It’s a fact of life that all able-bodied South Korean men have to fulfill their mandatory military duties for their country. Top stars aren’t exempt from this, either. Due to a severe injury he suffered during his teenage years, Lee will be enlisting as a public service worker — rather than active duty —  according to his A-MAN Project. As actor Lee Jong-Suk gets ready to begin his 22-month enrollment on Friday, March 8, let’s take a look at his life … and some of his most iconic work.

Age: 29

Life before acting: He was a top runway model. At the age of just 16, the 6-foot 1-inch Lee became the youngest male model to strut down the catwalk of 2005’s Seoul Fashion Week.

Idol: Not surprisingly, he was scouted by entertainment agencies and was a trainee with SM for a few months. But, singing and dancing weren’t his thing.

Boyfriend: A very young and curly-haired Lee appeared as an inattentive boyfriend in the music video for one of my favorite 2NE1 songs, “I Don’t Care.”

Lee is so charismatic that viewers willingly watched him in “7 First Kisses,” which was a ridiculously cheesy ad for Lotte Duty Free Shop that was disguised as a K-Drama. I hope he got paid a lot, because this web series was awful. (And yet, I watched the entire thing, because … Lee Jong-Suk.) This was an easy role for him: playing a charming star whose job it is to make women fall in love with him.

Lee made his acting debut with a small role in the 2005 film, “Sympathy.” But it wasn’t until 2010 that he began to really pursue acting. He landed roles in the film “Ghost,” as well as the K-Dramas “Prosecutor Princess” and “Secret Garden.” (In the latter, Lee played a pivotal role — that of a musical prodigy, who was also later revealed to be gay.) One of his most popular K-Dramas is “Doctor Stranger,” where he played a brilliant North Korean surgeon who flees to South Korea after the death of his father.

One of my all-time favorite Lee Jong-Suk dramas is “While You Were Sleeping.” I’m a sucker for dramas where the protagonists knew each other as children. I really enjoyed watching how this was revealed in this series. The concept of the drama was clever, too, with various characters dreaming about each other seemingly at random.

Director Jung Dae-Yoon described “W” as “story of a man and a woman who discover their reason for existence, while living in different dimensions in Seoul.” This is one of the most unique K-Dramas I’ve ever watched and Lee did an admirable job of portraying a man trapped inside another world, which was all too real for him and his loved ones. Supported by a stellar cast, including leading lady Han Hyo-Joo, Lee had viewers worried about how his character would survive. SPOILER ALERT: We learn that he was the creation of the female lead, who during her high school years dreamed up her ideal man and he turned out to be Lee Jong-Suk. Erm, I mean he turned out to be the character that Lee played.

In “Romance is a Bonus Book” — Lee’s final K-Drama prior to entering the military — he portrays an author/book editor, who finds himself falling in love with his noona crush (Lee Na-Young). The two have a long history together — she literally saved his life when they were children. The most poignant moment for me (thus far) was when she reveals her fears about changing the dynamics of their relationship. He is her person. If they date and then break up, they can’t go back to being just friends again … and she will lose her person. The series is set to air through March 17 on Korea’s cable network tvN.

Do you all remember Lee’s character in “Pinocchio”? Dal-Po had quite the head of unfortunate hair. Try to keep that image in mind when photos of Lee with his newly-shorn hair start appearing on your timeline. And don’t forget to re-watch “Pinocchio” right here on KOCOWA.

We wish Lee Jong-Suk a healthy 22 months of service. And for those who’re counting down the days until he is discharged, the magic date is January 2, 2021. Fighting!

Be sure to follow @GoAwayWithJae, where I tweet about all things Korean.


  1. Avatar

    love lee jong-suk and i’m so glad he’s back! thank you for this awesome article!

  2. Avatar
    Tikki Duo Olie Reply

    Great, thanks for sharing this article.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on…

  3. Avatar

    This design is incredible! You definitely know how to keep a
    reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my
    own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job.
    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you
    presented it. Too cool!

  4. Avatar

    Great article on a great actor! Thank you for this awesome article!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Avatar

    Keep up the great work. I will return for more reports on my favorite actors hopefully more on Lee Jong Suk!!

  6. Avatar

    he is one of my favorite actors and i will miss him so much. thank you for writing this article and reminding us fans why Lee Jong-Suk is such a treasure!!!

    • Jae-Ha Kim

      Candace, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I know we all miss him and look forward to the amazing comeback he surely will have in 2021!

  7. Avatar
    eebest8 fiverr Reply

    “I am so grateful for your article.Really thank you! Will read on…”

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    He’s done so many dramas and a lot of them have really great scripts. I didn’t realize how much of my screen time he was a part of. My screen feels a little lonely now. Knowing him he’ll probably have an epic comeback and that’s definitely worth waiting for. Can’t wait! 기다릴게요 배우님. 화이팅!!!💖💖

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    I will miss you so much and your acting skills. Take care 💜 I love you💜

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    Thank you so much Jae-Ha Kim for writing this article about Lee Jong Suk. I’m a devoted & loyal fan of his not only because of his acting skills but also his honest, humble, and kind personality. My family & I admire him from afar but his good character exudes on screen, on live TV, & on print. We’ll await his return from military service & include him in our prayers & best wishes.

    • Jae-Ha Kim

      Thank you for your kind words, Nene. I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. And I agree with you on why he is so appealing. There are many good looking actors, but Lee Jong-Suk really has that “it” factor that makes people riveted. Have a great weekend!

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      Totally agree. Great actor and just a really decent person, too. He is a favorite in our house, too.

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    Lawanda Southerland Reply

    We will miss the most handsome with the biggest smile amazing actor Lee Jong-Suk. Stay safe and healthy. Proud of the guys servicing there country.

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    I will miss a brilliant and amazing actor. Wish him safe and healthy while serving the army. Will wait for Lee Jong Suk’s return, in the meantime, remain his unwavering fan.

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    Yashashree Jadhav Reply

    Awww he is set to be discharged on my birthday in 2 years!
    We will miss you Lee Jong Suk!
    I’ve been watching his dramas since Secret Garden!

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