Oh Man-seok

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Oh Man-seok
(TV10) 박희순, 박에진 사랑도 1등 女후배 사랑도 1등 (영화 올레 제작발표회) 14s 오만석.jpg
Born (1974-12-19) December 19, 1974 (age 44)
South Korea
Alma materKorea National University of Arts - BFA in Acting (2002)
OccupationActor, Theatre director
Years active1999–present
AgentNice Person Company (좋은사람컴퍼니)
Jo Sang-gyeong
(m. 2001; div. 2007)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationO Man-seok
McCune–ReischauerO Mansŏk

Oh Man-seok (born December 19, 1974) is a South Korean actor. Best known for playing the titular transgender singer in rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Oh's acting career spans theater, television and film.


Theater beginnings[edit]

Oh Man-seok graduated from the School of Drama at Korea National University of Arts with a BFA in Acting.[1] He made his stage debut in Faust in 1999. One of his early notable roles was as the androgynous court jester Gong-gil who becomes the object of obsession of the tyrant King Yeonsan in Yi, which would later be adapted into the hit 2005 film King and the Clown. Highly acclaimed for his portrayal of Gong-gil, Oh was awarded Best New Actor by the National Theater Association of Korea for the play's first run in 2000, and he reprised the role four more times in 2001, 2003, 2006, and 2010.[2][3]

More roles followed in The Rocky Horror Show (2001),[4] Return to the Forbidden Planet (2002), Grease (2003), Singin' in the Rain (2004), The Seagull (2004), Woyzeck (2004), and Assassins (2005).

Hedwig and the Angry Inch[edit]

But Oh became a bonafide musical theatre superstar in 2005, when he was cast as the titular East German transgender singer in the first Korean staging of the rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. As the first "Korean Hedwig," Oh received sensational reviews for his performance and he won Best Actor at the Korea Musical Awards.[5] After its run, a sold-out concert featured four of the actors alternating in the lead role, namely Oh, Cho Seung-woo, Kim Da-hyun and Song Yong-jin.[6]

In succeeding years, the rock musical's popularity remained enduring in Korea, attracting other actors to the role in later runs, such as Um Ki-joon, Jo Jung-suk, Song Chang-eui, Yoon Do-hyun, Kim Dong-wan and Park Gun-hyung. When John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote, directed and played the original Hedwig in the 1998 musical and the 2001 film, went to Korea in 2007 to hold a concert, Oh was one of his guest performers, along with other Korean Hedwig actors. Oh was also able to talk to Mitchell one-on-one, without an interpreter, for one and a half hours. Both agreed that the role was emotionally and physically consuming, and Oh added that he used to sit absentmindedly with a cigarette for 20 minutes after finishing his performance.[7] A year later in 2008, Mitchell returned to Korea, and he and Oh headlined a concert to commemorate Hedwig's 10th anniversary.[8]

In 2012, seven years after the role made him famous, Oh reprised Hedwig for the rock musical's seventh run in Korea. At a press conference, he jokingly talked about shaving his legs again and being banned from his favorite activities like eating meat, working out, and drinking alcohol, but said that the role was "certainly worth the ordeal." Oh said, "This musical tells us that to love someone is to accept him exactly the way he is. It also tells us that everyone deserves to be loved, and every individual is meaningful and important. I think that's the essential message of this piece."[5]

From stage to screen[edit]

Besides portraying Hedwig, 2005 was also significant in Oh's career because of his appearance in the critically acclaimed period drama Shin Don set in Goryeo. He had played minor roles in film and TV before, but the Buddhist monk Wonhyeon was his first major supporting role. (Oh later made a cameo in the 2010 Korean War drama Road No. 1 as a favor to Shin Don director Kim Jin-min.)

