Jang Dong-gun is a South Korean actor. According to a survey, he was once the highest paid actor in South Korea. He started his acting career by appearing in TV series, such as ‘Our Heaven’ (1992), ‘Il Ji Mae’ (1993), ‘The Last Match’ (1994) and ‘Icing’ (1996). He then went on to make his big screen debut by appearing in the 1997 film, ‘Repechage.’ By the end of the 90s, he had become one of the biggest stars in Korea, with a huge fan following, not only in Korea but also in other Asian countries. Since then, he has been a consistent performer, who has delivered mind-blowing performances in many movies. Some of his noteworthy movies include ‘Friend’ (2001), ‘2009 Lost Memories’ (2002), ‘The Coast Guard’ (2002), ‘Typhoon’ (2005) and ‘The Warrior’s Way’ (2010). While most of these films did exceptionally well at the box office, ‘Friend’ went on to become the biggest Korean hit at the time of its release. Jang has also appeared in TV series like ‘Model’ (1997), ‘All About Eve’ (2000) and ‘A Gentleman’s Dignity’ (2012).
Childhood & Early Life
Jang was born on March 7, 1972, in Seoul. He was enrolled at University of Arts, but dropped out in order to pursue acting.
In 1992, he participated in a talent competition, which eventually paved the way for his career.
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He made his debut appearance in MBC’s ‘Our Heaven’ in 1992. He was next seen in ‘Il Ji Mae,’ which was aired on MBC in 1993.
He also starred in other MBC shows like ‘The Last Match’ and ‘Icing’ in 1994 and 1996 respectively.
He made his big screen debut with ‘Repechage’ in 1997. In the same year, he went on to work in another movie titled ‘Holiday in Seoul.’
In 1999, he starred in a romantic movie titled ‘Love Wind Love Song,’ where he played a businessman. He then played a detective named Kim in ‘Nowhere to Hide.’ His performance in the movie was critically acclaimed and it also fetched him an award.
In 2000, he appeared in a movie titled ‘Anarchists.’ His performance in the movie turned him into a star in Korea. His breakthrough role came in 2001 when he appeared in ‘Friend.’ ‘Friend,’ is the story of four childhood friends, and became the highest grossing movie of Korea.
In 2002, he starred in ‘2009 Lost Memories,’ which too, became a box office hit. In the same year, he was also seen in another movie titled ‘The Coast Guard.’
In 2004, he starred in a war epic titled, ‘Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War.’ The movie surpassed the previous box office records of Korean cinema. It sold more than 11 million tickets, making Jang a superstar across Asia.
In 2005, he starred in a big budget movie titled ‘The Promise.’ He followed it up with an amazing performance in ‘Typhoon.’ The movie was made with a production budget of $15 million which was a record in the history of Korean cinema.
After a long hiatus, he returned to the big screen in 2009 with the comedy flick, ‘Good Morning, President.’ In the movie, he played the nation’s youngest president.
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In 2010, he appeared in the movie ‘The Warrior’s Way,’ alongside Kate Bosworth and Geoffrey Rush.
In 2011, he starred in ‘My Way,’ which was based on the true story of a Korean soldier. Though the movie was made on a lavish budget, it failed to leave its mark at the box office.
In 2012, he returned to television with the SBS drama, ‘A Gentleman’s Dignity.’ It was one of the much anticipated series as Jang was returning to television after a long time. He also starred in ‘Dangerous Liaisons,’ the Chinese adaptation of a French literature classic.
In 2013, he starred in ‘Friend: The Great Legacy,’ which is a movie about gangsters. In 2014, he starred in an action thriller titled, ‘No Tears for the Dead,’ in which he played a hitman.
In 2017, Jang starred in the Park Hoon-jung directed noir thriller, ‘VIP,’ in which he played an agent working for ‘National Intelligence Service.’
Jang was then roped for the film ‘Night of 7 Years.’ The movie is based on a novel of the same name.
He also became one of the cast members of the Korean adaptation of hit American sitcom, ‘Suits.’ He was also roped for a project titled ‘Rampant.’ Also known as ‘Outbreak,’ the movie is based on the atrocities of zombies.
He was also became a part of the series ‘Once Loved You Distressed Forever.’
Awards & Achievements
He bagged the ‘Best New Actor’ award for ‘The Last Match’ at the 30th Baeksang Arts Awards.
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Jang was honored with the ‘Best New Actor’ for his performance in ‘Repechage.’
At the 21st Blue Dragon Film Awards, he bagged the ‘Popular Star Award’ for ‘Anarchists.’
At the ‘Asia-Pacific Film Festival,’ he was honored with an award for his performance in ‘Friend.’
He won the ‘Best Actor’ award for ‘Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War’ at the 25th ‘Blue Dragon Film Awards.’ He also won the ‘Best Actor’ award for the same movie at the 2nd ‘Max Movie Awards.’
He then won the ‘Hallyu Arts Award’ at the 15th ‘Chunsa Film Art Awards.’
For his performance in ‘A Gentleman’s Dignity,’ he was honored with ‘Top Excellence Award’ and was also listed as one of the ‘Top 10 Stars’ at the 2012 ‘SBS Drama Awards.’
He was named the ‘Style Icon of the Year’ at the 5th Style Icon Awards.
Personal Life & Legacy
In November 2009, Jang spoke publicly about his relationship with actress Ko So-young. They had worked together in the 1999 film ‘Love Wind Love Song.’
The two got married on May 2, 2010, at Seoul’s Shilla Hotel. The wedding ceremony was attended by celebrities and fans.
Jang and Ko So-young are blessed with a son and a daughter.
Right from his childhood, Jang has been an ardent follower of Buddhism. He started reading about the religion during high school.
He likes to play baseball, and he is also a member of ‘Playboys,’ a baseball team that comprises of Korean stars.