Jeon Do-yeon (born February 11, 1973) is a South Korean actress. She has won many awards in her career, including best actress at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival for her portrayal of a broken woman who has lost everything in Lee Chang-dong’s Secret Sunshine.
Jeon Do-yeon spent five years starring in television dramas before achieving instant star status with her film debut opposite Han Suk-kyu in The Contact. She went on to establish a reputation as a “chameleon” who can take on a wide variety of roles, from her performance as a doctor in the hit melodrama A Promise, to that of a schoolgirl in The Harmonium in My Memory, then a wife having an adulterous affair in Happy End. In 1999 and 2000 Jeon received a Best Actress award from both the Blue Dragon Film Awards and the Grand Bell Awards for her role in The Harmonium in My Memory.
In 2001 she skillfully played a very ordinary bank teller in Park Heung-sik’s directorial debut I Wish I Had a Wife. After starring as the tough-talking “Sunglasses” in Ryoo Seung-wan’s No Blood No Tears (2002), Jeon spent time acting in the TV drama Shoot for the Stars. In 2003 she found box-office success in E J-yong’s Untold Scandal, an adaptation of the famous French novel Dangerous Liaisons set in Joseon. The following year Jeon reunited with Park Heung-sik in a dual role for the time-bending melodrama My Mother, the Mermaid.
In 2005 Jeon burst back into the limelight playing a prostitute who contracts AIDS in Park Jin-pyo’s hard-hitting melodrama You Are My Sunshine. The performance helped turn the film into a box-office hit (3 million+ admissions), and also won her yet more additions to her collection of local acting awards. She then returned to television in Lovers in Prague which depicts the love story between the president’s daughter and an ordinary detective; the drama averaged over 27 percent viewership ratings. In Korea, it is rare for a movie and a TV drama with the same leading actor or actress to become major hits at the same time, but Jeon managed to pull both roles off perfectly without causing any confusion in the audience.
But it was her role in Lee Chang-dong’s Secret Sunshine in 2007 that would see her emerge in full glory. Although the film itself, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, evoked widely differing assessments from international critics, Jeon’s performance was universally praised, and she was presented with a Best Actress award by the Cannes jury—the first Korean ever to receive an acting award at Cannes.
After making the charming, laid back road movie My Dear Enemy post-Cannes, Jeon gave birth to a daughter and rested for a while. In 2010, she re-established her status as Korea’s premier A-list actress, headlining the controversial remake The Housemaid.