Actors and Actresses of Korean Cinema

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    Lee Young-ae

Lee Young-ae Lee Young-ae (b. January 31, 1971) first appeared on television in 1993, but it wasn't until 1995 that she began acting in many TV dramas and gathering a large fan following. She won various television awards in the mid-1990s, and in 1996 she made her film debut in the poorly-received Inch'Allah. The negative reputation this film garnered may have pushed back her film career several years, but when she did return it was with a bang, in the record-breaking Joint Security Area by Park Chan-wook. At the time it became the best-selling Korean film ever, and it launched Lee Young-ae into undisputed stardom.

In 2001 Lee continued to build on her film career, starring in the popular melodrama Last Present opposite Lee Jung-jae, and also in the second feature by Hur Jin-ho, director of the acclaimed Christmas in August. This film was released in late September to great critical acclaim, and it landed Lee a Best Actress award from the local Blue Dragon awards.

For the next few years, Lee did not appear in any films, but from 2003 she took the lead role in a hugely popular TV drama called Dae Jang-geum, which revived her popularity among ordinary viewers. In 2005 the drama was also screened in Hong Kong, where it became the most successful Korean drama ever to screen in the territory, topping 40% in viewer ratings.

Lee's return to the screen came in summer 2005 in Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, the last film in Park Chan-wook's acclaimed trilogy of revenge films.

Complete filmography:

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005)
One Fine Spring Day (2001)
Last Present (2001)
Joint Security Area (2000)
Shall We Kiss? (1998, cameo)
Inch'Allah (1996)

    Song Seung-hun

Song Seung-hun After beginning his career as a model, Song Seung-hun (b. October 5, 1976) first became known to viewers in the popular sitcom Three Men, Three Women in 1996. The following year he started his extremely successful career in TV dramas, which made him well-known throughout Korea. His feature film debut came in 1999 in the film Calla together with star Kim Hee-sun.

True stardom only came to Song in late 2000, however, with the broadcast of the hugely popular TV drama Autumn Story (a.k.a. Endless Love). The series was exported all over Asia, making pan-Asian stars of both him and co-stars Song Hye-gyo and Won Bin. Since then he has been actively recuited for film roles and advertisements in Hong Kong and other Asian countries.

In 2002, Song starred in the comic-action film Make it Big by director Cho Ui-seok, and also in the Hong Kong film So Close with Hong Kong actresses: Karen Mok, Shu Qi and Zhao Wei. He also starred in Scent of Summer, the third "season-themed" TV drama after Autumn Story and Winter Sonata, which was well-received, but not as popular as the ones that preceded it.

In 2004 Song appeared in two films, but neither was judged to be a success: Ice Rain, shot in the Canadian Rockies, failed to enthuse viewers with its mixture of mountaineering and melodrama, while He Was Cool, based on an internet novel, proved unable to compete with Harry Potter and other films from the 2004 summer season. Meanwhile in late 2004, just as he was getting ready to start shooting another high profile TV drama, it was revealed that the actor had illegally avoided his compulsory military service by taking a drug that made him fail the military's health test. Amidst the press coverage and scandal this aroused, Song agreed to immediately serve his two-year term in the military.

Complete filmography:

He Was Cool (2004)
Ice Rain (2003)
So Close (2002, Hong Kong)
Make it Big (2002)
Calla (1999)

    Kim Hee-sun

Kim Hee-sun Kim Hee-sun (b. February 25, 1977) debuted on TV in 1993, and has since become famous both at home and abroad as one of Korea's best-looking actresses. Having acted in many TV dramas, Kim has also gradually built up a career in film, beginning in 1997 with Repechage opposite Jang Dong-gun.

Kim's most high-profile role of her early career was the big-budget martial arts fantasy Bichunmoo, shot in China and released in the summer of 2000. Although criticized for her acting in the film, it gave her more local and international exposure than any of her other works. In late 2001, Kim took on a completely different kind of role, cutting her hair short and starring as an animator in Wanee and Junah. Although her acting in this film drew a favorable response from critics, the film itself was not as popular with audiences.

In 2003 her career took a bit of a downturn, when the environmentally-themed melodrama A Letter From Mars, in which she starred with Shin Ha-kyun, proved to be an utter bomb at the box office. Over the next year or two she became quite famous in China, however, and she also starred as a blind woman in the blockbuster TV drama Sad Love Story.

Thanks to her popularity among Chinese viewers, she then was cast opposite Jackie Chan in The Myth (2005), giving her the most internationally-oriented role of her career.

Complete filmography:

The Myth (2005, Hong Kong)
A Letter From Mars (2003)
Wanee and Junah (2001)
Bichunmoo (2000)
Calla (1999)
Ghost in Love (1999)
Repechage (1997)


Kim Hee-sun Gallery

    Shin Ha-kyun

Shin Ha-kyun Shin Ha-kyun (b. May 30, 1974) first trained as a stage actor at the Seoul National University of Arts before going on to act in a large number of plays by Jang Jin. When in 1998 Jang Jin directed his first movie, Shin Ha-kyun was cast and he has since appeared in almost all of Jang's feature films. Impressed by his acting abilities, comedy director Kim Jee-woon has also cast him in minor roles in The Foul King and his 30-min internet film Coming Out.

Shin first became a superstar with his role as a young North Korean soldier in Park Chan-wook's smash hit JSA in late 2000. At that time he developed a large fan following which, together that of co-star Won Bin, helped make his next film Guns & Talks a strong commercial hit.

