Hong Seok-cheon

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Hong Seok-cheon
'현지에서 먹힐까' 제작 발표회 홍석천.jpg
Born (1971-02-03) 3 February 1971 (age 50)
NationalitySouth Korean
Alma materHanyang University – Theater and Film (1989)
OccupationActor, television personality, restaurateur
Years active1994–present
AgentForesta Company
Children2 (adopted)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationHong Seok-cheon
McCune–ReischauerHong Sŏkch'ŏn

Hong Seok-cheon (born February 3, 1971) is a South Korean actor, television personality, restaurateur and member of the Democratic Labor Party. He caused considerable controversy in his home country when he came out as gay in 2000, and remains the most prominent openly gay celebrity in Korea.[1][2][3]


Hong Seok-cheon was born in Cheongyang County in South Chungcheong Province. He began his entertainment career as a male model, and made his screen debut in 1994 as a reporter for Live TV Information Center. In 1995, he won the bronze prize at the KBS Comedian Festival (for college students). Due to his versatility and comic timing, Hong went on to a prolific career on South Korean television, appearing in children's programs and variety shows, as well as sitcoms and dramas.[4][3]

In 2000, Hong was asked a question regarding his sexuality on a variety show, and he chose to answer honestly that he was gay. Though the show's producers initially edited out the exchange, a journalist got wind of the story and pressed Hong to confirm his admission.[5] After Hong revealed his homosexuality, he was fired from his network television programs and advertisements amidst public uproar, and no longer landed any major acting roles.[6] He faced massive stigma after becoming the country's first openly gay celebrity, and later said he experienced shunning, verbal abuse and discrimination that he rarely stepped out of his social circle.[7] He then wrote his memoir My Heart Still Throbs for Forgotten Love, in which he recounted his failed romance with a Dutch man named Tony.[8]

Forced out of the entertainment business, Hong wanted to leave the country to study in New York, but he said he decided stay in Korea to prove to his detractors that he could be a success. He started his first restaurant Our Place in 2002, two years after he came out. He now owns and runs nine high-end restaurants in Itaewon, home to a large expat community in Seoul.[9] Hong's restaurants are all characterized by the prefix "My," namely: My Hong, My Chi chi*s, My Thai, My Thai China, My X, My Chelsea, My Noodle, and My Suji.[10][11]

In 2004, he joined the Democratic Labor Party and was selected by Time magazine as the year's Asian Hero.[12] Hong also continued appearing regularly on talk shows, notably Yeo Yoo Man Man, on which he guested with his parents and discussed his life since coming out. Acting-wise, Hong starred in the thriller Puzzle (2006) and the stage play A Midsummer Night's Dream (2009).[13][14] He also founded the internet shopping mall Ne2Nom in 2007, and became a professor at Korea National University of Arts (teaching Broadcast Content Production in 2010 and Fashion Arts in 2011).

After his sister's divorce, Hong adopted her two children and changed their last names to his.[7][15] In 2008, he hosted his own talk show Coming Out, which featured gay issues.[16] Despite Korean society's continuing conservatism, Hong overcame initial public disapproval and gradually gained more mainstream acceptance, especially among the younger generation, in part because of his activism in fighting for LGBT rights.[17] From bit parts and cameos, he now emcees shows on cable television and has a sizeable following on social media.[5]

In 2015, Hong announced that he plans to run for district head of the Yongsan District Office in the 2018 local elections.[18] Having lived in Yongsan District for ten years, he said he aims to promote cultural spaces for young artists and small businesses, while providing welfare for sexual minorities. If elected, he will become the first openly gay person to become a government official in Korea.[19] In 2016, he participated in the program Law Of The Jungle.[20]

In 2018, he revealed to be third cousins with Taeyong of NCT.[21]


Variety shows[edit]

