Essential Actors: Lee Byung Hun
Lee Byung Hun is known as one of the top actors of his peers. He's graced the screen in nearly 40 dramas and movies, and received countless awards for his talented portrayals. And although he's been in as many productions as many years he's been alive, his sharply accentuated looks can give any actor half his age a run for their money. Starting his career in 1991 at the age of 21, Lee Byung Hun made his debut to the Korean public in the KBS drama Asphalt My Hometown. Within the next three years, he received steady work in dramas for both KBS and SBS, two of the nations biggest stations.
His 1995 drama, Asphalt Man, was the first of its kind in Korea in that it was shot on film (not video), included heartracing car chases and also shot authentically on-location in the US (Nevada, Utah and Ohio). After filming only two dramas in 1995, Lee Byung Hun took a two year break from television and made his way to the big screen acting in three movies from '95 until '97 before making his way back to T.V. Dramas.
The first of his movies was a starring role in Who Drives Me Mad?, a movie about a man obsessed with marrying his girlfriend, but somehow manages to drive them apart with his incessant efforts to be her husband. The movie was fairly received but it wasn't until 2000 when his role in the movie Joint Security Area did Lee Byung Hun really become a star to be watched.
Around this time, Hallyu was just beginning to quickly gain momentum in America, and with his convincing roles in following dramas Beautiful Days (2001) and All In (2003), audiences both Korean and foreign were swept away. His most talked about Kdrama performance is that of Kim In Sa in All In; a story inspired by the life of Jimmy Cha, a professional poker player. So convincing was his portrayal of the character In Sa, Lee won the Best Actor (Drama) at the 2003 Baek Sang Awards; bringing the total awards he's won in the category of 'Best Actor' almost every year over his career at that point to an even ten. Talk about talent. The accolades kept coming in and in 2005 and 2006, he won Best Leading Actor at the Busan Cinema Critics Awards, Korean Film Awards and at the 42nd Baek Sang Awards for his movie roles.
Taking another hiatus in 2003 until 2009 to focus on acting in movies, Lee Byung Hun's Hollywood debut in the movie G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra excited his fans worldwide as the character Storm Shadow. Lee starred in the movie alongside actors such as Dennis Quaid, Joseph-Gordon Levitt, Sienna Miller and Channing Tatum, which in the opinion of many Kdrama fans worldwide, this was an amazing opportunity for all Hallyu stars looking to cross over.
Also in 2009, Lee Byung Hun made his most awaited comeback in the smash hit drama IRIS. The action packed drama has been likened to the American series 24, for it's thrilling storyline, action sequences, and compelling cast. The riveting drama has gained much buzz and it's safe to say Lee Byung Hun will be gaining another 'Best' award come award season. If you want to catch up on all the buzz around Lee Byung Hun, check him out right here on DramaFever in All In and IRIS, alongside another Kdrama essential actress, the beautiful Song Hye Kyo!