Lee Jae Wook is a model and actor who has been featured in many prominent fashion publications such as High Cut Star Korea magazine and has starred in some of South Korea’s most popular kdramas such as “Memories of the Alhambra” (2018) in which he portrayed a ruthless and shady character named Marco Han; “Search: WWW” (2019) where he played the sweet and loveable Ji Hwan; “The Battle of Jangsari” (2019) his first full feature-length film in which he played a solider named Lee Gae Tae; “Extraordinary You” (2019) as the popular bad boy Baek Kyung, currently he’s playing the second lead in the romantic drama “I’ll Find You on A Beautiful Day”.
But just how did this actor –whom many online publications such as Kpopmap and Jazmine Media have named as one of the country’s fastest rising new actors — begin his successful career? What made him want to become an actor? And what is he like on and off the set? Let’s find out!
Lee Jae Wook is 22 years old and was born on May 10th, 1998 in Seoul, South Korea. From a young age Jae Wook was entertaining audiences as seen in this delightful childhood photograph of him in costume for a play.
Jae Wook first enrolled in Chung-Ang University in South Korea in 2018 where he majored in drama. In an interview for Marie Claire Korea magazine, Jae Wook briefly discussed how he first formed an interest in acting:
“During my school days, I took on a lot of part-time jobs. I did various jobs but acting was the first time I felt attracted to something and felt the desire to work hard for. I received acting lessons for the first time, and it seems that I got to this point while preparing for my entrance exam. I worked hard on my own, and after seeing myself gradually change, I really wanted to become an actor for my career.”
Jae Wook mentioned in an interview about “Extraordinary You” for MBC that he was initially inspired to act because he was “curious about it” and it seemed like a “fun” past time. It wasn’t long before acting became a serious venture for Jae Wook, and that by researching for his characters “whether by watching plays or reading novels” he became “fascinated by seeing this side of myself and that’s how I decided to join [acting].” He added that although acting is,
“really fun, and I’m satisfied. At the same time, it’s very difficult and stressful, but when I’m done with a project, I feel excited and happy…I get excited when we [the cast] receive recognition and approval.” He added to JTBCPLUS “the more I act, the more I realize the seriousness of this work.”
Not long after Jae Wook began his formal education, he was cast as a diabolical computer whiz and a hacker named Marco Han in the psychological thriller “Memories of the Alhambra” co-starring high profiled stars Hyun Bin, Park ShinHye and Park ChanYeol.
Jae Wook told a South Korean online publication of his “Memories of the Alhambra” experience that he first became aware of the production when he saw an audition notice posted in his acting school.
“I went to the audition after classes. After my first audition they asked me to come for the second one and I asked them not to choose me since the filming will be done in Spain and Hungary and I heard it’s a big scale film so I suddenly felt scared to do it…but it seems they took it in a cute way.”
After he was cast as Marco, Jae Wook spent his time overseas by “renting a kickboard scooter” and “sightseeing”. He jokingly mentioned in his interview that he “walked around at night in Marco’s makeup and peopled looked at me as if it was Halloween.”
Prior to acting in “Memories of the Alhambra” Jae Wook was not represented by an acting company nor did he have a manager. Reminiscing about his time as a young unsigned actor working overseas, Jae Wook told Dailian.co.kr:
“it was really hard. [But] now, I feel comfortable with a manager. It’s a shame that I couldn’t enjoy the overseas location because I was alone, and I didn’t know anything about it. Still I believe the experience at that time will help me.”
By Jae Wook stepping outside of his comfort zone to take on a very challenging role, he gave a marvelous performance –that catapulted him into the public eye– that so impressed his co-star Hyun Bin that the latter signed him as an actor to his prestigious talent agency VAST ENTERTAINMENT. Jae Wook once referred to his co-star and label mate that:
“Hyun Bin sunbeam wishes to see me grow continuously as an actor. He [doesn’t] give me many suggestions, but I feel assured with him around.”
