Lee Yeon-hee (born January 9, 1988) is a South Korean actress. She is most known for her work in the television series East of Eden (2008), Phantom (2012), Miss Korea (2013), The Package (2017); and in the films A Millionaire's First Love (2006), M (2007) and Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island (2015).

Lee Yeon-hee
이연희 Lee Yeon Hee 탄성 자아내는 미모 @ 유니클로U 2019SS 시즌 컬렉션 런칭 (1).png
Lee in January 2019
Born (1988-01-09) January 9, 1988 (age 32)[1]
Years active2001–present
Korean name
Revised RomanizationI Yeon-hui
McCune–ReischauerI Yŏnhŭi

Early lifeEdit

Lee was born in the Haenam County, South Korea and grew up in Bundang.[2] In 2002, Lee successfully signed a contract with S.M. Entertainment after she won the category of "Best Feature" in the S.M. Entertainment Best Youth contest.[3] For the contest, she acted out a monologue, singing to Dana The Grace's "Until the End of the World", and also did freestyle modeling poses. After she joined the company, she began intense training lessons on acting, singing, and dancing.


2002–2006: BeginningsEdit

Soon after she joined S.M. Entertainment, Lee began her career by starring in music videos for SM artists, such as boy band TVXQ, Moon Hee-jun, Kangta, Shinhwa, and Fly to the Sky, overtaking SM artists Kim Bomi (of M.I.L.K.) and Lee Jiyeon (commonly known as LinA, of CSJH The Grace) as "The SM music video girl".[4]

Though Lee had relatively steady work between modelling in magazines, commercial ads and appearing in music videos, she did not officially debut until late 2004. In November 2004, she starred as the younger version of the main character in the hit historical drama Emperor of the Sea, and appeared in the latter episodes of the daily drama My Lovely Family.[5][6] Lee had her first major role in television in MBC's mini-series One Fine Day (2006).[7]

2007–2012: Rising popularity & acting criticismEdit

In 2007, Lee starred in romance melodrama A Millionaire's First Love alongside Hyun Bin.[8] She also made her singing debut for the film, singing "Do-Re-Mi" from The Sound of Music and Insa for the film's original soundtrack. Lee's innocent image in the film earned her the title of "Nation's First Love" in Korea.[9][10] Lee followed this with moderately successful film, M alongside Kang Dong-won; and starred alongside So Ji-sub in the short film, U-Turn.[11][12]

In 2008, she starred as one of the main cast in 47th MBC Anniversary Project East of Eden.[13] Despite the drama's success, her acting in the series received overwhelming negative criticism about her vocalization, unexpressive facial expressions, and unnatural emotional expression as problems in portraying her character.[14] Lee returned to film, starring in Hello, Schoolgirl opposite Yoo Ji-tae. The story is based off the manhwa Soonjeong Manwha by Kang Pool.[15]

In 2011, Lee starred opposite Jang Dong-gun, Joe Odagiri and Fan Bing-bing in Kang Je-gyu's big budget historical film My Way,[16] and in romance comedy series Paradise Ranch by S.M. Entertainment alongside label-mate Shim Chang-min of boy band TVXQ.[17][18] In 2012, Lee reunited with U-Turn co-star So Ji-sub in the crime thriller Phantom.[19][20] Both Lee and So were named promotional ambassadors for cyber crime prevention by the National Police Agency in 2012.[21]

2013–present: Career resurgenceEdit

In 2013, Lee made a special appearance in the historical drama Gu Family Book, where she received compliments for her improvement in acting.[22][23] She next starred in romantic comedy film Marriage Blue, which tells the story of an engaged couple who experience last-minute jitters and cold feet just a week before their wedding ceremony.[24] Lee closed the year with television series Miss Korea to positive reviews, with many considering her role as her best performance to date.[25]

Lee further challenged herself with a provocative role as the mysterious and seductive Japanese geisha Hisako in the historical comedy Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island in 2015.[26][27] She then starred in MBC's 54th anniversary drama, Splendid Politics.[28]

In 2017, Lee starred in SBS's fantasy romance drama Reunited Worlds alongside Yeo Jin-goo.[29] She then starred in JYP Entertainment's travel romance drama The Package opposite Jung Yong-hwa,[30] and was complimented for her performance as a tour guide.[31]

In 2020, Lee is set to star in the mystery drama The Game: Towards Zero, reuniting with Ok Taec-yeon with whom she starred in the 2013 film Marriage Blue.[32][33]



Year Song title Notes Ref.
2009 "Club No.1" Track 9 from Super Junior's album Sorry, Sorry [34]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2001 2nd SM Best Youth Contest Grand Prize N/A Won [3]
2006 5th Korean Film Awards Best New Actress A Millionaire's First Love Nominated
2007 6th Korean Film Awards M Nominated
2008 5th Max Movie Awards Won [35]
44th Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actress (Film) Nominated
31st Golden Cinematography Awards Best New Actress Won [36]
MBC Drama Awards Best New Actress East of Eden Won [37]
Popularity Award, Actress Won [38]
Best Couple Award with Song Seung-heon Won [39]
2009 45th Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actress (TV) Nominated
2012 7th Asia Model Festival Awards Fashionista Award N/A Won [40]
SBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Drama Special Phantom Nominated
2013 MBC Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Gu Family Book Nominated
2014 Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Miss Korea Nominated
2015 Korean Film Actors' Guild Awards Popularity Award Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island Won [41]
MBC Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Special Project Drama Splendid Politics Nominated
2017 SBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Wednesday-Thursday Drama Reunited Worlds Nominated