In 2006, Oh achieved mainstream fame with the television series The Vineyard Man (also known as The Man of the Vineyard), in his first onscreen leading role as a country guy in charge of a vineyard, who gradually falls for a hapless city girl determined to work there in order to inherit it.[9] The romantic comedy initially had low ratings, but it later surprisingly held its own against ratings juggernaut Jumong, unlike other Korean dramas in the same timeslot. Oh won Best New Actor and the Popularity Award at the 2006 KBS Drama Awards, and he and costar Yoon Eun-hye were voted as the Best Couple among the network's dramas.

Later that year, Oh took on a very different role in Hyena, a risque cable drama about the love lives of a group of four male friends.[9] Oh played a successful, urbane man with such high standards for "the perfect woman," that he's overly fastidious and critical to his dates.

In 2007, he was cast in his first big-screen leading role as a crime fiction novelist in the thriller Our Town. This was followed by the historical drama The King and I, which centered on the tragic love between King Seongjong, his royal concubine and a self-sacrificing eunuch (played by Oh, for which he won Best Actor in a Serial Drama at the SBS Drama Awards).[10]

From 2009 to 2010, Oh starred in the daily drama Jolly Widows, and he received another Best Actor award from the KBS Drama Awards.

Theatre director[edit]

He continued to be popular in musicals, appearing in the next several years in Finding Kim Jong-wook (he later made a cameo in its 2010 film adaptation Finding Mr. Destiny), A Day, and Dreamgirls.[11]

Inspired by the 2007 Lee Joon-ik film, Oh made his debut as a theatre director with The Happy Life, which ran from 2008 to 2009. He was also the musical's lyricist and polished the script. The title is ironic, since the story centers on two characters, a high school music teacher (played by Yoo Jun-sang and Im Choon-gil) and a younger man who's recently been orphaned (played by Ryan and Kim Mu-yeol), who live dull, depressing lives, but the only thing that makes them feel alive and gives them joy is music. Calling it a musical that's "both cheerful and emotionally weighty," Oh said directing made him feel a huge sense of responsibility, fear, and nerves, but he did his best with the actors "to create something.""[12][13]

For his second directorial project, Oh chose The Organ in My Heart. A stage adaptation of the 1999 film The Harmonium in My Memory set in the 1960s about a 17-year-old sixth grader who develops a crush on a 21-year-old male teacher newly assigned to her village school, Oh had previously starred in the musical's original run in 2008.[14] For the musical's run in 2011, Oh cast Tim and Kim Seung-dae in the lead role.[15][16]

He then directed The Toxic Avenger (called Toxic Hero in Korean) in 2011. Oh had headlined the comedy musical in 2010, playing a nerd who is reborn as a giant green mutant with superpowers, who fights against corruption and environmental pollution.[17] Oh was praised for successfully transforming into a grotesque, comical character, shedding the gentle image he frequently portrayed in previous musicals and television dramas.[18][19]

Afterwards, he starred in True West (2010) and 200 Pounds Beauty (2011). The latter is a musical adaptation of the same-titled 2006 romantic comedy film, about an overweight ghost singer who undergoes extensive cosmetic surgery to become a pop star; Oh played her love interest, a music producer.[20][21]

Back to television[edit]

Oh played a professor in What's Up, Song Ji-na's drama about college students in a musical theatre department,[22] which aired on cable in 2011. He also held a series of mini-concerts in 16 cities in Japan that year.[23]

About his supporting turn as a talented but sidelined baseball player in Wild Romance (2012), Oh said, "It's not easy to depict subtle changes in the character's mind. I wanted to portray how unsuccessful people in their 30s and 40s are living in this generation."[24]

Oh described appearing in the short drama format (such as MBC's Best Theater and KBS's Drama City) as a "meaningful experience" for him. He starred in the single-episode That Man's Jealous (2006), Transformation (2007), and Spy Trader Kim Chul-soo's Recent Condition (2010), as well as the four-episode series Special Task Force MSS (2011),[25] and The True Colors of Gang and Cheol (2012).


