Kim Nam-gil

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Kim Nam-gil
Kim Nam-gil at Asian Star Awards 2018.jpg
Kim Nam-gil at The Asian Star Awards 2018.
Born (1980-03-13) March 13, 1980 (age 42)
Seoul, South Korea
OccupationActor, film producer, director, singer
Years active1999–present
AgentGilstory ENT
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGim Nam-gil
McCune–ReischauerKim Namkil

Kim Nam-gil (Korean김남길) is a South Korean actor, producer, director, singer and philanthropist. He is best known from leading roles in disaster blockbuster Pandora (2016); crime thriller Memoir of a Murderer (2017); adventure film The Pirates (2014); period drama Portrait of a Beauty (2008) and the crime-comedy television drama The Fiery Priest (2019). His breakthrough role was Bidam in the hit television period drama Queen Seondeok (2009).

Kim is also the founder and CEO of a non-profit organization Gilstory that focuses on preserving cultural heritage, promoting arts and raising special purpose relief funds. Kim is known for his versatility as an actor and for often balancing projects with commercial value and roles that are artistic in nature. He was placed 17th in the top 40 most powerful stars in Korea 2020 by Forbes. On February 3, 2021, Kim launched Gilstory ENT, a comprehensive entertainment company, together with Han Jae Deok, head of film production company Sanai Pictures.[1]



Kim began his acting career on television with a minor role in the 1999 KBS youth drama School 1.[2] Four years later, he passed the 2003 Talent Audition conducted annually by MBC, and appeared in various minor roles on the network's shows, such as Be Strong, Geum-soon!.[3] During this time, he was using the stage name Lee Han, which he made up to avoid confusion with Kang Nam-gil, another Korean actor with a similar name, and to give himself a more sophisticated image.[4] In the following years he took on more supporting roles in television dramas, among them Goodbye Solo,[5] Lovers,[6] and When Spring Comes.[7]

In 2009, Kim was cast as one of the supporting characters in the historical drama Queen Seondeok, in a role that would soon change his life. It became one of the highest-rated TV series of that year (reaching a peak of over 40%[8]), and Kim became a household name and the series' breakout star.[9] For his portrayal of the playful but tragic Bidam, Kim said he was inspired by comic book characters such as Han Bi-kwang in Ruler of the Land, Miyamoto Musashi in Vagabond, and Kang Baek-ho in Slam Dunk. The writers rewrote the script to respond to Bidam's popularity with the viewing audience, giving the character more screen time and emphasizing his romance with the titular Seondeok (despite the incredible historical inaccuracy), until there were two main male leads in the series.[10][11][12] A horse-riding-related injury on set,[13] and a brief hospitalization due to H1N1 flu,[14] were minor negatives compared to the impact the series had on Kim's career. He won several awards for his performance, gained more local and international fans,[15][16] received advertisement offers, and was flooded with film and TV scripts.

In 2010 he played an antihero lead role in Bad Guy, a dark melodrama about revenge, ambition, and fatal love.[17][18][19][20][21] But while still in the middle of filming, Kim received his draft notice for mandatory military service.[22] He tried to ask for deferment in order to wrap up the shoot for the series, but it was not granted.[23] Kim shot as much as he could (his scenes were reduced, and a body double was also used) then entered the army two days later on July 15, 2010. He received four weeks of basic training at Nonsan, and served for two years as a public service worker.[24]

In 2013 Kim starred in the revenge TV series Shark (also known as Don't Look Back), from the makers of Resurrection and The Devil.[25][26]

In 2017 he starred in the time-slip medical drama Live Up to Your Name.[27] In 2019 he headlined the comedy crime drama The Fiery Priest as a hot tempered priest.[28] It was the first drama to air on Fridays and Saturdays on SBS and was well received by viewers, seeing a rapid rise in ratings and ending at a peak of 22%.[29] Kim earned a Best Actor nomination at the 55th Baeksang Arts Awards, and went on to win eight awards for his performance including the Grand Prize (Daesang) at the 2019 SBS Drama Awards.[30]

In 2022, Kim returned to the small screen with the SBS drama Through the Darkness as a criminal behavior analyst, which was his return to terrestrial television in three years,[31] excluding Kim as a special appearance in the drama, SBS's One the Woman in which he appeared to support one of his previous co-star Lee Ha-nee.