  1. ^ "Lee Yeon-hee". Hancinema.
  2. ^ 해신 '정화'가 해남 출신이라니. hnews.co.kr (in Korean).
  3. ^ a b "이연희, 왜 이수만이 아끼는 SM엔터테인먼트 '3대 미녀'일까?". News Culture (in Korean). 19 October 2017.
  4. ^ 뮤직비디오 속 스타들이 숨어있다. My Daily (in Korean). 12 February 2007.
  5. ^ "Lee Yeon-hee Poised to Make 2005 'Her Year'". KBS Global. 2 February 2005. Archived from the original on 21 February 2013.
  6. ^ "LEE Yeon-hee". Korean Film Council.
  7. ^ "MBC's New Mini-series "One Fine Day"". MBC Global Media. 14 February 2008.
  8. ^ 열아홉, 그 씩씩한 사랑스러움, <백만장자의 첫사랑> 이연희. Cine21 (in Korean). 18 February 2006.
  9. ^ "'A Millionaire's First Love' offers melodrama for Valentine's Day couples". Hancinema. The Korea Herald. 9 February 2016.
  10. ^ "Korean stars dubbed 'Nation's first love'". K-POP Herald. 10 June 2016.
  11. ^ ""M" is mystery in style and beauty"". Hancinema. Korean Film Council. 19 October 2007.
  12. ^ "So Ji-sub, Lee Yeon-hee act as lovers in short film". Hancinema. Daum. 27 March 2008.
  13. ^ "이연희, MBC '에덴의 동쪽'서 송승헌과 호흡". The Donga Ilbo (in Korean). 5 June 2008.
  14. ^ 이연희 "연기력 논란, 애정어린 채찍질은 약이 돼요". JoongAng Ilbo (in Korean). 13 November 2008.
  15. ^ "YOO Ji-tae and LEE Yeon-hee in romantic film". Korean Film Council. 6 November 2008.
  16. ^ "Lee Yeon-hee shoots "My way", Jang Dong-gun's sister role, "It's an honor"". Hancinema. Daum. 28 March 2011.
  17. ^ "Lee Yeon-hee - Changmin, brushes away acting dispute and transforms". Hancinema. Nate. 24 January 2011.
  18. ^ "Actress Lee to open charity photo exhibition". The Korea Times. 7 February 2011.
  19. ^ "Lee Yeon-hee to play female detective in upcoming SBS TV series". 10Asia. 21 March 2012.
  20. ^ Hong, Lucia (9 May 2012). "Still shots of So Ji-sub, Lee Yeon-hee on SBS' new drama set revealed". 10Asia. Retrieved 2013-06-22.
  21. ^ "Lee Yeon-hee, So Ji-sub Promote Fight Against Cyber Crime". The Chosun Ilbo. 10 August 2012.
  22. ^ Park, Hani (4 February 2013). "Lee Yeon Hee to Make Special Appearance in the Upcoming Drama". enewsWorld. CJ E&M. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  23. ^ Ko, Hong-ju (17 June 2013). "Lee Yeon Hee to Reappear in Gu Family Book". enewsWorld. CJ E&M. Archived from the original on 14 August 2016. Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  24. ^ ""Marriage Blue" stars talk proposals". Korea JoongAng Daily. 23 October 2013.
  25. ^ "Lee Yeon-hee gets audacious". Korea JoongAng Daily. 27 December 2013.
  26. ^ "Comedy increases in sequel to detective flick". Korea JoongAng Daily. 6 February 2015.
  27. ^ "Lee Yeon-hee addresses criticism of acting skills". Korea JoongAng Daily. 12 February 2015.
  28. ^ "Gwanghaegun returns in 'factional' drama". The Korea Times. 7 April 2015.
  29. ^ "Lee Yeon-hee to star in SBS "Reunited Worlds"". Hancinema. Ilgan Sports. 31 May 2017.
  30. ^ "Jung Yong-hwa and Lee Yeon-hee sign on for JTBC's 'The Package'". Korea JoongAng Daily. 4 August 2016.
  31. ^ "Lee Yeon-hee Reminisces After Good Reception for Recent TV Series". The Chosun Ilbo. 2 December 2017.
  32. ^ Kim, Myung-mi (August 2, 2019). "이연희 측 "MBC '더게임' 출연확정" 옥택연과 호흡(공식입장)". Newsen (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  33. ^ Woo, Bin (August 2, 2019). "'더 게임:0시를 향하여', 옥택연X이연희 캐스팅…'결혼전야' 이후 6년만 재회". Hankyung (in Korean). Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  34. ^ 이연희-동방신기, 슈퍼주니어 3집 피처링 참여. Star News (in Korean). 9 March 2009.
  35. ^ "[제5회 최고의 영화상] < M > 이연희 "배우로서 처음받는 상이다"". Max Movie (in Korean). 15 February 2008.
  36. ^ "Filmmakers Honored at Golden Cinematography Awards". Hancinema. KBS World. 23 December 2008.
  37. ^ "이소연 이연희, MBC연기대상 女신인상 수상". Star News (in Korean). 30 December 2008.
  38. ^ "이연희 MBC연기대상 인기상-베스트커플상까지 '3관왕'". edaily (in Korean). 30 December 2008.
  39. ^ "'에덴' 송승헌 이연희, MBC연기대상 베스트커플상". Star News (in Korean). 2008-12-30.
  40. ^ "Choi Ji-woo, Kara win 'Asia Star' at 2012 Asia Model Awards". The Korea Herald. 19 January 2012.
  41. ^ "Kim Myung-min and Son Hyun-joo, TOP actors". Hancinema. Nate. 18 June 2015.

External linksEdit