Now that Lee Jun-ho is one of the hottest Hallyu stars, 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 actor is finally enjoying his season.
Birthday: January 25, 1990
Lee Jun-ho debuted as a member of 2PM in 2008. Having a passion for acting since high school, he auditioned for Jung Woo-sung’s action film Cold Eyes (2013) against his agency’s wishes. His performance as Detective “Squirrel” in the box office hit earned him his first Best New Actor nomination from the Buil Film Awards and caught the attention of the industry, including Korea’s Cannes Queen Jeon Do-yeon. The respected actress handpicked him to join the cast of the historical film Memories of the Sword in 2015, where he played Kim Go-eun's love interest. That same year, he co-starred alongside Kim Woo-bin and Kang Ha-neul in the commercially successful coming-of-age comedy film Twenty.
After playing a supporting role to Lee Sung-min (Reborn Rich) in Memory (2016), his first television drama, he was cast as a villainous finance director in the office comedy Good Manager/Chief Kim (2017). The drama was the biggest sleeper hit that year, and his 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.
He then went on to establish himself as a dependable leading man in the romantic dramas Just Between Lovers/Rain or Shine (2017) opposite Won Jin-ah and Wok of Love (2018) where he was in a love triangle with Jung Ryeo-won and Jang Hyuk, and in the 2019 legal thriller Confession before his military enlistment.
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. His convincing portrayal of Yi San/King Jeongjo earned him the distinction of becoming the first ever idol-actor to win Best Actor at the Baeksang Arts Awards, 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.
As of this writing, Lee Jun-ho is currently filming the upcoming k-drama King the Land with fellow idol-actor, Im Yoona of Girls' Generation. The rom-com, where he plays chaebol-hotelier Gu Won, is expected to stream on Netflix in June 2023.