Lee Young Ae (born January 31, 1971 in Seoul, South Korea) is a South Korean actress.
Lee made her debut as a TV model in 1991. After appearing in TV commercials, she started playing in TV dramas and movies.
Her popularity has grown in an exponential manner due to her performance in the popular Korean drama Dae Jang Geum. After the successful broadcast in Korea, it was then shown oversea the first time in 2004 and won many hearts of audience in Taiwan. In 2005, nearly half of the Hong Kong population watched the final episode of the drama. In China, hundreds of million viewers watched the drama though it was shown late at night.
She was awarded Best Actress awards in the Blue Dragon Film Awards in 2005 and Baeksang Art Awards in 2006 for the film Sympathy For Lady Vengeance.
Because of the success, Lee Young-Ae has been invited to visit Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, China and Japan. The first time in 12 years,NHK had to use NHK Hall to host the NHK show (2006). She was invited to the 2007 Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festivalin China as an Image Ambassador.
Beside her acting career, she has also been involved in several charity events. In 1997 she went to Ethiopia as a NGO Goodwill Ambassador. She went to Thar Desert in 1999 doing a TV show of the lowest caste people in India. Later in 2001, she published these experiences in her autobiography “A Most Special Love” and donated all the income from the sale of the book to charity.
She was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador in 2004 by UNICEF and held several charity functions from that time on. She made many donations to schools and hospitals, which include an elementary school in China such that the school was renamed Lee Young-Ae Elementary School, and the Chosun First Middle School in Harbin.From her 2006 autobiography “Young-Ae’s Vow”, she talked about how she became an actress. She recalled what made her go into show business was working with Andy Lau in a 1991 chocolate advertisement. In 1995, she made a decision to go to graduate school to learn theory of acting. Since then, she has not changed to challenge various kinds of acting roles, like that in Dae Jang Geum and later a very different role in Sympathy For Lady Vengeance.
In 2007, she received Medal of Culture Merit for her contribution to Korean Wave from the South Korean government.
Her major contract in 2006 and 2007 is with LG Corp., a large South Korean conglomerate. She became the spokesmodel (Pan-Asia) for all LG Electronics’ products.