (2019)

Available on iQIYI, Netflix, Viu

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Lee Jae-wook in "Extraordinary You" (photo of Kim Hye-yoon and Lee Jae-wook)

In this 32-episode/16-hour popular fantasy romance, characters in a manhwa (Korean comic book) become aware of their existence and aim to change their fates. Lee Jae-wook plays Baek Kyung, a member of the A3, a trio of the most influential boys in his high school. The A3 is an allusion to the F4 in the 2009 megahit Boys over Flowers, and Baek Kyung is the token tsundere (an ice-cold character who later becomes caring) in the trio. Rude towards his fiancée Eun Dan-oh (Kim Hye-yoon), he has his own demons to contend with (although this should not be an excuse for his rudeness!). He brought his own flavor into being a second lead and played the embattled tsundere role so well that he received a Baeksang nomination for Best New Actor for television.

Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol (2020)

Available on Netflix

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Lee Jae-wook in "Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol"

The 16-episode Netflix rom-com follows the upheaval of the life of the pianist Goo Ra-ra (Go Ara) and her encounter with a mysterious part-time worker. Lee Jae-wook's role as the enigmatic but kind-hearted Sunwoo Joon marked his first lead role. As a result of his performance, he started to build a good reputation for his deep character portrayal and his diverse acting range.

Alchemy of Souls Parts 1 and 2 (2022)

Available on Netflix

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Lee Jae-wook in "Alchemy of Souls"

Spanning 30 episodes, the two-part Netflix fantasy-action series written by the Hong sisters delves into the lives of mages. Lee Jae-wook portrayed Jang Uk, a troublemaking noble mage who is unable to learn magic. He accidentally meets and asks a foreigner named Mu-deok (Jung So-min) to be his master in exchange for the Jang family's protection. Due to a tragedy, he decides to dedicate his life to hunting evil mages. Later, he falls in love with another noble mage, Jin Bu-yeon (Go Youn-jung), who rescues him from the darkness.

His performance solidified his lead role status in the entertainment industry after successfully showcasing his action, comedy, romance, and drama acting skills in the ambitious multi-genre hit k-drama. The cast and crew's efforts paid off since the series became so popular that Part 1 remained 21 weeks in the Netflix Global Top 10 TV (Non-English) and reached Top 10 TV in 44 countries. Part 2 stayed in the list for 8 weeks and ranked in 38 countries.

See our full review of Part 1.

The Impossible Heir (2024)

Available on Disney+

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Lee Jae-wook in "The Impossible Heir"

The 12-episode revenge drama from Disney+ tells the story of the ascent of Kang In-ha (Lee Jun-young), a neglected illegitimate son of a chaebol (conglomerate) owner. Lee Jae-wook played the genius Han Tae-oh who helps his childhood friend Kang In-ha hatch a clever long-term plan to take over the company — until an ambitious woman (Hong Su-zu) shows up. Lee Jae-wook's Han Tae-oh is a pivotal character whose cold and calculating nature is a departure from his previous roles.

Which of his roles is your favorite?

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