Yoo in January 2019
October 6, 1986
Daegu, South Korea
|Occupation||Actor, creative director, gallerist|
|Agent||United Artists Agency|
|Revised Romanization||Yu A-in|
|Revised Romanization||Eom Hong-sik|
Yoo Ah-in (born Uhm Hong-sik on October 6, 1986) is a South Korean actor, creative director, and gallerist. He is known for playing a diversity of roles in television and film, where he often portrays characters that exhibit significant personal growth.
Yoo is best known for his leading roles in the coming-of-age film Punch (2011), melodrama Secret Love Affair (2014), action blockbuster Veteran (2015), period drama The Throne (2015), and the historical television series Six Flying Dragons (2015-2016).
In 2018, Yoo starred in the mystery-drama film Burning, directed by the acclaimed South Korean auteur Lee Chang-dong: the film received universal acclaim, competing for the Palme d'Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and being shortlisted for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards, becoming the first Korean film to do so. For his role as Lee Jong-su, Yoo received universal critical acclaim, including being selected for The New York Times' "The Best Actors of 2018" feature.
For his work in film and television, Yoo won the Best Actor award at the Blue Dragon Film Awards and Baeksang Arts Awards, respectively. In 2016, he ranked second in Forbes Korea Power Celebrity list. In addition to his film work, Yoo engages in social and artistic activism. He is also known for his politically and socially charged views and his frequent involvement in online spats with netizens ("internet citizens") on his social media accounts.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Other work
- 4 Public image
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Filmography
- 7 Awards and nominations
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Yoo Ah-in, whose real name is Uhm Hong-sik, was born in Daegu in southeastern Korea, the youngest of three children. In the first year at Gyeongbuk Arts High School, majoring in fine arts, Yoo was discovered by a casting agent on the streets in front of the school. He traveled to Seoul by himself and began living independently, which he said developed into a personal asset. He was enrolled in Seoul Arts High School, but soon dropped out of school to carry on his broadcast activities. Yoo later entered Dankuk University and Konkuk University, having completed a GED for high school certification.
2003–2005: Career beginnings and hiatus
Using the stage name Yoo Ah-in, he made his debut in a TV commercial in 2003. His first management wanted to create a pretty stage name for him that fitted an idol image because the name Uhm Hong-sik was considered too heavy and old fashioned. He then chose Yoo Ah-in, in which Ah-in was taken from the German word meaning "one".
Yoo was then cast in the teen series Sharp 1 after auditioning, playing the role of a model student majoring in painting. After the series aired, Yoo gained popularity and was cast in romance drama April Kiss and one-act drama Shi-eun & Soo-ha. Yoo also appeared in various commercials including school uniforms and youth apparels.
After that, however, Yoo took a break from acting and disappeared from the spotlight. According to Yoo, he got to live as an actor without any knowledge about acting and entertainment industry. At first, he was overjoyed with cheers and popularity, but then was confused whether he really wanted it, and so had period of break in order to look inside himself. He was able to think about what is going to be for himself, not him being shown to others, and what kind of way the actor is. He had thought about his identity for a long time and drawn a picture of the future, then found himself who regarded acting seriously and started to have a passion for acting. Afterwards when asked about the blank period, Yoo said:
It [spotlight] did not seem to be mine because I did not know what was happening to me and how to cope with it at the time. I can digest it now. After then, I got the idea that I have to be ahead, wait and stand firmly on my feet, rather than breaking down in any kind of phenomenon that rushes to me.
2006–2009: Film debut
Resuming his acting career, Yoo starred in low-budget indie film Boys of Tomorrow, which premiered at Busan International Film Festival in October 2006. He expressed of the film "If I have drawn a picture of the actor career, this film must be within that picture". Director Noh dong-seok cast Yoo because Noh was impressed by his performance at the audition. Yoo's performance of a boy who is looking for a real gun to escape from the frustrating reality earned positive reviews, and he won the Best New Actor award at the Busan Film Critics Awards.
