Lee Sun-kyun (Korean: 이선균; born March 2, 1975) is a South Korean actor. He is best known for his roles in the films, Helpless (2012), romantic comedy All About My Wife (2012), and crime/black comedy A Hard Day (2014). He is also known for his role in the Bong Joon-ho's Academy Award-winning black comedy film Parasite for which he won a Screen Actors Guild Award along with his castmates. He has received several other awards including nomination for an International Emmy Award.
|Education||Korea National University of Arts - BFA in Acting|
|Revised Romanization||I Seon-gyun|
After beginning his career in musical theatre, for many years Lee was relegated to minor and supporting roles onscreen, only getting to play lead characters in one-act dramas on KBS Drama City and MBC Best Theater. In one such Best Theater project, he worked with TV director Lee Yoon-jung on Taereung National Village (2005), which led to him being cast in her later series Coffee Prince in 2007. Coffee Prince, along with medical drama White Tower brought Lee mainstream popularity, which he followed with Pasta (2010), Golden Time (2012) and My Mister (2018).
Meanwhile, on the big screen, he received a Best Actor award from the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival for his role in Paju (2009), followed by critical acclaim for mystery thriller Helpless (2012), romantic comedy All About My Wife (2012), and crime/black comedy A Hard Day (2014). Lee also continues to collaborate with auteur Hong Sang-soo, and his arthouse films with Hong include Night and Day (2008), Oki's Movie (2010), and Nobody's Daughter Haewon (2013). In 2019, he starred in Bong Joon-ho's Oscar-winning black comedy film Parasite.
Lee Sun-kyun entered the Korea National University of Arts in 1994, and graduated in the first ever class of its School of Drama. In 2001, he made his acting debut as Brad Majors in the stage musical The Rocky Horror Show.
2007–2012: Acting beginnings edit
Playing small supporting roles for many years, Lee eventually achieved his breakthrough in 2007 with the critically lauded medical drama White Tower and the highly popular romantic series Coffee Prince. Besides Coffee Prince, he has worked with director Lee Yoon-jung two other times—in the sports-themed Taereung National Village in 2005, and in the slice-of-life drama Triple in 2009.
Lee was appointed as ambassador for the Health Insurance Review Agency in 2007, and won an award from the Korea Advertisers Association in 2008.
Despite his burgeoning fame, Lee then turned to low-budget arthouse films to polish his acting caliber. Night and Day, Lost in the Mountains, Oki's Movie, Nobody's Daughter Haewon and Our Sunhi were all directed by Hong Sang-soo, an auteur renowned for his realistic portrayal of ordinary lives. Lee also headlined Paju, for which he won the Best Actor award at the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival held in Spain. Film distributor Myung Film quoted the judging committee as handing Lee high points for portraying the anguish his character felt for loving his wife's younger sister.
With Pasta, in which he played a brilliant-but-abrasive chef, Lee successfully shook off his "gentle" TV drama image, and the series' popularity made him a bankable romantic leading man. Petty Romance reunited him with his My Sweet Seoul co-star Choi Kang-hee, and one-upmanship action comedy Officer of the Year (also known as Arrest King) soon followed.
Lee showed his support for the revival of Drama Special (formerly Drama City) by starring in Our Slightly Risque Relationship (his acting was later recognized at the KBS Drama Awards). He has continually defended the importance of the short drama format as a training ground for young talent, acknowledging its contribution to his own career.
2012–2017: Rising success edit
In 2012, he starred in two consecutive well-reviewed big-screen hits—mystery thriller Helpless and romantic comedy All About My Wife. Reuniting with Pasta director Kwon Seok-jang, Lee played a trauma doctor in Golden Time. His third collaboration with Kwon was Miss Korea, a drama set amidst the IMF crisis in the 1990s.
Lee returned to the theater opposite wife Jeon Hye-jin in Mike Bartlett's stage play Love, Love, Love in 2013. The following year, he headlined the film A Hard Day, which screened at the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, and became a critically acclaimed sleeper hit at the box office. In 2015, Lee starred in the courtroom drama film The Advocate: A Missing Body.
2018–present: Return to television and resurgence edit
In 2019, Lee starred in the legal television series Prosecutor Civil War. More recently, he had a starring role in the critically acclaimed film Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-ho, which became the first South Korean film to win the Palme d'Or, as well as the first to be nominated for and win the Academy Award for Best Picture. His role was Park Dong-ik (Nathan; 박동익; Bak Dongik), the Park family father.