In the next couple years Shin would take on two strong roles that would come to define his career. In Park Chan-wook's acclaimed Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, he played a deaf man with bright green dyed hair who is driven by desperation to kidnap a young girl. Then in Jang Jun-hwan's Save the Green Planet in 2003, he played a mentally unbalanced man who believes that aliens are plotting to invade the earth. Together, these two intense and harrowing performances by Shin were an impressive display of his acting talent.

After appearing in the rural melodrama A Letter From Mars with actress Kim Hee-sun in 2004, Shin returned in Welcome to Dongmakgol, a drama set during the Korean War in a small mountainous village. His next work for 2006 sees him play a rather eccentric hitman.

Complete filmography:

No Mercy For the Rude (2006)
Murder, Take One (2005)
Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005)
My Brother (2004)
A Letter From Mars (2003)
Save the Green Planet! (2003)
Surprise Party (2002)
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)
Guns & Talks (2001)
Joint Security Area (2000)
Coming Out (2000, short film)
The Foul King (2000)
The Spy (1999)
The Happenings (1998)

    Jang Jin-young

Chang Jin-young Jang Jin-young (b. June 14, 1974) made her film debut in the poorly-received Ghost in Love, but her second feature The Foul King proved to be both a smash hit and a success abroad, landing at #1 on the charts in Hong Kong and receiving an invitation to the Berlin International Film Festival. Her tough image in this film drew interest for its novelty and humor.

Following a role in the box-office failure Siren, Jang traded in her screen image once again to play the role of a battered wife in the critically acclaimed horror film Sorum. Her gritty performance won much praise and eventually secured for her Best Actress awards from the Fantasporto festival in Portugal and the prestigious local Blue Dragon Awards Ceremony.

Jang then returned to melodrama, first in the mid-level hit Over the Rainbow with actor Lee Jung-jae, and then in Scent of Love, which was released in early 2003 to a warm response from audiences. Her followup project Singles, based on a Japanese TV series, proved to be a well-made, smart comedy about relationships that was popular with viewers. For a brief time, Jang's short hairstyle from Singles became the most requested haircut in Seoul.

Jang is next scheduled to star in a film about Korea's first woman aviator, who lived in Japan during the 1920s. The film reunites her with Yoon Jong-chan, the director of Sorum.

Complete filmography:

Between Love and Hate (2006)
Blue Swallow (2005)
Singles (2003)
Scent of Love (2003)
Over the Rainbow (2002)
Sorum (2001)
The Siren (2000)
The Foul King (2000)
Ghost in Love (1999)

    Cha Tae-hyun

Cha Tae-hyun Cha Tae-hyun (b. March 25, 1976) started his career as a silver medalist in a 1995 KBS Talent Contest. Over the next several years he would star in a large number of TV dramas such as Sunflower and Happy Together, while also working as a model and appearing in a huge number of TV commercials. He also made a minor film debut in the comedy Halleluja.

Then in 2001 he burst onto the film scene with a bang, in the hugely successful comedy My Sassy Girl. Cha's expressive acting established him as a recognized star in Korea as well as the Asian region at large. His next film Lovers Concerto (2002), a tragic melodrama with actresses Son Ye-jin and Lee Eun-ju, also proved to be a popular success.

From 2003, however, Cha's casting choices proved to be less inspired. He appeared in three comedies -- Crazy First Love, Happy Naked Christmas and Two Guys -- that were widely criticized by audiences for their weak scripts and lack of creativity. In 2005, Cha tries to make a comeback as part of a large ensemble cast in the relationships film Sad Movie and in My Girl and I, the remake of Japanese hit film Crying Out Love in the Center of the World.

Complete filmography:

My Girl and I (2005)
Sad Movie (2005)
Two Guys (2004)
Happy Ero Christmas (2003)
Crazy First Love (2003)
Lovers Concerto (2002)
My Sassy Girl (2001)
Halleluja (1997)

    Lee Mi-sook

Lee Mi-sook Lee Mi-sook (b. Apr. 2, 1960) first debuted in film at the age of twenty in Thoughtless Momo in 1979. By the mid-1980s she had became one of the best-known actresses of her era, together with Lee Bo-hee and Won Mi-kyung. Her most famous films from this era include Bae Chang-ho's Whale Hunting and That Winter Was Warm, Lee Doo-yong's Bbong and Eunuch, and Kwak Ji-kyun's Wanderer in Winter. Her early career lasted until the film Love Triangle in 1987, and then she retired from the cinema.

Over ten years later, however, Lee returned with a widely praised role in E J-yong's award-winning film An Affair, about a woman who falls in love with her sister's fiance. Using this film as a springboard, she re-launched her career.

In 2000 Lee was cast in the high profile project The Legend of Gingko, which was considered to be production company Kang Jegyu Film's followup to the successful Shiri (even though Kang himself was not directing). However the film proved to be a critial and commercial disappointment. Lee's next two films, Besame Mucho and Oh! Lala Sisters, were also more or less ignored by audiences. In contrast, her appearances in TV dramas such as Solitude (2002) were more successful.