Kim debuted on the big-screen in 2004 gangster movie Low life. In 2006, he made the bold decision to portray a homosexual character in the controversial queer indie No Regret in a role which included several gay sex scenes.[32] The film was critically praised and traveled the film festival circuit, being shown among others in the Panorama section of the 57th Berlin Film Festival. He was then cast in 2008's Public Enemy Returns, where he worked with the actor Jung Jae-young.[33] Kim had stated in interviews that Jung Jae-young, who attended the same high school he did, had been his role model as an actor. Upon the influence of the film's director Kang Woo-suk (but against the advice of his agent and manager[4]), Kim stopped using the stage name Lee Han and reverted to his birth name.[34] Later that year, he played his first leading role in a major commercial film, Portrait of a Beauty.[35] Though his co-star Kim Min-sun garnered most of the attention for the erotic costume drama, Kim's strong performance did not go unnoticed.[36]

Another side benefit of Kim's popularity resulting from the Seondeok was the theatrical release in 2010 of his indie Lovers Vanished,[4][37] a relationship drama which the director described as a "Korean Leaving Las Vegas."[38]

Following his discharge from the army in 2012,[39] Kim produced the film Ensemble, a music mockumentary about a group of classical musicians who form a group and take to the streets to perform outside their usual concert halls, showing their youthful passion in making music accessible. It premiered at the Jecheon International Music & Film Festival.[40] He was also one of four celebrities in 2013 who directed a short film using smartphone Samsung Galaxy S4 with the theme "Meet a Life Companion"; his short Hello, Mom depicted the love between a mother and her daughter, and evoked the warm feeling of an analog film.[41] This was followed by the 2014 period adventure film The Pirates, which reunited him with Shark costar Son Ye-jin.[42][43]

He next starred opposite award-winning actress Jeon Do-yeon in the 2015 thriller The Shameless; Kim played a detective who falls for the girlfriend of the murderer he is investigating.[44] The Shameless had its world premiere at 2015 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section.[45] Nam Gil was next cast as powerful nobleman Heungseon Daewongun whose concubine takes up pansori in the period film The Sound of a Flower.[46]

In 2016 Kim starred in disaster blockbuster Pandora portraying the aftermath of an explosion in a nuclear plant.[47] Pandora premiered internationally at the International Film Festival and Awards Macao,[48] receiving standing ovation.

In 2017 Kim starred in the action thriller Memoir of a Murderer and romance drama film One Day.[49][50] In 2019, Kim starred in the comedy film The Odd Family: Zombie On Sale.[51]

In 2020, Kim starred in the horror film The Closet.[52]


In 2012, Kim published a book titled Way Back to the Road, his memoir of the previous two years, which contained photos taken by himself. It also featured New Zealand scenery captured by photographer Cho Nam-ryong, and contributions from writer Lee Yoon-chul.[53]

In July 2013 he released his debut single in Japan. The title track is a cover of Kōji Tamaki's "Roman," and the single also included Kim's two songs from the Queen Seondeok soundtrack.[54]

In 2022, Kim released CUP vol.1: How Personal Taste Inspires, an interview book collecting the stories of 10 creators about 'Inspiration', the source of creativity.[55]

In September 2022 he opened his personal Instagram account under username @namgildaero.

In November 2022, the agency confirmed that bookings for the autograph donation show '2022 Kim Nam-gil's Universe's Strongest Show from October 31st to October 8th were postponed due to the Seoul Halloween crowd crush.[56]



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2004 Low Life Police officer at checkpoint
2006 Don't Look Back Seok-woo [57]
No Regret Song Jae-min
2008 Public Enemy Returns Park Mun-su
Modern Boy Hidaka Shinsuke [58]
Portrait of a Beauty Kang-mu
2009 Handphone Jang Yoon-ho [59]
2010 Lovers Vanished Im Su-in
2012 Ensemble Producer
2013 Hello, Mom Short film, Director
2014 The Pirates Jang Sa-jung
Glory for Everyone narrator Documentary [60]
2015 The Shameless Jung Jae-gon
The Sound of a Flower Heungseon Daewongun
2016 Pandora Kang Jae-hyeok
2017 Memoir of a Murderer Min Tae-joo
One Day Lee Kang-soo
2019 The Odd Family: Zombie On Sale Park Min-gul
2020 The Closet Heo Kyung-hoon
Okay Madam Nervous man Cameo
2022 Emergency Declaration Hyun-soo [61] [note 1][63]
Hunt Tokyo branch agent 3 Special appearance [64]
A Man of Reason [65]
TBA Night Trip KakaoTV original [66]

Television series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1999 School 1 Min-soo
2004 MBC Best Theater – Kang Jang-soo's Love House
Nonstop 4 Hyun-bin's friend
Sweet Buns Hong Hye-jan's boyfriend
2005 Be Strong, Geum-soon! Noh Seong-hwan
The 5th Republic Park Ji-man [67]
My Lovely Sam Soon Kim Byung-tae [68]
2006 Goodbye Solo Yoo Ji-an
Lovers Tae-San
2007 When Spring Comes Kim Joon-ki
Several Questions That Make Us Happy Im Seok-joo [69]
2009 Queen Seondeok Bidam
Tears of the Amazon Narrator Documentary [70]
2010 Haiti, Tears of Tragedy [71]
Personal Taste Man sitting in cafe Cameo (episode 11) [72]
Bad Guy Shim Gun-wook
2013 Shark Han Yi-soo
2017 Live Up to Your Name Heo-Im
2019 The Fiery Priest Kim Hae-il
2021 One the Woman Male priest who leads to heaven Cameo (episode 1) [73]
2022 Through the Darkness Song Ha-young [74]
TBA Song of the Bandits Yi-yun [75]

