Son Ye-jin (born Son Eon-jin on January 11, 1982) is a South Korean actress. She rose to fame in 2003 for The Classic and Summer Scent, which followed with the commercially successful A Moment to Remember (2004), and April Snow (2005). Her early roles in films garnered her the title, “Nation’s First Love” in Korea.
She since has won various acting recognitions and acted in high-profile films including Alone in Love (2006), My Wife Got Married (2008), The Pirates (2014), the 2016 films The Truth Beneath and The Last Princess, and The Negotiation (2018). She has also acted in the successful television dramas Personal Taste (2010), Something in the Rain (2018) and Crash Landing on You (2019–2020).
2000–2005: Beginnings and East Asia stardom
Son Ye-jin was the voice of Jung Mi-jo in Park Ki-hyung’s film Secret Tears in 2000, and then went on to take the leading role in television dramas such as Delicious Proposal, Sun-hee and Jin-hee, and Great Ambition. Her first high-profile role in cinema was in Im Kwon-taek‘s Chi-hwa-seon, which screened at Cannes and took home a Best Director award in 2002.
The biggest success of her early career was in the subsequent films Lovers’ Concerto and The Classic. Both were solid mid-level hits in Korea, and The Classic in particular — being a work of My Sassy Girl director Kwak Jae-yong — received wide exposure in regions such as Hong Kong and mainland China, and launched Son into East Asia stardom.
Son further solidified her status as a Hallyu (Korean Wave) star in 2003 by taking the lead in TV drama Summer Scent, the third installment of season-themed tetralogy Endless Love drama series directed by Yoon Seok-ho.
Her next films also gained massive popularity in East Asia particularly in Japan: A Moment to Remember, based on a famous Japanese series, set box office records in Japan and sold over two million tickets in Korea, and April Snow in which she co-starred with superstar Bae Yong-joon was also a hit in Japan and China. Son, who adorned a pure and innocent image in her films The Classic and A Moment to Remember, was given the title of the “Nation’s First Love” in Korea.
In 2006, she became the highest-paid Korean actress in Korean television series when she was guaranteed a talent fee of KRW 50 million (plus incentive) per episode for her lead role in SBS drama Alone in Love.
2006–2015: Film roles in diverse genres
Son then cast off her nice girl image in her next projects. She took on the roles of a con artist in The Art of Seduction, an ambitious reporter in Spotlight, a femme fatale in Open City, and a divorcée in the critically acclaimed series Alone in Love In 2008, her portrayal of a polyandrous woman in My Wife Got Married bagged her Best Actress honors from the prestigious Blue Dragon Film Awards and other local award-giving bodies.
After filming the dark mystery White Night, Son wanted to do a more fun project, so she chose the romantic comedy series Personal Taste, followed by the horror-romantic comedy film Spellbound which became one of the top-grossing films in 2011 and by far the most successful Korean romantic comedy movie in recent year.
In 2012, Son starred in her first blockbuster The Tower