Lee Eun-ju: A Korean Star

3rd September 2021

As a prelude to some blogs about my favourite Korean films, I would like to post a little tribute to one of my favourite actors, Lee Eun-ju (also known as Lee Eun-joo). The actress, who was also a talented pianist, appeared in some of my favourite Korean films of the early 2000s.

Lee Eun Joo - mỹ nhân tự sát sau cảnh nóng, gây thương xót suốt 14 năm

Lee Eun-ju was born in Gunsan, south-west Korea, on December 22nd 1980, and studied piano when she was at school. At sixteen, she won a modelling contest. From there, she moved into TV dramas and then movies.

One of her earliest roles was in Hong Sang-soo’s ‘Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors” (2000). This art film, shot in black & white, tells the story of how two people meet, and is told in flashbacks showing different perspectives and while some events are similar, others are very different.

The film is one of my top Korean movies. Anthony Leong writes that Lee Eun-ju “delivers the standout performance,” and her charisma is “one of the highlights,” of the film.

S. Korean Star Lee Eun Joo has Commited Suicide - Ent_Pic - Pictures -  Newsgd

The following year, Lee Eun-ju appeared in the reincarnation love-story, ‘Bungee Jumping of their Own’ (2001). She plays a shy girl who falls in love, eventually, with a young man with whom she shares an umbrella during a storm. However, after planning to meet one day, she fails to appear and is never seen again. I will not spoil the film (too much) but many years later, the young man, now a teacher, meets a boy student who shares many of his old lover’s mannerisms.

Lee Eun Joo - Tin tức mới nhất 24h qua - VnExpress

The theme of boy meets girl – falls in love – one of them dies is stepped up a notch in another one of my personal favourite Korean films, ‘Lovers’ Concerto’ (2002). I even watched it (again) last night, to prepare for this blog. Lee Eun-ju shows her acting skills, as she portrays a young lady who is by turns spoilt, unreasonable, tender, loving and so fragile. With her charm and charisma, she really lights up the screen.

Unfortunately, Lee Eun-ju found her last film, The Scarlet Letter’ (2004) a very traumatic experience, along with the subsequent poor reception and backlash. The film, her family assert, caused her to fall into a deep depression, exacerbated by insomnia. On February 22 2004, Lee Eun-ju took her own life. She was only twenty-four.

Lee Eun-joo - Photo Gallery (故 이은주) @ HanCinema

How heartbreaking that someone with so much to offer should be so unhappy. How heartbreaking to think of all the films she could have made. How amazing that an actress with just thirteen film credits should be in two of my absolute favourites.

Thank you so much … miss you so much

매우 감사합니다 ... 당신이 너무 그리워

Lee Eun-ju 1980 – 2004

Grasshopper Educational: 121 Minutes to 180 Minutes
Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (2000)
Bungee Jumping of Their Own (Region-All)
Bungee Jumping of Their Own (2001)
Lover's Concerto - AsianWiki
Lovers’ Concerto (2002)

Sources

Leong, Anthony C.Y. ‘Korean Cinema: The New Hong Kong’ (2002) Trafford

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Eun-ju#Life_and_career

https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=vi&u=https://zingnews.vn/lee-eun-joo-my-nhan-tu-sat-sau-canh-nong-gay-thuong-xot-suot-14-nam-post919445.html&prev=sear