March 20, 1977
Seoul, South Korea
|Revised Romanization||Gang Ji-hwan|
|Revised Romanization||Jo Tae-gyu|
Kang Ji-hwan (born Jo Tae-gyu on March 20, 1977) is a South Korean actor. He began his career in musical theatre, and has since starred in television dramas such as Be Strong, Geum-soon! (2005), Capital Scandal (2007), and Hong Gil-dong (2008), as well as the films Rough Cut (2008) and My Girlfriend Is an Agent (2009).
Jo Tae-gyu made his acting debut in musical theatre in 2001, in the Korean stagings of popular musicals The Rocky Horror Show and Grease. From 2003 to 2004, using the stage name Kang Ji-hwan, he began appearing in small roles on television, which included the sitcom Nonstop 4 and the Korean dramas Summer Scent and Save the Last Dance for Me.
Kang shot to fame in 2005 with Be Strong, Geum-soon!, in his first onscreen leading role as a fastidious doctor who falls for a widowed hairdresser (played by Han Hye-jin). The drama increased his pan-Asian popularity, particularly in Japan, China, and Taiwan. He then made his big screen debut in the role of a Jehovah's Witness who befriends an unemployed professor in the independent film Host and Guest, which traveled the international film festival circuit.
Kang continued acting on television but his 2006 dramas Fireworks, about two cosmetics firm employees who plot revenge against their exes (opposite Han Chae-young), and 90 Days, Time to Love, about a terminally ill married man who's in love with his cousin (opposite Kim Ha-neul), received low viewership ratings. In 2007, he and Han Ji-min starred in Capital Scandal, a period drama adapted from Lee Sun-mi's novel set in Japanese-occupied Korea. His portrayal of a carefree playboy who transforms into an independence fighter garnered positive reviews.
2008 became a successful year for Kang. He was cast as the titular Joseon folk hero in Hong Gil-dong, written by the Hong sisters. Kang said his portrayal was inspired by Stephen Chow, and the fusion-period-dramedy became a TV cult hit. Later that year, he also starred in Rough Cut, a low-budget film directed by Jang Hoon and written by Kim Ki-duk about a gangster who wants to become an actor and a hot-tempered star who acts like a thug. Kang and costar So Ji-sub were praised for their performances, and both won several Best New Actor awards.
Kang then reunited with previous leading lady Kim Ha-neul in My Girlfriend Is an Agent, a 2009 action-romantic comedy in which their characters are former lovers and spies trying to conceal their professions from each other. It became the fourth highest grossing Korean film of that year, with more than 4 million tickets sold. Afterwards, he played a looks-oriented architect whose eye problem magically causes him to see the homely heroine (played by Lee Ji-ah) as beautiful in The Relation of Face, Mind and Love, a "telecinema" which received a brief theatrical release and a TV run.
In 2010, Kang starred in romantic comedy series Coffee House, in which he played an eccentric novelist who is caught in a love triangle with his publisher (played by Park Si-yeon) and his assistant (played by Ham Eun-jung). This was followed by his return to the stage in the musical revival Cafe In, a love story between a male sommelier and a female barista. Kang produced the show's Korean and Japanese runs, and he also starred in the latter, becoming the first Korean actor to perform at the Tokyo Globe Theatre.
Kang and Yoon Eun-hye then starred in 2011's Lie to Me, playing a hotelier and a civil servant who fake being married to each other after she tells a white lie that quickly spreads through the gossip channels.
The 2012 comedy film Runway Cop reunited him with previous costar Sung Yu-ri (from Hong Gil-dong) and director Shin Tae-ra (from My Girlfriend Is an Agent). During filming, Kang gained 12 kilograms and shed 15 kilograms two weeks later for his role as an overweight and messy detective who goes undercover as a fashion runway model to solve a case. Following that, he and Lee Ki-woo appeared in a 25-minute "music video drama" to promote Kim Hyung-jun's EP Escape.
In 2013, Kang starred in Incarnation of Money, in the role of a prosecutor with ties to a loan shark. Then in 2014's Big Man, he played a "good-for-nothing" orphan who is tricked into thinking that he is the long-lost eldest son of a wealthy tycoon's family, when they only want to harvest his heart for a transplant.