However 2003 was one of Lee's best years, with her highly praised role in E J-yong's Untold Scandal, a retelling of the novel Dangerous Liasions, and her role as a single mother in Lee Eon-hee's well-received melodrama

Partial filmography: (2003)
Untold Scandal (2003)
Oh! LaLa Sisters (2002)
Besame Mucho (2001)
The Legend of Gingko (2000)
An Affair (1998)
Love Triangle (1987)
Affection (1987)
A Street Musician (1987)
Eunuch (1986)
Wanderer In Winter (1986)
Bbong (1985)
That Winter Was Warm (1984)
Autumn After Love (1984)
Whale Hunting (1984)
Strange Relationship (1983)
Thoughtless Momo (1979)

    Jang Hyuk

Jang Hyuk Jang Hyuk (b. Dec. 20, 1976) began his career in modeling, TV dramas such as "Model" and "School", music videos, and a minor role in the little-seen film Zzang. His career first began to take off in 2001 when he was cast in the lead role of the special-effects extravaganza Volcano High together with actress Shin Min-ah. His acting in the eccentric role drew praise from fans and critics.

In 2002 he continued to make a name for himself, starring in the sleeper hit Jungle Juice, which made the top of the weekly box-office, and especially in the hugely popular TV drama "Joyful Girl's Success Story" with actress Jang Nara. He also took a role in Public Toilet, the HK-Korea co-production by acclaimed Hong Kong director Fruit Chan which won a Special Mention in the Upstream section of the 2002 Venice film festival.

In 2003 Jang appeared with actress Lee Na-young in the comedy Teach Me English, by director Kim Sung-soo (Beat, Musa). His next project was even more high-profile, opposite top star Jeon Ji-hyun in Kwak Jae-yong's Windstruck. Although this film was generally not well received in Korea, it went on to beat Shiri and become the best-selling Korean film of all time in Japan.

In late 2004, together with Song Seung-heon, Jang was found to have illegally avoided his obligatory military service, and after apologizing to his fans he began to serve his two-year term.

Complete filmography:

Windstruck (2004)
Please Teach Me English (2003)
Public Toilet (2002, HK/Korea)
Jungle Juice (2002)
Volcano High (2001)
Zzang (1998)

    Song Yun-ah

Song Yun-ah Song Yun-ah (b. June 7, 1973) graduated in humanities from Hanyang University and first entered the film industry by winning the Gold Award at the KBS supertalent contest in 1995. Over the next few years she became well-known for her roles in TV dramas such as Tears of the Dragon (1997), Love (1998), Hotelier (2001) and The Present (2002). Although her first few films did not make a significant impression at the box-office, in recent years she has become more active in filmmaking.

In late 2002, Song starred in one of the bigger commercial hits of the year, Jail Breakers with actors Sol Kyung-gu and Cha Seung-won. Her energetic role in this comedy was recognized with a Best Supporting Actress award at the 23rd Blue Dragon Awards. Her next project Face was a thriller about a serial killer from debut director Yu Sang-gon, but this proved not to be a commercial or critical success.

Meanwhile Song's next project is a melodrama from Chu Chang-min, the director of hit comedy Mapado, that teams her up with actor Sol Kyung-gu.

Complete filmography:

Arang (2006)
Lost in Love (2006)
Face (2004)
Jail Breakers (2002)
A Masterpiece in My Life (2001)
Zzang (1998)
1818 (1997)


    Cha Seung-won

Cha Seung-won Cha Seung-won (b. June 7, 1970) received an engineering degree from Mokwon University before embarking on a career as a model in 1988. After finding success in modeling, he was cast in the TV sitcom "New York Story", which would eventually pave the way for his debut in film.

Although his debut film Holiday in Seoul (1997) and many of the films to follow did not establish him as a major star, in 2000 he would score a significant hit playing the villain in firefighting film Libera Me. The following summer, the runaway success of Kim Sang-jin's comedy Kick the Moon (over 4.3 million tickets sold) secured his place in the industry as a leading actor with strong star appeal. All of his films since then have been successes at the box-office.

In early 2003, Cha took on a slightly more serious role as a corrupt schoolteacher who is transferred to a country school in the film My Teacher, Mr. Kim. The film grossed over 2.4 million admissions and drew Cha additional praise for his acting abilities. His next role then re-united him with director Kim Sang-jin in a successful comedy about a man who buys a dream home, only to discover it is haunted by a young female ghost.

In 2005 Cha put aside the comic roles he had become known for and appeared in the grisly period-set thriller Blood Rain. The film's better than expected commercial success confirmed Cha's popularity among Korean audiences. In late 2005 Cha will appear for the first time in a film by reknowned comedy director Jang Jin.

Complete filmography:

Over the Border (2006)
Murder, Take One (2005)
Blood Rain (2005)
Ghost House (2004)
My Teacher, Mr. Kim (2003)
Jail Breakers (2002)
Break Out (2002)
Kick the Moon (2001)
Libera Me (2000)
Black Honeymoon (2000)
Segimal (1999)
Ghost in Love (1999)
If the Sun Rises in the West (1998)
Holiday in Seoul (1997)

    Moon So-ri

Moon So-ri Moon So-ri (b. July 2, 1974) first appeared in plays and short films such as Black Cut and To the Spring Mountain before finding fame as a leading actress. Her first film role was in Lee Chang-dong's acclaimed Peppermint Candy, however her acting skills were not really showcased until she appeared in her second film Oasis, also by Lee Chang-dong. Her powerful portrayal of a woman with cerebral palsy earned her strong praise as well as the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Actor or Actress at the 2002 Venice International Film Festival. Best Actress honors at many domestic awards ceremonies followed.

