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Kwon Sang-woo (권상우)

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

OG oppa Kwon Sang-woo belongs to the generation of Korean stars who helped spread the Hallyu wave throughout Asia, even as far as Latin America, in the early 2000s.

Birthday: August 5, 1976

A 20+ year industry veteran, Kwon Sang-woo started out as a model before landing his first small television role in the So Ji-sub/Son Ye-jin drama Delicious Proposal in 2001. While his breakthrough role was in the hit romantic comedy My Tutor Friend (2003) with Kim Ha-neul, it was 2004’s Stairway to Heaven that catapulted him to international stardom.

In “Stairway to Heaven” (2003), Kwon Sang-woo plays Cha Song-joo, who is tragically separated from his childhood love Han Jung-suh (Choi Ji-woo) after a series of misunderstandings, tragic events, and manipulations. He becomes determined to find her even if everyone thinks she is no longer alive, and wants to seek justice for the wrongs that were done to her. The emotional heart of this k-drama centers on Song-joo’s unwavering love, loyalty, and determination to uncover the truth and reunite with the woman he has always loved.

The iconic k-drama, also starring Hallyu heavyweights Choi Ji-woo and Kim Tae-hee, became the most expensive Korean drama exported to Japan at the time, and gained legions of fans throughout Asia. As hilariously depicted in Crash Landing On You, it became popular in North Korea!

He joined his first medical K-drama in "Medical Top Team" (2013). He played Park Tae-jin, a thoracic surgeon selected to join the prestigious "Medical Top Team," a group of elite doctors from various specialties assembled to handle complex and high-profile cases. Beyond Tae-jin's gruff and prickly demeanor, he is a compassionate doctor's heart that is always willing to go the extra mile to save his patients. But despite his expertise, he still faces personal and professional challenges, including conflicts within the team, ethical dilemmas, and the pressures of delivering high-quality medical care. As the story progresses, Tae-jin's interactions with his colleagues and patients help him grow both as a doctor and an individual. He learns to collaborate and build relationships with his teammates while reflecting on his own principles and values.

Since then, Kwon Sang-woo has starred in dozens of film and television projects, including the hit Hong Kong film CZ12/Chinese Zodiac which was directed, written, produced, and headlined by Jackie Chan.

His notable K-dramas include the highly-rated political drama Daemul/Big Thing (2010) with Go Hyun-jung, the marriage melodrama Temptation (2014), which reunited him with Choi Ji-woo, and the legal drama Delayed Justice (2020).

In "Pained" (2011) Kwon Sang-woo plays Nam-soon, a debt collector incapable of feeling pain. While this would initially appear to be a superpower, it actually makes his life rather difficult because he is unable to sense accidents and injuries. His life is one violent debt collection to another until he meets Dong Hyun, a street seller with severe hemophilia. Nam Soon takes her in out of pity after he has taken the last of her money. But as they get closer, the hurt he has not felt in his lifetime suddenly overtakes Nam Soon. What will happen to him now that he has started to feel?

His recent big-screen credits include the hit historical high-seas adventure film The Pirates: Last Royal Treasure (2022) where he played a villain opposite Kang Ha-neul and Han Hyo-joo.

Last seen on television with Kang Ha-neul and Ha Ji-won in the cast of KBS' Curtain Call (2021), he is now plays a short-tempered cop in the Disney+ series Han River Cops. This new action-comedy on Disney+ is about a police unit investigating crimes on and around the Han River, which divides the capital of South Korea. Kwon Sang-woo plays Han Doo-jin, an idealistic yet irritable police officer, while Lee Cheon-seok ( Kim Hee-won) plays his partner and complete opposite. Do Na-hee (Bae Da-bin) and Kim Ji-soo (Shin Hyun-seung) join the pair as fellow policemen at their unique station.

On top of his long, successful career, Kwon Sang-woo has invested heavily in real estate and various business ventures. He is also happily married with two kids.

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