Jung Woo-sung in 2016
|Born||22 April 1973|
Seoul, South Korea
|Revised Romanization||Jeong U-seong|
Jung Woo-sung (born April 22, 1973) is a South Korean actor. He is also the first Korean UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Jung started his career as a fashion model, rising to stardom and teenage cult figure status with the gangster movie Beat (1997), for which he received the Best New Actor award at the 17th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards.
One of the top South Korean stars, Jung is also widely popular in other Asian countries, notably in Japan. A four-time winner of the Popular Actor Award at the Blue Dragon Film Awards he also won, among others, the Busan Film Critics Award for Best Actor for Asura: The City of Madness (2016); Best Supporting Actor at the 3rd Asian Film Awards for the western The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2009) and received 12 nominations for Best Actor. Jung is a versatile actor known for playing leading roles in films from a wide spectrum of genres including high-grossing box office hits: Steel Rain (2017), The King (2017), Asura: The City of Madness (2016), The Divine Move (2014), Cold Eyes (2013); martial arts pic: Reign of Assassins (2010), fantasy: The Restless (2006); dramas: Don't Forget Me (2016), City of the Rising Sun (1999), erotic thriller Scarlet Innocence (2014); romantic movies:A Good Rain Knows (2009), Daisy (2006), A Moment to Remember (2004) and historical epic Musa (2001).
He is also an accomplished television actor. For his first major TV drama part in Asphalt Man (1995) he received Best New Actor award at SBS Drama Awards and at 32nd Baeksang Arts Awards (TV). His other prominent roles were in high-budget espionage TV series Athena: Goddess of War (2010) and romance drama Padam Padam (2011).
Jung grew up in Sadang-dong, then one of the poorest towns in Seoul. He gave up studying, dropping out of high school after one year, to work and thus support the family budget. He never concealed this fact and stated he did not regret his decision. He grew very tall already in primary school, his height causing him to constantly hunch. Later, when trying to break into the film industry, he was told he was too tall to become an actor, so he first worked as a model.
Jung Woo-sung made his film debut with a leading role in 1994's The Fox with Nine Tails, one of the first Korean fantasy movies and the first to use computer-generated imagery. He debuted together with the actress Ko So-young, who later co-starred with him twice including his breakthrough 1997 film Beat. Directed by Kim Sung-su, Beat is a story of a high school student caught up in gang life against his will. The movie brought Jung widespread fame and started his rise to Korea's A-list actor and one of the most sought-after commercial models.
In 1999 he starred in another iconic movie of the director Kim Sung-su, City of the Rising Sun, portraying friendship that develops between an unsuccessful boxer and an equally unlucky swindler. His co-lead in the movie, actor Lee Jung-jae, became his lifelong friend.
In the following years Jung played a naval lieutenant in Phantom: The Submarine, and a marathoner in Love.
2001's Musa marks his third collaboration with director Kim Sung-su. In the epic blockbuster Jung played opposite Chinese superstar Zhang Ziyi and received wide exposure abroad as well as in Korea. After spending time in 2002 directing a series of music videos and appearing in a large number of commercials, Jung took on the eccentric lead role in Mutt Boy, the fifth film by director Kwak Kyung-taek.
Jung's next roles would be in highly romantic roles that played off his established screen image. In the box office hit A Moment to Remember he played an architect whose wife (played by Son Ye-jin) is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease and in the Netherlands-set Daisy, he played a hired assassin who falls in love with a street artist played by Jun Ji-hyun. He portrayed a happily committed fireman in Sad Movie, and played a demon hunter seeking for lost love in The Restless.
Kim Jee-woon's "kimchi western" The Good, the Bad, the Weird inspired by Sergio Leone's work, would become one of Jung's most iconic roles, using his physicality to great effect as the Clint Eastwood counterpart in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The film was screened out of competition at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival which also marked its world premiere. Jung attended the festival together with his co-stars. He won the Best Supporting Actor award at the 3rd Asian Film Awards and the Outstanding Achievement in Acting Award at the 2008 Hawaii International Film Festival for his performance. Shortly after Jung would work again with Kim Jee-woon on a short film for W Korea.
