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Kim Mu-yeol

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Kim Mu-yeol
Kim facing right and wearing a black turtleneck and striped blazer.
Kim in 2020
Born (1982-05-22) May 22, 1982 (age 42)
Other namesKim Moo-yul
Alma materSungkyunkwan University (Performing Arts)
Years active2002–present
AgentPrain TPC
(m. 2015)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGim Mu-yeol
McCune–ReischauerKim Muyŏl

Kim Mu-yeol (Korean김무열; born May 22, 1982) is a South Korean actor. Following a successful career in musical theatre, Kim was first cast in minor parts on film and television. After gaining recognition for his performance in War of the Arrows (2011), Kim landed his first major role in Jung Ji-woo's critically acclaimed film A Muse (2012). Kim went on to star in notable films Northern Limit Line (2015), Forgotten (2017), The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil (2019), Honest Candidate (2020), and The Roundup: Punishment (2024).

Early life and education[edit]

Kim Mu-yeol, born on May 22, 1982, given the name 'Mu-yeol-wang' by his grandfather with the hope that He would contribute to the reunification of North and South Korea. He had a humble upbringing, due to In 1997, during his middle school years, his family faced financial difficulties due to the IMF crisis, and his father's health declined. As a result, Kim became the main provider for his family, putting his dreams of becoming a theater actor on hold. To make ends meet, he took on various part-time jobs and had to take multiple breaks from school.[2][3]

Despite the strong opposition of his father, a civil servant, Kim Moo-yeol attended acting school since middle school and dreamed of becoming an actor. He went one step closer to his dream by attending Anyang Arts High School.[4] While attending Anyang Arts High School, Kim participated in a performance called "Sins of this World," where he portrayed the role of an old man. Balancing his studies with part-time work became a necessity for him. He took on a range of jobs, including construction work, building security, distributing flyers, event assistance, safety guard, working in a cellphone factory, and part-time positions at a department store. In his pursuit of earning more money, he even ventured into nightclubs, but this period of his life was marked by desperation and uncertainty. He resorted to drinking and neglected his well-being, resulting in a weight gain from 70kg to 100kg. One day, after a night of drinking, he had a moment of realization and decided to change his lifestyle. He started exercising, quit drinking and smoking, and regained his determination. Despite his challenging circumstances, Kim performed exceptionally well on the college entrance exam, despite his poor high school grades, and was admitted to the Acting Department of Sungkyunkwan University.[2][3]

Throughout his journey, Kim Mu-yeol never abandoned his passion for acting. He continued to navigate the delicate balance between making a living and pursuing his dreams. Unfortunately, his father passed away in 2010.[3]


He made his debut in 2002 with the musical "Jjangtta" and dedicated four years to honing his skills as part of the ensemble. In 2005, he gained recognition by successfully auditioning for the play "Subway Line 1" by Hakjeon Theater Company, catching the attention of Shin Chun-soo, the representative of O-Dream Music Company. This led to his lead roles in productions such as "Assassin" and "Grease."[2]

In 2006, Kim participated in the musical Altar Boyz, which took place at the Chungmu Art Hall Grand Theater in Seoul from May 12th to May 21st. Altar Boyz presents a narrative centered around a five-member Christian boy band, self-proclaimed pop evangelists with a mission to rescue troubled souls. Kim Tae-woo, played the role of Matthew, the lead character, with musical actor Song Yong-jin, who shared the role as well.[5]

Kim's career flourished, and he on various roles in popular works including Singin' in the Rain, Thrill Me and Finding Mr. Destiny.[2]

In 2007, Kim joined the domestic premiere of the musical Thrill Me, and made a lasting impression with his portrayal of child murderers Richard/Nathan.[6][7]

The same year, Kim made his television debut in the KBS2TV one-act drama "Drama City - For the New Wave," where he played the role of Song Hyeon-wook, a noble and gentle man unable to forget his first love. He also appeared in the drama "Chosun Police," which aired on the 'MBC Dramanet' channel. Set in the Joseon Dynasty, the drama featured Kim as the youngest police officer conducting research in the investigation lab to solve cases.[4]