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2022 Island Van [76]

Television shows[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2019 Trans-Siberian Pathfinders Cast member [77]
Life of Samantha Narrator Documentary
2020 K-Ocean Pathfinders Cast member
2022 Living for an Empty House in a Fishing Village Creator Art Village project [78]

Music video[edit]

Year Song title Artist
1999 "Gift" Kim Jang-hoon
2005 "Attention" Lady
"Start" M.Street
"Don't Forget, Don't Forget" The Red
2007 "Just Ten Days" J


Year Title Notes Ref.
2018 23rd Busan International Film Festival with Han Ji-min [79]
2022 31st Buil Film Awards with Choi Soo-young [80]


Year Title Role Ref.
2000 A Midsummer Night's Dream
2003 Park Mu-geun's Family [81]


Album information Track listing
Can't I Love You?[82]
  • Track from Queen Seondeok Special OST
  • Released: January 8, 2010
  • Label: Star J Entertainment, Danal
Track listing
  1. 사랑하면 안 되니 ("Can't I Love You?")
  2. 사랑하면 안 되니 (Inst.)
You Don't Know
Track listing
  1. 너는 모른다 ("You Don't Know")
  2. 너는 모른다 (Inst.)
Track listing
  1. Roman 
  2. 愛してはいけないの (Korean original ver.) ("Can't I Love You?")
  3. 지금 당신은 사랑하고 있습니까 (Korean original ver.) ("Do You Still Love Now")
  4. Roman (Inst.) 
  5. 愛してはいけないの (Inst.)

Photo book[edit]

Year Title Publisher ISBN
2010 Into the Wild The Book Company ISBN 9788991317512
2012 Way Back to the Road MCK Publishing ISBN 9788996985402

Awards and nominations[edit]

Name of the award ceremony, year presented, category, nominee of the award, and the result of the nomination
Award ceremony Year Category Nominee / Work Result Ref.
APAN Star Awards 2022 Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Through the Darkness Nominated [84]
Asian Film Awards Special Awards 2014 Asian Rising Star Kim Nam-gil Won [85]
Baeksang Arts Awards 2010 Best New Actor – Television Queen Seondeok Won [86]
2016 Most Popular Actor (film) Pandora Nominated
2019 Best Actor – Television The Fiery Priest Nominated [30]
2022 Through the Darkness Nominated [87]
Blue Dragon Film Awards 2008 Best New Actor Public Enemy Returns Nominated
Blue Dragon Series Awards 2022 Best Leading Actor Through the Darkness Nominated [88]
Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2021 Silver Raven Award The Closet Won [89]
Buil Film Awards 2015 Best Actor The Shameless Nominated
Busan International Film Festival 2019 The Fiery Priest Won [90]
Grand Bell Awards 2009 Best Supporting Actor Modern Boy Nominated
Best New Actor Nominated
Grimae Awards 2019 Best Actor The Fiery Priest Won [91]
KBS Drama Awards 2013 Top Excellence Award, Actor Shark Nominated
Excellence Award, Actor in a Mid-length Drama Nominated
Korean Broadcasters Association Awards 2019 Best Actor The Fiery Priest Won [92]
Korea Drama Awards 2022 Grand Prize (Daesang) Through the Darkness Nominated [93]
Korean Culture and Entertainment Awards 2009 Best New Actor Modern Boy Won [94]
Korea PD Awards 2020 Performer Awards (Actor category) The Fiery Priest Won [95]
MBC Drama Awards 2009 Excellence Award, Actor Queen Seondeok Won [96]
Best New Actor Nominated
Best Couple Award Kim Nam-gil with Lee Yo-won
Queen Seondeok
SBS Drama Awards 2010 Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Drama Special Bad Guy Nominated
2019 Grand Prize (Daesang) The Fiery Priest Won [97]
Top Excellence Award in Mid-Length Drama (Actor) Nominated
Producer's Award Nominated
Seoul International Drama Awards 2019 Outstanding Korean Actor Won [98]
2022 Best Actor Through the Darkness Nominated [99]
Style Icon Awards 2009 New TV Icon Kim Nam-gil Won [100]

State honors[edit]

Name of country, year given, and name of honor
Country Or Organization Year Honor Or Award Ref.
South Korea[note 2] 2019 Prime Minister's Commendation [104]


Name of publisher, year listed, name of listicle, and placement
Publisher Year Listicle Placement Ref.
Forbes 2020 Korea Power Celebrity 17th [105]


  1. ^ The film has been temporarily postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea and the number of infections is likely to increase. The film was originally scheduled to be released in January 2022, thus temporarily postponing the screening.[62]
  2. ^ Honors are given at the Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards, arranged by the Korea Creative Content Agency and hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.[101][102] They are awarded to those who have contributed to the arts and South Korea's pop culture.[103]


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