Lee Yo-Won was born
on April 9, 1980, in Seongnam City, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea.
In 1997, during her sophomore year in high school, Lee Yo-Won applied for
a modeling contest and was picked as the winner. After the contest she
debuted in the monthly fashion magazine "Figaro" (휘가로) for its November issue. In 1998, Lee Yo-Won made her acting debut
in the film "Scent of a Man". While acting for her first movie,
Lee Yo-Won sometimes tore up because staff members only applauded the other
actors for their work. Then some
staff members noticed her tears and mentioned she was good at tearing up.
That was the first time she heard positive words about her acting.
With her confidence building and gaining more attention from the staff
members, Lee Yo-Won realized she wanted to pursue acting as a profession.
For her second film, Lee Yo-Won played gas station
attendant Galchi in the hit movie “Attack the Gas Station!” which sold 2.4
million tickets. Thanks to the popularity of that film Lee Yo-Won started to gain
recognition from the public. Lee Yo-Won then acted in several television
In 2001, Lee Yo-Won's big breakthrough came in the
KBS TV drama "Blue Mist" (Pureun Angae). For the first time Lee
Yo-Won played the lead character in a TV drama and the series became a big hit.
The drama itself contained a controversial (for its time) storyline
involving a woman in her early 20's becoming involved romantically with a
married man in his 40's. In the same year, 2001, Lee Yo-Won acted as one
of the three main characters in the critically praised indie film "Take
Care of My Cat" directed by female director Jeong Jae-Eun. The film
was chosen as one of the 5 best films of 2001 by "Cine Seoul"
magazine. Lee Yo-Won mentioned in a 2009 interview with "Elle Korea" fashion magazine that "Take
Care of My Cat" was her most memorable work. Lee Yo Won also got
Baeksang Award for Best Newcomer Actress by the movie Take Care of my Cat.
In 2003, at the age of 22, Lee Yo-Won made the
surprising announcement that she will marry. On January 10, 2003, Lee
Yo-Won married professional golfer & businessman Park Jin-Woo. Lee
Yo-Won temporarily put her acting career on hold while she went to the U.S. with her husband to study. Lee Yo Won accompanied her husband to
get Master degree in University of San
Diego while Lee Yo Won also wanted to study English
In December 2003, Lee Yo-Won had a daughter.
In an interview with TV show "Section TV - S Diary" on MBC, Lee
Yo-Won mentioned that at the time of her marriage she was tired of acting and
the demands placed on her. One week before her marriage, Lee Yo Won still
had to complete her filming schedule for drama “Daemang”, she was really at her
peak and busy as an actress at that time as she decided to get married.
In 2005, Lee Yo-Won made her acting comeback in the
SBS drama series "Fashion 70's". She chose the role for three
reasons: because it was a historical drama, that it was directed by Lee Jae-Kyu
(who previously directed popular female oriented detective drama "Damo:
The Legendary Police Woman") and that it dealt with a woman's career and success
rather than a pure love story. Actually she was afraid of her comeback
that people can’t accept her. She got some criticisms for her life in US that
she on purpose gave birth outside Korea. She said because now she has a family,
if she was mocked, her family will get the impact too. But she got big support
from her husband said that “don’t really bother of what people say”.
Before taking "Fashion 70s," Lee Yo Won
starred in a movie “When Romance Meets Destiny” as supporting actress, she said
she likes the character and on purpose not to take as lead actress for her
first comeback to entertainment. After "Fashion 70's," Lee
Yo-Won acted in various drama and movies. She acted in medical drama
"Surgeon Bong Dal Hee" as the main character Bong Dal Hee who was a
resident doctor, struggling to be a surgeon even she herself had heart problem
of her health. The Drama again made a success in TV rating, Lee Yo Won won
Three Awards for this drama : Top Female Excellent, Best Couple (with Lee Bum
Soo), and Popularity Award in SBS Drama Award 2007.
