When the Cannes Film Festival lineup was announced on April 14, Twitter positively exploded with excitement over the news that Lee Ji-eun would make her Riviera debut with Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Broker in Competition. The Korean actress, singer and songwriter—popularly known as IU—has a legion of fans, including 26 million followers on Instagram, and has been described as a national treasure at home. She may now be well poised for crossover success with her first commercial film.
The first film from Kore-eda since the Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters in 2018 is also his first movie to be made in Korea. Backed by Asian powerhouse CJ ENM and starring Parasite’s Song Kang-ho, Broker concerns the peculiarly Korean phenomenon of “baby boxes”— drop-off points where people who are unable to raise children can deposit their babies anonymously.
Lee started out as a recording artist, releasing her first album in 2008, and by 2019 she had three songs on Billboard’s list of the 100 Greatest K-Pop Songs of the 2010s. This included 2010’s holiday single “Good Day” from her album Real, which took the top position.
In 2011, Lee made her acting debut with teen drama series Dream High, followed by family drama You Are The Best! in 2013, 2015 comedy-drama The Producers and 2018 drama My Mister.
In 2019, she made her film debut in Netflix anthology Persona, playing four different characters for four different directors. All the while, Lee has continued to release albums, tour and work in television, including 2019’s Hotel Del Luna which is ranked in the Top 20 of all-time highest-rated Korean cable series. She also made her soundtrack debut with 2020’s “Give You My Heart” for the hit TV series Crash Landing on You.
Her other film credits include recently wrapped sports drama Dream, co-starring Parasite’s Park Seo-joon and directed by Lee Byeong-heon, helmer of Korea’s box office smash Extreme Job.