How Hyeri became Korea’s sweetheart

January 18, 2016
Cast of tvN's "Reply 1988" on its poster

Cast of tvN’s “Reply 1988″ on its poster

South Korea’s hottest TV drama “Reply 1988″ came to an end Saturday, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that Lee Hyeri has become the newest “Korea’s sweetheart.”

And the 21-year-old actress, better known as just Hyeri, reportedly got the role of high school heroine Sung Deok-seon, mainly because of her performance on the MBC’s military reality show “Real Men: Women’s Army Special.”

One scene on that show basically started everything for Hyeri.

Hyeri Lunchbox (Yonhap)

Hyeri lunchbox was a hit item for 7-11 Korea last year.

“There is a rumor among TV broadcasters that Hyeri was hired for Sung’s role based on her performance in ‘Real Men’,” MSN Entertainment said. “Hyeri’s irresistible charm  seen on ‘Real Men’ led to her becoming the heroine. In other words, her appearance on the reality show was undoubtedly critical.”

Hyeri, who debuted as a member of K-pop band Girl’s Day in 2010, got her big break in the first season of “Real Men” in January 2015. On the show, female celebrities are invited to experience the hardships of a military training camp.

“Lee is considered by those in show business as a star who most benefited from ‘perfect timing’,” a report says. “She leveraged nationwide fame gained from “Real Men” to star in ‘Reply 1988′.”

Ra Mi-ran, 40, who played the role of Jung-hwan’s mother, also appeared on the same military reality show.


The report says that as a result of “Reply 1988,” Lee has featured in, or will feature in, 28 advertisements worth an estimated 6 billion won (About $5 million).