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Lee Joon-gi (이준기)

Updated: Apr 19

Lee Joon-gi's multifaceted career as an actor, singer, dancer, model, and martial artist is like a palette of vibrant colors he skillfully blends on the canvas of the entertainment industry. Each role is a stroke of his brush; each performance a layer of texture—all elements of the ever-evolving portrait of his artistic journey.

GwenchaNoona | Actor's Profile: Lee Joon-gi

Photo from HanCinema

Birthday: April 17, 1982 Facebook: @OfficialLeeJoongi Instagram: @actor_jg Twitter: @JGshock

Watching Hamlet in high school sparked his interest in the performing arts. After finishing high school, Lee moved to Seoul to pursue his dream. While auditioning, he worked as a waiter and on other part-time jobs.

In 2001, he debuted as a model and took on small roles in dramas and films. Following his success in The King and the Clown (2005), he received a full-tuition scholarship from the Seoul Institute of the Arts and graduated in 2007. But before landing the iconic role as an effeminate Joseon-era clown in the hit film, the Busan-born actor went through three rounds of auditions and competed against 3,000 other actors. In order to stand out, he did a handstand and a split, reenacting an exact scene in the movie. This break-out role elevated him from a relatively unknown actor into one of the pillars of Hallyu and earned for him a Baeksang Best New Actor and several other equally prestigious acting awards. Unfortunately, the movie’s success thrust him to “the forefront of this ‘pretty boy’ trend”—a “foot chain" he feared would lead to typecasting.

With his boyish face and fashionable look, he continued to have kkonminam (flower boy) roles. And his role as a playboy chaebol (conglomerate) heir in the rom-com series My Girl (2005) cemented his Hallyu star status.

Nevertheless, he worked hard towards diversifying his roles and joined international productions in his subsequent movies. He finally shed his kkonminam image in Time Between Dog and Wolf (2007), rarely using a stunt double and later becoming one of the most sought-after action stars. A committed actor and passionate martial artist, he learned Muay Thai for the 2007 drama.

He also showed off his skills in the Russian martial art Systema and the French sport Parkour for the series Criminal Minds (2017). If these weren't impressive enough, he learned Brazilian jiu-jitsu and is a black belt in various Korean martial arts: a fourth dan in taekwondo, a first dan in hapkido, and a first dan in taekkyeon.

In 2008's Iljimae, he plays the titular vigilante who robs the rich to help the poor and seeks to uncover the truth behind his tragic past. The drama is loosely based on a classical Korean novel and revolves around a masked hero who stands up against societal corruption and injustice. His dual life as a nobleman's son during the day and a masked avenger by night allows him to champion the poor and challenge the privileged class. Iljimae remains one of Lee Joon-gi's iconic roles and is remembered for its thrilling plot and his compelling portrayal of the titular character.

He started his mandatory military service in 2010 and was cast in the army musical Voyage of Life. He performed on opening night with head bandages after suffering from a severe forehead injury during rehearsal. Despite receiving 50 stitches, he went on with the musical out of duty.

After completing his military service in 2012, he held a series of events to connect with his fans in Korea and Japan and promoted his single "Deucer” in the latter. He then released an album almost every year until 2018.

In Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016), Lee plays Wang So, the "Wolf Dog Prince" and the fourth prince of Goryeo, He brings to life a misunderstood character, ostracized by his family due to his appearance and reputation. But despite his tough exterior, Wang So possesses a sensitive and vulnerable side that becomes more apparent as the show progresses.

Various award-giving bodies continued to recognize the “King of Sageuk (historical shows)" in the following roles: a masked thief-hero (Iljimae, 2008), a magistrate who can see ghosts (Arang and the Magistrate, 2012), a father charged with murder (Two Weeks, 2013), a gunner out for revenge (Gunman in Joseon, 2014), a scholar-turned-vengeful-vampire (Scholar Who Walks the Night, 2015), and a criminal profiler (Criminal Minds, 2017).

Despite the accolades, he continues challenging himself, cast as the villain Commander Lee in the Hollywood film Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016), earning praises from Director Paul W.S. Anderson and the female lead Milla Jovovich.

No longer bound by the "chain," his role as a serial killer’s son in Flower of Evil (2020) earned him a Baeksang nomination. He then starred as a crime-fighting prosecutor in the revenge fantasy action series Again My Life (2022).

Off-camera, Lee Joon-gi is famous for supporting his previous co-stars and caring for his chihuahuas Ggabi and Jjoonie. He is also known for his philanthropic work and incredible fan engagement. Always humble and ever connected with his audience, he knows how to keep the love flowing both ways—through fan meets, social media, and charity events.

With his most recent fantasy k-drama Arthdal Chronicles: The Sword of Aramun (Arthdal Chronicles 2), fans saw many more transformations from the actor. His canvas is vast, his palette is diverse, and the masterpiece is still in the making.

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