The confidence he carried about his acting skills quickly got him his very first acting role in ‘Salut D’Amour’, a South Korean romance drama, where Bae played a college student. That was in 1994, and it was no small deal to shine in the very first acting project.
More offers followed thereafter and in the next year, he appeared in a leading role in the super successful short lived drama series ‘Sunny Days of Youth’. It was just his second acting assignment and he won several award nominations that year and bagged the Best New Actor honour at the KBS Drama Awards.
The next few years came with several lead roles in the television. He had mixed results as some of his shows worked, while there were a few that didn’t. Some of them such as ‘Papa’ and ‘First Love’, got record viewership numbers. The 1999 series ‘Did We Really Love?’, further established him as a fine young actor and the series was also highly regarded by the critics as the best drama of the year.
In 2002 came the drama series ‘Winter Sonata’ which not only did wonders in South Korean, but also played a major part in making Korean shows popular abroad as well. It was about love, heartbreak and compassion and became a pan-Asian success in more than 20 countries, especially in Japan, where people went crazy over Bae, and he was now getting termed as Emperor Yon, a Japanese term implying a very high level of respect.
Bae had a very brief film career by then as he had previously appeared in two small feature films back in the 90’s, but in 2003 came the film ‘Untold Scandal’, where he played a sexually perverted anti-hero. The film went on to become a massive success and Bae’s performance was honored at that year’s Baeksang Arts Awards and Korea Film Awards.
By now, Bae was losing interest in acting and was looking out for other creative things to do. Writing a book was on the to-do list for him, and he went ahead with publishing his first book in 2004 titled ‘The Image: Volume 1’, which looked back on Bae’s acting career. The book also featured body images of Bae as he trained very hard and remained on a very strict diet for his roles. The book went on to become a success and his writing style was appreciated by the critics. The book sold more than 1, 00,000 copies.
His next big screen venture was the film ‘April Snow’, a 2005 film where he played the role of a light director, who finds out that his wife was infact cheating on him after she gets into a road accident. The film had a slow start and the poor word out of mouth caused it to become an eventual box office failure on the domestic box office. But the Japanese box office was another story and given the fact that Bae enjoyed a massive fan following in Japan, the film became a profitable venture.
After that, he got involved with setting up his restaurant business, and made his much hyped comeback to the television in the year 2007 with the series ‘The Legend’ where he played the dual role as the son of god and a ruler. For each episode of the series Bae was paid 250 million won, which somehow made him the highly paid South Korean actor of all times. Bae was awarded the Grand Prize at the MBC Drama Awards that year, along with many other awards at the ceremonies.
The much hyped Japanese anime version of his hit series ‘Winter Sonata’ was released in Japan in 2009 and resulted in a great response. Bae dubbed his own character in the anime, and as a result, his fan following further increased in the neighbouring country.
In the same year, he started working on another book ‘A Journey in Search of Korea’s Beauty’, which was released in 2009 and was mostly a collection of photo essays about the Korean heritage. The book became a bestseller and was later adapted as a documentary film by MBC life and was further translated to English, Japanese, Chinese and Taiwanese languages.
He also acted as a producer for the 2011 teen drama series ‘Dream high’, telling about the lives of a few South Korean students studying the performing arts in high school. Bae also acted as a creative producer for the series and served as an additional writer.
In the year 2012, he published another book by the title ‘Visit to Kyoto’, which also became a successful book.
As he has slowed down with his acting appearances quite a lot in the past few years, he has given full attention to his blooming restaurant business, which apparently is also quite a lot successful in Japan, where Bae happens to be the most famous South Korean celebrity.