In 2021, Lee played a brain scientist trying to solve the mysterious death of his family by hacking into the brains of the deceased. Dr. Brain is the first Korean-language show produced for Apple TV+. As the drama series debut of renowned filmmaker Kim Jee-woon, the sci-fi thriller is based on the Korean webtoon of the same name. For his performance he was nominated for a Best Actor award for the 50th International Emmy Awards. The same year, Lee appeared in the political drama film Kingmaker as political strategist. He received a nomination for Best Actor for his role in the film at the 58th Baeksang Arts Awards; however, the award went to his costar Sol Kyung-gu.
In 2023, Lee starred alongside Lee Ha-nee (Honey Lee) in Lee Won-suk's comedy Killing Romance. While the film received a tepid reaction upon release, it has since become a cult favorite in Korea, and made its North American debut at the 22nd New York Asian Film Festival on July 14, 2023.
Personal life edit
Lee married his girlfriend of seven years, actress Jeon Hye-jin on May 23, 2009. Their agency announced that their first son was born on November 25, 2009. The couple's second son was born on August 9, 2011.
In October 2023, it was revealed that Lee was booked for internal investigation over suspected drug use. As a result, he voluntarily dropped out of No Way Out, an upcoming thriller drama serial which just started its production days before the revelation of his alleged drug use. On October 24, he was charged on suspicion of using marijuana and psychoactive drugs, according to Incheon Metropolitan Police Agency, and was summoned for questioning on the 28th. Lee was also given a travel ban to prevent him from leaving the country during the course of investigations. Initial test results of Lee's hair samples revealed that Lee tested negative for drugs, and further investigations are expected as of November 2023.
Stage credit edit
|2005||Indangsu Love Song||인당수 사랑가||Valentine's Theatre 3||April 22 to September 11|
|2013||Love, Love, Love||러브 러브 러브||Kenneth||Myeongdong Arts Theatre||March 27 to April 21|||
|2001||The Rocky Horror Show||록키 호러 쇼||Brad Majors||the Polymedia Theater in Dongsung-dong||July 17 to August 26|||
|2003||Grease||그리스||Danny Zuko||Dongsung Art Centre Dongsung Hall||August to November 16|||
|"Ocean Voyage (Choi Han-sung version)"||2007||Coffee Prince OST|
|"My Sweet City"||2008||My Sweet Seoul OST|
|Romantic Island Christmas Story single|
(with Yoon Sang )
|Song Book: Play With Him album|
(with Choi Kang-hee)
|2010||Petty Romance OST|
|"Gift For You"
(with Choi Kang-hee, Song Ji-hyo and Kim Byung-man)
Awards and nominations edit
|Award ceremony||Year||Category||Nominee / Work||Result||Ref.|
|APAN Star Awards||2018||Grand Prize (Daesang)||My Mister||Nominated|||
|Baeksang Arts Awards||2007||Best New Actor – Television||White Tower||Nominated|
|2015||Best Actor – Film||A Hard Day||Won|||
|2019||Best Actor – Television||My Mister||Nominated|||
|2022||Best Actor – Film||Kingmaker||Nominated|||
|Blue Dragon Film Awards||2014||Best Leading Actor||A Hard Day||Nominated|
|Buil Film Awards||2014||Best Actor||Nominated|
|CETV Awards||2010||Top 10 Asian Stars||Pasta||Won|
|Chunsa Film Art Awards||2015||Best Actor||A Hard Day||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Awards||2020||Best Acting Ensemble||Parasite||Nominated|||
|Herald DongA TV Lifestyle Awards||2012||Best Dressed||Lee Sun-kyun||Won|||
|International Emmy Awards||2022||Best Performance by an Actor||Dr. Brain||Nominated|||
|KBS Drama Awards||2004||Best Actor in a One-Act/Drama Special||Dr. Love||Nominated|
|2010||Our Slightly Risque Relationship||Won|||
|Korea Advertisers Association||2008||Good Model Award||Lee Sun-kyun||Won|
|Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival||2010||Best Actor||Paju||Won|
|MBC Drama Awards||2007||Golden Acting Award, Actor in a Miniseries||White Tower||Won|||
|Excellence Award, Actor||Coffee Prince||Nominated|
|2010||Top Excellence Award, Actor||Pasta||Nominated|
|Best Couple Award||Lee Sun-kyun with Gong Hyo-jin
|2012||Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries||Golden Time||Nominated|
|2014||Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries||Miss Korea||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||2020||Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture||Parasite||Won|||
|The Seoul Awards||2018||Best Actor (TV)||My Mister||Nominated|||
State honors edit
|Country Or Organization||Year||Honor Or Award||Ref.|
|South Korea[note 1]||2018||Prime Minister's Commendation|||
|The Screen||2019||2009–2019 Top Box Office Powerhouse Actors in Korean Movies||32nd|||
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