The cast of “Dong Yi” after 12 years: Leading actresses struggling in their love lives, Lee Kwang Soo happily dating, but the most successful is the child actress?

It has been over a decade since the legendary historical series “Dong Yi” aired its last episodes, and ever since, cast members have undergone massive life events. 

“Dong Yi” is a special K-drama made to celebrate the 49th year anniversary of the broadcasting station MBC. The series, which follows a commoner lady and her rises to become queen, is directed by Lee Byung Hoon – the man behind the sensational drama “Dae Jang Geum”. 

The spectacular cast of “Dong Yi”

With in-depth research, brilliant writing, and outstanding acting performances delivered by cast members, “Dong Yi” is regarded as one of Korea’s best historical dramas. Let’s find out how the series’ cast members have changed after a long 12 years.

1. Han Hyo Joo – Dong Yi 

Han Hyo Joo was shot to stardom after the success of “Dong Yi”. 

Born in 1987, actress Han Hyo Joo slowly gained popularity through various K-dramas like “Iljimae” and “Brilliant Legacy”, but only started to become an A-list celebrity after “Dong Yi”. In fact, the role has earned Han Hyo Joo a Daesang at MBC Drama Awards, and shot her to stardom all across Asia. 


Han Hyo Joo in “Love, Lies”

After “Dong Yi”, Han Hyo Joo received numerous invitations to star in new dramas and films. The actress took up “Cold Eyes” in 2013, and from this movie was crowned Best Actress at the Blue Dragon Film Awards 

Han Hyo Joo’s outstanding appearance landed her among the top beauties of Korea. She was  voted to be Korea’s best smile in a survey conducted by Seven Dew. 

Han Hyo Joo was named Best Actress at the prestigious Blue Dragon Film Awards at a super young age. 

However, Han Hyo Joo got into a serious controversy in 2014, after her younger brother was accused of bullying a soldier to death while he was in the military. Facing heavy criticism from the public, the actress had to go on hiatus, but managed to return strongly in the 2016 series “W: Two Worlds”, starring alongside actor Lee Jong Suk.

While Han Hyo Joo was surrounded by dating rumors with Lee Jong Suk and Kang Dong Won (her co-star in “Illang), for now, the 35-year-old actress is still beautifully single. 

 Han Hyo Joo and Lee Jong Suk used to be embroiled in dating rumors. 

2. Kim Yoo Jung – young Dong Yi 

In “Dong Yi”, Kim Yoo Jung played the younger version of the female lead Dong Yi. Despite being only 22, the actress already has 19 years of experience in the acting industry, and has appeared in over 50 projects, including both dramas and movies. She was even said to be a future historical queen, replacing her senior Han Hyo Joo in the near future. 

The famous child actress Kim Yoo Jung. 

In 2017, Kim Yoo Jung managed to rank 8th out of  the most influential celebrities in Korea, and was the youngest actress to make the list. Alongside other child actresses Kim So Hyun and Kim Sae Ron, Yoo Jung was considered to be the future of the Korean acting industry. 

Now grown up, Kim Yoo Jung easily sweeps people off their feet with her drop-dead gorgeous visuals. Directors praise the actress’s emotive eyes, and agree that Yoo Jung can easily deliver a wide range of emotions, from cold to gentle and from determined to weakened. 

Kim Yoo Jung looked like a whole goddess in “Love In The Moonlight”. 

While her returns in 2018 and 2020 in “Clean With Passion For Now” and “Backstreet Rookie” were not well-received, Kim Yoo Jung managed to rebuild her reputation via the historical project “Lovers of the Red Sky”. 

Kim Yoo Jun in “Backstreet Rookie”.

3. Lee Kwang Soo – Young Dal 

In “Dong Yi”, Lee Kwang Soo transformed into Young Dal, the best friend of Dong Yi. His unique styling and hilarious expressions managed to create an iconic character that suits Lee Kwang Soo’s brand of funny. 

Lee Kwang Soo’s hilarious character in “Dong Yi”

After participating in the hit variety show “Running Man”, Lee Kwang Soo became a well-known name all across Asia. From this show, the actor started gaining various nicknames from fans like “Giraffe”, “Resident Traitor”, and “Prince of Asia”. 

Lee Kwang Soo-Running man
Lee Kwang Soo earned the nickname “Giraffe” from the variety show “Running Man”.

In early 2021, Lee Kwang Soo regrettably announced his departure from Running Man after 11 years as a fixed cast member. Although he is most well-known as an entertainer with gifted variety skills, Lee Kwang Soo’s acting career is equally successful. In 2020, he won Best Supporting Actor in Film for his performance in the 2019 movie “Inseparable Bros”. After starring in back-to-back film projects, “Sinkhole” and “The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure” in the last 2 years, he recently made a small screen comeback in the ongoing drama “The Killer’s Shopping List.” 

Lee Kwang Soo-Seolhyun-The Killer's Shopping List
A rare serious character played by Lee Kwang Soo.

Lee Kwang Soo’s personal life also attracts much attention from the public. On the very last day of 2018, he took fans by surprise by confirming he was in a relationship with actress Lee Sun Bin. Currently, the two are still happily dating. 

The Lee couple is still happily dating

4. Ji Jin Hee – King Suk Jong

In “Dong Yi”, Ji Jin Hee transformed into King Suk Jong. Before “Dong Yi”, Ji Jin Hee shot to fame with his role in another legendary historical drama, “Dae Jang Geum”. Over the years, he maintained his reputation by playing the lead in well-received dramas such as “ He Who Can’t Marry”, “I Have a Lover”, “Misty”, “Designated Survivor: 60 Days” and “Undercover”.

The regal King Suk Jong in “Dong Yi”

Off the screen, Ji Jin Hee is happily married to graphic designer Lee Soo Yeon. The two tied the knot in 2004. When he appeared on the TV show “Taxi”, Ji Jin Hee expressed his affection for his wife, saying, “I am always grateful for you. I love you”.

Actor Ji Jin Hee has a perfect marriage with his wife.

In 2021, Ji Jin Hee starred in three consecutive works, including “Undercover”, “Move to Heaven”, and “The Road: Tragedy of One”. With a perfect marriage and smooth-sailing career, the actor leads a life many would be jealous of. 

5. Lee So Yeon – Jang Hee Bin

The three main female characters of “Dong Yi” 

Lee So Yeon’s personal life in reality shares many similarities to her character Jang Hee Bin in “Dong Yi”. In 2015, Lee So Yeon married a businessman 2 years younger than her, but the two ended up calling it quits after 3 years of living together.

Lee So Yeon on her wedding day. 

Although her popularity is not as prominent as the rest of “Dong Yi” cast, Lee So Yeon still earns herself a certain place in Korea’s entertainment industry. Besides “Dong Yi”, Lee So Yeon is most known for her roles in dramas such as “Temptation of an Angel”, “Spring Waltz”, “Ruby Ring”, “My Love By My Side”,… Last year, she returned to the small screen after a long time with a lead role in “Miss Monte-Cristo”. 

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