He returned to theater in early 2013. Based on the novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier and the 1940 film by Alfred Hitchcock, the gothic musical Rebecca takes place in Manderley, a stately mansion owned by aristocratic widower Maxim DeWinter (played by Oh), whose memory of Rebecca, his beautiful dead wife who drowned in a boating accident, keeps haunting him and his new bride.[26][27]

Jukebox musical Those Days (also known as The Days) featured folk-rock singer Kim Kwang-seok's music, in a story about the president's daughter who goes missing along with her bodyguard, on the day of the 20th anniversary of Korea-China diplomatic relations. Oh played the head of the presidential security service who slowly unravels the mystery of where they've gone.[28]

On television, Oh played the slacker husband of the second eldest daughter in weekend drama Wang's Family.

He then starred as drag queen Lola in the 2014 Korean staging of Kinky Boots, the first international adaptation of the musical since its Broadway premiere in 2013.[29][30]

Other activities[edit]

Oh is also the vocalist of a band called Little Wing. He owns the OD Musical Entertainment Company, which produced several of the musicals he's starred in.

Personal life[edit]

Oh met Jo Sang-gyeong when both were students at the Korea National University of Arts.[1] After dating for a year and half, they married in 2001. Jo went on to a successful career as a costume designer, for films such as Oldboy, Tazza: The High Rollers, The Host and Modern Boy.[31] The couple divorced in May 2007; they have one daughter named Oh Young-joo.[32]

Oh dated Jolly Widows costar Jo An for nearly two years, before breaking up in late 2011.[19][33][34][35]


Television series[edit]

Year Title Role Network
2003 Age of Warriors Yangpyo KBS1
2005 Shin Don Wonhyeon MBC
2006 MBC Best Theater "That Man's Jealous" Korean language teacher MBC
The Vineyard Man Jang Taek-gi KBS2
Hyena Choi Jin-beom tvN
2007 Surgeon Bong Dal-hee Oh Jung-min
(guest, episodes 13-14)
Drama City "Transformation" Monk KBS2
The King and I Kim Cheo-seon SBS
2008 Chil-woo the Mighty Kang Chil-woo's father
(cameo, episode 1)
2009 Jolly Widows Han Jin-woo KBS1
2010 Road No. 1 North Korean soldier
(guest, episodes 16-17)
Drama Special "Spy Trader Kim Chul-soo's Recent Condition" Kim Chul-soo KBS2
2011 Drama Special "Special Task Force MSS" Noh Chul-gi KBS2
Warrior Baek Dong-soo Crown Prince Sado SBS
What's Up Sunwoo Young MBN
2012 Wild Romance Jin Dong-soo KBS2
Drama Special "The True Colors of Gang and Cheol" Noh Chul-gi KBS2
2013 Wang's Family Heo Se-dal KBS2
2014 Prime Minister & I gangster
(cameo, episode 12)
Pluto Secret Society Choi Ki-chan's colleague
(cameo, episode 4)
2016 Another Oh Hae-young film director Oh Man-seok (cameo, episode 18) tvN
Squad 38 Park Deok-bae (cameo) OCN
2019 Beautiful World[36] Oh Jin-pyo JTBC
Spring Night TBA MBC


Year Title Role Notes
2000 To My Love short film
2004 Liar Alex
2006 A Cruel Attendance Sponge (cameo)
Fly Up narration documentary
2007 Soo Jeom Park-yi
Our Town Kyung-ju
2010 Finding Mr. Destiny Kim Jong-mook (cameo)
2011 Countdown Swy
2016 Chasing 340 bus driver
Detour Eun-dong
2017 The Bros Representative Oh Cameo
2018 True Fiction Lee Kyong-Seok

Variety show appearances[edit]

Date Episode # Title Role Network
2008-06-02 ~ 06-04 EBS Prime Documentary
"한중일 궁중생활사"
narration EBS
2009 10th Jeonju International Film Festival
Closing Ceremony
2009-05-17 SBS Prime Documentary
"The Truth About Jajangmyeon"
narration SBS
2009 3rd The Musical Awards host
2010 4th The Musical Awards
2011 5th The Musical Awards
2012 6th The Musical Awards
2012-03-18 ~ 06-10 Sunday Night - Exploration of Genders regular cast MBC
SNL Korea - Season 4 host tvN
2014-06-24 ~ 2017-11-01 Taxi