As Kim made strides in the world of theater, he also explored opportunities in television and film, initially taking on smaller roles. One notable moment came in 2009 when he caught the attention of audiences with his supporting role as a bond broker named Jo Min-hyung in the film The Scam (produced by Silk Road, directed by Lee Ho-jae).[8] Jo Min-hyung is portrayed as the Korean stock strategy ace, harboring the belief that dark money governs the nation's economy.[9][10] Period action epic War of the Arrows became one of the biggest hits of 2011 and further raised his profile.[11] He continued to showcase his versatility by appearing in the South Korean premiere of the musical Jack the Ripper and starring in the drama Wife Returns.[2]

He won Best Actor at the 2009 Korea Musical Awards for his portrayal of Melchior in Spring Awakening,[12] a rock musical which dealt with such taboo subjects as teenage pregnancy, sexual and physical abuse, and homosexuality.[13][14][15]

In 2010, Kim Mu-yeol took on his previous role as child murderers Richard/Nathan in the musical "Thrill Me." The production also featured talented performers such as Choi Soo-hyung, Choi Ji-ho, Choi Jae-woong, Kim Ha-neul, Ji Chang-wook, Kim Jae-beom, and Jo Kang-hyeon. The musical was held at The Stage in Sinchon and ran from the 14th to November 14th.[16]

Kim's rugged appearance and charismatic presence propelled him to be recognized as a promising talent. Among the roles he's played on stage were Gwanghwamun Love Song and The Three Musketeers.[17]

In 2011, Kim was chosen to join the cast of the musical Guys and Dolls alongside Ok Joo-hyun, Jin-gu, Lee Yong-woo, Kim Young-joo, Lee Yul, and Jeong Seon-ah. Kim took on the role of Sky Masterson in the production.[7] The musical ran from August 2nd to September 18th, at the LG Arts Center in Yeoksam-dong, Seoul.[18][19]

In 2012, Kim rose to stardom following his remarkable performance in the provocative and psychologically rich film A Muse.[20] He portrayed the conflicted novelist Seo Ji-woo, who becomes envious of his teacher's genius talent, portrayed by Park Hae-il.[3]

In 2012, Kim went to Japan on July 19, to perform the musical "Thrill Me" alongside Choi Jae-woong. The Japan performances had been scheduled well in advance, and they were set to perform a total of five shows. The musical was co-produced by Musical Haven and Horipro, a Japanese entertainment company, aiming to bring the production to a broader audience. The Japanese version of "Thrill Me" featured a cast and crew composed of both Japanese and Korean members. The production was directed by Tamiya Kuriyama, the former artistic director of the New National Theater in Tokyo. While most of the performances were conducted in Japanese, five of the 27 shows were performed in Korean.[21]

Kim returned to acting upon his military discharge in 2014. He starred in Northern Limit Line in 2015, a naval thriller about the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong.[22]

He was cast as leading man in Bad Guys.[23]

Military service[edit]

In June 2012, Kim came under growing public criticism over allegations he dodged his compulsory military service. In a report released by the Korean Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI), Kim was deemed fit to serve in active duty as a level two recruit after a March 2001 physical examination. However, throughout 2007 to 2009, Kim was granted postponement on the grounds that he was taking civil service examinations or had been admitted to a work training facility, neither of which took place. During this time he reportedly earned approximately ₩300 million from films, musicals, and television work. In December 2009, he received his final notice for enlistment, having used up the 730 days allowed for postponement. He submitted a request to change his military status in January 2010 because of a knee injury, which was rejected. Finally, a valid exemption was granted on the grounds that he was a "low-income individual" and the sole provider for his family. BAI's contention was that Kim's income is substantially higher than the standard for disqualification due to poverty; thus, the Military Manpower Administration was negligent in their duties by granting the exemption.[24][25][26]

Kim’s agency Prain TPC defended him, stating that Kim had been supporting his family by working as a security guard, construction worker, and at a mobile phone factory since his late teens. When his father collapsed from a cerebral hemorrhage and was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, the treatments incurred a lot of debt for the family. Their worsening financial condition caused them to become totally dependent on Kim, resulting in his said filing for an exemption in 2010.[27]

