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Kim Soo-hyun (김수현)

Updated: Mar 25

Professional bowling’s loss is our gain. In the years of inhabiting melodramatic characters, Kim Soo-hyun could probably win a contest for the actor who's most likely to wring tears from a rock. His latest role in “Queen of Tears” is no exception. Over the years, he’s honed his talent to such a level that he can quite believably and effortlessly inhabit one complex character after another while justifying himself as the highest-paid actor in K-dramaland.

Photo by Bench

Birthday: February 16, 1988

Instagram: soohyun_k216

In his role as a wrongfully accused college student in CoupangPlay's One Ordinary Day, the lauded K-drama remake of the BBC’s Criminal Justice, the cops take one look at Kim’s pretty face and ask aloud how anyone who looked like him ever needed to resort to violence. Even if the role required Kim Soo-hyun to tone it down, he could not hide the sensuality simmering underneath the doe eyes and sharp jawline.  Truly, this actor has an appeal that toes the line between the every day and the ethereal.

But life is hard on everyone, gorgeous or not, and soon enough Hyun-soo is thrown into prison. In this bleak and desperate situation, the unlikely allies who offer support are the disreputable attorney Shin Joong-han, and the criminal kingpin Do Ji-tae. Determined to prove his innocence by any means necessary, Hyun Soo exhausts every resource in his fight against the police and the Korean prosecution.

Yet beyond the pretty, his depth and finesse as an actor are also well-known, ever since he starred in the teen musical drama Dream High (2011).

In the 2012 Korean film The Thieves, Kim Soo-hyun portrays the character Zampano, a young and skilled safecracker who joins a team of professional thieves for a high-stakes heist. Young and madly in love with Jun Ji-hyun’s character, Kim jokingly told the press that he was lucky enough to have kissing scenes with one of the most beautiful actresses in Korea. 

He then steadily rose to superstardom after his hit dramas Moon Embracing the Sun (2012) and My Love From the Star (2013), winning awards and even featuring in both soundtracks. In between dramas, he even managed to become the endorser of over 15 different products in Korea. Such was the lucrative fate of Kim Soo-hyun when he played the troubled king Lee Hwon, the crown prince of the Joseon Dynasty. As a highly intelligent and passionate young king, Lee learns to face numerous challenges and struggles, including political intrigue and personal tragedy. He is also torn between his love for a young noblewoman and the expectations placed upon him as a future ruler.

Kim Soo-hyun's role in Moon Embracing the Sun contributed significantly to the drama's success. The show’s popularity compelled producers to make one more episode, thereby solidifying Kim’s status as one of South Korea's most in-demand actors. The series also received widespread acclaim for its compelling storyline and is now lauded as one of the most beloved historical dramas in Korean television.

In 2013’s My Love from Another Star (also known as You Who Came from the Stars), Kim Soo-hyun plays the cold history professor Do Min-joon. Unbeknownst to all, he also happens to be an alien who has been living on Earth for over 400 years. He possesses supernatural abilities, including enhanced strength, agility, and the ability to stop time. Despite his extraordinary abilities, Do Min-joon lives a solitary life, maintaining a distance from humans due to his unique circumstances. He works as a university professor, where he encounters Cheon Song-yi (Jun Ji-hyun), a famous actress known for her eccentric behavior and glamorous lifestyle.

As the series progresses, Do Min-joon finds himself drawn to Cheon Song-yi, despite his initial reluctance to become involved with humans. Their relationship develops gradually, with Do Min-joon struggling to conceal his true identity and his affection for Cheon, while navigating the complexities of the human condition and the possibility of tragic loss.

He has also done well for himself in the movies, featuring in both box-office hits and art films. The critics panned his 2017 film Real, but that didn't discourage him. It was only a matter of time before all that hard work would reportedly make him Korea’s highest-paid actor in 2021. And if the accolades weren’t enough, this beautiful man with soulful eyes also proved that he has the heart to match -- Soo-hyun also donated 100 million won to support low-income families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020's It's Okay to Not Be Okay, Kim Soo-hyun portrays Moon Gang-tae, a dedicated psychiatric caregiver working at OK Psychiatric Hospital. Gang-tae is depicted as a compassionate and responsible young man who has dedicated his life to taking care of his older brother, Moon Sang-tae, who is on the autism spectrum. 

Gang-tae's life revolves around his brother, and he sacrifices his own desires and aspirations to ensure Sang-tae's well-being. Despite facing numerous challenges and hardships, Gang-tae remains steadfast in his commitment to his brother, demonstrating unwavering love and devotion. As the series progresses, Gang-tae's encounter with Ko Moon-young, a successful children's book author with an antisocial personality, brings about significant changes in his life. Through his interactions with Moon-young, Gang-tae begins to confront his own suppressed emotions and traumas from the past, ultimately embarking on a journey of self-discovery and healing.

Kim Soo-hyun's portrayal of Gang-tae has been praised for its depth and authenticity. His nuanced performance captures Gang-tae's complex emotions, ranging from pain and guilt to moments of happiness and self-realization.

Currently, Kim returns to melodrama territory as a beleaguered husband looking after his cold chaebol wife in the Netflix tearjerker Queen of Tears. As a humble lawyer who marries an extremely wealthy and successful CEO, Baek Hyun-woo (Kim Soo-hyun) is on the verge of giving up, having realized that their values and lifestyles are too different to ever make it work. But difficult circumstances suddenly render his cold-hearted wife vulnerable, and now Hyun-woo must choose between leaving her or loving her one more time.

Clearly, this extraordinarily talented man didn't just come from the stars, he was meant to be one.

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