The following year she again found fame in Im Sang-soo's third film A Good Lawyer's Wife. A 180-degree turn from her previous screen image, this film featured her as a free thinking woman in a decaying marriage who starts an affair with the teenage boy next door. This film was also invited to the Venice film festival, and she later won a Best Actress award from the Stockholm International Film Festival.

In 2004, Moon played opposite Song Kang-ho in The President's Barber, a film that illustrates 20 years of modern Korean history through the eyes of president Park Chung-hee's personal barber. She took a more central role in her next feature Sa-kwa (2005), about a woman who embarks on a new relationship after being dumped by her long-time boyfriend. Also from 2005, Mommy, Dearest sees her return to the historical era of the late 70s/early 80s in a family drama set against the political upheaval of those times.

Complete filmography:

Family Ties (2006)
Bewitching Attraction (2006)
Bravo, My Life (2005)
Sa-kwa (2005)
The President's Barber (2004)
A Good Lawyer's Wife (2003)
Oasis (2002)
Peppermint Candy (2000)

    Park Sang-myun

Park Sang-myun Park Sang-myun (b. Jan. 27, 1968) first broke into the film industry with minor roles such as "Ashtray" in hit comedy No. 3, but his strong acting talent soon captured the attention of audiences and filmmakers, and he grew into a well-known star. His first major success came in the wresting comedy The Foul King, after which he became a common sight on TV programs and advertisements as well as on film. He also took on a memorable role in Yang Yoon-ho's firefighting drama Libera Me. His part in a hit TV sitcom called Three Friends helped to further spread his popularity.

In late 2001, Park scored his biggest hit with the comedy My Wife is a Gangster, which attracted over 5 million viewers across Korea. In it he plays a sensitive husband who doesn't realize that his wife is a gang boss. Hi, Dharma, released a couple months later, also became a runaway hit with audiences for its comic meeting of gangsters and Buddhist monks.

The year 2002 was less kind, however, with comedies Steal It If You Can and She Brings Us Danger both bombing at the box-office. Since then Park disappeared almost completely from the film industry, returning only in 2005 with a minor role in She's On Duty.

Complete filmography:

She's On Duty (2005)
She Brings Us Danger (2002)
Steal It If You Can (2002)
A Perfect Match (2002, cameo)
Hi, Dharma (2001)
My Wife is a Gangster (2001)
Humanist (2001)
Libera Me (2000)
Just Do It (2000)
The Foul King (2000)
Nowhere to Hide (1999)
The Opening (1999)
Dr. K (1999)
Downfallen (1997)
No. 3 (1997)

    Lee Mi-yeon

Lee Mi-yeon Lee Mi-yeon (b. September 23, 1971) debuted in 1989 in a production by Cinema Service founder Kang Woo-suk titled Happiness Has Nothing To Do With School Records. Over the course of the 1990s she became quite famous, and after a short pause from filmmaking in 1995 she returned with a vengeance, taking on a role in the cult hit No. 3 and, in the following year, playing a schoolteacher in the second-biggest Korean film of 1998, horror film Whispering Corridors.

The year 2001 proved to be a mixed blessing for Lee. The news that her husband, actor Kim Seung-woo, had divorced her ended up as one of the biggest entertainment-related stories of the year. Shortly thereafter, however, she won a Best Actress award from the 2000 Blue Dragon Awards ceremony for her role in the low-profile film Pisces.

The award and all the press attention proved to be a boost to her career. In Indian Summer she played a woman accused of killing her husband, and then in November she starred as a Communist sympathizer in the latest feature by veteran director Bae Chang-ho. The following year she starred opposite mega-star Lee Byung-heon in the melodrama Addicted, as a woman who must cope with an unusual situation after her husband's death.

After several years away from the screen, Lee returns in 2005 in Kwak Kyung-taek's blockbuster Typhoon, which ranks as the most expensive Korean film in history.

Complete filmography:

Typhoon (2005)
Addicted (2002)
Last Witness (2001)
Indian Summer (2001)
Pisces (2000)
Love Bakery (2000)
Harmonium in My Memory (1999)
Whispering Corridors (1998)
Motel Cactus (1997)
No. 3 (1997)
Go Alone Like a Rhino's Horn (1995)
I Will Survive (1993)
Snow Flower (1992)
An Afternoon Without Rain (1991)
An Autumn Journey (1991)
Happiness Has Nothing To Do With School Records (1989)

    Joo Jin-mo

Joo Jin-mo Joo Jin-mo (b. August 11, 1975) began his acting career in TV dramas and some minor roles in film. He was first cast as a lead in Dance Dance (1999), Korea's only dance film, for which he underwent extensive dance training. Although the film itself did not perform well, it leant Joo some publicity before he broke through with the box-office and critical hit Happy End. His role as a spurned lover in this psycho-drama attracted considerable notice in Korea, and the film itself also traveled to Hong Kong.

After taking the lead in Kim Ki-duk's mildly experimental Real Fiction (which was shot in 3 1/2 hours without any retakes), Joo took a major role in the much-hyped Musa, set in 14th century China and starring Zhang Ziyi from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He also acted in Wanee and Junah, a melodrama about a screenwriter and an animator opposite popular actress Kim Hee-sun.