Given the publicity, a reinvestigation into the case was launched and Kim was asked by the production company to leave the film 11 A.M. (he was replaced by Choi Daniel).[28][29]

On October 4, 2012, Kim released a statement that though there was no wrongdoing on his part, he had decided to voluntarily enter the army "to recover his honor damaged by the rumors."[30][31]

In January 2013, Kim starred in military musical The Promise. It was co-produced by the Ministry of National Defense and Korea Musical Theatre Association, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice. It ran from January 9 to 20 at the National Theater of Korea, with a cast composed of actors Ji Hyun-woo and Jung Tae-woo, as well as singers Leeteuk of Super Junior, Yoon Hak of Supernova, and Lee Hyun of 8Eight. The musical centered around a group of soldiers who keep a promise made to each other during the 6.25 war.[32][33] When the "entertainment soldiers" unit was disbanded in August 2013, Kim was reassigned to a frontline combat unit of the 12th Infantry Division headquartered in Inje County, Gangwon Province.

In February 2014, Kim underwent surgery to treat a cartilage injury in his left knee, and afterwards received rehabilitation treatment for nearly two months at a military hospital near Seoul. Criticism was raised regarding his lengthy sick leave, but the defense ministry refused to provide detailed information regarding Kim's health condition, arguing that it was an infringement on his privacy.[34]

Kim was discharged on July 8, 2014.[35]

Personal life[edit]

After a romantic tweet that Kim meant to be a private message to Yoon Seung-ah was accidentally posted on the actor’s Twitter page, their agencies confirmed in February 2012 that the two were dating.[36][37][38] Kim and Yoon married on April 4, 2015.[39][40][41]

In December 2022, their agency announced that Yoon is pregnant with the couple's first child and expected to give birth in June 2023.[42] Yoon gave birth to a son, Kim Tae-myeong, on June 8, 2023.[43]



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2009 The Scam Jo Min-hyeong
2010 Finding Mr. Destiny Airline employee Cameo
2011 Romantic Heaven Dong Chi-sung Cameo
War of the Arrows Seo-goon
2012 Doomsday Book Ji-ho Special appearance
A Muse Seo Ji-woo
All Bark No Bite Sang-keun [44]
2015 Northern Limit Line Yoon Young-ha
2017 Warriors of the Dawn Gok-soo
Forgotten Yoo-seok [45]
2018 Snatch Up Min-jae
Illang: The Wolf Brigade Han Sang-woo
2019 The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil Jung Tae-suk [46]
2020 Honest Candidate Park Hee-cheol [47]
Intruder Seo-jin
2021 Space Sweepers Kang Hyeon-u Special appearance [48]
On the Line Pro Kwak [49]
2022 Honest Candidate 2 Park Hee-cheol [50]
2023 The Devil's Deal Kim Pil-do [51]
Ballerina Chief-Jo Special appearance [52]
2024 The Roundup: Punishment Baek Chang-ki [53]

Short film[edit]

Year Title Role
2010 Vertical Limit Man
2012 정지우x김무열x조은지 Project

Television series[edit]

Year Title Role Ref.
2007 Drama City "For The New School" Hyun-wook
2007–2008 Chosun Police Oh-deok
2008 Iljimae Si-wan
2009 Wife Returns Han Kang-soo [54]
2010 John and Rugalda, Two Virgin Spouses John / Yoo Jung-cheol
2015 My Beautiful Bride Kim Do-hyung
2017 Bad Guys 2 No Jin-pyeong
2022 Trolley Jang Woo-jae [55]

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2022 Juvenile Justice Cha Tae-joo [56]
Grid Song Eo-jin [57]
2023 Sweet Home Kim Young-hoo Season 2–3 [58]
High Cookie Yoo Seong-pil [59][60]
2024 No Way Out: The Roulette Lee Sang-bong [61]
The Queen 'Woo' Eulpaso [62]



