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K-rush of the Week: Lee Jun-ho / Junho

Updated: Jan 25

Now that Lee Jun-ho is one of the hottest Hallyu stars with back-to-back hit dramas and numerous acting trophies, it’s hard to imagine there was ever a time when he was the least popular member of the idol group 2PM, struggling to get cameras to focus on him and to book solo jobs. Over 15 years after entering the entertainment industry as the winner of the reality talent contest Superstar Survival, this singer, dancer, composer-lyricist, music producer, and Baeksang-winning idol-actor is finally enjoying his season.

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Lee Jun-ho

Good Manager / Chief Kim (2017)

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Lee Jun-ho in "Good Manager" / "Chief Kim" (photo of Junho and Namgoong Min)

After playing a supporting role to Lee Sung-min (Reborn Rich) in Memory (2016), his first television drama, Lee Jun-ho was cast as the villainous (and gluttonous) finance director Seo Yool in the office comedy Good Manager / Chief Kim (2017). This romance-free drama was the biggest sleeper hit that year, and his chaotic chemistry with lead actor Namgoong Min earned them the Best Couple Award at the KBS Drama Awards on top of their individual acting trophies. The two actors continue to enjoy an adorable bromance to this day, and even recreated this hilarious kiss at the MBC Drama Awards in 2021.

Just Between Lovers / Rain or Shine (2017-2018)

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Lee Jun-ho in "Just between Lovers" / "Rain or Shine"

Lee Jun-ho established himself as a dependable romantic leading man in the melodrama Just Between Lovers / Rain or Shine (2017-2018) opposite Won Jin-ah.

In his first drama leading role, Lee Jun-ho is Lee Kang-doo, a construction site worker struggling with PTSD after having survived a devastating mall collapse as a teenager, quashing his dreams of playing professional soccer. As he trudges through life bearing his physical and emotional wounds, he meets Ha Moon-su, an architect and fellow survivor of the tragedy. As the pair work at the very same site that changed their lives, they help each other heal.

Singer Junho also recorded the track entitled “Truelove” for the drama’s OST.

Wok of Love / Greasy Melo (2018)

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Lee Jun-ho in "Wok of Love" / "Greasy Melo"

Starring opposite Jang Hyuk and Jung Ryeo-won, Lee Jun-ho turns in a convincing performance in this fun rom-com as Seo Poong, a talented chef who is down on his luck. With a loan shark and an equally unlucky woman by his side, he revives a Chinese restaurant and tries to turn things around. Be prepared to crave a lot of jjajangmyeon and tangsuyuk (and Junho’s kisses)!

Confession (2019)

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Lee Jun-ho in "Confession"

In Confession, his last drama before his military service, Lee Jun-ho stars as Choi Do-hyun, a lawyer determined to clear the name of his father who has wrongfully been accused of murder. From the same director as Mother and Flower of Evil, this nail-biting legal thriller also stars Yoo Jae-myung (Itaewon Class) and Shin Hyun-been (Hospital Playlist).

The Red Sleeve / The Red Sleeve Cuff (2021-2022)

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Lee Jun-ho in "The Red Sleeve" / "The Red Sleeve Cuff"

While he had already achieved a degree of success prior to his military discharge in 2021, Lee Jun-ho’s acting career reached stratospheric levels with the huge success of the MBC historical drama The Red Sleeve co-starring Lee Se-young.

His transformation into Yi San/King Jeongjo, the second most beloved Joseon monarch after King Sejong the Great, earned him the distinction of becoming the first ever idol-actor to win Best Actor in the television drama category at the Baeksang Arts Awards as well as the Most Popular Actor award, and he nearly swept the 2022 awards season. On top of his trophy haul, he received over a hundred project offers and earned a legion of new fans, catapulting him to A-list actor status.

Read our full review of The Red Sleeve.

King the Land (2023)

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Lee Jun-ho in "King the Land"

After playing a historical monarch who falls in love with his court lady, Lee Jun-ho takes on the role of a chaebol heir, a modern day prince who falls for one of his hotel’s staff members.

Starring opposite longtime friend and fellow k-pop second generation idol-actor Im Yoon-ah of Girls' Generation, Junho has been setting hearts aflutter week after week in his three-piece suits and with his charming portrayal of the lovestruck Gu Won.


Which of his roles are your favorites?

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