He then starred in Jeong Yoon-cheol’s black comedy film Skeletons in the Closet, playing the role of a eccentric boy who believes he was a king in previous incarnation. Yoo was nominated at the Blue Dragon Film Awards.
In 2008, Yoo starred in historical drama Strongest Chil Woo, playing a cruel but lonely assassin adopted by a nobleman. He gained recognition from critics and viewers for his performance, despite it being the first historical drama for him. He also featured in Min Kyu-dong’s comedy-drama film Antique, adapted from Yoshinaga Fumi’s manga Antique Bakery. For his role as a patisserie aspirant and former boxer, Yoo took boxing and baking classes. He received the Best New Actor award at the Director's Cut Awards and emerged as the one of promising actors in Korean film industry.
In 2009, he was cast in romance drama He Who Can’t Marry, as cheeky assistant who works at the architectural office, portraying the lively and bright sides of twenties. He next starred in film Sky and Ocean, playing a pizza delivery man who makes his own livelihood.
2010–2013: Rising popularity and breakthrough
Yoo's rise to fame came in 2010, when he acted in fusion period drama Sungkyunkwan Scandal. Due to the drama's popularity, Yoo shot to stardom along with the rest of the young cast. He played the role of an unpredictable man who moonlights to reveal the corruption of rich nobles. Yoo's popularity was later referred to as "Geol-oh-al-yee" (Geol-oh fever/love sickness), named after his character.
This was followed by his first big-screen leading role in the coming-of-age film Punch, a critical and commercial hit in 2011. His costar, veteran actor Kim Yoon-seok predicted that "In the next 10 years, he will be one of the biggest names in Korean cinema."
Cast as King Sukjong in the 2013 period drama Jang Ok-jung, Living by Love, a revisionist take on infamous royal concubine Jang Hui-bin. Yoo called the role one of the biggest challenges of his career and he garnered favorable press reviews for his mature, charismatic and versatile portrayal of the historical figure.
He then played the titular character in the film Tough as Iron, about a Busan pier worker who takes care of his mother afflicted with dementia and kidney disease. Yoo and Tough as Iron co-star, Jung Yu-mi later collaborated again as voice actors in the animated film The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow.
2014–present: Acclaim in film and television
In 2014, he appeared as a quirky supporting role in Lee Han's Thread of Lies (this was Lee's second film adaptation of a Kim Ryeo-ryeong novel after Punch). This was followed by a leading role in cable melodrama Secret Love Affair, in which Yoo played a poor piano prodigy in love with his married, much older teacher. To prepare for his role, Yoo practiced the piano and listened to classical music. The drama occupied the number one ratings slot throughout its run and became the highest rated general cable drama of the year. Due to his popularity, Yoo was referred to as "kukmin yunhanam" (the nation's younger boyfriend). Yoo garnered favorable press reviews for his delicate, three-dimensional and passionate portrayal of a genius pianist. 10 Asia praised, “Secret Love Affair is Yoo Ah In’s turning point in acting. He makes the affair looks so irresistible and concrete, he makes the viewers sympathize for his forbidden love and follow his journey till all hell breaks loose.” And, “His piano concerto scene will be the talk of the town for a long time and is worth lasting memory.”
In 2015, Yoo starred in two top-grossing films. He played an amoral young millionaire who faces off with a detective in Ryoo Seung-wan's crime thriller/comedy Veteran, and as the tragic Crown Prince Sado in Lee Joon-ik's period drama The Throne. He received Best Actor awards at influential film awards including Blue Dragon Awards, Korean Film Reporters Association Awards, Chunsa Film Art Awards, and Golden Cinematography Awards. The same year, he was named "Actor of the Year" in the 2015 Gallup Korea Survey and ranked number two on Korea Power Celebrity by Forbes.
Yoo was then cast in the historical drama Six Flying Dragons, reuniting with Fashion King co-star Shin Se-kyung. The drama occupied the number one ratings slot throughout its run. Yoo's portrayal of an ambitious prince Yi Bang-won won him Best Actor in the TV Category at the Baeksang Arts Awards. Due to his success in both film and television, the entertainment media coined 2015 the "A-in-shi-dae" (Ah-in Era).
