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K-rush of the Week: Lee Min-ki

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

In an industry fueled by Insta-fame and on-demand accessibility, it is a wonder how Lee Min-ki remains an endearing enigma. From action films to noir to romcoms and heavy drama, Lee Min-ki has done it all, even singing! But outside the usual promotions and celebrity circus, you won't hear a peep from him, not on social media or anywhere else, making us want to get to know him more.


lee minki, behind your touch

Born in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province, he cultivated a work ethic as solid as his chosen roles. His humble beginnings were far removed from the limelight that would later find him. He made his acting debut in 2005, a small part that was easy to overlook. Slowly and steadily, he began to land roles, demonstrating his range and depth. Whether playing a quirky lover in a rom-com or a complex individual undergoing an emotional upheaval, Lee Min-ki brought a brand of sincerity that stood out.


Lee's talents don't just stop at acting. He's also an accomplished singer, musician, and even a part of a rock band. For him, music is another avenue to connect with his fans. It's a personal expression, a snippet into the complex world of Lee Min-ki.


To categorize Lee as just a romantic lead would be a disservice to his versatility. He's an actor who molds into the narrative, often changing the course of the story by his sheer presence. In crime dramas, he turns into a steely investigator; in melodramas, he can be the brooding anti-hero; in rom-coms, he's the type you didn't know you'd fall for. His roles in films like "For the Emperor" and "Monster," as well as in dramas like "Because This Is My First Life" showcase this incredible range. With his impressive range of roles across various genres, Lee Min-ki has proven himself a versatile and talented actor in K-entertainment.


Notoriously private about his personal life, Lee's interviews often focus on his work rather than what goes on behind the scenes. What we do know is that he cherishes his time away from the cameras, indulging in hobbies like photography and travel.


Lee Min-ki's future in the industry seems as promising as it is mysterious. What roles will he take on next? Only time will tell. But one thing is certain: Lee Min-ki will continue to be a Hallyu enigma. May his journey be as captivating as the man himself.


Some of his more popular works:


“Dalja’s Spring” (2007) Watch on Kocowa

Lee Min-ki stars in this romantic comedy as a younger man who falls in love with an older woman. As Kang Tae-bong, he is a charismatic and free-spirited young man who loves photography. He soon meets Oh Dal-ja (Chae Rim), an independent and career-driven woman a few years older than him. Tae-bong later signs a dating contract with Dal-ja and pretends to be her boyfriend. Despite this odd setup and age difference, Tae-bong and Dal-ja develop an unexpected connection and friendship.

As the story unfolds, Tae-bong becomes a pivotal figure in Dal-ja's life, offering a fresh perspective and encouragement as she navigates her career, relationships, and personal growth.


”Spellbound” (film, 2011) Watch on Netflix and Amazon

In this “magical” film, Lee Min-ki stars as Ma Jo-goo, a magician who falls for Yeo-ri (Son Ye-jin), a woman with an unusual ability to see ghosts. As the story unfolds, Jo-goo becomes entangled in Yeo-ri's world of ghost sightings and supernatural occurrences. Their interactions create a unique and often comedic dynamic as Yeo-ri's ability leads to amusing and unexpected situations.

The first adaptation is a Filipino film titled "Spellbound" that was released on February 1, 2023. It stars Bela Padilla and Marco Gumabao. A second adaptation is a Thai film, "The Magic Hour, " currently in production. It stars Nadech Kugimiya and Urassaya Sperbund.


“The Beauty Inside” (2018) Watch on Netflix

In this bodyswap rom-com, Lee Min-ki plays Seo Do-jae, a successful airline executive who suffers from prosopagnosia, or face blindness. He can’t recognize faces, even those of his closest friends and family. He relies on other cues like clothing, voice, and mannerisms to compensate for his inability to recognize people by their appearances.


Despite his professional success, Seo Do-jae's face blindness poses significant challenges in his personal and social life. But his life takes an intriguing turn when he encounters Han Se-gye (Seo Hyun-jin), the female lead character who mysteriously transforms into a different person's appearance every month (played by different guest actors). As they become entangled in each other's lives, their unique conditions become a central point of conflict and growth in the story.


*There is also a South Korean film titled "The Beauty Inside," released in 2015, starring Han Hyo-joo. The film follows the story of a woman who falls in love with a man who wakes up every day in a different body, regardless of age, gender, or nationality.


“Because This is My First Life” (2017) Watch on Netflix

In this contemporary romantic comedy, Lee Min-ki is Nam Se-hee, a rational and introverted man who surprisingly enters into a contract marriage with his own tenant! He rents out a room to Yoon Ji-ho (Jung So-min), an office worker struggling to make ends meet. They soon strike an odd deal to become "contractual lovers" to avoid loneliness and financial ruin. And since both are sensible and rational adults who aren’t interested in each other, they will surely keep their relationship strictly as landlord and tenant, right?

Right?


“My Liberation Notes” (2022) Watch on Netflix

In this slice-of-life melodrama, Lee Min-ki plays Yeom Chang-hee, an unhappy adult with difficulty figuring out what he wants to do with his life. He is dissatisfied with his living arrangement, relationships, and job – everything, really, and feels helpless and stuck.

Over the course of the drama, he slowly starts to open up to his sisters and to Mr. Gu, the enigmatic newcomer who moves into their neighborhood. Ultimately, Chang-hee chooses his version of happiness, even though he still doesn't know the future. But he begins to live according to his own terms, and that's when his “liberation” really begins.


"Behind Your Touch" (2023)

From action to drama to comedy, Lee Min-ki has done it all. In “Behind Your Touch,” he plays restless detective Moon Jang-yeol, a former narc detective who’s been demoted to a small province.

Desperate to return to his post in Seoul, he uses the butt-activated psychic powers of Bong Ye-bun (Han Ji-min) to find perpetrators and extract confessions from small-time crooks. Soon, we also learn that the detective has secrets of his own. But now that a serial killer has descended upon the small town, will our dynamic duo be able to work together to catch the culprit? More importantly, will he have enough money to keep paying for Dr. Bong’s manicures?

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