In 2011, it was announced that Jung was cast in the English-language 3D remake of John Woo's The Killer. The film was to be shot in Los Angeles, and reunite him with A Moment to Remember director John H. Lee and Reign of Assassins director John Woo acting also as producer. The project has been put on hold while John Woo works on another film.
Jung drew praise in his first villain role in Cold Eyes, an action thriller that became a box office hit in 2013. He portrayed the ruthless head of a criminal organization specializing in bank robbery, eluding the detectives chasing him with uncanny dexterity. Jung next played a baduk player seeking revenge in The Divine Move, followed by an adulterous university professor gradually losing his eyesight in Scarlet Innocence. Scarlet Innocence had its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, meeting with positive reviews from critics. He then took a leading role in the melodrama indie feature Don't Forget Me, also known as Remember You, a remake of the 2010 short film Remember O Goddess, both directed by Lee Yoon-jung. Jung had also co-produced this movie, explaining that he wanted to protect the director's original ideas that other producers wanted to modify.
In 2016, he starred in the noir crime thriller Asura: The City of Madness, his fourth collaboration with director Kim Sung-su. Jung played a crooked detective who attempts to save his terminally ill wife while arresting a corrupt town mayor. Asura premiered globally at the 41st Toronto Film Festival in September, 2016, where it was shown in the Special Presentations section. The actor's second movie shot in 2016 and released in 2017 was Han Jae-rim's political drama The King, whose plot revolves around a senior prosecutor being manipulated by an overambitious younger colleague connected to the mafia.
In 2017, Jung stars in Steel Rain, playing a former agent from North Korea's intelligence bureau. In 2018 he will play an officer of the elite police unit in the science fiction action thriller Illang: The Wolf Brigade. The film, based on the Japanese anime Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, will be his second collaboration with director Kim Jee-woon. In 2019, he is set to star in the thrillers Witness and Beasts that Cling to the Straw.
In 1995 Jung appeared in his first major television role in SBS drama series Asphalt Man, playing an aspiring race driver who leaves to United States to realize his dream. The part not only expanded his popularity but also brought him critical acclaim with Best New Actor award at 32nd Baeksang Arts Awards and SBS Drama Awards.
In 2010 Jung returned to the small screen after 15 years' absence in the big-budget spy series Athena: Goddess of War, playing an NTS (National Anti-Terror Service) agent. Athena was a spin-off to the 2009 highly successful KBS2 drama IRIS. With a budget of ₩20 billion (US$17 million), the series was shot on location in Italy, New Zealand, Japan and the United States. The aired in SBS channel, and its pilot episodes gathered 22.8% of the audience share. Jung and another actor were injured during filming in January 2011, causing a week's postponement of one of Athena's episodes. The series was also edited into a two-hour movie version, and released in 2011 as Athena: The Movie.
Jung followed that with another TV series Padam Padam which marked the establishment of new cable broadcasting station jTBC. Jung said he "decided on this drama because (he) was drawn to the way Noh Hee-kyung writes 'family drama.' Whether mother-son or father-son, the love and pain experienced by families is something (he)'d like to try portraying in a realistic way." He played a man who has recently been released from jail after serving a 16-year sentence for a crime he didn't commit. The series premiered on December 5, 2011.
In 2000 Jung had started to try his hand at directing. His first works were music videos for one of the top South Korean pop music group G.o.d.. In 2012, he directed and starred in the promotional commercial for cable channel XTM. And a year later, Jung was among four celebrities who directed a short film using smartphone Samsung Galaxy S4 with the theme "Meet a Life Companion." His short Love explored the feelings of first love, and recorded 1.8 million views on YouTube. He then directed another short film for Samsung Galaxy S4, this time for the project "Story of Me and S4." In Jung's short Beginning of a Dream, Choi Jin-hyuk starred as an ordinary office worker who dreams of leaving his mundane existence and entering a world of fantasy; he is approached by a blue fish, rides a sports car at supersonic speed, sees a boy floating past holding a balloon, hangs out with a hippie band in their van, and meets himself as a young boy at a bus stop.
