Eric Mun (Mun Jung-hyuk) is a South Korean actor and singer known most famously as the leader of his music band ‘Shinhwa’. His band is the longest running boy band in the history of South Korean K-pop. From its formation in the late 90s until now, the band has come a long way and has provided Eric enough exposure in the entertainment industry. As a famous musician, it wasn’t hard for him to establish a name as an actor as well. He started his acting career in 2002 with the film ‘Emergency 19 Act’ and then featured in two TV series’ in the next couple of years - ‘Breathless’ and ‘Phoenix’. The band remained inactive for some time, but came back in 2012 and kept winning hearts not only in South Korea, but internationally as well. Eric also continued with his music career at the same time with TV series’ such as ‘Que Sera Sera’ and ‘Discovery of Love’ and has won many awards for his performances over the years. Some of the awards he has won are MBC Drama Awards, Paeksang Arts Awards and SBS Drama awards.
Childhood & Early Life
Eric Mun was born on 16th February 1979 into a rich South Korean business family in Seoul. He was the youngest of three children and hence, the most adored one in the family. His parents have a successful restaurant business in the United States and his father also works as a neurosurgeon while his mother is a famous American born Korean lawyer.
As his father was most of the time, Eric spent a lot of time with his mother and he feels proud about the fact now that he was a mama’s boy. Despite being rich, he didn’t feel happy about getting all the material things others kids wanted such as video games and latest gadgets. He was way more interested in books, art, culture and reading history of the world. He happened to be a simple kid, who created a lot of ruckus in the house and usually got away with everything.
He initially went to Daechi Elementary School, but later attended John Burroughs Middle School in Los Angeles, when the family moved to the United States. He finished his high school education from the Sunny Hills High School. In school, Eric played basketball and was such an addict to the game that if it wasn’t for the love he had for music, he would have been a basketball player. Basketball and music were the only things in the whole world that he loved.
His musical dreams brought him back to South Korea once he was done with high school education and there he ended up joining the SM Entertainment as a trainer and met the rest of the members of Shinhwa. Eric first started as a rapper for different bands and eventually formed his very own group by the name of Shinhwa and became its leader and the lead singer.
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Although the band members were quite hopeful about their success, but they didn’t achieve success the way they wanted and when they released their debut album ‘Resolver’ in May 1998, it tanked at the music charts and the band was named a failure right from the word go. Eric even thought about moving back to the USA for a better future but something compelled him to keep trying and he stayed back.
Eric also started with acting during this time and made his acting debut with the 2002 film ‘Emergency 19 Act’, which also featured his Shinhwa band members. The first real acting break of his life was in form of MBC’s series ‘Breathless’ in 2003 and in the next couple of years, he became part of a few other TV dramas.
MBC’s series ‘Super Rookie’ came to Eric in 2005 and the series became one of the best ranked TV series that year. The series became a rage in South Korea and the Fuji Films telecast the show in Japan as well, which made the show a super success there. The number of his fan following in Japan can be understood by the very fact that when Eric went to Japan to promote the show, he was welcomed by a large crowd at the airport.
For his acting chops Eric won honours at MBS Drama Awards and Paeksang Arts Awards for the performance in ‘Breathless’.
In 2006, an accident took place during a stunt performance for the show ‘Wolf’, for a scene in which Eric had to save the actress from getting run over by a car. The car’s driver read the wrong signals and rammed it in Eric.
In 2008, Eric Mun appeared in a period drama show ‘Strongest Chil Wu’ right before he had to leave for his mandatory military service. He had already given up his American citizenship in order to be able to finish his military service and he joined it in 2008.
After two years of military service, Eric made a comeback with ‘Poseidon’ in 2011 and meanwhile, their band Shinhwa formed a company and Eric became its CEO. Since then, the company manages activities of the band, while their respective agents manage the acting careers of the band members.
The band embarked on an Asian tour in 2012, which was named ‘Shinhwa Grand Tour: The Return’ and in the next year, for their comeback album ‘The Classic’, which became a major hit nationally and internationally, the band ended up winning awards such as Mwave Global Star Award among other big and small music awards that year.
In 2014, Eric featured in the successful series ‘Discovery of Love’ which although wasn’t very successful ratings-wise, but was appreciated for the acting of its cast members. At that year’s KBS Drama Awards, Eric won Netizen Award, Excellence Award and a Best Couple Award.
In 2015, Eric starred in tvN series ‘Another Oh Hae-young’ and once the series picked up the pace from a slow start, it eventually became the all time highest rated series at tvN.
Until 2017, the band Shinhwa released more than 18 music albums, and most of them have been chart topping successes. The band has executed many successful concerts in South Korea and internationally.
Eric Mun has also faced controversy due to the name rights of their band Shinhwa. The band started their operations under SM Entertainment in 1998 and when their contract expired in 2003, the band joined ‘Good Entertainment’ which started a long legal battle for the rights of the name.
Eric has been quite open about his dating life, as opposed to many South Korean celebrities. He started dating Park Si-yeon in 2004, and after 3 years of being together, the couple broke up in 2007.
In 2017, it was finally confirmed that Eric was dating actress and model Na Hye-mi and there were rumours that they could get married soon. There was news about their break-up, but Eric put the rumours to rest and announced that they are to get married soon enough.