Year Title Network Notes
1994 Live TV Information Center KBS1 Reporter
1999 Laughter Festival MBC
Music Champ MBC
Sisa Touch! Comedy File KBS2
Field Experience of Life KBS2
2000 Ppo Ppo Ppo (Kiss Kiss Kiss) MBC
TV Star Festival MBC
2001 Challenge, Ajumma Goes MBS Host
2008 Coming Out tvN Host
2009 We Got Married MBC
Immutable Law of Loving Bad Boys – Season 7 O'live TV
2011-2012 Rebirth Variety: Havana OBS
2012 Queen of Beauty – Season 2 KBS Drama
Talk Show Shocking Channel A
2013 Golden Fishery MBC
Chef's Midnight Snacks O'live TV Host
Splash MBC
Millionaire Game: My Turn tvN
I Live Alone MBC Guest
Witch Hunt JTBC Cast member[22]
2014 Shopper Man KBS W Host
Cook King Korea SBS Host
Roommate – Season 2 SBS Guest
Running Man SBS Guest
Flying Fox in New York JTBC
2015 Saturday Night Live Korea – Season 6 tvN Cast member
King of Mask Singer MBC Contestant,
episode 7[23][24]
Please Take Care of My Refrigerator JTBC Cast member[25]
A Meal's Dignity KBS Joy
Hello Counselor KBS Guest
2016 Vocal War: God's Voice SBS Panelist; pilot episode, episodes 1-2, 9-10
Battle Trip KBS2 Contestant with Bong Man-dae; episodes 5-6
Law of the Jungle: New Caledonia SBS Cast member
Golden Tambourine Mnet Guest
2017 Battle Trip KBS2 Contestant with Yoon Park; episodes 54-55
2018 4 Wheeled Restaurant tvN Cast member
2020 Radio Star MBC Guest MC
2021 Showterview with Jessi SBS's Mobidic YouTube Guest

Television series[edit]

Year Title Role Network
1995 LA Arirang SBS
1996 Three Guys and Three Girls Hong Seok-cheon MBC
2000 Paradise KBS Joy
2001 Why Can't We Stop Them SBS
2003 Perfect Love Hong Seung-jo SBS
2005 Sad Love Story Charlie MBC
18 vs. 29 KBS2
Fashion 70's SBS
2006 Hyena tvN
2007 Kid Gang OCN
Golden Bride SBS
2008 Life Special Investigation Team MBC
Aeja's Older Sister, Minja Heo Goo-hyung SBS
The Secret of Coocoo Island Professor of Korean
language and literature
2009 Can't Stop Now MBC
The Accidental Couple Movie director (cameo) KBS2
Swallow the Sun Jimmy SBS
Assorted Gems Director Hong MBC
Joseon Mystery Detective
Jeong Yak-yong
Cheol-du OCN
2011 Baby Faced Beauty KBS2
Bravo, My Love! Julien (cameo) MBC
Ojakgyo Family KBS2
Saving Mrs. Go Bong-shil Seok-cheon TV Chosun
2012 Dummy Mommy Hairdresser (cameo) SBS
Vampire Prosecutor – Season 2 Gabriel Jang (guest, episode 6) OCN
2013 Blue Tower Platoon first lieutenant Hong tvN
Sincerity Moves Heaven (cameo) KBS1
Reply 1994 ROTC cadet (cameo, episode 2) tvN
2014 Triangle Man-kang MBC
Everybody, Kimchi! Wedding dress shop owner (cameo) MBC
My Secret Hotel Chef Andre Hong tvN
2015 The Man in the Mask Pi Sung-ho KBS2
Sense8 Referee Netflix
The Time We Were Not in Love Airplane passenger
(cameo, episode 1)
Yumi's Room O'live TV
2016 My Horrible Boss photographer (cameo) JTBC
2017 Saimdang, Memoir of Colors SBS
Suspicious Partner monk SBS
2018 Player[27] Cameo OCN
Lovely Horribly Kang Hyun-seok KBS2
2019 My Absolute Boyfriend[28] SBS
2020 Touch Kim Dong-min Channel A
Itaewon Class Himself (Cameo, episodes 2, 4, 9 & 16) JTBC
Missing: The Other Side Mr. Hong (Cameo, episode 9) OCN


Year Title Role
1997 Do the Right Thing Henchman
No. 3 Adulterous man
Man with Flowers Lee Joo-il
1998 Rub Love Stop Bar bartender
Tie a Yellow Ribbon Dong-gyu
1999 Ghost in Love Subway passenger
2001 Last Present Cheong-chun
A Tearful Story (cameo)
Hera Purple Min-seok
2003 Dying or Live Charlie Choi
2005 The Art of Seduction DJ
2006 Good Luck Skinhead Hong
Puzzle Noh
2008 The Accidental Gangster and the Mistaken Courtesan Tailor shop owner (cameo)
2009 Sky and Sea Hair designer (cameo)
2011 Dream the Good Dream (short film) Russian mafia Kalashnikov
2012 Runway Cop Show director
2014 Fashion King MC Seok-cheon (cameo)
2015 Love Forecast My Thai China restaurant owner (cameo)
Mongolian Princess Movie actor (cameo)
Love Clinic Psychiatrist (cameo)