In 2003 he was rumored to take the lead role in an action blockbuster from Sidus Pictures, and also in the latest film by veteran director Park Kwang-su, but both films were then cancelled due to a lack of financing. Joo's return to the screen came in spring 2004, in the comedy Liar based on the play Run For Your Wife by Ray Cooney.

Complete filmography:

200 Pound Beauty (2006)
Puzzle (2006)
Liar (2004)
Wanee and Junah (2001)
Musa (2001)
Real Fiction (2000)
Happy End (1999)
Dance Dance (1999)
Park vs. Park (1997)
Farewell My Darling (1996)

    Ha Ji-won

Ha Ji-won Ha Ji-won (b. June 28, 1979) made her television debut in 1997 on KBS TV. She won a Grand Bell award as the Best New Actress of 2000 with her debut film Truth or Dare, and a Blue Dragon award for Best Supporting Actress with her second film, the popular melodrama Ditto (2000). After achieving wider public recognition as a "horror queen" for her roles in Ahn Sung-ki's films A Nightmare and Phone, she has branched out into a variety of roles such as that of a cheerleader in Sex is Zero, which was one of most successful comedies of the year 2002.

Thanks to the huge success of her TV drama, Damo in which she starred as a female detective in the Chosun Dynasty and Something That Happened in Bali in which she played a poor girl who was loved by two rich men played by Jo In-sung and So Ji-seop, she gained a reputation as an A-list actress. Her subsequent roles in three comedies -- Reversal of Fortune, 100 Days With Mr. Arrogant, and Love, So Divine -- were not as successful with audiences, however. In early 2005 she starred in the melodrama Daddy-Long-Legs, based on a famous novel by Jean Webster.

Ha's next role saw her once again play a Chosun-era female detective, this time in acclaimed director Lee Myung-Se's Duelist. Probably her highest-profile role to date, the film sees her teams up with Ahn Sung-ki to catch an elusive criminal played by Kang Dong-won.

Complete filmography:

Duelist (2005)
Daddy-Long-Legs (2005)
Love, So Divine (2004)
100 Days With Mr. Arrogant (2004)
Reversal of Fortune (2003)
Sex is Zero (2002)
Phone (2002)
A Nightmare (2000)
Ditto (2000)
Truth or Dare (1999)

    Kwon Sang-woo

Kwon Sang-woo Kwon Sang-woo (b. August 5, 1976), the most visible example of the so-called "mom-zzang" (slang for "great body") movement, started his career as a fashion model in the late 1990s. His first acting experience was in the TV drama Delicious Proposal, and for the first few years of his entertainment career he received only minor roles on television, before debuting in Volcano High (2001). The following year he played his first lead role in the comedy Make It Big together with Song Seung-heon.

Kwon's breakthrough came in the phenomenally successful comedy My Tutor Friend, as a troublesome high school boy who is tutored by a college student of the same age (played by actress Kim Ha-neul). In this year he also starred in My Good Partner, the world's first movie made for mobile phones, and in the music video collection Project X.

His next film released in early 2004 was also a great hit. Once Upon a Time In High School portrays the authoritarian society of the 1970s through a notoriously violent high school. Simultaneously, his TV drama Stairway To Heaven was winning over high ratings on TV. The drama was eventually screened throughout Asia and helped to turn him into a regional star. However Kwon's followup film Love So Divine, about a priest in training who falls in love, earned poor reviews and did not get much attention from audiences.

For 2006, Kwon returns in a big-budget action noir titled Running Wild, about a detective, a prosecutor, and a criminal who are all equally vicious.

Complete filmography:

Running Wild (2005)
Love, So Divine (2004)
Once Upon a Time in HS (2004)
My Tutor Friend (2003)
Make It Big (2002)
Volcano High (2001)

    Moon Geun-young

Moon Geun-young Moon Geun-young (b. May 6, 1987), through a combination of excellent acting skills and a sweet, innocent-looking manner, became a superstar in Korea long before she turned twenty. Moon first started modeling at the age of 12, and then in 2000 appeared in the docu-drama On the Road by artist Choi Jae-eun. That same year she appeared as the younger Song Hye-gyo in the hugely successful TV drama Autumn Fairy Tale, which was exported throughout Asia. She then played the younger version of Lee Mi-yeon's character in the KBS drama The Last Empress.

Moon's first appearance in a film was in a supporting role as Cha Tae-hyun's younger sister in Lovers Concerto (2002). It would be the following year that she would be launched as a major star, however, with her role in Kim Jee-woon's successful horror film A Tale of Two Sisters. Together with fellow actress Im Soo-jung, Moon captured the attention of legions of fans, from teenage girls on up.

Her subsequent appearances have given her a reputation as being one of Korea's few (only?) genuine box office draws, who can sell millions of tickets even in a bad film. Although My Little Bride (2004), in which she co-starred with Kim Rae-won, was considered an entertaining commercial comedy (which sold three million tickets), Moon was given the entire credit for the two million tickets sold by her subsequent film, the poorly-constructed ballroom dance film Innocent Steps.

Complete filmography:

Love Me Not (2006)
Innocent Steps (2005)
My Little Bride (2004)
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
Lovers Concerto (2002)
On the Road (2000)

    Jung Jae-young

Jung Jae-young Jung Jae-young (b. November 21, 1970) started his career taking minor roles in films ranging from his debut The Adventures of Mrs. Park to Green Fish, The Quiet Family, and Die Bad. However throughout this period he was primarily occupied with works by director/playright Jang Jin, both on the stage and in minor roles for the films The Happenings and The Spy.

