Moving past the image of “nation’s little sister” IU, actress Lee Ji Eun is heading to Cannes for her portrayal of a single mother 

Expectations are high for IU, who is entering her 30s and no longer has the image of a 16-year-old who sang “I like you oppa, what do I do?”. 

Singer and actress Lee Ji Eun (IU) shook off her image of a “nation’s little sister” and took on an acting challenge by transforming into a single mother. She plays So Young, a single mother who abandoned her baby in a baby box in the upcoming Korean movie “Broker”, directed by Japanese film master Hirokazu Koreeda.

Broker”, which also stars top actors including Song Kang Ho, Kang Dong Won, and Bae Doo Na, has been selected for the competition section of the prestigious 75th Cannes International Film Festival

Lee Ji Eun has reached the peak of her career as a singer but is close to a rookie as a movie actress. She said at the press conference held at CGV Yongsan in Seoul on May 10th, “I wonder if there will be another day like this in my life,” adding, “I will study hard and have fun.”


Steadily building up her filmography… Impresses director Hirokazu Koreeda with “My Mister”

In fact, since she first made her acting debut, Lee Ji Eun has been working hard to solidify her filmography. It was the role of Kim Pil Sook, an art high school student with an amazing singing talent who dreams of becoming a star but struggles because of her big size, in the 2011 KBS2 drama “Dream High” that helped her garner attention as an actress in the early days. 

Lee Ji eun had a petite physique at the time, but she put in a lot of effort and pushed ahead with a special makeup to successfully play Pil Sook. In the drama that starred Kim Soo Hyun, Suzy, Ok Taec Yeon, Ham Eun Jung, and Woo Young, she still stood out.

After achieving great success as a singer, she has been working hard as a drama actress. She appeared alongside Jo Jung Suk in the role of Lee Soon Shin, the female protagonist of the 2013 KBS2’s weekend drama “You Are The Best”, followed by KBS2’s “Bel Ami” with Jang Geun Suk. In 2015, she reunited with Kim Soo Hyun in KBS2’s “THE Producers”, and worked together with Lee Joon Gi in SBS’s “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” the following year. 


In “Bel Ami”, she played a girl who is devoted to her first love. In “THE Producers”, she played top star Cindy who hides her loneliness, and in “Moon Lovers”, she delivered a touching portrayal of a woman from the 21st century who traveled back in time to the Goryeo era. All of these roles have shown off Lee Ji Eun’s colorful on-screen image.

The most unforgettable acting performance of Lee Ji Eun is in tvN’s “My Mister” (2018). If her previous works had a strong reliance on the image of singer IU, in “My Mister”, she captivated viewers as a young adult in her 20s, who is hurt by the world and alienated from society. Jung Deok Hyun, a pop culture critic, said, “‘My Mister’ is a work that breaks the existing color of singer IU and gave a turning point to actress Lee Ji Eun.” As “My Mister” was released in 190 countries around the world through global OTT platform Netflix, the fandom of actress Lee Ji Eun, not singer IU, became more solid. 


Director Hirokazu Koreeda of “Broker” also confessed that he became a fan of Lee Ji Eun while watching “My Mister” during the pandemic. He said, “In the second half of ‘My Mister’, I shed tears in the scene where Lee Ji Eun appeared.” The era of actress Lee Ji Eun, who earns praise from a world-famous director, has now come.


Starting her 30s by playing a single mother… Acting praised by Song Kang Ho and going to Cannes 

Lee Ji Eun turned 30 this year in Korean age and the first role that marks this important milestone of her life is to portray a single mother. This is a significant transformation and serves as a way for Lee Ji Eun, who still has a strong image of “nation’s little sister” IU due to her small figure and cute appearance, to confirm that she has grown up and matured as an actress. 


The role of So Young in “Broker” is an upgraded version of Lee Ji An in “My Mister”. If Lee Ji An is a wounded soul in her early 20s who has not yet been tainted by society, So Young presents an image of a more mature adult. Lee Ji Eun tried smokey makeup for the first time to transform into So Young. Her thick makeup and long hair that comes down to her waist are also means of expressing So Young’s desperate feelings that force her to abandon her child.


She also became skinnier for “Broker”. An official from Lee Ji Eun’s agency, Edam Entertainment, said, “Lee Ji Eun takes self-management seriously. Not only did she look for the director’s previous works, but she also went on a diet to fit her role. She didn’t tell the company this time either, but I think she underwent a diet.”

Lee Ji Eun’s impressive efforts were recognized by veteran actor Song Kang Ho. Song Kang Ho praised Lee Ji Eun’s acting, saying, “I was amazed at Lee Ji Eun’s expressions and how she conveyed the character’s emotions while monitoring the scene where So Young has a conversation with the two detectives on the rooftop.”

Lee Ji Eun said with a laugh, “Song Kang Ho sunbaenim finished filming that day but he did not leave work and was waiting for me. He later told me, ‘I monitored the scene and it was so good.’ And I was moved by what he said. The moment he told me that was like a movie scene. It became the most memorable scene of my whole life. I came home and bragged about it to my parents too.”


Lee Ji Eun is reminiscent of Hollywood top star, Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga, who started out as a famous singer, has also become a successful and highly recognized actress. She won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actress for her movie “A Star Is Born” (2018) and the New York Critics’ Association Award for Best Actress for “House of Gucci” (2021). Critic Jung predicted, “Just like her career as a singer, who started as an idol and grew into an artist, Lee Ji Eun’s acting will become more mature through experiences.”

Source: Daum

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