Childhood & Early Life
Ryu Soo-young was born on September 5, 1979 in Gyeonggi, South Korea into an upper middle class family. He started doing theatres early in his life, and also played basketball and football in school.
Although he developed love towards acting quite early, but he initially took it as a hobby. He knew in back of his mind that his family wouldn’t allow him to take the risky path. The acting bug bit him in high school years, but he enrolled in the Myongji University to pursue business administration, as wished by his parents.
Dduring his college days, he started acting and it eventually grew on him to the level that all he wanted to do in his life was act. Thereafter, he started trying out for the auditions and finally at the age of 19, he got his very first television stint in form of a variety show in 1998.
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Having started his career with variety shows, Ryu appeared in quite a handful of small roles in fiction shows then in the late 90s such as ‘Gibb’s Family’ and ‘Love and Fairwell’. All those small shows weren’t doing anything great for him as far as his career was concerned, but they paid his bills and got him more auditions.
In the early 2000s, he appeared in the series’ like ‘Good Friends 2’, ‘Navy’ and ‘The Open Drama Man and Woman’. His 2001 series ‘Successful Story of a Bright Girl’ was one of the very first key roles of his career, which brought him fame. This also got him his very first acting award ‘The New Star Award’ at the SBS Drama Awards that year.
Meanwhile, he appeared in the 2001 film ‘Summertime’ in a leading role. The film, which happened to be highly controversial due to its blatant portrayal of sex and sensuality, remained into the limelight weeks before its release. This also got Ryu some necessary exposure in the industry.
In 2003, he appeared in some lesser known series’ such as ‘Merry Go Round’ and ‘Jan gil San’ and in the next year came another role that would put him in the forefront of the young leading actors of his time. He played Jung Tae-min, a major character in the romantic drama series ‘Save the Last Dance for Me’, which revolved around a couple struggling from amnesia trying to keep their romance alive despite the harmful effects the illness had on their lives. At the SBS Drama Awards, Ryu received the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ award for his performance.
In 2005, he starred in the drama ’18 Vs 29’, which was highly appreciated for its interesting subject matter. The series revolved around the life of wife of a successful movie star, who is involved in an accident and in his mind, turns 18 again. This was followed by an award winning stint in the series ‘Rebirth-Next’, for which Ryu was honoured with the Excellence Award at the MBC Drama Awards that year.
In 2006, Ryu hit a hat-trick of awards with his very next drama ‘Seoul 1945’, which revolved around the time right after Korea was freed from the Japanese rule. Ryu played the lead role in the film as a man with poor background, who struggles to hold his life together, during the political turmoil in the country. The series was a critical and commercial success and won Ryu the Top Excellence Award at the KBS Drama Awards, along with nominations for many other honours.
In 2007, he became a part of drama mini series titled ‘Bad Couple’ and followed it up with the role of a lawyer in the 2008 series ‘Lawyers of Great Republic of Korea’.
In 2008, Ryu went away for his mandatory military training and became a part of Seoul Police Agency, and served in the position from 2008 until 2010. This also worked as a pleasant break from his hectic acting schedule.
Upon making a comeback from the service in 2011, he went on to earn huge accolades for his supporting role in the comedy drama series ‘My Princess’, which told the story of an ordinary college girl, who comes to know that she belongs from a royal Korean ancient family, and starts imagining herself as a princess in the real life.
In the same year, he played a major role in the comedy family drama series ‘Ojakgyo Family’, for which he shared the ‘Best Couple Award’ with ‘Choi Jung-yoon’ at the KBS Drama Awards and got nominated for a few others.
After starring in another critically acclaimed drama ‘The Sons’, Ryu went back on the award winning streak with 2013’s ‘Real Men’, for which he won the Best Star Award at the MBC Entertainment Awards, for a series which revolved around 8 celebrities serving in the army. The series took inspiration from the concept of mandatory military training crucial for all South Korean men.
In 2014, Ryu appeared in what is still known as the most powerful performance of his entire career. He starred in the period drama ‘Endless Love’, which featured a love triangle amidst the era of political and economical turmoil in Korea between 1970 and 1990.
His latest series’ include ‘The Eccentric Daughter in Law’ and ‘My Father is Strange’.