Lee Jun-ki(born April 17, 1982, in Busan , South Korea ) is a South Korean actor, model and singer, who Koreans regard as a quintessential kkonminam idol. He rose to fame as Gong-gil inThe King and the Clown. In August 2009, Lee Jun Ki was appointed an ambassador for Korea tourism by the Korea Tourism Organization.
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In his adolescent years, Lee was a fairly normal individual who enjoyed sports and computers. He first became interested in the performing arts as a high school student after watching a performance ofHamlet.Lee initially did not get into college and instead moved to Seoul with almost nothing in his pocket, but a dream to work in the entertainment industry.For the next couple of years, Lee worked at various part-time jobs, before gaining acceptance into the Seoul Institute of the Arts .
In 2005, his first major acting role came inThe King and the Clown(왕의 남자), in which he took on the role of a somewhat feminine clown in the late 15th century. Lee faced the challenge as a male actor of playing out Gongil's femininity, which attracts the attention of many other men in the film. The film became one of the highest grossing South Korean-made movies in South Korea, unexpectedly replacingTaegukgias the most-watched film in Korean history with over 12.3 million viewers.Lee's salary for the role was a comparatively low US$ 100,000.[dead link]
Lee was against the halving of screen quotas in South Korea that allows foreign films to be shown in theaters on certain days, while domestic films are allotted another amount of days. He believed that without the screen quotas,The King and the Clownwould not have been as successful in competing against foreign films.
Producer Lee Jun Ik revealed the story of how he chose Lee forThe King and the Clownby just seeing him do handstands, saying, "Just because of handstands, Lee Jun Ki became the person he is today."After the film, Lee became "an icon" of the South Korean "pretty boy" aesthetic.
Lee has since tried to diminish his pretty boy image. Lee said Gong-gil’s character inThe King and the Clownfelt like a foot chain for him so he wanted to escape from it, stating, "After my performance inThe King and the Clown, I found myself at the forefront of this ‘pretty boy’ trend, whether or not that was my intention. Suddenly, people were interested in me, and there was all this praise and criticism all at the same time. Everything was just so overwhelming. I felt like I was floating on air."Lee revealed that there are times where he feels gloomy and can’t find answers to his questions but he hopes to not give up his acting no matter what happens and die while acting, showing his passion and love for acting.
His next role was as a supporting character on the SBS 'sMy Girltogether with Miss Korea, Park Si Yeon, Lee Da Hae , and Lee Dong Wook . His movie,Fly, Daddy, Flygarnered much attention and media coverage among Chinese viewers.However, there was criticism that both of these have "either fallen short of expectations at the box office or cast Lee in minor roles."
Lee's popularity overseas is noted, where in the 19th Tokyo International Film Festival , he was "was enthroned as the top star".During the Shanghai International Film Festival , Lee was approached by acclaimed Chinese director Chen Kaige , who proposed that the two should make a film together in China, to which Lee responded, "I'd love to make the movie if the script is good and the character is right."In 2007, Lee filmed a joint Korea - Japan movie entitledVirgin Snowwith Japanese actress Aoi Miyazaki , in which he plays a Korean exchange student.Lee explained why he joined the cast saying, "I hope this film helps improve friendly relations between the two nations."Virgin Snowwas successful; it placed 9th at the box office and set a record for a Korean film released in Japan.
He also starred in the action dramaTime Between Dog And Wolf, his first lead role. From September 4 to October 5, at the 2008 Seoul Drama Festival 14th ceremony, Yahoo! Korea and Yahoo! Japan, together conducted a survey on who was the best between Korean and Japanese actors.The survey totaled 27 million online votes, and the most popular TV drama beingTime Between Dog and Wolfwith the total of 59.9 percent with overwhelming support from the fans.Coming in second place was KBS 2 TV’s Hong Gil Dong with the total of 39 percent and coming in third place was MBC ’s Coffee Prince with the total of 1.5 percent.The best male actor and female actress went to the main characters Lee and Nam Sang Mi .
At the 27th Hawaii International Film Festival , it was announced that Lee would be that year's recipient of its Rising Star award.The award acknowledged the actor's work, media image, and growing star-power in the global arena.The festival, which ran through October 18– 28 , presented the award at "An Evening with Lee Jun-ki" on Friday, October 19He also had a role in the Korean filmMay 18, about the events surrounding the Gwangju Massacre of 1980, which was given the Gold Orchid Best Feature Film for 2007.The film sold over six million tickets at the Korean box office.
From April to July 2008, Lee participated in the filming for SBS 's TV seriesIljimae, a period drama in which he starred as a Robin Hood -esque character during the Chosun era.Its first episode aired on May 21, 2008 with 15.4% program rating. From then its program rating increased andIljimaefinished airing on July 24, with 31.4% program rating, one of the highest ratings of the year, and earned him high honors in the 2008 SBS Drama Awards.The drama later aired in Japan on the channel TV Tokyo .
In November 2009, Lee was the lead role in the comedic-action drama,Hero, which aired on the station MBC .
On 3 May 2010, Lee enlisted in the Republic of Korea Army to serve his mandatory military service .He served within the public relations department of the Ministry of National Defense and after serving 21 months of active duty, was discharged on 16 February 2012 from the Defense Media Agency in Yongsan, Seoul.
In September 2008, Lee had a contractual dispute with his agency Mentor Entertainment . Lee was being sued for 500 million won for breaching his contract and for supposedly hiding 1 billion won in an attempt to "established his own agency in association with his manager".
On July 29, 2008, Lee had a conference for the Hallyu Festival, he was chosen as the Ambassador for the 2008 Seoul Hallyu Festival .Lee was later entrusted as the Honorary Legal System Officer in the Government Legislation Agency's 60th year anniversary.Lee said, "When I’m choosing my work, I would like to choose one that involves working with other countries. Instead of showing off being a Hallyu Star, I will try my best to show good images for those who love Korea."During the ceremony, Lee was appointed as the first Honorary Legal System Officer since the constitution of the Government Legislation Agency due to his acting role in SBS 'sIljimae.
On August 5, 2009, Lee was appointed as the new promotional ambassador of the Korea Tourism Organization .Lee said of his appointment, "I enjoyed working as an honorary ambassador of hallyu last year. I'm proud of being appointed as tourism ambassador this time, and will try my best to promote Korea."
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