Year Title Role Reprised
1994 Save the Last Dance for Me
1995 A Midsummer Night's Dream Francis Flute 2009
1999 A Chorus Line
2002 Godspell
2006 Footloose Willard Hewitt
2010 The Rocky Horror Show Narrator
2013-2014 Nunsense A-Men Sister Mary Leo


Year Title Publisher ISBN
2000 My Heart Still Throbs for Forgotten Love J-pub ISBN 9788983755315
2008 Design Your Own Restaurant M-Books ISBN 9788996048459


  1. ^ Cho, Joohee (May 27, 2009). "Breaking the Gay Taboo in South Korea". ABC News. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  2. ^ "Hong Suk-chun talks about coming out of the closet". The Korea Herald. February 4, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Glionna, John M. (March 5, 2012). "South Korean actor throws open closet door". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
  4. ^ Lee, Seung-heon (April 12, 2001). "Hong Seok-Cheon of "coming-out" returns to TV". The Dong-a Ilbo. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Pearson, James; Rashid, Raphael (November 2, 2012). "Gay Korea comes out". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  6. ^ Chun, Su-jin (June 1, 2001). "Defying the Stigma of a Gender Change". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Kim, Tong-hyung (February 5, 2013). "Hong shares painful experience as first openly gay celebrity". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on September 13, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  8. ^ Han, Hyon-woo (December 26, 2000). "Hong Seok-cheon Comes Out Some More with Mini-bio". The Chosun Ilbo. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  9. ^ Kim, Young-jin (February 14, 2013). "Itaewon: Going Gangnam Style?". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  10. ^ "Businesses Hiring Hunks to Woo Customers". The Chosun Ilbo. September 12, 2007. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  11. ^ "Celebrity reveals restaurant sales figures". The Korea Times. July 1, 2015. Archived from the original on July 26, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  12. ^ "Time Magazine Selects Korean Actor Hong Seok-cheon as Asian Hero". The Chosun Ilbo. September 24, 2004. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
  13. ^ Chung, Ah-young (June 9, 2009). "Star Actors Team Up in Shakespeare Play". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  14. ^ Park, Sun-young (June 5, 2009). "Reunion for Midsummer Night revival". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  15. ^ Kim, Jae-heun (August 11, 2015). "Hong shares secret of success with students". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on August 15, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  16. ^ Han, Sang-hee (April 13, 2008). "Actor Hong Suk-Chun to Host Coming Out". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
  17. ^ Lee, Sung-eun (September 30, 2014). "Star restaurateur launches ramen line". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  18. ^ "Gay TV star chases political career". The Korea Times. March 20, 2015. Archived from the original on July 20, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  19. ^ Kim, Jae-heun (February 23, 2015). "Hong Seok-cheon turns his eye to politics". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on July 11, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  20. ^ Park, Jin Young. "홍석천, '정글의 법칙' 합류..뉴칼레도니아 간다". 2016-05-16. Retrieved 2016-05-11.
  21. ^ "Hong Suk Chun finally reveals the SM idol he's related to is NCT's Taeyong | allkpop.com". allkpop. Retrieved 2018-01-15.
  22. ^ Chun, Su-jin (January 9, 2014). "Breaking taboos gets green light on Witch Hunt". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  23. ^ Kwon, Ji-youn (May 19, 2015). "Mask King finds hidden singing talent". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on July 25, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  24. ^ Ko, Dong-hwan (July 1, 2015). "Revealing true self behind mask". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on July 26, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  25. ^ Kwon, Ji-youn (March 10, 2015). "Growing appetite for Cook TV". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on July 8, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  26. ^ Han, Sang-hee (November 17, 2009). "Cable TV OCN to Present Joseon's Sherlock Holmes". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on December 27, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  27. ^ "Hong Suk-chun and Krystal in the Making of "The Player"". Hancinema. Xports News. June 17, 2018.
  28. ^ "[Oh!쎈 컷] '절대그이' 여진구·민아·홍종현, 첫 대본 리딩부터 환상 케미". Osen (in Korean). July 10, 2018.

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