Kang and Yoon Jin-seo shot the gangster love story Heartbreak Hotel in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and the indie was released in 2015. He was next cast in the Korean-Chinese romantic comedy A-lister Fall from the Sky, about a scandal-ridden Hallyu star who goes to China and encounters his biggest fan (played by Jiang Yuan).
Kang reunited with Hong Gil-dong and Runaway Cop co-star Sung Yu-ri in revenge melodrama Monster, which aired in 2016. In 2018, Kang starred in his first cable drama Children of a Lesser God, playing a genius detective. The same year, he starred in the workplace comedy Happy If You Died.
In 2010, Kang was sued for breach of contract by his former talent agency Jambo Entertainment. Kang had signed with S-Plus Entertainment after asking to be released from his contract with Jambo, which the latter claimed was still valid for eight months. S-Plus stated that of the six years that Kang was with Jambo, he was without a contract for three years, and after receiving no response from their overtures regarding Jambo's "unfair terms," they took steps to legally terminate Kang's contract. Upon mediation, the Corea Entertainment Management Association (CEMA) instructed Kang to suspend his entertainment activities for eight months, but when he starred in Coffee House anyway, CEMA members threatened to boycott him unless he dropped out of playing the leading role in Faith.
In 2012, S-Plus Entertainment moved to extend Kang's contract with them for an additional eight months, citing his lack of projects for that same length of time due to CEMA's edict. When Kang refused and began entrusting his business affairs to his lawyer, S-Plus sued him for breach of contract. In 2013, the Seoul Central District Court dismissed the lawsuit and upheld the validity of the original contract; the court also ordered S-Plus to pay Kang ₩5 million in damages after the agency defamed him in the press.
|2003||MBC Best Theater
"Confession of Murder"
|Summer Scent||Park Jung-ah's husband
|2004||More Beautiful Than a Flower||Kim Jae-sik
(sticker photo on cellphone)
|If You Only Knew||Seo In-woo|
|Save the Last Dance for Me||Shin Jung-kyu||SBS|
|2005||Be Strong, Geum-soon!||Goo Jae-hee||MBC|
|90 Days, Time to Love||Hyun Ji-seok|
|2007||Capital Scandal||Sunwoo Wan||KBS2|
|2008||Hong Gil-dong||Hong Gil-dong|
|2010||Coffee House||Lee Jin-soo||SBS|
|2011||Lie to Me||Hyun Ki-joon|
|2013||Incarnation of Money||Lee Kang-seok / Lee Cha-don|
|2014||Big Man||Kim Ji-hyuk||KBS2|
|2016||Monster||Kang Ki-tan / Lee Guk-cheol||MBC|
|2018||Children of a Lesser God||Cheon Jae-in||OCN|
|Happy If You Died||Baek Jin-sang||KBS2|
|2006||Host and Guest||Kye-sang|
|2008||Rough Cut||Jang Soo-ta|
|2009||My Girlfriend Is an Agent||Lee Jae-joon|
|The Relation of Face, Mind and Love||Kang Tae-poong|
|2012||Runway Cop||Cha Chul-soo|
|A-lister Fall from the Sky||Kim Hyun-joon|
|2012||"Just Let It Go" / "Bad Guy Thing"||Kim Hyung-jun||From the album Escape|
|2002||The Rocky Horror Show|
|2006||"Just a Person I Know"||Track from Fireworks OST|
|2011||"Lovin' Ice Cream" (feat. As One)||Track from Lie to Me Japanese OST|
Awards and nominations
|2005||MBC Drama Awards||Excellence Award, Actor||Be Strong, Geum-soon!||Won|
|Best New Actor||Won|
|2006||42nd Baeksang Arts Awards||Best New Actor (TV)||Nominated|
|2007||KBS Drama Awards||Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries||Capital Scandal||Won|
|Best Couple Award with Han Ji-min||Won|
|2008||44th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actor (TV)||Nominated|
|Most Popular Actor (TV)||Hong Gil-dong||Won|
|28th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards||Best New Actor||Rough Cut||Won|
|29th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best New Actor||Won|
|7th Korean Film Awards||Best New Actor||Won|
|KBS Drama Awards||Top Excellence Award, Actor||Hong Gil-dong||Nominated|
|Best Couple Award with Sung Yu-ri||Won|
|2009||45th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best New Actor (Film)||Rough Cut||Won|
|18th Buil Film Awards||Best New Actor||Nominated|
|10th Busan Film Critics Awards||Best New Actor||Won|
|46th Grand Bell Awards||Best New Actor||My Girlfriend Is an Agent||Won|
|5th University Film Festival of Korea||Best New Actor||Won|
|2010||SBS Drama Awards||Excellence Award, Actor in a Special Planning Drama||Coffee House||Nominated|