Musical play performances[63]
Year Title Role Theater Date Ref.
English Korean
2003 Jjangdda 짱따 Cultural Arts Foundation Arts Theater Small Theater February 15 to 28 [64]
Chuncheon Museum Outdoor Stage August 15 [65]
Hwacheon Boys High School Auditorium August 27
Hongcheon Duchon Middle School Outdoor Stage August 28
Inje Kirin High School Auditorium August 29
2005–2006 Subway Line 1 지하철 1호선 Multi-roles Hakjeon Green Small Theater in Daehakro 2005 to March 29, 2006 [66]
2005 Assassins 암살자들 John Hinckley Seoul Arts Center CJ Towol Theater July 9, 2005 – July 30, 2005 [67]
2005 Grease 그리스 Danny Zuko Dongsoong Art Center Dongsoong Hall October 1, 2005 – January 1, 2006 [68][69]
2006 Singin' in the Rain 패션 오브 더 레인 K Inkel Art Hall October 1, 2006 – November 30, 2006 [70]
2006–2007 Singin' in the Rain 패션 오브 더 레인 K Inkel Art Hall December 29, 2006 – January 1, 2007 [71]
2006 Altar Boyz 알타보이즈 Luke Chungmu Art Center Main Theater April 11, 2006 – May 21, 2006
2006 Hoam Art Hall July 15, 2006 – August 27, 2006
2007 Thrill Me 쓰릴미 Richard Loeb,
Chungmu Art Center Chungmu Hall Black March 17, 2007 – May 13, 2007
JTN Art Hall 1 May 22, 2007 – July 22, 2007
Singin' in the Rain 패션 오브 더 레인 Don Lockwood
Finding Kim Jong-wook 김종욱 찾기 Kim Jong-wook & First Love JTN Art Hall 1 October 23, 2007 – February 17, 2013 [72]
2008 Thrill Me 쓰릴미 Richard Chungmu Art Center Main Theater Black June 28, 2008 – October 12, 2008
The Happy Life 즐거운 인생 Sae-ki Chungmu Art Center Main Theater Black November 21, 2008 – February 8, 2009 [73]
2009 Daegu Sudong Art Pia Yongji Hall March 14, 2009 – March 15, 2009
Chungnam National University Jeongsimhwa International Cultural Center Jeongsimhwa Hall, Daejeon April 4, 2009 – April 5, 2009
2009 Spring Awakening 스프링 어웨이크닝 Melchior Doosan Art Center Yeonkang Hall June 30, 2009 – January 10, 2010
2009 Jack the Ripper 살인마 잭 Daniel Universal Art Center November 13, 2009 – January 31, 2010
Yeungnam University Cheonma Art Center Grand Hall, Daegu December 24, 2009 – December 26, 2009
2010 Thrill Me 쓰릴미 Nathan The Stage May 12, 2010 – November 14, 2010
2010 The Three Musketeers 삼총사 d'Artagnan Chungmu Art Center Main Theater December 15, 2010 – January 30, 2011
2011 Daejeon Arts Center Art Hall February 19, 2011 – February 20, 2011
Daegu Keimyung Art Center February 26, 2011 – February 27, 2011
Goyang Aram Nuri Arts Center Aram Theater March 19, 2011 – March 20, 2011
Gwanghwamun Love Song 광화문 연가 Hyun-woo Sejong Center for the Performing Arts Main Theater March 20, 2011 – April 10, 2011
The Three Musketeers 삼총사 d'Artagnan Gwangju Culture and Arts Center Main Theater April 8, 2011 – April 10, 2011
Busan Citizens' Hall Main Theater April 16, 2011 – April 17, 2011
Gwanghwamun Love Song 광화문연가 Hyun-woo Gwangju Culture and Arts Center Main Theater April 22, 2011 – April 24, 2011
Daegu Keimyung Art Center April 29, 2011 – May 1, 2011
Goyang Aram Nuri Arts Center Aram Theater May 20, 2011 – May 22, 2011
Ansan Culture & Arts Center Haedoji Theater June 24, 2011 – June 26, 2011
2011 Guys and Dolls 아가씨와 건달들 Sky Masterson LG Art Center August 2, 2011 – September 18, 2011
Gwangju Culture and Arts Center Main Theater October 7, 2011 – October 9, 2011
Korean Sound and Culture Hall Moak Hall, Jeonju October 21, 2011 – October 23, 2011
Ulsan Culture and Arts Center Grand Theater November 12, 2011 – November 13, 2011
Anyang Art Center Grand Theater (Gwanak Hall) November 19, 2011 – November 20, 2011
Chungnam National University Jeongsimhwa International Cultural Center Jeongsimhwa Hall, Daejeon December 2, 2011 – December 4, 2011
Cheonma Art Center, Daegu December 16, 2011 – December 18, 2011
Busan Cinema Center Sky Theater December 31, 2011 – January 1, 2012
2012 Thrill Me (Japan) 쓰릴미 Richard/Nathan Galaxy Theater in Tokyo, Japan July 19 to 29
2012 Gwanghwamun Love Song 광화문 연가 Hyun-woo Chungmu Art Center Main Theater May 13, 2012 – June 3, 2012
Daegu Keimyung Art Center June 22, 2012 – June 24, 2012
Jeju Arts Center June 30, 2012 – July 1, 2012
Incheon Culture and Arts Center Grand Theater August 24, 2012 – August 26, 2012
Korean Sound and Culture Hall Moak Hall, Jeonju September 1, 2012 – September 2, 2012
Gwangju Culture and Arts Center Main Theater October 6, 2012 – October 7, 2012
2013 The Promise 프라미스 Sang-jin National Theater Haerorum Theater January 8, 2013 – January 20, 2013
February 15, 2013 – March 2, 2013
Daegu Gyeongnam Art Center March 21, 2013 – March 24, 2013
2014 Kinky Boots 킹키부츠 Charlie Price Chungmu Art Center Main Theater December 2, 2014 – February 22, 2015
2016 Gone Tomorrow 곤 투모로우 Hong Jong-woo Gwanglim Art Center BBCH Hall September 13, 2016 – November 6, 2016
2016 Frozen 얼음 Detective 2 Yes24 Stage 3 February 13, 2016 – March 20, 2016
2017 Thrill Me 쓰릴미 Nathan Baekam Art Hall February 14, 2017 – May 28, 2017


