Best Jun Ji-hyun K-dramas & Movies
You’re not alone if Jun Ji-hyun was your first entry into Korean films or K-dramas. The superstar has acted in some huge blockbusters as well as popular K-dramas that have reached cult-like status. And since she has been staying away from the limelight for the past few years, fans couldn’t help but miss her when she finally returned to our silver screens with the action melodrama Jirisan.
Well, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some of her best works while we wait for her next exciting project!
Legend of the Blue Sea (2016)
The Little Mermaid meets a con artist in this fun fantasy drama where Jun Ji-hyun plays the mermaid Shim Cheong. But she’s not our naïve little Arial as she uses her Prince Charming (yes, we know it’s supposed to be Prince Eric), Heo Joon-jae to live above the water, while he uses Shim Cheong’s treasure to get rich.
As one of the most popular K-dramas in recent years, it is home to several iconic memes like Lee Min-ho’s “disgorsting shit” and Jun Ji-hyun’s exaggerated dark circles after binge-watching soap operas all night.
Based on the true story of rangers who managed the Jirisan National Park, the thriller suspense follows a team of rangers who have to face life-threatening challenges. They try to uncover the mystery of Jirisan while saving its visitors who are either lost or taken there to be killed. Ji-hyun plays chief ranger, Seo Yi-kang who is attuned to nature and can find a lost trekker just based on her observation skills.
The confident and pessimistic Yi-kang’s attitude toward’s life changes as she meets the rookie Hyun-jo.
My Love From The Star (2013)
Have you ever wanted a sci-fi that focuses less on the technical aspect and more on the characters? Then My Love From The Star is for you as it follows Do Min-joon, a powerful alien who has been stuck on Earth for the last 400 years. Just as he finds out that he has to go home in the next 3 months, he falls in love with Cheon Song-yi, the biggest actress in South Korea and his neighbour.
Ji-hyun plays the arrogant Song-yi whose career spirals downward as her reputation worsens with Min-joon the only one who can help her.
Kingdom: Ashin of the North (2021)
Netflix’s very first original K-drama Kingdom just keeps rising and rising and its latest instalment finally gave us a glimpse at how the zombie apocalypse began. Ji-hyun portrays the vengeful Ashin who has no qualms about destroying the world as long as she can have her revenge, even if that means spreading the zombie virus. And while Kingdom: Ashin of the North was a prequel, we wonder if she will be a friend or a foe to Yi Chang’s team of survivors who hope to end the apocalypse in the upcoming season 3.
The Thieves (2012)
Remember the legendary fancam of Jun Ji-hyun stripping after her mission, showering under a burst pipe and pretending to be a resident whom the SWAT team rescue only for them to later realize that she was the thief they were looking for? Well, that’s from the hilarious heist film The Thieves where a ragtag group of criminals decide to steal a diamond necklace from a casino in Macau. Ji-hyun portrays the stealthy Yenicall who uses her charms to smoothly pull off dangerous robberies.
My Sassy Girl (2001)
My Sassy Girl is a fun rom-com where boy meets girl, they fall in love, overcome hurdles and have a happy ending. But the synopsis does not do justice as this was the movie that dominated 2001 and was responsible for Jun Ji-hyun’s shot to fame.
She plays the sassy girl who has a weird meet-cute with Gyun-woo, a playboy. But she constantly keeps him on his toes making the viewers wonder if he can keep up. While some of the jokes may not have aged well as seen in most rom-coms of the early 2000s, it is still a feel-good movie to watch when you need a pick-me-up.
While Windstruck is not as famous as My Sassy Girl, it is considered a prequel thanks to the sassy protagonist. Ji-hyun plays policewoman Kyung-jin who is a badass and is always ready to take action. She teams up with Myung-woo to patrol the neighbourhood after she mistakes him for a criminal. And while it may come off as a rom-com of a strong-willed police officer and a righteous teacher, the second half of the film is a melodrama that will have you reaching for your tissues.
Il Mare (2000)
Sure, we have some popular English movies getting Korean remakes. But did you know that the sci-fi romantic movie Lake House with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock was a remake of Il Mare?
Yep, Il Mare is the blueprint for time-travel romances like Your Name, The Time Traveler’s Wife and Midnight In Paris. Ji-hyun’s Eun-joo writes a letter during 1999 Christmas that is received by a stranger who claims that the year is 1997. A lonely Eun-joo decides to take a leap of faith as she falls for a man she has never met and who isn’t even in the same timeline as her.
What’s better than a love triangle where you root for both men to end up with the girl? A love triangle where life and death are at stake. Ji-hyun’s Hye-yeong, the centre of attraction in Daisy, not only catches the eye of a detective but also an assassin that the detective is chasing.
Unbeknownst to Hye-yeong, a cat-and-mouse game ensues while all she wants to do is have her own exhibition and become a famous artist. And while you may have started the film for Ji-hyun, you will end up staying for the misunderstood criminal who knows that he doesn’t deserve love.
No, don’t worry, not all of Ji-hyun’s movies end in tears though she may have a soft spot for melodrama! If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, Assassination is the movie to go for as this period film is all guns, martial arts and blood. To save his country during the 1900s occupation, a secret agent recruits a team of killers to take down a Japanese officer. Ji-hyun is cast as Ahn Ok-yoon, a rebel who joins the team with a mysterious past that could end up derailing their mission.
And there we have it, our list of the best Jun Ji-hyun K-dramas and movies of all time!
What do you think of our list? Have we included your favourites? Or have we missed any must-watch K-dramas or movies? We love to hear from you so do feel free to let us know in the comments below.