Year Title Role Reprised
2001 A Serenade of Sorrow
(Hangul애수의 소야곡)
The Rocky Horror Show Rocky
2002 Oh! Happy Day Eros
Return to the Forbidden Planet Bosun
2003 Indangsu Love Song
1인 다역
2003-2004 Grease Danny Zuko, Doody, Eugene Florczyk
2004 Dalgona
1인 다역
Geum River Opera
(Hangul가극 금강)
Ha-nui 2005
2004-2005 Singin' in the Rain Don Lockwood
2005 Hedwig and the Angry Inch Hedwig 2012, 2017
Assassins Samuel Byck
Winter Traveler
2006 Finding Kim Jong-wook
2007 A Day
Kang Young-won
2008 The Organ in My Heart
(Hangul내 마음의 풍금)
Kang Dong-soo
2009 Dreamgirls Curtis Taylor Jr.
2010 The Toxic Avenger Melvin Ferd the Third, Toxie
2011-2012 200 Pounds Beauty
(Hangul미녀는 괴로워 일본 공연)
Han Sang-jun
2013 Rebecca Maxim DeWinter 2014
Those Days
Jeong-hak 2016-2017
2014-2015 Kinky Boots Lola
2015-2016 Okepi (Orchestra Pit) Conductor
2018 Man of La Mancha Cervantes/Don Quixote


Year Title Role Reprised
1999 Faust Wagner
2000 Tae (Hangul) Danjong
Ot Goot-Sal (Hangul옷굿-살) Chorus
Yi (Hangul; Hanja) Gong-gil 2001, 2003, 2006, 2010
2004 The Seagull Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov
Woyzeck Karl
2010-2011 True West Lee 2016
2018 Nassim 2018

As theatre director[edit]

Year Title
2008-2009 The Happy Life (Hangul즐거운 인생)
2010-2011 The Organ in My Heart (Hangul내 마음의 풍금)
2011 The Toxic Avenger
2015 True West
2016 True West
2017 Three Days of Rain


Year Song title From the Album
2001 "The Sword of Damocles" The Rocky Horror Show cast recording
2002 "Great Balls of Fire"
"The Young Ones"
"Born to Be Wild"
Return to the Forbidden Planet cast recording
2003 "Those Magic Changes"
"Beauty School Dropout"
Grease cast recording
2005 "The Origin of Love"
"Wicked Little Town"
"Angry Inch"
Hedwig and the Angry Inch cast recording
2006 "종욱과 나라의 Love Theme"
"한양서 김서방 찾기"
"이젠 정말 만나야 할 때"
"좋은 사람"
"나라와 만석의 Love Theme"
Finding Kim Jong-wook cast recording
2008 "봄이다. 그치?"
"커피향, 웃는 이유"
"소풍, 때려쳐?!"
"홍연이 안 왔어요"
"나비의 꿈"
"나의 사랑 수정"
"내 마음의 풍금(Springtime/나비 Reprise)"
The Organ in My Heart cast recording
2009 "Steppin' to the Bad Side"
"You Are My Dream"
Dreamgirls cast recording
2011 "별 (Star)"
"누가 나를 알까?"
200 Pounds Beauty cast recording
2012 "어떻게 변해요 (How Can I Change)" Wild Romance OST
"Tear Me Down"
"The Origin of Love"
"Sugar Daddy"
"Angry Inch"
"Wig in a Box"
"Wicked Little Town"
"The Long Grift"
"Hedwig's Lament"
"Exquisite Corpse"
"Wicked Little Town (Reprise)"
"Midnight Radio"
Hedwig and the Angry Inch cast recording
"Springtime" What's Up OST
2013 "At the abyss"
"Help me through the night"
"God, why?"
"Never was a smile that cold"
"Manderley in Flames"
Rebecca cast recording


