Lee Yoo-ri is a well-known South Korean actress and entrepreneur. Lee made her screen debut in 2000 with a minor role in the series ‘Hur Jun’ and made her official debut in 2001 with back-to-back appearances in three dramas. Never quite achieving true stardom, she continued to appear in various supporting or minor roles in television series throughout the years, until 2011. It was the year she finally received recognition for her acting abilities, following her breakout performance as an antagonist in the series ‘Twinkle Twinkle’. Following this award-winning stint, she returned in a supporting role in the series ‘Jong Bo-ri’ is here. She finally established herself as a strong competent actor after winning the Daesung Award for her performance. In the same year, Gallup Korea named her to its illustrious list of ‘Actors of the Year,’ with Lee taking second place. Apart from acting, she has acted as a spokesperson for a number of popular South Korean brands, and her frequent appearances in commercials keep her in the public eye. In 2010, she married her theologian boyfriend Jo Kye-hun.
Childhood & Adolescence
Lee Yoo-ri was born in a middle-class family in Seoul, South Korea on 28th January 1980. She was the youngest of six siblings, with an older brother and two older sisters.
Always a fan of dramas, she envisioned herself as an actor during her childhood and eventually began training herself through school plays.
With an artistic bent to her life, she was constantly immersed in books, paintings, and music, and admired the way artists lived their lives. Acting had been put on hold during her high school years as she pursued a career as a painter or musician.
After graduating from high school and enrolling at Kyewon University of Arts & Design, she rekindled her interest in acting and began giving auditions after auditions, eventually landing a few small roles in television productions.
Career of Lee
Lee’s first appearance in front of the camera was in 1999’s ‘Hur Jun,’ where she was cast as an extra as one of the court maids.
She finally landed a better role in 2001, in the youth series ‘School 4’, an anthology television series, which she claims was her debut.
She was cast as Empress Sunmyeong in the period drama ‘Empress Myeongseong’ the following year. Lee appeared in only a few episodes of both series, and the roles she was offered did not improve in the subsequent series.
Lee was being written off as just another pretty face with no talent, and as she continued to appear in smaller roles in series such as ‘Argon’, ‘Wife’, ‘Twenty’, and ‘Yellow Handkerchief’, she considered quitting.
In 2004, she made her first and only film appearance, in the low-budget horror film ‘Bunshinsaba’. Although the film was not widely distributed and remained largely unknown, it received critical acclaim and screened at numerous film festivals worldwide. This was also the first time Lee demonstrated that she can deliver a chilling performance in the right roles.
But it just wasn’t her time yet. Though the roles improved, Lee’s desire to establish herself as a great actor remained unsatisfied. She joined the cast of ‘Mom’s dead upset’ in 2008, playing the role of an innocent sweet working girl who gets the shock of her life when she discovers her boyfriend is a wealthy man.
And then, over the next couple of years, things began to improve. She got offered the leading parts in the series’ ‘Daring Women’ and ‘I Love you, don’t Cry’. Although neither series was a ratings success, Lee received a major award nomination for the former, and it was the offer that followed these two series that catapulted her career forward.
She underwent a dramatic transformation for the 2011 television series ‘Twinkle Twinkle,’ in which she portrayed a villain. She portrayed a young poor girl who discovers she was born into a wealthy family and was switched at birth. She is determined to change her circumstances and is prepared to destroy anything that stands in her way.
Lee wowed audiences at both the Korea Drama Awards and the MBC Drama Awards, earning top acting accolades for her chilling performance.
Another successful stint followed the following year in the form of the drama ‘Ice Adonis,’ in which Lee portrayed an innocent sweet girl, in stark contrast to her previous villainous role. The drama was a smash hit, topping the charts for 18 consecutive weeks, earning Lee widespread acclaim and paving the way for her to land additional, more interesting roles.
‘Jang Bo-ri is Here!’, the series premiered in 2014 and immediately soared to success, cementing Lee’s reputation as one of the best actors of the era. It turned out to be Lee’s most successful year professionally, as she won every other major award for her portrayal of a poor born girl willing to do anything to become wealthy.
Other than sweeping the Daesang Award at the MBC Drama Awards for ‘Jang Bo-ri is Here!’, she won a PD Award and received nomination for the Top Excellence Award. Gallup Korea, taken aback by her success, included her in their list of the Top Korean Actors of the Year, placing her second.
In 2015, she starred in a romantic comedy drama titled ‘Super Daddy Yeol,’ in which she endearingly portrayed a single mother, a strong-willed woman who learns she is terminally ill and is now searching for the best possible father for her daughter.
Her performance in the lighthearted role, complete with layers of depressive sad woman, earned her widespread acclaim from critics.
In 2016, she starred as twins in the drama ‘The Promise,’ which was a moderate commercial and critical success but earned Lee an Excellence Award and a KBS Drama Award for Best Actress in a Daily Drama.
In 2017, she had another extremely eventful and successful year of her career, appearing in four successful series consecutively. After appearing in cameo roles in ‘Unni is Alive’ and ‘Strongest Deliveryman,’ she starred in the family comedy drama ‘My Father is Strange,’ which followed a happy family as they welcome a young man who claims to be a part of them. Lee was named Actress of the Year at the Brand of the Year Awards for her performance.
Private Life of Lee
Lee Yoo-ri met theologian Jo Kye-hun in 2008 during one of her bible studies, and the two began dating the following year, eventually marrying in 2010. Lee is a devout Christian who converted to Christianity from Buddhism in 2002.
Estimated Net Worth
The estimated net worth of Lee Yoo-ri is $3.5 million.