Jung's first prominent film role came in Jang Jin's third film Guns & Talks, where he played one member of the film's central quartet of assassins. Shortly after that he turned in a memorable performance as a ruthless, cruel-minded hustler in Ryoo Seung-wan's No Blood No Tears. Around this time he began to be associated in audience's minds with tough, intense, masculine characters who would start a fight at the slightest provocation. His role as a death row convict turned soldier in the record-breaking Silmido marked the height of this stage of his career.

Nonetheless it would be Jang Jin who would again set him off in new creative directions. His acclaimed performance in Jang's romantic comedy Someone Special provided him with his first lead role and drove home the point that Jung had much more acting range than most people realized. In the smash hit Welcome to Dongmakgol (based on one of Jang Jin's plays which Jung had also performed in), he once again showed a more sensitive side as a war-weary North Korean officer who befriends his counterparts from the South. Finally, Wedding Campaign saw him play a shy rural farmer who travels to Uzbekistan in the hopes of finding a wife.

Complete filmography:

Righteous Ties (2006)
Wedding Campaign (2005)
Murder, Take One (2005)
Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005)
So Cute (2004)
Someone Special (2004)
Silmido (2003)
No Comment (2002)
Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance (cameo) (2002)
No Blood No Tears (2002)
Guns & Talks (2001)
Ghost Taxi (2000)
Die Bad (cameo) (2000)
The Spy (1999)
The Quiet Family (1998)
The Happenings (1997)
Green Fish (1997)
The Adventures of Mrs. Park (1996)

    Gang Hye-jung

Gang Hye-jung Gang Hye-jung (b. January 4, 1982) began working as a model in her first year of high school, and throughout the late 1990s she appeared in small roles in TV dramas and sitcoms such as Jump and Non-Stop III. Her first film role was in Moon Seung-wook's arthouse/sci-fi film Nabi, for which she won a Best Actress award at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival. Following this she appeared in a short film by Song Il-gon titled Flash as well as an internet film Naebang-nebang.

Gang's first major hit film was opposite Choi Min-shik in the modern-day classic Old Boy by Park Chan-wook. Her portrayal of the character Mido won her considerable attention both domestically and abroad, and she also picked up acting honors from the Grand Bell Awards and Pusan Film Critics Association. The following year she also appeared in Cut, Park Chan-wook's 30-minute contribution to the omnibus horror film Three... Extremes.

It was in 2005, however, that Gang established herself as a star outside of her appearance in Old Boy. The sharp-edged relationship drama Rules of Dating, in which she starred opposite Park Hae-il, proved to be an unexpected hit, and then two months later she took a small but central role in box office megahit Welcome to Dongmakgol. Around this time her offscreen relationship with actor Cho Seung-woo (Marathon) also kept her the subject of attention.

In 2006 she is scheduled to appear in Domabaem ("Lizard") a romance with Cho Seung-woo, as well as the Thai film Invisible Waves by rising directorial star Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Last Life in the Universe).

Complete filmography:

Herb (2007)
Love Phobia (2006)
Invisible Waves (2006) [Thailand]
Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005)
Sympathy For Lady Vengeance (cameo) (2005)
Rules of Dating (2005)
Antarctic Journal (cameo) (2005)
Three... Extremes (2004)
Old Boy (2003)
Nabi (2001)

    Park Hae-il

Park Hae-il Park Hae-il (b. January 26, 1977) began appearing in theatre productions ever since childhood, and he first established himself on stage rather than on the screen. In 2000 he was awarded the Best New Actor award in the theatre category of the Baeksang Art Awards for his role in the play "Cheongchun-yechan". His film debut was in a minor role of Yim Soon-rye's Waikiki Brothers, however he left a major impression in his second film Jealousy Is My Middle Name, in which he played a conflicted young man who develops a fascination/hatred for his boss, who has stolen two women from him. The film won the top prize at the Pusan festival in 2002, and was released commercially the following spring.

Throughout his career Park has been cast in two different types of roles: innocent-looking, boyish characters, or else men who hide a dark streak under a nice-looking exterior. After Jealousy, Park would take on his darkest role of all in the acclaimed smash hit Memories of Murder, where he portrayed a man suspected of committing serial murder. Yet the following year he was just as effective appearing in a romantic role opposite Jeon Do-yeon in time-travel drama My Mother, the Mermaid.

In 2005 he once again played characters of completely opposite temperament. In Rules of Dating he plays a dirty-minded, scheming high school instructor who sets his mind on a pretty student teacher played by Gang Hye-jung, while in The Boy Who Went to Heaven he plays a young boy who suddenly finds himself an adult one day, ala Tom Hanks in Big.

2006 will see him return to work with acclaimed director Bong Joon-ho in the big-budget monster movie The Host.

Complete filmography:

Paradise Murdered (2007)
The Host (2006)
The Boy Who Went to Heaven (2005)
Rules of Dating (2005)
My Mother the Mermaid (2004)
Memories of Murder (2003)
Jealousy is My Middle Name (2003)
Scent of Love (2003)
Waikiki Brothers (2001)

    Son Ye-jin

Son Ye-jin Son Ye-jin (b. January 11, 1982) has taken on a variety of roles in her career to date, propelling her to fame both in Korea and in other Asian countries. She first appeared in a supporting role in Park Ki-hyung's film Secret Tears in 2000, and then went on to take the lead in TV dramas such as Delicious Proposal, Sunhee Jinhee, and Daemang: Great Ambition. Her first high-profile role in cinema was in Im Kwon-taek's Chihwaseon, which screened at Cannes and took home a Best Director award in 2002.