Theater play performances
Year Title Role Venue Date Ref.
English Korean
2005 Myeongdong Blues 명동 블루스
2006 Bindaetteok Gentleman 빈대떡 신사
2007 Gangtaek-gu 강택구
2007 Mad Kiss 미친키스 Jang Jung Daehak-ro Installation Theatre Jeongmiso September 5 - October 21
2007-2008 December 8, 2007 – March 2, 2008
2008 Fish man 물고기 남자 Understudy, Planning
2009 Zoo Story 동물원 이야기 Jerry
2011 One Guy, Two Guys, Riding on a Bumpy Road 한놈 두놈 삑구타고 Ho-jun The Theater July 1, 2011 – July 10, 2011
2016 Ice 얼음 Detective 1 (Cho Doo-man) Yes 24 Stage 3 February 13 to March 20, 2016 [74]


Year Song title Notes
2009 "Mandy" Track from Wife Returns OST

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2000 Dongrang Youth Arts Festival Excellence Award, Actor Won
2007 1st Daegu International Musical Festival Best New Actor Won
1st The Musical Awards Best Supporting Actor Thrill Me Nominated
2009 15th Korea Musical Awards Best Actor Spring Awakening Won
30th Blue Dragon Film Awards Best New Actor The Scam Nominated
2010 46th Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actor (Film) Nominated
SBS Drama Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Weekend/Daily Drama Wife Returns Nominated
2012 21st Buil Film Awards Best Supporting Actor A Muse Nominated
2018 KBS Drama Awards[75] Best Actor in a One-Act/Special/Short Drama Forgotten Season Nominated
2023 28th Chunsa Film Art Awards Best Supporting Actor The Devil's Deal Nominated
SBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Seasonal Drama[76] Trolley Nominated


Name of publisher, year listed, name of listicle, and placement
Publisher Year Listicle Placement Ref.
The Screen 2019 2009–2019 Top Box Office Powerhouse Actors in Korean Movies 46th [77]


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External links[edit]