|2011||6th Seoul International Drama Awards||Outstanding Korean Actor||Nominated|
|SBS Drama Awards||Excellence Award, Actor in a Special Planning Drama||Lie to Me||Nominated|
|2013||SBS Drama Awards||Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Drama Special||Incarnation of Money||Nominated|
|2014||9th Asia Model Festival Awards||Asia Star Award||N/A||Won|
|KBS Drama Awards||Top Excellence Award, Actor||Big Man||Nominated|
|Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries||Nominated|
|2016||5th APAN Star Awards||Best Actor in a serial drama (excellence award)||Monster||Nominated|
|MBC Drama Awards||Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Special Project Drama||Nominated|
- "[방송]'굳세어라 금순아' 두 주인공 한혜진-강지환". The DongA Ilbo (in Korean). 28 July 2005.
- "Kang Ji-hwan Gains Popularity in Japan". Hancinema. KBS World. 29 June 2007.
- Hartzell, Adam. "Host & Guest". Koreanfilm.org. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "Alienation". The Dong-a Ilbo. 20 January 2007. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "< Fireworks > Starts Off with Positive Reviews!". MBC Global. 14 February 2008.
- "Kang Ji-hwan, Han Ji-min cast as main leads for 'Capital Scandal'". Hancinema. Broasia. 30 April 2007.
- "Kang Ji-hwan's Movie Picks". 10Asia. 24 December 2009. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Kwon, Mee-yoo (1 January 2008). "Epic Dramas Continues to Boom This Year". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Lee, Hyo-won (12 August 2008). "Buddies Play Enemies in New Action Flick". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Lee, Hyo-won (23 April 2009). "Girlfriend Prevails With Small, Tactful Jokes". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "The Best Selling Films of 2009". Koreanfilm.org. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Lee, Hyo-won (5 November 2009). "Relation Trips Over Own Subject Matter". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "Kang Ji-hwan wants "to break Mon-Tues TV ratings record"". 10Asia. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Han, Sang-hee (16 May 2010). "New drama to bring more than coffee". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "Kang Ji-hwan says Coffee House is adventure". 10Asia. 1 June 2010. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "Kang Ji-hwan to star in Korean original musical in Japan". 10Asia. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "Kang Ji-hwan says will act in musical Cafe In Japan show". 10Asia. 4 August 2010. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Hong, Lucia (28 October 2010). "Kim Hyung-joon to visit Kang Ji-hwan in Japan for Cafe In". 10Asia. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Kwon, Mee-yoo (8 May 2011). "True Romance: new spin on rom-coms?". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Hong, Lucia (4 May 2011). "Kang Ji-hwan says will sign for more episodes of drama if extended". 10Asia. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "Kang Ji-hwan, Sung Yu-ri cast as leads in new movie". 10Asia. 13 October 2011. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "Kang Ji-hwan, Sung Yu-ri's comedy Runway Cop to hit local theaters next month". 10Asia. 18 April 2012. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Ho, Stewart (2 May 2012). "Kang Ji Hwan Gains 10 Kgs [sic] for Detective Cha Then Sheds 20 Kgs in Two Weeks". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Ho, Stewart (25 May 2012). "Kang Ji Hwan Unveils Photo Timeline of Dramatic Weight Gain and Loss". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Oh, Mi-jung (28 May 2012). "Kang Ji Hwan Got Worried About His Commercials When He Was Fat and Dirty". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Oh, Mi-jung (10 June 2012). "Interview Part 1: Kang Ji Hwan Opens Up About Being A Fat and Dirty Detective". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Oh, Mi-jung (10 June 2012). "Interview Part 2: Kang Ji Hwan of Detective Cha Wants to Be Nominated for His Role". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Hong, Grace Danbi (26 June 2012). "Kang Ji Hwan and Lee Ki Woo to Join Kim Hyung Jun in his Upcoming MV". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "Kang Ji-hwan and Hwang Jung-eum in SBS "Incarnation of Money"". Hancinema. Nate. 6 January 2013.
