Lee Junghyun appeared like a comet. Despite having no acting experience, she was chosen as the main character of the film A Petal (1996) after passing the 3,000-to-1 audition. Even more surprising was the intense energy she showed in the film. A girl, who goes crazy after witnessing the Gwangju Democratization Movement and losing her mother, represents the scars of those who experienced the tragedy in Gwangju in May 1980. Lee couldn’t act at all when she stood in front of the camera on the first day of filming, but she chose to become the girl herself to embody the tragedy caused by the tyrannical military regime. With the impressive performance in her first movie, she won the Best New Actress at various film awards. Lee also sang for the soundtrack of A Petal (1996), debuted as a singer in late 1999, and made a huge success. She has focused on her singing career since 2001.
With the short film Night fishing (2010) directed by Park Chanwook and Park Chankyong, Lee Junghyun returned to the film industry after 10 years of interval. In the following year, she appeared in another film Juvenile Offender (2012). It is the story of Hyoseung, who gave birth to a baby at age 17 and abandoned him, ending up reuniting with her son Jigu (Seo Youngjoo), who served in a juvenile detention center for robbing an empty house with his friends. Lee Junghyun showed an intricate performance, playing a woman in her 30s who was still not ready to become a mother. Her character tries to get to know her son while coming into conflict with her son, who refuses the responsibility as a father just like she did. The film showed that Lee has much more to offer than her ‘madness’ performance to impress the audience. And the low-budget film Juvenile Offender (2012) served as an opportunity for her to take off the crown of a K-wave star and showcase her acting chops in a small-scale film.
After appearing in the massive hit Roaring Currents (2014), Lee Junghyun took part in another small-budget film Alice In Earnestland (2014). The film follows the hapless life of a woman who has worked hard since young but can’t escape a miserable life. Showing her special attachment to the movie, Lee even took care of meals for the staff members while filming it without receiving any fees for her performance. And the film is indeed of Lee Junghyun, by Lee Junghyun, and for Lee Junghyun. Her performance alternated between madness and innocence, making the audience sincerely support Soonam, the protagonist who worked hard to be happy but ended up in a hole of misfortune and eventually became the perpetrator of a crime. Alice In Earnestland (2014) won her the Best Actress at the Blue Dragon Award for her impressive and comprehensive acting chops. Since then, Lee has challenged herself in various genres with The Battleship Island (2017), Night of the Undead (2020), and Peninsula (2020), broadening her horizon as an actor step by step. Moon Dongmyung