Who is Squid Game star Lee Jung-jae? A K-drama fan’s appreciation of his roles in City of the Rising Sun, Il Mare and The Housemaid, and his hot-bod look in Typhoon
- Lee Jung-jae starred alongside Jun Ji-hyun in Il Mare, and in the erotic thriller The Housemaid, which also starred the brilliant Jeon Do-yeon and Youn Yuh-jung
- The actor remains by and large unknown to international audiences, and Squid Game viewers may be more familiar with actors like Gong Yoo, of Train to Busan fame
Like his contemporaries Lee Byung-hun, Jung Woo-sung, Bae Yong-joon and Jang Dong-gun, the now 48-year-old actor was a much sought after leading man, especially after his award-winning turn in City of the Rising Sun (1999).
I didn’t find this film particularly memorable, but Lee’s performance as the scheming husband was solid.
He then dropped off my radar again. Granted, these days I have not been following the K-drama/K-movie scene as closely and avidly as I used to.
His appearance in Squid Game is – as his legions of fans will attest – a far cry from the muscular hot bod that he is in real life (he started out as a fashion model) and from his action-man roles in previous films. Check out Lee in the beach scene in Kwak Kyung-taek’s Typhoon (2005) and you will see what I mean.
Despite the success of his latest outing, Lee has remained humble and has been quoted as saying he didn’t expect Squid Game to be this popular all over the world and that he has been surprised by the surge in his popularity on social media.
I am not a big fan of Lee but, judging from the films I’ve seen him in, I find him a versatile actor who can convincingly play both good and bad guy.
So, for those who have just discovered Lee Jung-jae, if you like him in Squid Game, I’d highly recommend you dig up some of his old films and dramas, as you will certainly appreciate him as an actor even more today.