The biggest success of her early career was in the subsequent films Lovers Concerto and The Classic. Both were solid mid-level hits in Korea, and The Classic in particular -- being a work of My Sassy Girl director Kwak Jae-yong -- received wide exposure in countries such as Hong Kong and China.

Son further solidified her status as a "hallyu" (Korean wave) star in 2003 by taking the lead in TV drama Summer Scent, a part of the hugely successful series of TV dramas including Autumn Love Story and Winter Sonata (though this drama would not attract the attention of the previous two). Her next two films also proved to be huge hits in Asia: A Moment to Remember, based on a famous Japanese TV series, set box office records in Japan and sold over two million tickets in Korea, while April Snow in which she co-starred with superstar Bae Yong-joon was also a smash hit in Japan and China (though not, incidentally, in Korea).

Son's most recent work sees her cast off her nice girl image to take on the role of a seductress in The Art of Seduction. From Marc 2006 she is also scheduled to appear in a TV drama together with Gam Woo-sung, playing the role of a divorced woman.

Complete filmography:

The Art of Seduction (2005)
April Snow (2005)
A Moment to Remember (2004)
Crazy First Love (2003)
The Classic (2003)
Lovers Concerto (2002)
Chihwaseon (2002)
Secret Tears (2000)


    Bae Yong-joon

Bae Yong-joon Bae Yong-joon (b. August 29, 1972) spent the first nine years of his show biz career in TV dramas, gradually building up a tremendous fan base across Asia, and particularly in Japan, that has made him one of Korea's most famous stars. His debut came in the 1994 TV drama Love Greeting, and from 1995 to 2002 he went on to appear in nine more TV dramas. Have We Really Loved? (1999), Hotelier (2001) and especially Winter Sonata (2002) gave him tremendous exposure throughout Asia. In Japan in particular, Winter Sonata enjoyed unprecedented popular success, particularly among middle-aged women. Bae was subsequently dubbed with the honorific nickname "Yonsama", and became the most famous Korean star in Japan. Japanese prime minister Koizumi even joked, perhaps not untruthfully, that Bae's popularity had outstripped his own.

Meanwhile his film debut, outside of a brief walk-on in the film Bbilgu in 1995, came after he was already quite famous, in E J-yong's 2003 period drama Untold Scandal. The film, in which he portrayed a womanizing aristocrat quite unlike his popular image from TV dramas, was a hit in Korea and also performed well in Japan. By the time he made his second film April Snow in 2005, his popularity had grown to the extent that an intense media frenzy followed him throughout the shooting schedule. The film, about a man who discovers his wife's infidelity after she falls into a coma, opened weakly in Korea but set a new box office record for a Korean film in Japan.

In fall of 2006, Bae is scheduled to return to TV dramas with the lead role in Taewangsasingi, where he plays an emperor from the Goguryeo Dynasty who lived from 375-413.

Complete filmography:

April Snow (2005)
Untold Scandal (2003)


    Kim Suna

Kim Sun-ah Kim Suna (b. October 1, 1975) was born in Daegu and then spent much of her school years in Tokyo. After first appearing in a music video by Kim Hyun-cheol, she started appearing often on TV but did not emerge as a star. She would first become well known as a film actress, debuting in the big-budget box office failure Yesterday but going on to play a lead role as a student teacher in the unexpected hit Wet Dreams.

Following this, Kim began to establish a niche for herself in comedies, often appearing as a straight-talking and not particularly demure comic heroine. She appeared in three films in 2003: a memorable cameo appearance in the period comedy Once Upon a Time in a Battlefield, opposite Im Chang-jung in the strong hit The Greatest Expectation, and together with Cha Tae-hyun in the little-watched Happy Naked Christmas. In 2004 she took the lead role in S Diary as a jilted woman who decides to get revenge on her ex-boyfriends.

The early part of 2005 saw her star in the action-comedy She's On Duty, but she would follow this up by returning to the realm of TV dramas. It proved to be the best move of her career, as My Lovely Samsoon ended up becoming the most-watched drama of 2005. The forthright, independent personality she displayed in her leading role as a woman who finds unexpected success in life as a baker endeared her to women across Korea, and later Asia, establishing her as an top star.

Currently Kim is re-enrolled in college at Ball State University in the US as a piano major, presumably also brushing up on her English skills in order to further her career.

Complete filmography:

She's On Duty (2005)
S Diary (2004)
Happy Naked Christmas (2003)
The Greatest Expectation (2003)
Once Upon a Time in Battlefield (2003)
Wet Dreams (2002)
Yesterday (2002)

    Cho Seung-woo

Cho Seung-woo Cho Seung-woo (b. March 28, 1980) grew up in a musical family: his father Cho Kyung-soo is a singer, and his older sister Cho Seo-yeon acts in musicals. Cho himself also dreamed of becoming a musical actor from an early age, however in 1999 while a student at Dankook University he was persuaded to join auditions for Im Kwon-taek's film Chunhyang, and he ended up winning the part from among a field of 1000 actors. Chunhyang would screen as the first Korean film in competition at Cannes, although domestically it failed to attract much of an audience.