The following year, Yoo played a Korean wave star in ensemble cast film Like for Likes, his first romantic comedy since debut. This was also his first film directed by a woman. Yoo explained his reason working with the female director, "I want to work with a female movie director. When people talk about female directors, they always put 'female' in front of director, even though they don’t put 'male' for male directors. This can mean that women are special, but in reality women often lose out in society because of their gender. I want to lend weight to them and I am also curious about working with them", and "I discussed about feminism with the director. This film depicts the stereotypical perception of women that is deeply rooted in Korean society. When a man articulates his opinion, he is considered as having self-confidence and cool, but when a woman does the same she is called a very opinionated. This part went straight to my heart.”
In 2018, Yoo starred in Lee Chang-dong's film Burning, portraying a pure and sensitive young man who tries to solve the mystery surrounding the woman he loves. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where Yoo walked the red carpet. Yoo's performance was universally acclaimed. Justin Chang of Los Angeles Times said on NPR, "As the movie’s inarticulate male lead, Yoo Ah-in has, in some ways, the trickiest task. But he reaches almost subterranean depths of feeling." Jessica Kiang of The Playlist wrote, "Yoo’s Jong-su is the very definition of still waters that run deep and dark and conceal who knows what in their murky reaches. Only a flawlessly assured performance could make the film’s devastating yet ambivalent and enigmatic finale work as well as it does here." Pierce Conran of Screen Anarchy wrote, "Even more impressive is Yoo Ah-in, who is most well known in the west for playing the slimy son of a corporate head who serves as the villain in Ryoo Seung-wan's Veteran. Never better, Yoo embodies a sense of confusion, which eventually turns to dread in a performance that doesn't allow us to make any easy judgments about his character. Jong-soo's intentions throughout the story may seem innocent, but coupled with references to emasculation and his timid physicality, Yoo crafts an unusually compelling lead." The New York Times featured Yoo in their list of the best actors of the year, making him the only Asian to be on the list and the first Korean actor to do so.
In November 2018, Yoo starred in the crisis film Sovereign Default, playing an investor. In the following year, he is set to host, co-write and co-produce KBS1 program Do-ol's Special Lectures: '도올아인 오방간다 (Do-ol Ah-in Going All Directions) with philosopher Do-ol, broadcast from January 5, 2019. In January 2019, Yoo was featured in Forbes.
Yoo is the representative, curator, and creative director of Studio Concrete. Operating under the creative direction of popular Korean actor Yoo Ah-in, Studio Concrete is the name of a group of artists born in the 1980s. The creative collective 'Studio Concrete' was established in 2014 by individuals from various artistic and professional backgrounds. Yoo and his friends founded Studio Concrete with the mission of "building a healthy support system for the future generations of creatives." The group is involved in a range of creative projects including planning exhibitions and advertisements, graphic design, product design and art collaborations.
Located in Hannam-dong, in a remodeled old townhouse, the group's self-titled atelier functions as a cultural complex and features a gallery, cafe and shop. The space hosts free monthly exhibitions and events that introduce the work of emerging local and international artists.
Through Studio Concrete exhibitions, Yoo shows his support for the LGBT community, liberal feminist, Korean Childhood Leukemia Foundation, and other minority groups. In addition to Studio Concrete's annual charity bazaar for children, the art gallery holds new events every month for various groups. From 27 to 30 April 2017, Studio Concrete collaborated with Diesel (brand) for "Make Love Not Walls" Global Campaign in Seoul. From October 12 to 15, 2017, Studio Concrete held a Feminist Book Fair & Discussion. On October 15, 2017, Studio Concrete held a "Drag Queen Dramatic Reading" Event.
In September 2018, Studio Concrete produced a short documentary The Interview for Diesel's “Hate Couture” Global Campaign to take a stand against Cyberbullying. Proceeds from the brand's sale will be donated in support of anti-bullying programmes. On October 26, 2018, Studio Concrete collaborated with W Korea magazine for "Breast Cancer Awareness" Campaign. Proceeds from the item's sale will be donated to Korean breast cancer foundation.
