Lee Kwang Soo is a popular entertainer, actor, and model in South Korea. He is best known for being one of the original cast members of long-running SBS variety show, Running Man.
Born on July 14, 1985, Lee began his career as a model at the age of 22. The following year, in 2008, he made his acting debut on the sitcom Here He Comes, which was then followed by High Kick Through the Roof.
Over the course of his career, Lee has won a total of 19 awards both as an actor and entertainer, 8 of which are with Running Man.
Lee’s career in the entertainment industry began in 2008 when he appeared on the MBC sitcom Here He Comes a year after debuting as a professional model. The 97-episode drama aired daily for 4 months from 2008 to 2009, with Lee as part of the supporting cast.
Several months after Here He Comes ended, Lee was cast in another popular MBC sitcom, High Kick Through Roof, which starred Daniel Choi, Hwang Jung Eum, and Shin Se Kyung among others.
2009 was also the year when Lee first appeared on variety shows as a guest. He appeared on two episodes of MBC’s Introducing a Star’s Friend and an episode of KBS2’s Star Golden Bell.
In 2010, he made another guesting on the defunct variety show of now fellow Running Man cast member, Yoo Jae Suk, Come to Play. It was followed by another guesting on two episodes of SBS’ Strong Heart.
All these guest appearances seemed to have paid off when on July of that year, Lee was announced to be part of SBS’ new variety program, Running Man. He was joined by popular variety hosts Yoo (Jae Suk) and Ji Seok Jin, Haha, Kim Jong Kook, Leessang’s Gary, actress Song Ji Hyo, and actor Song Joong Ki.
Lee’s popularity skyrocketed with Running Man and earned him the title “Prince of Asia”. It also paved the way for his “New Star Award” and “Best Newcomer in Variety” award at the SBS Entertainment Awards in 2010 and 2011.
Aside from joining Running Man, Lee also had several other television dramas like Dong Yi (2010), City Hunter (2011), and Bachelor’s Vegetable Store (2011-2012). He also bagged supporting roles in the 2012 films Wonderful Radio, The Scent, and All About My Wife. However, it was his appearance in the KBS2 drama The Innocent Man that made a lasting impression to fans. It was also where Lee reunited with former Running Man co-host-turned-best-friend, Song (Joong Ki).
2013 was another fruitful year for Lee’s entertainment career as proven by his appearances on the dramas Dating Agency: Cyrano (tvN), Goddess of Fire (MBC), and Potato Star 2013Q3 (tvN). He was also part of the musical A Wonderful Moment and ventured into animated films with his work in Maritime Police Marco. He also lent his voice for 20th Century Fox Korea’s local distribution of Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, where he gave life to the main character “Patchi”.
Lee continued to prove his rising star status when he held his first ever solo fan meeting in Singapore on August 2013 and another one in Malaysia on January of the following year. The two fan meetings were attended by 2,000 and 3,000 fans, respectively.
The year 2014 also saw Lee playing his first major motion picture role in the movie Confession, a neo-noir film that revolves around three friends whose friendship gets destroyed when they found themselves entangled in a murder case. He also played a role of a traffic constable in the movie A Dynamite Family with 2PM member Hwang Chansung. He then returned to the small screen with Secret Love and the SBS drama It’s Okay, That’s Love where he portrayed a character suffering from Tourette’s syndrome. It was revealed that in preparing for his role in the drama, Lee studied and researched about the illness, and went as far as asking the director, writer, and his fellow actors for feedback and direction on his acting.
In 2015, he made a cameo appearance in the drama The Girl Who Sees Smells and starred in the movie Collective Invention alongside Park Bo Young and Lee Chun Hee. In the movie, he played the role of a man subjected to a medical experiment that went wrong causing him to mutate due to the side effects of a new drug. The film marked the first time Lee made his red carpet appearance at an international film festival when it was screened in the Vanguard section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. The same year, Lee was appointed ambassador of the “2015 Korea Brand & Entertainment Expo” and was recognized by the trade minister for his work in boosting the Korean Wave (hallyu) industry.
2016 gave Lee another starring role in the two-episode drama Puck where he played the role of a loan shark, and was also part of the main cast of the tvN remake of hit American TV series Entourage. He was joined by actors Cho Jin Woong, Seo Kang Joon, Park Jung Min, and Lee Dong Hwi. Lee was also included in the KBS sitcom The Sound of Your Heart, a TV adaptation of the webtoon of the same title. He also made guest appearances in the hit drama Descendants of the Sun, as well as Dear My Friends and Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth.
In 2017, Lee was confirmed to join veteran actors Sung Dong Il and Kwon Sang Woo in the movie The Accidental Detective 2, a sequel to the hit 2015 movie set to be released in 2018. He was also announced as a cast member of the new Netflix variety show The Culprit is You. On September 2017, Lee was spotted filming with fellow Running Man cast Yoo (Jae Suk), actress Park Min Young, Ahn Jae Wook, Kim Jong Min, Sehun of the popular male group EXO, and Kim Se Jeong of Gugudan for the crime investigation program.
Lee’s popularity soared when he joined the hit variety program Running Man in 2010. Although it was his first time hosting a variety show, it looked like Lee was in his natural best especially when joined by the other cast members. He was part of the original 7 members to host the program where they play against one another as well as other guest celebrities.
Running Man Relationships and Alliances
- LKS and Ji (Seok Jin) – New Dumb and Dumber, Easy Brothers, and Feel, Touch, Cross!
