Born in 2004, Lee Jaein is still a teenager, but her filmography is surprisingly colorful. This is because Lee has been choosing roles of one distinctive character with her own narrative over the roles of someone else’s childhood, except in TV drama series Sense8 where she played Bae Doona’s childhood. She also has covered various genres, from the occult to periodic drama.
Adulthood (2018) is a film that confirms Lee Jaein’s ability to portray a character that doesn’t match her age. The film depicts the story of Kyeongeon, a girl who loses her father and ends up living with her immature uncle Jaemin (Um Taegoo), whom she didn’t even know. In this road movie carried by the chemistry between the two characters, Lee Jaein plays mature-minded child Gyeongeon. When shooting the film, Lee Jaein was only in the sixth grade in elementary school.
In SVAHA: THE SIXTH FINGER (2019), Lee was in her element. It is the second feature film after The Priests (2015), directed by Jang Jaehyun, who successfully introduced his occult films to the public who were not familiar with the genre. While the director’s previous work put Park Sodam, who played a girl possessed by evil spirits, on the map, this film heralded the birth of a new star named Lee Jaein.
Lee Jaein played a double role in SVAHA: THE SIXTH FINGER : Geumhwa and her twin sister ‘It.’ Geumhwa was born with an incomplete leg, and Geumhwa’s twin sister was never welcomed by anyone. The first half of the movie focuses on the anxiety of Geumhwa, who had to live under oppression while the second half is dominantly about the overwhelming image of ‘It’, which is reborn as something transcendent. Due to Lee’s mature acting as someone, who is both fearful and miraculous, some assumed her as an adult actor who looks younger. With the film, Lee Jaein won the Best New Actress for the year in various awards, including the Baeksang Arts Awards and the Grand Bell Awards. It was all thanks to Lee, who didn’t even mind getting her head shaved for the performance with great passion.
The Battle: Roar to Victory (2019), released in the same year, is a story of independence fighters who fought against Japanese troops in Bongodong in 1919. In the middle of the battle among armed men, Lee Jaein plays Chunhee, a girl who lost her brother to the Japanese army, setting an emotional pillar in the film. Lee Jaein’s performance based on her superb interpretation of the plot leaves an indelible impression on the audience. We look forward to the future of Lee Jaein as a female actor as she has much more things to show. Lee Eunsun