A K-wave star who overcame the weight of the crown faces a new challenge with global projects

Lee Minho

An opportunity to wear the crown of a star may come with one big hit. For Lee Minho, the TV series Boys over the Flowers was that big hit. After his debut in 2006 with the series Schoolyard Secrets, Lee built up his acting experiences with both TV drama series and films. Then, in 2009, he gained immense popularity through the series Boys over Flowers and quickly emerged as a cultural icon.

We can’t deny the fact that he became a K-wave star overnight with the power of drama characters. However, Lee Minho’s charms and efforts have kept his top position for more than a decade in the entertainment market, where stars change fast. Currently, Lee is a hot star who is warmly welcomed not only in Korea but also throughout Asia, including China, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia. Having an overwhelming number of followers on his social media, one of the measures to gauge the popularity of a star, he is the best among Korean artists in terms of the number of Chinese Weibo followers.

After Boys Over Flowers, the actor challenged all genres and roles in historical drama series, melodrama, thriller, and action noir, proving himself to be an actor who can play a much more diverse role than a ‘nine-day wonder.’ Especially, the film Gangnam Blues (2015) was chosen for his first leading role despite concerns from people around him. It shows Lee’s determination not to be just stuck in the image of a handsome actor. In the film, instead of the sweet lines shaking women’s hearts, the actor expanded his acting spectrum by filling the screen with chilling eyes and rough breathing.

Bounty Hunters (2016) was the second film Lee starred in, co-produced by South Korea and China. It became the first joint-venture film with a Korean protagonist that surpassed 200 million yuan with its commercial success. The film is considered an example of the brand value of Lee Minho as a K-wave star. After a three-year hiatus due to his military service, he started his 30s meaningfully with the series The King Eternal Monarch (2020).

The actor is preparing for the next big leap with Pachinko, a new TV drama series that will be released on Apple TV+. Based on the novel of the same name selected by the New York Times as the book of the year, we can meet Lee Minho, who will show his mature image as an actor. As it is a global project in three languages—Korean, Japanese, and English—Lee’s charm might hit the world beyond Asia! Jung Siwoo