Gong Hyo-jin (공효진)
Updated: Apr 4
Gong Hyo-jin is known as the Rom-Com Queen for a good reason: every single one of her dramas from 2007’s Thank You to 2019’s When the Camellia Blooms, has been a hit. You’ll be hard-pressed to name another actress who has had eight consecutive successful dramas, much less one who has taken home acting trophies for all but one of them.
Photo from HanCinema
Birthday: April 4, 1980
But her 22-year career hasn’t always been a bed of roses. After getting a taste of show business as a model, (statuesque at 5’8”, she’s one of the tallest Hallyu actresses), Gong Hyo-jin debuted in the teen horror film Memento Mori in 1999. She was then cast in a number of ingenue roles including in the highly-rated dramas Ruler of Your Own World (2002) and Sang Doo, Let’s Go To School (2003) opposite Rain. Despite no shortage of offers and successful dramas, she felt she was being typecast, and went through a two-year slump.
She came back strong playing an unglamorous single mother in 2007's Thank You, co-starring Jang Hyuk. The top-rated drama won a special citation from Amnesty International for its sensitive portrayal of HIV and AIDS.
Gong then took on a variety of supporting roles in movies to hone her craft. Her breakout role as a dowdy teacher with a chronic blushing problem in the Park Chan-wook produced cult classic movie Crush and Blush (2008) marked the beginning of her career as an unconventional beauty unafraid to take on unconventional roles in both film and television.
The payoff has been more than generous: her rom-coms Pasta (2010) with Lee Sunk-kyun, The Master’s Sun (2013) wit So Ji-sub, It’s Okay That’s Love (2014) with Jo In-sung, and Jealousy Incarnate (2016) with Jo Jung-suk, and are among the most beloved by many k-drama fans thanks to the unique yet relatable characters she has brought to life, and her fabled ability to have great onscreen chemistry with all her leading men.
She won her first career Daesang (Grand Prize) for her role as the headstrong single mother Oh Dong-baek in When the Camellia Blooms, the most highly-rated and awarded television drama of 2019. The small-town rom-com/suspense drama co-starring Kang Ha-neul was awarded the Daesang at the 56th Baeksang Arts Awards for its relevant social insight.
Her body of film work, including the 2017 family drama A Single Rider, where she stars as Lee Byung-hun's estranged wife, and the 2018 thriller Door Lock, reveals a completely different side to the popular actress.
Her fashion icon status is just icing on the cake, and her consistent environmental activism further proves she is a woman of substance. In 2021, she starred in the variety show Harmless from Today to showcase how she leads a simple, carbon-free lifestyle.
Gong Hyo-jin is currently filming the romantic space comedy Ask the Stars with Lee Min-ho, for release in 2023. With her spotless track record, our money’s on it being yet another hit.