Year Title
2005 Hedwig and the Angry Inch Concert
2005, 2006 Passion of the Rain
2007 Hedwig Concert Together with John Cameron Mitchell
2008 HEDWIG 10th Anniversary! Hedwig Concert with John Cameron Mitchell and Oh Man-seok

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2000 The National Theater Association of Korea Best New Actor Yi Won
2004 10th Korea Musical Awards Best Supporting Actor Grease Nominated
2005 11th Korea Musical Awards Most Popular Star Hedwig and the Angry Inch Won
Best Actor Won
MBC Drama Awards Best New Actor Shin Don Nominated
2006 12th Korea Musical Awards Most Popular Star Finding Kim Jong-wook Won
KBS Drama Awards Best Couple Award with Yoon Eun-hye The Vineyard Man Won
Popularity Award Won
Best New Actor Won
Excellence Award, Actor Nominated
2007 43rd Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actor (TV) Nominated
2nd Golden Ticket Awards 1st Ticket Power in a Musical Finding Kim Jong-wook Won
1st The Musical Awards Most Popular Actor A Day Won
13th Korea Musical Awards Most Popular Star Won
SBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actor in a Serial Drama The King and I Won
2008 45th Grand Bell Awards Best New Actor Our Town Nominated
14th Korea Musical Awards Best Actor The Organ in My Heart Nominated
2009 3rd The Musical Awards Best Actor Nominated
KBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actor in a Daily Drama Jolly Widows Won
2010 KBS Drama Awards Best Actor in a One-Act Drama/Special Spy Trader Kim Chul-soo's Recent Condition Nominated
2013 KBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actor in a Serial Drama Wang's Family Nominated
2014 8th Daegu International Musical Festival Awards Star Award Those Days Won


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  7. ^ "Hedwig". The Dong-a Ilbo. 24 May 2007. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
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  11. ^ Chung, Ah-young (2 March 2009). "Musical Dreamgirls Is a Showstopper". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
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  13. ^ 오만석 연출·유준상 김무열 라이언 열연‥뮤지컬 '즐거운 인생'. Newsis (in Korean). 11 November 2008. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
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  17. ^ Chung, Ah-young (14 July 2013). "Toxic Avenger to go on stage in August". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
  18. ^ Chung, Ah-young (23 August 2010). "Comical saga: from geek to superhero". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
  19. ^ a b "Actor Begs for Privacy Over Romance with Fellow Actress". The Chosun Ilbo. 28 July 2010. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
  20. ^ "Cast and opening date set for musical 200 Pounds Beauty". 10Asia. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
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  22. ^ Oh, Jean (29 November 2010). "Music dramas take on high school, college". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
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  28. ^ Kwon, Mee-yoo (21 February 2013). "Emptying nostalgia's vault". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
  29. ^ Yim, Seung-hye (16 December 2014). "Kick up your heels with the musical Kinky Boots". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2015-01-09.
  30. ^ Lee, Sun-young (10 December 2014). "Kinky Boots, if your spirit needs lifting". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2015-01-09.
  31. ^ "Jo Sang-gyeong". Korean Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
  32. ^ Choi, April (23 July 2007). "Top Actor Oh Man-seok Divorces". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
  33. ^ Ko, Kyoung-seok (19 July 2010). "Oh Man-seok admits to dating Jo An". 10Asia. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
  34. ^ Sunwoo, Carla (3 January 2012). "Actors Oh Man-seok and Jo Ahn announce their break-up after two years together". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
  35. ^ Hwang, Hyo-jin (3 January 2012). "Oh Man-seok and Jo An break up". 10Asia. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
  36. ^ "[공식] 박희순·추자현·오만석·조여정, '아름다운 세상' 캐스팅 확정". Naver (in Korean). Seoul Economy Daily. Retrieved January 7, 2019.

External links[edit]