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Kim Ji-won (김지원)

Updated: Apr 28

There must be a lot of pressure when you are dubbed the “Little Kim Tae-hee”—considered by many to be Korea’s most beautiful actress—when you debut in commercials at 19. But Kim Ji-won seemed to take it all in stride. Now she's a bonafide star, paired with Hallyu powerhouse Kim Soo-hyun, and breaking hearts everywhere as the stalwart Queen of Tears.

GwenchaNoona | Actor's Profile: Kim Ji-won

GwenchaNoona | Kim Ji-won

Photo from Salt Entertainment

Birthday: October 19, 1992

Instagram: @geewonii

Originally trained in singing and acting, Kim Ji-won actually appeared as a backup vocalist in the singer Younha’s music video "Gossip Boy" in 2008. But she soon realized that, in her own words, "I was sure that I did not have a talent in singing” and enrolled in Theater at Dongguk University.

In 2008 she debuted in the drama Mrs. Saigon and followed this up with minor roles in What’s Up (2011), To the Beautiful You (2012), The Heirs (2013), and Hidden Identity (2015). But she truly gained worldwide attention when she took on the supporting role of the gruff army doctor in love in 2016’s hit Descendants of the Sun along with Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo.


We take a look at her most notable k-dramas:

Descendants of the Sun (2016)

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Kim Ji-won in "Descendants of the Sun"

As First Lt. Yoon Myung-ju, Kim plays a strong-willed and dedicated army doctor and the daughter of a high-ranking military officer. She gets into a complicated relationship with Master Sergeant Seo Dae-yong, portrayed by Jin Goo. Despite their initial clashes and personality differences, Myung-ju and Dae-yong develop a deep bond as they navigate the challenges of their respective roles in the military and in their humanitarian mission.

Fight for My Way (2016)

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Kim Ji-won in "Fight for My Way"

Her breakout role soon led to her becoming a lead in Fight for My Way (2016) with Park Seo-joon. As the spirited Choi Ae-ra, Kim brought a fighting spirit to the determined young woman with big dreams. Despite facing numerous setbacks and challenges in her pursuit of becoming a broadcaster, Ae-ra remains resilient and refuses to give up on her goals. She is childhood friends with the main character, Go Dong-man (Park Seo-joon), and their messy will-they-or-won’t-they dynamic harbors the comedic crux of the drama. Throughout the show, Ae-ra showcases her strong-willed nature and unwavering determination as she navigates adulthood, poverty, and career aspirations.

Arthdal Chronicles Season 1 (2019)

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Kim Ji-won in "Arthdal Chronicles" Season 1 (photo of Kim Ji-won and Song Joong-ki)

Arthdal Chronicles finds her reunited with Song Joong-ki. In the fantasy show, Kim portrays the character of Tan-ya, a courageous and resourceful member of the Wahan tribe. Tan-ya is known for her intelligence and strong will, which she demonstrates as she navigates the challenges and conflicts within the tribal society. She possesses a deep connection to nature and has a special gift for communicating with animals. 

Throughout the series, Tan-ya becomes entangled in the power struggles and political machinations of the ancient land of Arthdal. Her journey involves forging alliances, confronting enemies, and ultimately striving to protect her people and their way of life.

Lovestruck in the City (2020)

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Kim Ji-won in "Lovestruck in the City" (photo of Ji Chang-wook and Kim Ji-won)

In Lovestruck in the City, Kim stars alongside Ji Chang-wook. They play the roles of Park Jae-won and Lee Eun-o, respectively. Park Jae-won is a free-spirited and adventurous architect who values spontaneity and living life to the fullest. He meets Lee Eun-o, a passionate and artistic woman, during a chance encounter in the city. They are drawn to each other's vibrant personalities and quickly develop a deep connection.

As their romance unfolds, viewers witness the ups and downs of their relationship, including moments of joy, heartache, and reconciliation. The pair navigate the complexities of modern dating and strive to overcome obstacles together, against the vibrant backdrop of Seoul and the Korean coastline.

My Liberation Notes (2022)

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Kim Ji-won in "My Liberation Notes" (photo of Son Suk-ku and Kim Ji-won)

Kim Ji-won is far from reaching her peak, and slowly and surely, she’s making a name for herself as more than just a “little” version of someone else. Her latest role in My Liberation Notes (2022) earned her a Best Actress nomination at the APAN Star Awards. In it, she plays Yeom Mi-jeong, the youngest of three argumentative and unhappy siblings. Along with powerhouse actors Lee Min-ki, Lee El, and Son Suk-ku, Ji-won joins their journey to break free from their mundane existence in the small city of Sanpo.

Queen of Tears (2024)

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Kim Ji-won in "Queen of Tears" (photo of Kim Ji-won and Kim Soo-hyun)

Recently, Kim Ji-won broke ground in melodramatic territory with the latest Queen of Tears. As Hong Hae-in, an extremely wealthy and successful CEO, she tries to get into the elusive Trillion Won Club while weathering a tepid marriage to the everyman Baek Hyun-woo, played by Kim Soo-hyun. Suddenly, life throws her a cruel curveball, and now she is left vulnerable and in need of her husband. However, it seems that Hyun-woo has reached the end of his rope and is ready to leave her. Will this test bring them back together, or will it be the thin straw that will finally break them apart?

Which of her roles is your favorite?

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