5 things to know about Squid Game's Lee Jung-jae, a star of the hit Netflix K-drama – and former fashion model, interior designer and real estate tycoon

Asia's Tech News Daily

Netflix’s new biggest show, being multitalented, Samsung’s chairman, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Who would have thought that a South Korean survival drama series would become Netflix’s new biggest show? Since its release in mid-September, Squid Game has taken the world by storm for its grotesque, surreal and captivating plot. Starring veteran actor Lee Jung-jae, it offers a wild ride as 456 debt-ridden contestants compete in deadly versions of children’s games for a hefty cash prize.

Lee plays the kind-hearted gambling addict, Seong Gi-hun, who winds up joining the high-stakes game. He soon won our hearts as by showing his empathy for the other money-hungry participants.

Netflix’s new biggest show, being multitalented, Samsung’s chairman, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Lee Jung-jae behind the scenes of Squid Game. Photo: @netflixkr/Instagram

Even before starring in Squid Game, Lee was already a household name in South Korea. As the 48-year-old actor navigates his new-found international stardom, let’s get to know him better through these key facts.

He was scouted as a model while working at a cafe

Netflix’s new biggest show, being multitalented, Samsung’s chairman, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Lee Jung-jae in the movie Typhoon (2005). Photo: Handout

Acting hasn’t always been Lee’s bread and butter. Though he grew up in a wealthy family, he started working from a young age at a local cafe in Apgujeong, Seoul.

Netflix’s new biggest show, being multitalented, Samsung’s chairman, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Lee Jung-jae and Son Ji-chang. Photo: hancinema.net

It was there that a designer named Ha Yong-soo discovered the young lad’s smouldering looks. After being a fashion model for a couple of years, Lee jumped into the acting scene and made his debut in the 1993 Korean TV drama Dinosaur Teacher.

He owns a string of businesses

Netflix’s new biggest show, being multitalented, Samsung’s chairman, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Lee Jung-jae has won hearts across the world with his role in Squid Game. Photo: @leejungjaevn/Instagram

Fortunately for this prolific actor, he would never have to join a sadistic competition like the one in Squid Game IRL. Even if Lee calls it a day as an actor, he will continue to rake in money from his businesses.

Netflix’s new biggest show, being multitalented, Samsung’s chairman, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Lee Jung-jae. Photo: @leejungjaevn/Instagram

He owns a chain of upscale Italian restaurants named after his hit film, Il Mare, and a real estate development company called Seorim C&D. Lee also founded the entertainment label, Artist Company, together with his long-time actor friend Jung Woo-sung.

He has a keen eye for interior design

Netflix’s new biggest show, being multitalented, Samsung’s chairman, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Lee Jung-jae in a promotional shot for Netflix Korea. Photo: @actor_jungjaelee/Instagram

Talk about being multitalented! Lee apparently has a background in interior design, too. KoreaBoo reports that he entered art school after graduating from university and obtained a master’s degree from Dongguk University’s Department of Theatre & Film.

Netflix’s new biggest show, being multitalented, Samsung’s chairman, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Lee Jung-jae’s character in Squid Game is serious, but also provided comic relief at times. Photo: @mawunderkammer/Instagram

He has applied his design skills to his real estate development company and Italian restaurants.

He made history at the Blue Dragon Film Awards

Netflix’s new biggest show, being multitalented, Samsung’s chairman, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Lee Jung-jae. Photo: @actor_jungjaelee/Instagram

With a career spanning almost three decades, it’s no surprise that Lee has a plethora of accolades under his belt. According to Koreanfilm.org, the multiple award-winning actor claimed a rare achievement at age 21 by bagging the best newcomer awards from the three most prestigious award ceremonies in Korea – the Blue Dragon Film Awards, the Baeksang Arts Awards and the Grand Bell Awards.

Netflix’s new biggest show, being multitalented, Samsung’s chairman, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Lee Jung-jae in Sunrise City. Photo: kobis.or.kr

At 26, Lee also became the youngest to win best actor at the Blue Dragon Film Awards with the film, Sunrise City.

He’s dating an heiress

Netflix’s new biggest show, being multitalented, Samsung’s chairman, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Lee Jung-jae’s stunning looks. Photo: @actor_jungjaelee/Instagram

Sorry, but this oppa isn’t available for a date – that’s because he has already set his eyes on his long-time girlfriend, Lim Se-ryung.

Netflix’s new biggest show, being multitalented, Samsung’s chairman, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Lim Se-ryung and Lee Jung-jae. Photos: cherry.longlove1.kr/430

She is the eldest daughter of Lim Chang-wook, chairman of Korean food giant Daesang Group, and the ex-wife of Samsung’s chairman Lee Jae-yong. According to The Korea Times, the Squid Game star has been dating the New York University graduate since 2015.

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