When speaking about South Korean models who made successful transitions into acting, we have to talk about Lee Jong-suk.
Born in 1989, Lee was the youngest male model ever to participate in Seoul Fashion Week 2005 at the age of 16.
With his boyish good looks and height of 186cm, it is not a surprise to know that Lee was also offered to be a K-pop idol.
In fact, he even trained to be an idol group member for three months before he realised that the K-pop path was not for him.
Today, Lee is one of the most coveted South Korean actors out there with thousands of fans always looking forward for his next project.
If you are a fan of Lee Jong-suk, here are eight of his dramas you should watch:
1.School 2013 (2012)
Like many other successful Korean actors like Jang Hyuk, Kim Rae-won, Jo In-sung, Gong Yoo who started their careers through the School series, Lee’s breakthrough role was also in the popular Korean anthology series.
School 2013 (2012) is the fifth installment of KBS’s School series.
It is a teen drama depicting the struggles of modern day high school students as they facing problems such as bullying, suicide and school violence.
In this series, Lee plays the role of a high school student named Go Nam-soon. While his fellow students are studying hard to get into the best college, he spends his night working part-time jobs.
He just aims to graduate high school without having any particular ambitions.
Through his role in this drama, Lee received the Best New Actor award at the 2012 KBS Drama Awards.
2.I Can Hear Your Voice (2013)
This drama is definitely one of our favourite ‘noona’ romance K-dramas out there.
It follows the story of a public defender named Jang Hye-sung (Lee Bo-young) who comes across a high school student with the supernatural ability to read other people’s minds by looking into their eyes.
That high school student Park Soo-ha is played by Lee.
He gained his mind-reading ability after witnessing his father getting murdered ten years earlier.
At first, his father’s death was dismissed as a car accident until Hye-sung as a teenager testified in court.
Since then, Soo-ha has been harbouring crush for Hye-sung.
However when they reunited a decade later, Soo-ha is disappointed to find Hye-sung completely different from what he has expected.
She becomes bitter and apathetic who only cares about money.
Still, the duo reconnects and work together to solve criminal cases with the help of Soo-ha mind-reading ability.
Originally slated for 16 episodes, the drama was extended by two episodes due to its successful ratings.
Moreover, Lee won the Excellence Award in the male category at the Korea Drama Awards for his performance.
3.Doctor Stranger (2014)
Following the success of I Can Hear Your Voice, Lee picked another successful project playing a genius doctor raised in North Korea.
Doctor Stranger (2014) begins with Park Hoon (Lee Jong-suk) and his father Park Cheol (Kim Sang-joong) who were tricked and sent to North Korea.
There, Park Hoon was trained to become a doctor who was already a famous doctor.
After his father dies, Park Hoon tries to defect to South Korea in order to live a better life with his lover Song Jae-hee (Jin Se-yeon).
The lovers somehow got separated and Park Hoon arrives in South Korea without Jae-hee.
In South Korea, Park Hoon works as a doctor in Myungwoo University Hospital.
There, he comes across Doctor Han Seung-hee who looks exactly like Jae-hee.
However, the doctor claims not to know Park Hoon or is she pretending?
The drama was a huge success internationally, particularly in China where it gained 400 million views.
2014 was a good year for Lee Jong-suk as he took up another successful role that year.
He starred in Pinocchio opposite Park Shin-hye, playing the role of Ki Ha-myung.
His father Ki Ho-sang is the captain of a firefighting squad who dies in a factory explosion during a rescue attempt along with several of his men.
The media sensationalises the case for rating and alleges that Ho-sang is responsible for the deaths of his men.
Due to the media frenzy, the Ki family becomes the subject of national scorn.
Ho-sang’s wife kills herself and Ha-myuung by jumping off a cliff.
Thankfully, Ha-myung is rescued and he assumes a different identity Choi Dal-po.
Despite being a genius, he pretends to be dumb to keep up the facade.
He then becomes a broadcast news reporters in order to find his long lost brother and clear their father’s name.
Again, the drama was an instant hit and was sold to China for USD280,000 per episode.
When you look at Lee’s face, he looks like someone who came out straight out from a manga.
Hence, no other actors are fit to play a webtoon character other than him.
The series centers on the eponymous fictional webtoon entitled W.
It is written and illustrated by Oh Seong-moo (Kim Eui-sung).
The main character of the webtoon is Kang Chul (Lee Jong-suk), a handsome and intelligent boy who is also skilled in shooting.
He is falsely accused of massacring his family.
After a failed suicide attempt at the Han river, he picks himself up and becomes determined to find the real killer of his family.
Ten years later, Kang Chul has now become a multimillionaire.
One particular night, he receives an anonymous phone call who asks him to go to the rooftop of his penthouse.
There, he is stabbed by a mysterious figure.
As he continues to seek the truth, what happens when Kang Chul finds out that the world he is living in is not even a real world after all?
As though Lee has a midas touch in picking a TV script, the fantasy thriller W topped popularity charts in South Korea.
Additionally, Lee won the Grand Price at the year-end MBC Drama Awards.
6.While You Were Sleeping (2017)
Perhaps the key to Lee’s success is to pick the right scriptwriter.
In While You Were Sleeping (2017), Lee plays a prosecutor who has the ability to foresee future events through his dream.
The drama is written by Park Hae-ryun who also worked on I Can Hear Your Voice and Pinocchio, both of which Lee starred in.
It is a legal, fantasy and romance drama circling around three young adults who can see the future when they sleep.
Along with field reporter Nam Hong-joo (Bae Suzy) and police officer Han Woo-tak (Jung Hae-in), the trio work together to prevent their ominous dreams from turning into reality.
Again, Lee has proven that he is indeed a powerhouse when comes to acting as he bagged the Top Excellence Award Actor in the 25th SBS Drama Awards for his role in this drama.
7.The Hymn of Death (2018)
Unlike his previous works which were more on the fantasy sides, Lee chose something closer to reality in 2018.
The Hymn of Death (2018) is based on true events, depicting the tragic romance between Korea’s first soprano Yun Sim-deok and the genius playwright, Kim Woo-jin.
Yun was the first Korean to study at the prestigious Tokyo Music School.
There in Japan, she met and fell in love with English literature student Kim Woo-jin.
The problem is, Kim was already married.
But this did not stop the couple to pursue a romantic relationship.
Unfortunately in 1926, the two lovers committed suicide by jumping off of a passenger ship en route from Simonoseki to Busan.
The news of the lovers was sensational and Yun’s final recording ‘Hymn of Death’ became the first popular Korean song in Japan.
8.Romance is a Bonus Book (2019)
It is story about 37 year-old Kang Dan-i (Lee Na-young) who has to restart her career after a divorce.
She joins a publishing company as a temporary task support team member.
The company’s editor in-chief Cha Eun-ho (Lee Jong-suk) is Dan-i’s longtime friend.
However, Dan-i does not know that her friend Eun-ho harbours romantic feelings for her.
The series also marked Lee’s final project before his military service enlistment on Mar 8, 2019.
In 2022, we expect to see Lee in the leading role of noir/legal drama ‘Big Mouth’ opposite Im Yoon-ah.
He will play an under-performing lawyer who gets entangled in a murder case.
So far, there is a lot of buzz surrounding the series as it is Lee’s first TV project following his discharge from the military in 2021.
In an interview with Esquire Korea, Lee revealed which two characters were his favourite roles that he played. They were Park Soo-ha in I Can Hear Your Voice and Cha Eun-ho in Romance is Bonus Book.
What are your favourite roles of Lee Jong-suk in his dramas? Let us know in the comment box.