In 2014, Jung along with Chinese actors Francis Ng and Chang Chen, directed three short films for Three Charmed Lives, an omnibus commissioned by the Hong Kong International Film Festival. Critics praised Jung's short The Killer Behind the Old Man as the strongest and most stylish entry. In it, a son hires an ultra-methodical hitman (played by Andy Choi) to assassinate his own father, but the killer however finds himself transfixed by the man's slow-moving and ordered life, and thus hesitates to carry through with his mission. Jung was invited to present The Killer Behind the Old Man at the 9th London Korean Film Festival in November 2014.
In May 2014, UNHCR Korea appointed Jung Woo-sung as its first celebrity supporter. He was officially nominated UNHCR National Goodwill Ambassador on June 17, 2015. He went on his first UNHCR mission to Nepal in 2014. He then donated ₩50 million (US$46,000) to help victims of the April 25th earthquake.
In 2015 he visited South Sudan and in the beginning of March 2016 he met with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. In June 2017 he went to Kurdistan Region of Iraq and visited Qushtapa camp for Syrian refugees and Hasansham U3 camp housing mainly Iraqis displaced from Mosul region.
Talent management firms
In October 2012 Jung left Taurus Films, his agent since 2009, and established new talent agency Red Brick House appointing his manager of 10 years as CEO. In May 2016, Jung and actor Lee Jung-jae co-founded and became CEOs of the talent management agency, Artist Company. Apart from the owners the company represents other artists, among which are: Lee Si-a, Go Ara, Ha Jung-woo, Esom, Nam Ji-hyun and Yum Jung-ah.
Film festival jury member
Jung has attended various international film festivals, not only as an actor or director, but has served on the following festivals' juries:
- 2012: 17th Busan International Film Festival, South Korea
- 2013: 14th Jeonju International Film Festival, South Korea
- 2014: 20th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea
- 2015: SSFF & Asia (Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia), Japan
- 2016: International Film Festival and Awards, Macao
He is best friends with fellow actor Lee Jung-jae, whom he met while filming City of the Rising Sun. They are co-owners and co-investors of several businesses, including management agency Artist Company.
The actor is notoriously private about his romantic involvements. The only one that he publicly acknowledged so far was his short-lived relationship with Athena co-star Lee Ji-ah. After they were photographed on a date in Paris, Jung confirmed in March 2011 they were dating. But after Lee's married and divorced past with top Korean singer-songwriter Seo Taiji became exposed to the public the following month, the Korean press reported in June that Jung and Lee had broken up. Despite this and contrary to some other South Korean mega stars Jung's life remains untouched by any scandals and he is often praised by fellow filmmakers for his cooperativeness and willingness to help junior colleagues on the set. He is known for picking up the tab when eating with his co-workers or ordering meals for the entire crew.
|Year||English title||Korean title||Role||Notes|
|1994||The Fox with Nine Tails||구미호||Hyuk|
|1996||Born to Kill||본투킬||Kil|
|Shanghai Grand||상해탄||Ryu So-hwang|
|Motel Cactus||모텔 선인장||Lee Mi-ku|
|1998||City of the Rising Sun||태양은 없다||Do-chul|
|1999||Phantom: The Submarine||유령||Number 431|
|2003||Mutt Boy||똥개||Cha Cheol-min|
|2004||A Moment to Remember||내 머리속의 지우개||Cheol-su|
|2008||The Good, the Bad, the Weird||좋은 놈, 나쁜 놈, 이상한 놈||Park Do-won, the Good|
|2009||Present||선물||Min-woo||W Korea short film|
|A Good Rain Knows||호우시절||Park Dong-ha|
|2010||Reign of Assassins||검우강호||Jiang Ah-sheng / Zhang Renfang|
|2014||The Divine Move||신의 한 수||Tae-seok|
|Scarlet Innocence||마담 뺑덕||Shim Hak-kyu|
|2016||Don't Forget Me||나를 잊지 말아요||Seok-won|
