Choi Min-sik at the 44th Carlsbad International Film Festival, July 9, 2009
May 30, 1962|
Seoul, South Korea
|Revised Romanization||Choe Min-sik|
Choi Min-sik (born May 30, 1962) is a South Korean actor. He is best known for his critically acclaimed roles in Oldboy (2003), I Saw the Devil (2010), and The Admiral: Roaring Currents (2014). He also starred alongside Scarlett Johansson in the 2014 French film Lucy.
Choi was born in Seoul, South Korea. When he was in third grade, Choi was diagnosed with tuberculosis and told that he could not be cured. He claims to have regained his health by a month-long stay in the mountains.
Graduating with a degree in theatre from Dongguk University, Choi began his career as a theatre actor. He then started filming, playing roles in Park Jong-won's early movies, like Kuro Arirang and Our Twisted Hero. He continued to act on stage, as well as in television dramas like The Moon of Seoul with Han Suk-kyu.
In 1997, he played a police investigator in Song Neung-han's No. 3, and then accepted a role in Kim Jee-woon's debut film The Quiet Family. The first real success came with his role of a North Korean agent in Shiri in 1999. The film was not only critically acclaimed but also achieved box office success. Choi received the Best Actor award at Grand Bell Awards for his portrayal. In the same year he also took part in a stage production of Hamlet, and then starred in Happy End, where he portrayed a man who is cheated on by his wife. In 2001 he took the role of a gangster opposite Cecilia Cheung in Failan.
A year later he portrayed Jang Seung-eop, a Joseon painter in Im Kwon-taek's Chihwaseon, which was awarded the Best Director prize in Cannes. In 2003 he starred in Park Chan-wook's Oldboy, which made him popular not only in South Korea but also won him international recognition.
He continued displaying his versatility in 2004 and 2005, playing a trumpet player in Springtime, a struggling former boxer in Ryoo Seung-wan's Crying Fist, and a child murderer in Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, the last film in Park Chan-wook's revenge trilogy.
In 2005 he and Song Kang-ho were accused by director and Cinema Service head Kang Woo-suk of being greedy for money and demanding profit share for "contribution" when no contribution was done. Kang later rescinded the statement and apologized.
At various points during 2006, Choi (and other South Korean film industry professionals, together and separately from Choi) demonstrated in Seoul and at the Cannes Film Festival against the South Korean administration's decision to reduce the Screen Quotas from 146 to 73 days as part of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. As a sign of protest, Choi returned the prestigious Okgwan Order of Cultural Merit which had been awarded to him, saying, "To halve the screen quota is tantamount to a death sentence for Korean film. This medal, once a symbol of pride, is now nothing more than a sign of disgrace, and it is with a heavy heart that I must return it."
In the next four years, Choi went on a self-imposed exile from making films, begun in protest over the screen quota but also partly due to the studios' reluctance to hire the outspoken and politically active actor. Instead he returned to his theater roots in the 2007 staging of The Pillowman, his first play in seven years.
During the retrospective on Choi held at the 14th Lyon Asian Film Festival in November 2008, the actor was asked his reaction to the upcoming remake of Oldboy, and he admitted to the French reporters present that he was upset at Hollywood for using what he described as pressure tactics on Asian and European filmmakers so they could remake foreign movies in the United States.
Though Kim Jee-woon's 2010 action thriller I Saw the Devil drew criticism from some quarters for its ultra-violent content, reviewers agreed that Choi's performance as a serial killer was memorable and the film emerged as a Box Office success.
He did voice acting for Leafie, A Hen into the Wild, which in 2011 became the highest grossing South Korean animated film in history. In his 2012 follow-up Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time, Choi played another complex, layered antihero, and the Yoon Jong-bin film was both a critical and box office hit. and earned him the Best Performance by an Actor award at the 2012 Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
For his English-language debut, Choi appeared in Luc Besson's Lucy (2014), in the role of a gangster who kidnaps a girl and forces her to become a drug mule (Scarlett Johansson), but she inadvertently acquires superhuman powers.
He then played Yi Sun-sin in the blockbuster period epic The Admiral: Roaring Currents about the Battle of Myeongnyang, regarded as one of the admiral's most remarkable naval victories. Roaring Currents became the all-time most watched film in South Korean film history, the first ever to reach 15 million admissions and the first local film to gross more than US$100 million.