While his role in “Memories of the Alhambra” remains fondly in audience’s hearts, arguably Jae Wook’s breakout role has been as the popular bad boy Baek Kyung in “Extraordinary You” co -starring the talented Kim Hye Yoon and Kim Seok Woo (aka Rowoon). Jae Wook said of the role to Herald Corp Pop News:
“Baek Kyung isn’t a character who’s just cold and rough, he’s also someone who is awkward at expressing himself, is possessive, and has a tender heart. I looked up many projects with dark vibes and studied them. During that process, I researched many emotions and expressions, and worked hard to portray Baek Kyung in my own way…”
Jae Wook recently provided insight on his current role in the drama “I’ll Find You on a Beautiful Day,” telling JTBC Plus,
“[Lee Jang Woo] is a bright, cheerful character and a mood-maker – the complete opposite of Baek Kyung. This character is very similar to my actual image as well, so I want to challenge myself with it. Actually, this could be my greed, and maybe I’ll bring a flawed image to the director. But once I auditioned and got selected, I don’t want to give up. Even if it’s over my physical strength, I am very ambitious to act. I will be hardworking. In the future, I will also participate in more works.”
So how else does Jae Wook prepare for the fantastic and memorable characters he plays to perfection? He told Marie Claire Korea magazine “…when he’s analyzing the characters he’s playing; he likes to draw mind maps with a pen to understand the role better.” Jae Wook said to TopStarNews “Even though my age is young, I wish to challenge myself to hone my acting skills.” Ideally, he wants to “try acting in a film noir genre…set in the 90’s”; he added humorously that he thinks that it is “every man’s fantasy” to do so. As for his favorite film noir he “likes all movies of that genre. They’re all so cool,” but that “Nameless: Gangster: Rules of the Time” was his preferred pick. He also told LIT NEWS that a film that has left the most favorable impression on him is the 1997 American Indie drama film “Good Will Hunting”. As for an actor he wants to work with in the future he chose Lee Soon Jae.
Now that we know a bit about Jae Wook as an actor it’s time to find out what he is like when he’s not on set. Speaking to Herald Corp Pop News, Jae Wook described his personality as “vibrant and positive.” Jae Wook rather modestly said of himself in an interview with XSportsNews as, “not that fun, but [that] I try to always be cheerful and enjoyable. Especially because I tend to be the youngest on set, [so] I try hard to bring energy.” Recently Jae Wook’s former “Extraordinary You” castmates showed their affection for the bright and happy actor by sending him and co-star Kim Young Dae a coffee truck to the set of “I’ll Find You on A Beautiful Day” along with a cute message that read “To Lee Jae Wook who looks like a baby when he smiles.”
Jae Wook is equally as popular off set as he is on, and is adjusting to fame and adoration from fans with humility and grace. He shared a bit of what his celebrity experience has been like to High Cut Star magazine: “Just a year ago, when I went to my regular cafe, I was one of the people who sat quietly and drank coffee. These days, there are many cases in which people say, ‘It’s Baek Kyung,’ or, ‘It’s Ji Hwan,’ and ask for my autograph….”
Addressing his social and acting life to various publications, Jae Wook said that there is a “big gap between my characters and my real personality’ and that off the set and behind the scenes “I show two complete different sides whether in the making videos or interviews.”
In his spare time, Jae Wook mentioned to JTBCPLUS,
“I often watch movies at home or go to the cinema alone. For me, it is a healing time, so I do things like that whenever I take a break. I am the type of person who finds it easy to eat and hang out alone. That “alone” time sometimes makes me feel lonely, but now I have found enjoyment because I got used to it.”
Finally, just how does Jae Wook want to be viewed by his fans? He told Dazed Korea magazine,
“Instead of thinking of an image, I want people to just see me as Lee Jae Wook. However, if a modifier had to be added in front of my name, I would like to have the title of ‘Trusted Actor.’ That’s the hardest part, so I’m going to try really hard.”
He stated to JTBCPLUS that he wants to “…become a person who always works hard and takes efforts in every work without forgetting the grateful heart.”
What do you think of actor Lee Jae Wook? Are you a fan? Let us know what you think of the rising talent below.
A word from the author:
This article was written by Karly (Lead Admin Lee Jae Wook Focus).
Lee Jae Wook Focus is the actor’s first American fan base and one that is followed on Instagram by a manager at VAST ENTERTAINMENT, we at Lee Jae Wook Focus hope lovers of fine acting will continue to support this amazing actor that brings vitality, great depth, versatility and intensity to every role he plays. You can follow LeeJaeWookFocus on Instagram for daily updates about the rising talent.