- Jang, Seo-yoon (31 May 2013). "Kang Ji-hwan's Song Picks". TenAsia. Archived from the original on March 31, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Kim, Jessica (13 February 2014). "Kang Ji-hwan, Choi Daniel to go Face to Face in New Series". TenAsia. Archived from the original on March 21, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Choi, Eun-hwa (28 April 2014). "Big Man Kang Ji Hwan Gained 4 Kg for His Drama Role". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Jung, Jung Ji-young (29 April 2014). "Kang Ji Hwan Says the Most Important Thing in Choosing New Project is 'Feeling'". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Choi, Eun-hwa (27 May 2014). "Kang Ji Hwan Continued Filming Despite Injuring His Toe". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Jung, Jin-young (5 July 2014). "Interview: Kang Ji Hwan Expresses His Special Hubae Love for Choi Daniel". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2014-07-08.
- Jung, Jin-young (5 July 2014). "Interview: Kang Ji Hwan Spills His Plan to Build a House for Future Family". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2014-07-08.
- "ROMANCE GAME Locks KANG Ji-hwan for Lead". Korea Film Biz Zone. 6 November 2013.
- Jin, Min-ji (18 July 2015). "Kang takes turn in new film". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2015-07-22.
- "KANG Ji-hwan to Make Debut in China". Korea Film Biz Zone. 24 July 2005.
- "Kang Ji-hwan, Sung Yu-ri to star in drama". Korea JoongAng Daily. 5 February 2016.
- "Dedication is key for Kang Ji-hwan". Korea JoongAng Daily. 4 October 2016.
- "Kang Ji-hwan and Kim Ok-bin to star in OCN's "Children of a Small God"". Hancinema. TV Daily. 6 November 2017.
- "Drama 'Children of Lesser God' pursues reality amid fantasy". Kpop Herald. 22 February 2018.
- "Kang Ji-hwan to Star in "Love Over Death"". Hancinema. Newsen. 6 September 2017.
- "Kang Ji-hwan may face lawsuit by former agency". 10Asia. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "Kang Ji-hwan's rep takes legal action against former agency". 10Asia. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "Police start grilling Kang Ji-hwan and former agency". 10Asia. 24 March 2010. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "Faith loses its second leading man in Kang Ji-hwan". Dramabeans. 26 December 2010. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Lee, Cory (December 24, 2012). "Kang Ji-hwan Embroiled in Lawsuit with His Agency". TenAsia. Archived from the original on June 24, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
- Lee, Jin-ho (8 November 2012). "Kang Ji Hwan and Agency Fight Over Contract and Mediation Claims". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Ko, Hong-ju (21 December 2012). "S-Plus Entertainment Files 360 Million Won Compensation Suit Against Kang Ji Hwan". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "Kang Ji Hwan Wins the Legal Battle Against His Old Agency". Soompi. 20 October 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "2007 Year-end Korean drama awards round-up". Hancinema. 7 January 2008.
- "The 44th PaekSang Arts Awards Sparkles with Stars". KBS World. 24 April 2008.
- "Kang, So awarded best new actor by critics". 10Asia. 13 October 2009. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- "Blue Dragon Award Goes to Sports Drama". The Chosun Ilbo. 21 November 2008.
- "Ha Ji-won Wins 1st Best Actress Award". The Korea Times. 1 December 2009.