Cho did go on to appear in musicals after his film debut, acting in local productions Subway Line 1 and The Last Empress. Soon he was drawn back into the film industry, however, with a key supporting role in Wanee and Junah (2001), plus leading roles in Who Are You (2002) and Kwak Jae-yong's popular The Classic (2003). Particularly after The Classic his popularity continued to grow, and in 2004 he appeared in Im Kwon-taek's 99th film Low Life, which flopped at the box office.

Cho's breakthrough would come in early 2005, when he played an autistic boy in the smash hit Marathon. With over 5 million tickets sold to the film, Cho attracted great praise for his naturalistic performance and won Best Actor at the 2005 Grand Bell Awards. In November he was even presented with a Best Actor award in the foreign film category of China's Hundred Flowers Awards. Nonetheless, he continued to pursue his career in musicals, with critically-acclaimed appearances in Hedwig and Jekyll and Hyde that had fans scrambling to find tickets. His success at pursuing both film and musicals make him an unusual case among contemporary actors.

Cho's latest film appearance is in Love Phobia (2006) playing opposite Gang Hye-jung, with whom he shares an off-screen romance. He will also appear in Tazza, the second film by Choi Dong-hoon, the director of The Big Swindle.

Complete filmography:

Tazza (2006)
Love Phobia (2006)
Marathon (2005)
Low Life (2004)
The Classic (2003)
Who Are You (2002)
Wanee & Junah (2001)
Chunhyang (2000)

    Lee Na-young

Lee Na-young The public persona of Lee Na-young (b. February 22, 1979) is interesting for its contradictions. She is most famous, perhaps, as Korea's quintessential cosmetics model. Only top-ranked models are able to get anywhere near cosmetics ads, and she is considered to have one of the most beautiful and idealized faces in Korea.

She has played off this image to a certain extent in her appearances on TV dramas. Her debut was in the SBS drama Queen in 1998, the same year she started her modeling career. In the coming years she would appear in a number of popular dramas, including Have We Really Loved? (1999) with Bae Yong-joon, KAIST (2000), the critically acclaimed Ruler of Your Own World (2002), and Ireland (2004).

Nonetheless, her image in films has been almost the opposite. She first appeared in the rather unfortunate sci-fi film Dream of a Warrior in 2000 with Hong Kong star Leon Lai, and continued on in the charming but overlooked Who Are You? with Cho Seung-woo. She is best known, however, for her roles in Please Teach Me English and Jang Jin's Someone Special, where she portrays women who are awkward, eccentric, and the very opposite of glamourous. She has proved to be quite skilled in these roles, contributing greatly to the comic success of those two films and winning a Best Actress prize from the Blue Dragon Awards for her role in Someone Special.

Lee's next role will be opposite Kang Dong-won in Maundy Thursday, a capital punishment drama based on a famous novel and directed by Song Hye-sung (Failan, Rikidozan).

Complete filmography:

Maundy Thursday (2006)
Someone Special (2004)
Please Teach Me English (2003)
Who Are You (2002)
Dream of a Warrior (2000)

    Baek Yoon-shik

Baek Yoon-shik Baek Yoon-shik (b. March 16, 1947) made his debut in 1970 on KBS TV. In the coming years he would appear in four films, taking lead roles in his debut Excellent Guys and in romantic comedy Only With You with Seo Mi-kyung, a young star of the time. He also studied in the film and theater department at Chung-Ang University's graduate school.

Nonetheless, his film career appeared to end in the 1970s and he became known thereafter as a TV actor. In the late 1990s and early 2000s he attained a certain degree of visibility in TV dramas such as Moon Over Seoul (1994, with Han Suk-kyu and Choi Min-shik) and Jang Hee-bin (2002, with Kim Hye-soo).

In 2003, however, Baek's career was revived in spectacular fashion with a major role in Jang Jun-hwan's acclaimed debut feature Save the Green Planet. Playing an arrogant company executive -- believed by the film's hero to be an alien from Andromeda -- Baek's performance won him a Best Actor Award from the 2003 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival, as well as numerous best supporting actor mentions from local awards ceremonies. He quickly became sort of a cult figure among younger cinephiles.

Following on this success, Baek went on to appear in several more high-profile films, including a memorable role in Choi Dong-hoon's caper film The Big Swindle and a showstopping performance as intelligence chief Kim Jae-gyu in Im Sang-soo's controversial drama The President's Last Bang.

The year 2006 turned out to be a particularly prolific year for Baek, as he took leading and supporting roles in four films. (It was a profitable year as well, with his fee rising to $400,000 per film -- just a shade below that of the top stars) Of these four, Choi Dong-hoon's Tazza proved to be a runaway hit, selling close to 7 million tickets.

Baek is married with two sons, the elder of whom is young actor Baek Do-bin (Seducing Mr. Perfect, Tazza).

Complete filmography:

How the Lack of Love... (2006)
Tazza (2006)
Like a Virgin (2006)
Art of Fighting (2006)
The President's Last Bang (2005)
The Big Swindle (2004)
Save the Green Planet! (2003)
A Masterpiece in My Life (2000)
Chu-ha, My Love (1977)
Only With You (1976)
A Woman's Castle (1976)
Excellent Guys (1974)

Back to Korean Film Page, last updated November 25, 2006.