From January to March 2019, Studio Concrete is set to co-produce KBS1 12 episodes of special talk show "도올아인 오방간다" (Do-ol Ah-in Going All Directions) commemorating 100th Year March First Movement.
In 2013, Yoo donated to a campaign titled "I Am Against The Unfair Food Tray of Children" through The Beautiful Foundation. He had helped The Beautiful Foundation adding 22% to the fundraising goal, thus only 1% to go to reach 350 million Won. The Foundation published his letter encouraging participation, and soon after, the fundraising exceeded its goal.
In 2014, Yoo launched a local clothing line named Newkids Nohant to create Hangul-themed T-shirt designs. He then donated the profits worth 100 million won made through the clothing line, opening up the Newkids Yoo Ah In Charity Fund in 2015. The fund will be used to provide aid for college tuition and educational expenses for the students who attend college while living in or after retiring from residential care centers. On April 18, 2014, Yoo quietly joined the Sewol Ferry relief efforts after the Sinking of MV Sewol tragedy, and secretly sent supplies to the family members of missing passengers in Jindo.
Since 2015 Yoo and his art gallery Studio Concrete hold the annual charity bazaar to celebrate Children's Day and donate all the proceeds from the bazaar to the Korea Childhood Leukemia Foundation. In 2016, he donated museum tickets worth 40 million Won for underprivileged children.
Yoo is the first Asian actor to be the global model of Diesel. In September 2018, Yoo joined Diesel's “Hate Couture” Global Campaign to take a stand against Cyberbullying. Yoo and his artist group Studio Concrete released a short documentary The Interview for the campaign on September 20, 2018. The Interview took the form of a fake documentary rarely seen in the fashion film genre. Yoo took the helm as the creative director and the main character himself. Proceeds from the sale of the brand's pieces will be donated in support of anti-bullying programmes.
Yoo has been a supporter of breast cancer awareness campaigns since 2012 through Amore Pacific Group and W Korea Magazine's annual campaign activities, such as "Pink Ribbon Love Marathon" and "Love Your W" campaigns. In January 2017, together with the renown sculptor Osang Gwon, Yoo teamed up to produce a bust-sized cubist sculpture, symbolizing the breast cancer awareness campaign “Love Your W”. On October 26, 2018, Yoo and his artist group Studio Concrete collaborated with W Korea in the 13th annual "Love Your W" campaign by designing a set of special T-shirts, and bringing up the Woman & Beauty theme for a photo exhibition called “Love Your W”. Proceeds from the exhibition were donated to the Korean Breast Cancer Foundation.
Considered one of the most outspoken and politically-socially charged Korean actors of his generation, Yoo drew media attention in late 2012 when he tweeted a strongly worded criticism against the withdrawal of Ahn Cheol-soo from the presidential race. He also criticized the age regulation on Lady Gaga's concert in Seoul which were first sold as PG-13 but later on changed to PG-18. On November 19, 2016, Yoo took part in the biggest mass rally calling for president Park Geun-hye's resignation.
Yoo identifies himself as a feminist. In February 2016, Yoo's remarks about female film directors while promoting his new movie Like for Likes has grabbed media attention. Yoo said, "I want to work with a female movie director. When people talk about female directors, they always put 'female' in front of director, even though they don’t put 'male' for male directors. This can mean that women are special, but in reality women often lose out in society because of their gender. I want to lend weight to them and I am also curious about working with them.” Yoo also made a feminist remark about the film, “This film depicts the stereotypical perception of women that is deeply rooted in Korean society. When a man articulates his opinion, he is considered as having self-confidence and cool, but when a woman does the same she is called a very opinionated. This part went straight to my heart.” In February 2017, Yoo stated, "I am also a feminist, since all of us wish for equality. So, whoever wishes for a world -where he or she is not marginalized, prosecuted, nor hurt because of his or her own attributes- is in fact a feminist by choice."