Another hit was movie "May 18" which was
from real story of Gwangju incident in 1980, the movie attracted millions
viewers on theatres and becomes first local movie in that year which can
successfully compete against Hollywood movie. The end of 2007 until half 2008, Lee Yo Won acted in drama
Bad Love (Cruel Love) with actor Kwon Sang Woo. This drama was a mellow one
about love, unfortunately the drama wasn’t good in TV rating in Korea, and it said that the genre wasn’t
popular at that time in Korean drama industry.
In 2009, Lee Yo-Won performed in another smash-hit
television series, this time in the MBC historical drama "The Great Queen
Seon Deok". Lee Yo-Won played main character Queen Seon Deok, who
possessed extraordinary intelligence and strength. In an interview with
"Star News," Lee Yo-Won stated she was tired of playing woman who
were fragile and weak and eagerly took the role of Queen Seondeok because of
this. At first, some people doubt
about her acting as Queen Seon Deok because they just recalled her acting as
fragile and teary woman in Bad Love, but the PD and director of "Queen
Seon Deok" believed that Lee Yo Won deserved the role, the "Bad
Love" case wasn’t wrong with Lee Yo Won’s acting skill, she was good at
it, what ruined the drama was the storyline itself. And right, Lee Yo Won
successfully played the main role Queen Seon Deok, the drama become drama of
the year and national drama in 2009. She played opposite Go Hyun Jung,
even though some people always wanted to compare the two of them, but Lee Yo
Won humble said that Go Hyun Jung is her senior and really appreciate her
In 2010, Lee Yo-Won's next film "The
Recipe" was released in late October. She appeared at the world
premiere for "The Recipe" during the Pusan International Film
Festival (in which AsianMediaWiki attended). During the question and
answer session Lee Yo-Won stated she chose the film, because she wanted to work
with another female director due to her great experience with "Take Care
of my Cat." Although she was initially reluctant to take on another role
of a "fragile woman," the movie's producer Jang Jin and movie
director Lee Seo-Goon convinced this would be the right role for her.
In 2011, LYW came back the small-screen with SBS
Drama “49 Days”, and once again demonstrated her true value performing
two unique roles: depressed Song Yi Kyung and cheerful Shin Ji Huyn. She was
one of the most important factors for the success of this drama and has gained
even more popularity after that.
2012 is a productive year with her when she took the
female leads in 2 movies: Suspect X and Legend Punch and joined MBC anniversary
drama: Horse Doctor. In Suspect X,
she played Hwa-sun who kills her abusive ex to protect her child and a
brilliant mathematician decides to cover her accidental murder; while in Legend
Punch, her role is the head of a
tough production team and a strong career woman who has the 'legendary team'
eating out of her hands.
For MBC medical sageuk “Horse Doctor”, she
took the role of Kang Ji Nyung, a very progressive woman in the Joseon era. She was the lover at the same time the helper of Baek
Gwang Huyn (Jo Seung-Woo) until he became the Royal Physician. Her presence
in this drama became the discussion, it was not because of her acting skills,
but because the development was too concentrated on the hero that somehow
wasted her talent. However, she still
received much loved from audience for showing an infinite variety of performance.
Doctor finished in early 2013, she made her quick comeback to drama land in
SBS's "Empire of Gold", which revolves around a power struggle over a chaebol. She played the role of female lead Choi Seo-yoon - the “empire
princess,” second daughter of the country’s biggest chaebol group who was born
with a silver spoon in her mouth.
And again, she never failed to amaze audience with her spectacular performance of
a wise and icy girl in the battle with two beasts; and won the recognition
from SBS with "Top 10 Stars" Award and "Top Excellence Award, Medium-Length Drama"
Award. But they might not the most valuables awards for her with "Empire of
Gold", because during the filming, she also picked up "gold" and
got pregnant of the second baby.
In July-25, her Management Agency made announcement that Lee Yo Won gave birth to her second daughter in May, 2014; both Mom and Baby are in good condition. Congratulation!!! :)