|1990||That Which Falls Has Wings|
|1992||Our Twisted Hero||Teacher Kim|
|1992||May Our Love Stay This Way|
|1993||Sara is Guilty|
|1995||Mom, the Star, and the Sea Anemone|
|1997||No. 3||Ma Dong-pal|
|1998||The Quiet Family||Kang Chang-ku|
|1999||Happy End||Seo Min-ki|
|2004||Taegukgi||North Korean commander||Cameo|
|2005||Crying Fist||Kang Tae-sik|
|2005||Sympathy for Lady Vengeance||Mr. Baek|
|2009||Tidal Wave||Man on Bridge, Man near Baby Store|
|2009||Himalaya, Where the Wind Dwells||Choi|
|2010||I Saw the Devil||Jang Kyung-chul|
|2011||Leafie, A Hen into the Wild||Drifter||Voice|
|2011||Ari Ari the Korean Cinema||Himself||Documentary|
|2012||Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time||Choi Ik-hyun|
|2013||New World||Kang Hyung-chul|
|2013||In My End Is My Beginning||Doctor (voice)||Cameo|
|2014||The Admiral: Roaring Currents||Admiral Yi Sun-shin|
|2015||The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale||Chun Man-duk|
|2017||The Mayor||Byeon Jong-gu|
|2017||Heart Blackened||Im Tae-san|
|1990||Years of Ambition||KBS2|
|1992||Sons and Daughters||MBC|
|1993||The Burning River||MBC|
|1993||Sun and Moon||KBS2|
|1994||The Moon of Seoul||MBC|
|1994||The Last Lover||MBC|
|1995||Till We Meet Again||SBS|
|1995||The Fourth Republic||MBC|
|1996||Dad Is the Boss||SBS|
|1997||Love and Separation||MBC|
|1997||Miss and Mister||SBS|
- The Pillowman (2007)
- Leave When They're Applauding (2000)
- Hamlet (1999)
- Taxi Driver (1997)
- Equus (1990)
Awards and nominations
|1990||KBS Drama Awards||Best New Actor||Years of Ambition||Won|
|1992||13th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Our Twisted Hero||Nominated|
|1993||31st Grand Bell Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|38th Asia Pacific Film Festival||Best Supporting Actor||Won|
|1997||21st Seoul Theater Festival||Best Actor||Taxi Driver||Won|
|35th Grand Bell Awards||Best Supporting Actor||No. 3||Nominated|
|1999||22nd Golden Cinematography Awards||Most Popular Actor||Shiri||Won|
|35th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actor (Film)||Won|
|36th Grand Bell Awards||Best Actor||Won|
|20th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|2nd Director's Cut Awards||Best Actor||Happy End||Won|
|2000||45th Asia Pacific Film Festival||Best Actor||Won|
|2001||2nd Busan Film Critics Awards||Best Actor||Failan||Won|||
|22nd Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
|21st Korean Association of Film Critics Awards||Best Actor||Won|
|4th Director's Cut Awards||Best Actor||Won|
|2002||38th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actor (Film)||Nominated|
|39th Grand Bell Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|4th Deauville Asian Film Festival||Best Actor||Won|||
|23rd Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||Chi-hwa-seon||Nominated|
|2003||24th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||Oldboy||Won|||
|2004||40th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actor (Film)||Won|
|41st Grand Bell Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
|12th Chunsa Film Art Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
|24th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
|1st Max Movie Awards||Best Actor||Won|
|49th Asia Pacific Film Festival||Best Actor||Won|
|7th Director's Cut Awards||Best Actor||Won|
|1st University Film Festival of Korea||Best Actor||Won|
|3rd Korean Film Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
|25th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|2005||The Village Voice Annual Film Critics Poll||Best Performance, Rank #40||Oldboy||Won|
|9th Fantasia Festival||Best Actor||Crying Fist||Won|||
|5th Korea World Youth Film Festival||Favorite Actor||Won|
|2010||13th Director's Cut Awards||Best Actor||I Saw the Devil||Won|
|47th Grand Bell Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|8th Korean Film Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|||
|2011||Scream Awards||Best Villain||Nominated|
|2012||Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|48th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actor (Film)||Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time||Nominated|
|21st Buil Film Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
|6th Asia Pacific Screen Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
|49th Grand Bell Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|33rd Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
|2013||4th KOFRA Film Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
|7th Asian Film Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|||
|2014||2nd Marie Claire Asia Star Awards||Actor of the Year||The Admiral: Roaring Currents||Won|
|23rd Buil Film Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|34th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
|51st Grand Bell Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
|4th SACF Artists of the Year Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang)||Won|||
|35th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|3rd Korea Film Actors Association Awards||Top Star Award||Won|
|2015||6th KOFRA Film Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
|10th Max Movie Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
|20th Chunsa Film Art Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|||
|9th Asian Film Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|||
|51st Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actor (film)||Nominated|
|Grand Prize (Daesang) (Film)||Won|||
|2016||21st Chunsa Film Art Awards||Best Actor||The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale||Nominated|
|53rd Grand Bell Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|2017||6th Korea Film Actors Association Awards||Top Star Award||Heart Blackened||Won|||
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- "Choi Min-sik unscrupulous politician in new film". The Korea Herald. 2 March 2017.
- "CHOI Min-shik to Play MAYOR OF SEOUL". Korean Film Biz Zone. 31 December 2015.
- "(Yonhap Interview) Politicians' craving for power now understandable, says 'The Mayor' actor". Yonhap News Agency. 20 April 2017.
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- "(Yonhap Interview) Actor Choi Min-sik: I'm motivated solely by self-interest". Yonhap News Agency. 26 October 2017.
- "HAN Suk-kyu and CHOI Min-shik Fated to Reunite for ASTRONOMY". Korean Film Biz Zone. 25 June 2018.
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- "Surprise winner for best picture". Hancinema. The Korea Herald. 13 December 2003.
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- "When I Turned Nine unexpected winner of Chunsa Film Art Awards". Hancinema. Korean Film Biz Zone. 25 November 2004.
- "Old Boy reigns at Critics Choice Awards". Korean Film Biz Zone. 26 November 2004.
- "`Old Boy' Gets Best Picture at Korea Film Awards". Hancinema. The Korea Times. 6 December 2004.
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- "Top Star Awards for NA Moon-hee, LEE Jung-hyun, CHOI Min-shik and Hyun-bin". Korean Film Biz Zone. 8 January 2018.
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