- LKS, Ji (Seok Jin), and Kim (Jong Kook) – Serengeti Animal, Kingdom, Kook-Easy Brothers
- LKS and Haha – Betrayal Masters, Tallest and Shortest
- LKS and Yoo (Jae Suk) – Yoo-Lee, Yoo-Lee, I miss You!, Lee-Yoo, Dumb and Dumber, The Unlucky Duo
- LKS, Yoo (Jae Suk), and Ji (Seok Jin) – Jail Regulars Trio, Lee-Yoo-Ji Brothers, The Unlucky Trio
- LKS and Kim (Jong Kook) – Commander Jong Kook and Disciple Soo, Kook-Soo, Tiger and Giraffe
- LKS, Ji (Seok Jin), and Haha – Betrayers Club
- LKS and Song (Ji Hyo) – Kwang-Mong Siblings
- LKS and Jeon So Min – Betrayers Couple
- LKS, Kim (Jong Kook), Haha, and Yang Se Chan – Kim Jong Kook and The Three Lackeys
- LKS, Yoo (Jae Suk), Ji (Seok In), Jeon (So Min), and Yang (Se Chan) – Unlucky Ones, The Ugly Tribe, Unlucky Avengers
- LKS, Yoo (Jae Suk), Haha, Ji (Seok Jin), Jeon (So Min), and Yang (Se Chan) – Moths
- LKS and Song (Joong Ki) – Same-aged Friends*
Lee and Ji (Seok Jin)’s duo was formed when they acted out the characters from Dumb and Dumber. Later on, their alliance was given another name, the Easy Brothers, a combination of their surnames – Lee (pronounced as ‘ee’ and Ji (which sounds like ‘zi’ in Korean). The two also have the “Feel, Touch, Cross!’” cheer when they get paired together.
The three were called the Serengeti Animal because of their animal nicknames in the program. Kim (Jong Kook) is the tiger, Ji (Seok Jin) is the impala, while Lee is the giraffe.
Lee and Haha were paired as the Betrayal Masters because they are the ones who are most known for betraying other members in their missions. Tallest and Shortest is in reference to the two being the tallest and shortest members of the cast.
Yoo-Lee, a combination of their surnames, was formed when the two was paired up in one of their episodes. They have the “Yoo-Lee Cross” gesture to cheer their team, which often leads them to exclaiming they miss singer UEE, whose name sounds like their alliance name.
The group was formed because three were often the first ones to get eliminated in the earlier episodes of Running Man. As a result, they usually met in jail. Thus, the title of “Jail Regulars Trio”. Since they almost always form a group, they are also referred to as Lee-Yoo-Ji, which is a combination of their surnames.
Whenever the two are paired up, other cast members call them as Tiger and Giraffe in reference to their Serengeti group with Ji (Seok Jin). They often portray a relationship like that of popular cartoon characters Tom and Jerry because of their constant squabbling and trying to one-up each other.
Aside from Lee and Haha’s alliance as the Betrayal Masters, they also have a group with Ji (Seok Jin) called the Betrayers Club. They are the most constant betrayers in the show to the point that even they themselves do not trust the other leading to trust issues within the team. In an episode, the group was listed as the Betrayers Club who are attempting to steal a treasure.
Song (Ji Hyo) is another cast member with whom Lee is always constant bickering with. But despite the love-hate relationship between the two, they often show that they care for each other like siblings.
When Jeon (So Min) joined the cast of Running Man, she has instantly showed characteristics that are the same as Lee’s. Aside from having great chemistry on-cam, they are also known for being traitors even when the two of them are teamed up together.
Yoo (Jae Suk) was responsible for creating the alliance when they were teamed together in an episode. Kim (Jong Kook) was the appointed leader and Lee, Haha, and Yang (Se Chan) are the members who had to serve the Tiger. In return of their service, Kim (Jong Kook) will not pick them to go to the dangerous attraction.
The group of 5 was formed as they are the cast members deemed to be the most unlucky during missions. It was initially a group with Lee , Yoo (Jae Suk), and Ji (Seok Jin) as members, but newcomer Yang (Se Chan) was eventually added to the group. They are also sometimes referred to as The Ugly Tribe. The Unlucky Avengers was formed with the addition of Jeon (So Min) and they are also called “the team that will survive the apocalypse”.
The team was a reference to Yang (Se Chan)’s statement in a previous episode when he said that all six of them are like “moths drawn to flames” after correctly predicting that the other 5 will choose the same exit he did, which is the one that has the highest amount of money they can use for the mission.
Lee often claims that he and former Running Man member Song (Joong Ki) are close friends having been born in the same year. Song, however, would often deny their friendship making Lee feel depressed. In Song’s last episode on the show, he admitted that he and Lee are really good friends.
Prince of Asia
Lee earned the title of Asia’s Prince due to his popularity in various countries all over Asia. Whenever Running Man cast members travel overseas to fulfill a mission, Lee was always met by a huge crowd of fans waiting at the airport and following their shooting locations.
A most recent display of this popularity was captured on camera when on September 2017, Running Man members traveled to Jakarta, Indonesia to film an episode. An overwhelming amount of fans waited at the airport hoping to see the MC. Cast and crew of the show who were with Lee at the time all agreed that he is really popular in Asia.
Lee is among the many South Korean celebrities who are known for their works of philanthropy. In 2016, the host-and-actor worked with international organization Unicef for their children’s relief campaign. On July 2017, it was revealed that Lee also secretly made donations to Asan Medical Center in Seoul from 2015 to 2016. According to unconfirmed reports, Lee donated 100 million won (approximately $88,760) for pediatric patients of the said hospital who are having financial difficulties. Lee’s agency, King Kong Entertainment, confirmed the donation but said that they were unaware of the charity work prior to its release in the media.