In late 2017, Yoo tweeted a strongly worded criticism against radical feminist community Megalia which ended up being accused of making alleged misogynist comment. Yoo denied the allegation. In March 2018, he posted a short video of some people being tied down and burned to death while the people surrounding them just watching. Netizens quickly assumed that the video must be pointing towards the Me Too movement in South Korea as a witch-hunt. In the BBC interview, May 2018, Yoo said, "Feminism is the most important human rights movement of today.” And, "There is the structure of ‘men, the discriminator of women’ versus ‘women, the victim.’ We must co-exist in this world, and I believe that the way to do so must be discussed in a less aggressive, more peaceful way.”
Yoo is the youngest and only son in the family. He has two older sisters. Besides managing Studio Concrete art gallery in Hannam-dong, Yoo is also an investor and business partner of TMI (Too Much Information), a Korean healthy fried food with mushroom-oriented restaurant in Itaewon, Seoul.
In 2017, Yoo revealed that he had a bone tumor, and thus had been delaying his mandatory military service. Yoo's representatives stated that his symptoms were benign, which meant that the non-cancerous tumor would have minimal effect on his everyday life and carry no risk of spreading. On June 27, 2017, Yoo's agency announced that he had been exempt from military service after failing five medical examinations.
|2007||Skeletons in the Closet||Shim Yong-tae|||
|Boys of Tomorrow||Jeon Jong-dae|||
|2009||Sky and Ocean||Jin-goo|||
|2013||Tough as Iron||Gang Cheol|||
|2014||The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow||Ko Kyung-chun (voice)||animated film|||
|Thread of Lies||Choo Sang-bak|||
|The Throne||Crown Prince Sado|||
|2016||Like for Likes||Noh Jin-woo|||
|CCRT Aerospace : Episode 1 Fragile : The Other Space||Man||short film
|The Interview||Himself||short film
|2003||Honest Living||Man #2||SBS||bit part, episode 164|
|2004-2005||Sharp 1||Yoo Ah-in||KBS2|||
|2004||April Kiss||16-year-old Kang Jae-sup|
|2005||Shi-eun & Soo-ha||Lee Min-suk||Drama City episode|
|2008||Strongest Chil Woo||Heuksan / Kim Hyuk|||
|2009||He Who Can't Marry||Park Hyun-kyu|||
|2010||Sungkyunkwan Scandal||Moon Jae-shin|||
|2012||Fashion King||Kang Young-gul||SBS|||
|2013||Jang Ok-jung, Living by Love||King Sukjong|||
|2014||Secret Affair||Lee Sun-jae||jTBC|||
|Discovery of Love||Woodworking class student||KBS2||cameo, episode 16|||
|2015-2016||Six Flying Dragons||Yi Bang-won||SBS|||
|2016||Descendants of the Sun||Bank teller Uhm Hong-sik||KBS2||cameo, episode 13|||
|2017||Chicago Typewriter||Han Se-joo / Seo Hwi-young||tvN|||
|2011||Yoo Ah-in's Launch My Life||Mnet||Fashion/business reality show|||
|2014||Wan-deuk who wants to Fly||KBS1||Narrator||Documentary|||
|2017||June Story||Documentary commemorating 30th Anniversary of June Struggle|||
|2018||Eyewitnesses of Syria||SBS||Documentary|||
Music video appearances
|2016||"ㅎㅎㅎ (Heung-bu)"||Peggy Gould|||
|2019||Do-ol Ah-in Going All Directions (도올아인 오방간다)||KBS1||Host, co-writer, co-producer||Talk show commemorating 100th Anniversary of March 1st Movement|||
Awards and nominations
|2004||Gonews Netizen Entertainment Awards||Best New Actor in Drama series||Sharp 1||Nominated|
|2007||8th Busan Film Critics Awards||Best New Actor||Boys of Tomorrow||Won|||
|3rd Pierson Youth Film Festival||Best Newcomer, month of May||Won|
|Best New Actor||Won|||
|28th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Skeletons in the Closet||Nominated|||
|2008||11th Director's Cut Awards||Antique||Won|||
(Arena Homme + and Audi Korea)
|24th KBS Drama Awards||Best New Actor||Sungkyunkwan Scandal||Nominated|
|Netizen Award, Actor||Nominated|
|Best Couple with Song Joong-ki||Won||.|
