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Jung Il-woo (정일우)

Jung Il-woo oozes with so much charisma that his onscreen romance sends hearts aflutter even without sharing a kiss with his equally gorgeous romantic female lead. Still, it is hard to believe that he survived a 2006 car accident that left him living with cerebral aneurysm, a “ticking time bomb” for him. But never deterred, he juggled his budding career and his theater and film studies from 2008 to 2014, eventually graduating from Hanyang University.

GwenchaNoona | Actor's Profile: Jung Il-woo

Photo from HanCinema

Birthday: September 9, 1987 Facebook: @Officialjungilwoo Instagram: @jilwww

In 2006, he debuted in the movie The World of Silence, playing a younger version of Kim Sang-kyung’s character, a famous photographer. He rose to fame in 2007 when cast as a student troublemaker alongside Lee Min-ho and Kim Bum in the family sitcom Unstoppable High Kick. His first lead role was a hero who defends the weak in the 2009 sageuk (historical show) The Return of Iljimae.

Despite such success, he continued to accept challenging projects, taking on the stage as an HIV-positive gay man in the 2010 sold-out play Beautiful Sunday. In 2011, he took on the role of a Grim Reaper in the melodrama 49 Days. Turning to rom-com with Cool Guys, Hot Ramen, he played an arrogant yet adorable lead. Acting as a prince who rivalled Kim Soo-hyun’s character in the famous 2012 sageuk The Moon Embracing the Sun cemented his Hallyu star status.

Outside South Korea, his star continued to shine: In 2012, he won the Asia Male Actor award at the Huading Awards where he was the first non-Chinese artist nominee. In 2015, he starred in the highly popular Korean-Chinese web drama High End Crush and the Chinese rom-com movie Rise of a Tomboy. Hitting a snag with the unofficial Hallyu ban in 2017, he turned to Thailand and became the first Korean actor to lead a Thai drama, Love and Lies (2017). However, his Chinese drama The Girls’ Lies filmed way back in 2016 was finally released this year. His other c-drama Beautiful Woman shot in 2015 may also be aired in 2024.

Back home, he portrayed a spoiled rich kid opposite Park So-dam in the rom-com TV series Cinderella with Four Knights (2016). He then served in the military despite his eligibility for exemption due to his medical condition. Afterwards, he returned to TV with the sageuk Haechi (2019), playing a wise prince who cannot become king. In the popular sageuk series Bossam: Steal the Fate (2021), he portrayed widow kidnapper Ba-woo, starring opposite Girls’ Generation’s Kwon Yu-ri. He had such an amazing work relationship with Yuri that he reunited with her in the ENA k-drama Good Job (2022). This time, the pair did not skimp on kissing scenes and showed off their kilig-inducing chemistry.

He starred alongside Kim Seul-gi in his first father role in the movie Highway Family, which was screened at last year’s Busan International Film Festival. He sustained a non-serious eye injury while filming and recovered quickly. Last time we checked, his eyes are as expressive as ever, but we continue wishing for his good health.

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