Lee Yo-won made her acting debut in 1998 through appearances in the film Scent of a Man and the SBS series I Hate You, but It’s Fine. In 2001, she won the Popularity Award at the KBS Drama Awards for her portrayal of a 20-something woman having an affair with a married man in his 40s in Blue Mist. That same year, she starred in the coming-of-age film Take Care of My Cat, which scored her numerous acting citations including Best New Actress at the 38th Baeksang Arts Awards. In 2005, she led the SBS period series Fashion 70’s, which earned her an Excellence Award at the SBS Drama Awards. In 2007, she took home a Top Excellence Award at the SBS Drama Awards for her work in the medical series Surgeon Bong Dal Hee. In 2009, she played the titular character in the widely popular MBC sageuk Queen Seon-deok, which gave her acting trophies at that year’s Grimae Awards and MBC Drama Awards. In 2013, she took home a Top Excellence Award at the SBS Drama Awards for her work in Empire of Gold.
Lee Yo-won graduated from Dankook University. She married professional golfer Park Jin-woo in January 2003. They have two daughters and a son together.