|Asura: The City of Madness||아수라||Han Do-kyung|
|2017||The King||더 킹||Han Kang-sik|
|Steel Rain||강철비||Eom Chul-woo|
|Illang: The Wolf Brigade||인랑||Jang Jin-tae|
|Beasts that Cling to the Straw|
|Year||English title||Korean title||Role||Network|
|1995||Asphalt Man||아스팔트 사나이||Kang Dong-suk||SBS|
|2010||Athena: Goddess of War||아테나: 전쟁의 여신||Lee Jung-woo||SBS|
|2011||Good Life ~Arigatou, Papa. Sayonara~||굿 라이프||Dr. Lee (episodes 6-7)||Fuji TV|
|Padam Padam||빠담빠담…. 그와 그녀의 심장박동소리||Yang Kang-chil||JTBC|
|Year||English title||Korean title||Notes||Starring|
|2000||After You Left Me||그대 날 떠난 후로||g.o.d music video||Shin Min-ah, Kim Kwang-il|
|2002||You Just Don't Know||모르죠||Shin Min-ah, Jo In-sung|
|Sad Love||슬픈 사랑|
|2012||EGO편||EGO편||XTM station ID||Himself|
|2013||Love (4랑)||나와 S4 이야기||short film||Seo Ye-ji, Jo Seung-hyun|
|Beginning of a Dream||short film||Choi Jin-hyuk|
|2014||The Killer Behind the Old Man||킬러 앞에 노인||short film from Three Charmed Lives||Andy Choi, Woo Sang-jeon|
|Year||English title||Korean title|
|2015||Don't Forget Me||나를 잊지 말아요|
Awards and nominations
|1995||SBS Drama Awards||Best New Actor||Asphalt Man||Won|
|1996||32nd Baeksang Arts Awards||Best New Actor (TV)||Won|
|1997||17th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards||Best New Actor||Beat||Won|
|35th Grand Bell Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|18th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|1999||20th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Popular Star Award||Phantom: The Submarine||Won|
|2001||22nd Blue Dragon Film Awards||Popular Star Award||Musa||Won|
|2002||39th Grand Bell Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|2003||24th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||Mutt Boy||Nominated|
|2005||13th Chunsa Film Art Awards||Best Actor||A Moment to Remember||Nominated|
|2006||6th Korea World Youth Film Festival||Favorite Actor||N/A||Won|
|2007||7th Korea World Youth Film Festival||Favorite Actor||N/A||Won|
|2008||Hawaii International Film Festival||Outstanding Achievement in Acting||N/A||Won|||
|17th Buil Film Awards||Best Actor||The Good, the Bad, the Weird||Nominated|
|29th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Popular Star Award||Won|
|Korea Fashion & Design Awards||Best Dressed of the Year||N/A||Won|
|2009||3rd Asian Film Awards||Best Supporting Actor||The Good, the Bad, the Weird||Won|||
|2nd Style Icon Awards||Style Icon Actor||N/A||Won|||
|2011||Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism||Distinguished Korean Wave Entertainer Award for Film||N/A||Won|||
|SBS Drama Awards||Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Special Planning Drama||Athena: Goddess of War||Nominated|
|2013||6th Style Icon Awards||Top 10 Style Icon||N/A||Won|||
|28th Korean Swan Best Dresser Awards||Best Dresser Award (Actor)||N/A||Won|
|34th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Cold Eyes||Nominated|
|2014||8th Asian Film Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|50th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actor (Film)||Nominated|
|51st Grand Bell Awards||Best Actor||The Divine Move||Nominated|
|35th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|2016||37th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||Asura: The City of Madness||Nominated|
|Popular Star Award||Won|||
|17th Busan Film Critics Awards||Best Actor||Won|
|2017||6th Marie Claire Film Awards||Pioneer Award||Won|
|26th Buil Film Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|1st The Seoul Awards||Best Actor (Film)||The King||Nominated|
|2018||54th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actor (Film)||Steel Rain||Nominated|||
|23rd Chunsa Film Art Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
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- "[23rd 춘사영화제 종합]'남한산성' 최우수감독상 수상…최희서 11관왕 달성". Herald Corporation (in Korean). May 18, 2018.
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