Jun Ji Hyun has made a comeback this 2021 after a 5-year hiatus with some good projects under her name. She took the lead role for the period zombie thriller, Kingdom: Ashin of the North, a sidequel to the famous Netflix series. This much-awaited special episode was released worldwide in July of 2021.
However, Ji Hyun’s small screen comeback didn’t stop there as she now stars in the mystery thriller drama Jirisan. The drama is written by Kingdom screenwriter Kim Eun Hee, and she stars opposite Ju Ji Hoon.
Again, Jun Ji Hyun’s name is in the headlines, and fans are anticipating and supporting this comeback! There’s also a new crop of viewers who are discovering her talent. So, for those who still haven’t caught up with this Hallyu superstar yet, here are 12 interesting facts to know about her!
1. Her name wasn’t always Jun Ji Hyun!
Prior to her acting career, Jun Ji Hyun was actually known as Wang Ji Hyun! It all started when Ji Hyun starred in the 1998 drama “Steal My Heart,” and producer Oh Jong Rok suggested that she use a pseudonym upon casting her. He felt that “Wang Ji Hyun” didn’t roll off the tongue so well as the other actresses’ names. This would eventually serve as the catalyst for Jun Ji Hyun’s name change.
Since Ji Hyun is an international actress with a superstar reputation, she also has a name she goes by in other countries. She may be Jun Ji-hyun at home, but she also goes by her English name, Gianna Jun. It’s her way of allowing people to recognize her throughout the world, and it’s working for her!
2. Her dreams were hitched somewhere else, not acting
Jun Ji Hyun wanted to become a flight attendant when she was young, but she changed her mind after a particularly stirring flight experience. Even though she had to shelve that dream to work in the skies, she was destined to soar high thanks to her tall, slender, and gorgeous physique which was impossible to ignore. Her mother’s friends encouraged her to be a model. It didn’t take long for her to land her first modeling gig with Ecole magazine, and from there, everything snowballed into the superstardom she is enjoying now.
3. She has always been praised for her visuals
Even as a student, Ji Hyun was admired for her goddess-like visuals. According to singer Ock Joo Hyun who went to the same middle school as her, the actress has often received compliments for her beauty as well and wit. He goes on to describe that male students were often in awe of her because she looks like she came out of a manhwa (Korean comic).
4. She’s a blockbuster queen
Jun Ji Hyun started in the entertainment business in the late 1990s. But her claim to fame was her award-winning film, My Sassy Girl in which she bagged the Best Actress trophy at the 39th Grand Bell Awards. This movie remains to be one of the highest-grossing Korean comedies of all time! It sold 4,852,845 tickets nationwide with 1,765,100 of those coming from Seoul alone after its 10-week stint in theatres. It remains to be a must-watch even to this day, for those who haven’t seen it.
5. She is now married and a mother of two
Jun Ji Hyun married her long-time friend, Choi Joon Hyuk on April 13th, 2012 at the world-famous Shilla Hotel in Seoul. Joon Hyuk is the grandson of renowned hanbok designer Lee Young Hee, and the son of popular fashion designer Lee Jeon Won. The couple is the same age and they were childhood friends. Together, they have two sons, their firstborn they welcomed in 2016 and their second son in 2018.
6. My Love From the Star was one of Ji Hyun’s most successful drama
Long before this 2013 fantasy rom-com was released, Ji Hyun was already a household name in South Korea. However, My Love From the Star only widened her clout as many came to love her even more as the bratty Hallyu superstar, Cheon Song Yi. She even won a Daesang (Grand Prize) for it at the esteemed 50th Baeksang Arts Awards. It also helped that she was paired with the equally celebrated Kim Soo Hyun. This drama even went on to receive the President’s Award. So, if you aren’t caught up yet, this extraterrestrial rom-com is something to add to your watchlist.
7. She made a Hollywood crossover
The Korean actress also made a Hollywood debut in 2006 with the movie Blood: The Last Vampire. She also starred in other movies like The Thieves and The Berlin File. She became the first Korean actress to be featured in the American Vogue which was photographed by none other than Annie Leibovitz.
8. She’s Korea’s highest paid actress
For 2021, Ji Hyun is named as the highest-earning Korean celebrity with a reported income of 15million USD. She is currently paid 99,900 USD per episode, making her the highest-paid actress in Kdramaland. Besides her stream of acting projects, Ji Hyun also makes rakes in handsome fees from her endorsements.
9. She is one of “The Troika”
If you are a K-drama fan, you would know that there is a handful of actresses that are considered the biggest stars as they are well-loved belles on-screen. Ji Hyun’s success both in film and TV has established her as one of Hallyu’s top superstars. She is even one of The Troika along with Kim Tae Hee and Song Hye Kyo, collectively known by the acronym “Tae-Hye-Ji”.
10. She is one of the most in-demand endorsers in South Korea
Ji Hyun’s star power remains to be magnetic as ever, which is why brands continue to love her even with new faces coming to the fore! She was even hailed as the “Advertisement Queen” in 2014. Back then she was said to have signed a total of 25 commercials. After starring in My Love From The Star, her advertisement fees are said to be 870,000 USD for each commercial. She made a total advertising revenue of approximately 17.4 million USD. Ji Hyun is currently the face of the British fashion house, Alexander McQueen.
11. She remains to be a K-fashion icon
Ever since her first debut in the Korean Style Magazine Ecole (1997), Jun Ji Hyun always earned a lot of positive feedback for her all-around fashion sense. Her outstanding Korean beauty never fails to excite fans, and her sense of fashion only seems to highlight that even more. Fashion critics would even comment that Ji Hyun does not wear the clothes but, rather, the clothes wear her because she always looks amazingly beautiful. Unlike other celebrities in the spotlight, Jun Ji Hyun has never received criticism for her fashion sense. She is always on-trend and also creates her own standard for fans to follow suit.
12. She owns a string of expensive properties
With all the money Jun Ji Hyun puts in her bank, it’s good to know that she invests it smartly. She places her hard-earned money in real estate with properties including a building in Gangnam worth 15 million USD and three houses with a total cost of 16 million.