|2011||5th Mnet 20's Choice Awards||Hot 20's Voice||N/A||Won|||
|Hot Style Icon||N/A||Nominated|
|4th Style Icon Awards||Bonsang ("Main Award")||N/A||Won|||
|2012||3rd KOFRA Film Awards||Discovery Award||Punch||Won|||
|6th Mnet 20's Choice Awards||20's Male Movie Star||Nominated|||
|20's Style Star||N/A||Nominated|
|21st Buil Film Awards||Best Actor||Punch||Nominated|
|20th SBS Drama Awards||Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries||Fashion King||Nominated|
|Best Couple with Shin Se-kyung||Nominated|
|2013||9th Korean Environmental & Community Awards||People Who Made the World Brighter
|21st SBS Drama Awards||Excellence Award, Actor in a Drama Special||Jang Ok-jung, Living by Love||Nominated|||
|Best Couple with Kim Tae-hee||Nominated|
|2014||50th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actor (TV)||Secret Love Affair||Nominated|||
|7th Korea Drama Awards||Top Excellence Award, Actor||Nominated|
|3rd APAN Star Awards||Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries||Nominated|
|2015||3rd Marie Claire Asia Star Awards
(20th Busan International Film Festival)
|Asia Star of the Year||Veteran||Won|||
|15th Korea World Youth Film Festival||Favorite Actor||Won|||
|35th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|52nd Grand Bell Awards||Veteran||Nominated|||
|36th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Won|||
|1st Fashionista Awards||Best Male Fashionista in a Movie
|Best Fashionista – Men Category||N/A||Nominated|
(Arena Homme + and Mont Blanc Korea)
|5th SACF Artists of the Year Awards||Artistic Impression in Motion Pictures Award||Veteran, The Throne||Won|||
|21st Cine 21 Movie Awards||Best Actor||Won|||
|4th CFDK Awards||Fashion Icon Award||N/A||Won|||
|The Korea Film Actors Association Awards||Top Star Award||Veteran, The Throne||Won|||
|23rd SBS Drama Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang)||Six Flying Dragons||Nominated|||
|Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Serial Drama||Won|
|Top 10 Stars||Won|
|Best Couple Award with Shin Se-kyung||Won|
|2016||InStyle Star Icon||Best Actor (Film)||Veteran, The Throne||Nominated|
|7th KOFRA Film Awards||Best Actor||The Throne||Won|||
|11th Max Movie Awards||Veteran||Won|||
|8th Style Icon Awards||Bonsang ("Main Award")||N/A||Won|||
|10th Asian Film Awards||Next Generation Award||Veteran, The Throne||Won|||
|21st Chunsa Film Art Awards||Best Actor||The Throne||Won|||
|36th Golden Cinematography Awards||Veteran||Won|||
|52nd Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actor (Film)||The Throne||Nominated|||
|Best Actor (TV)||Six Flying Dragons||Won|
|11th Seoul International Drama Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|7th Korean Popular Culture & Arts Awards||Prime Minister Award||N/A||Won|||
|1st Asia Artist Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang), TV Drama||Six Flying Dragons||Nominated|
|16th Korea World Youth Film Festival||Favorite Actor||Like for Likes||Won|||
|2017||5th Annual DramaFever Awards||Best Actor||Six Flying Dragons||Nominated|
|19th Korea Fashion Photographers Association Awards||Photogenic of the Year||N/A||Won|||
|2018||71st Cannes Film Festival||Best Actor||Burning||Nominated|
|27th Buil Film Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|||
|55th Grand Bell Awards||Nominated|||
|2nd The Seoul Awards||Best Actor (Film)||Nominated|||
|39th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|||
|The New York Times||The Best Actor of 2018||9th place|||
|The Playlist||The Best Performances of 2018||8th place|||
|Esquire Magazine||13 Great Movie Performances From 2018||8th place|||
|2019||16th International Cinephile Society Awards||Best Actor||Pending|||
|13th Asian Film Awards||Best Actor||Pending|||
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