Who is Shin Se-kyung?
Shin Se-kyung is a South Korean actress, model, and singer who has made a successful transition from being a child star to an adult celebrity. She debuted in the South Korean entertainment scene at only eight years of age when she was featured on the album cover and poster of K-pop artist Seo Taiji’s ‘Take Five’. She followed this with an appearance in the children’s TV show ‘Kiss Kiss Kiss’ and played the character of Choi Seo-hee in the SBS historical drama ‘The Land’. She landed her first cinematic role in 2004 in the romantic comedy ‘My Little Bride’. After the initial struggle that lasted a few years, she finally had her breakthrough in 2009 in the situation comedy ‘High Kick Through the Roof’. She then worked with director Lee Hyun-seung in his crime drama ‘Hindsight’, his first film after a decade-long hiatus. Shin has also been part of projects such as ‘Deep Rooted Tree’, ‘R2B: Return to Base’, ‘When a Man Falls in Love’, ‘Tazza: The Hidden Card’, The Girl Who Sees Smells’, ‘Six Flying Dragons’ and ‘The Bride of Habaek’. She is a popular singer in addition to being an actress. Having released her first single ‘The Snow Melts’ in 2010, she has since collaborated with the likes of MY Q, Sweden Laundry, and Epitone Project.
Childhood & Early Life
Shin was born on July 29, 1990, in Yangcheon, a district of Seoul, South Korea. She studied at the Shinmok High School before enrolling at the Chung-Ang University from where she majored in Performing Arts.
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Shin Se-kyung was an elementary school student when she appeared on the poster and cover of the legendary singer Seo Taiji’s fifth album ‘Take Five’, released in 1999. Using that as a launch pad, she got her first small screen role in SBS’s ‘The Land’ (2004). In the same year, she made her debut in films with ‘My Little Bride’, playing the role of Hye-won, a friend of the protagonist Bo-eun (Moon Geun-young).
Next, she landed her first starring role in the horror film ‘Cinderella’ (2006). Cast opposite veteran actress Do Ji-won, Shin gave a powerful and haunting performance in a film which was, for all intents and purposes, a severe criticism of the Asian perception of beauty and the use of plastic surgery to achieve it.
In 2009 and 2010, she did two back-to-back omnibus films, ‘Five Senses of Eros’ and ‘Acoustic’. In the former, she starred alongside Kim Dong-wook, Lee Si-young, and Jung Eui-chul in the segment ‘Believe in the Moment’; in the latter, in the ‘Broccoli’ segment, she was cast as a singer-songwriter who has a rare and quirky disease which forces her to live on instant cup ramen noodles.
Shin Se-kyung was the teenage Princess Cheonmyeong in the MBC historical drama ‘Queen Seondeok’ (2009). In SBS’ ‘Tree with Deep Roots’ (2011), another historical drama, Shin embodied the character So-yi, a fictional woman who plays an instrumental role in the creation of Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Based on the novel of the same name by author Lee Jung-myung, the series was both a critical and commercial hit.
Her next project was the 2012 aviation action drama ‘R2B: Return to Base’. Directed by Kim Dong-won, it was her first film with Korean cultural icon Rain.
Her soaring television career plummeted a little bit with the failure of the 2012 romantic drama ‘Fashion King’. She was also criticised for a playing a passive character in MBC’s crime romance ‘When a Man Falls in Love’ (2013).
Her most recent portrayal of a female lead in a feature film was in the 2014 gambling drama ‘Tazza: The Hidden Card’. Directed by Kang Hyeong-cheol, the film earned more than $30 million at the domestic box office.
She regained equilibrium with the romantic fantasy ‘Blade Man’ (2014). The 18-episode series dealt with a man (Lee Dong-wook) who suddenly develops a supernatural ability and a woman (Shin) in whom he finds love and understanding.
Continuing with the fantasy genre, she played the titular character in the 2015 TV series ‘The Girl Who Sees Smells’. In the recent years, she has worked in the award-winning historical drama ‘Six Flying Dragons’ (2015-16) and tvN’s ‘The Bride of Habaek’ (2017).
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Shin Se-kyung used to take singing lessons in her middle school. It bore fruit in 2010 when she sang ‘The Snow Melts’ for the charity album ‘Love Tree Project Vol. 1.’ She sang ‘Blue in a Summer Day’ for the soundtrack of the film ‘Hindsight’. In 2012, she released ‘You Were Sweet’, a digital single, as a promotional effort for a coffee franchise she endorses. Later that year, she recorded a duet with Epitone Project, titled ‘Sweet Christmas’.
The popular sitcom ‘High Kick Through the Roof’ can be considered as the turning point in Shin Se-kyung’s career. Produced by Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), the series was a sequel to the 2006 series ‘High Kick’, which itself was an international success. It revolved around two sisters (portrayed by Shin and Seo Shin-ae) moving to Seoul from their remote countryside home to work as maids for the affluent Lee family. The show also starred Lee Soon-jae, Kim Ja-ok, Lee Hyun-kyung, and Choi Daniel.
In the 2011 crime noir ‘Hindsight’, she shared the screen space with one of the biggest stars of Korean cinema today, Song Kang-ho. Depicting issues such as age difference in romantic relations and the Korean underworld, the film told the story about an assassin (Shin) who is hired to kill a mob boss (Song), but falls in love with him instead. It was featured in the Korean Cinema Today – Panorama category at the 16th Busan International Film Festival. She earned her first Grand Bell nomination for the role.
Awards & Achievements
Shin Se-kyung won her first acting accolade in 2009, when she received two MBC Entertainment Awards (best new actress and best couple award in a comedy/sitcom with co-star Yoon Shi-yoon) for playing a character with the same name as her in real life in MBC’s ‘High Kick Through the Roof’.
In the following year, she was conferred with a Mnet 20’s Choice Award. In 2011, she won a Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival Fantasia Award for the same role.
In 2014, she won a Blue Dragon Film Award for ‘Tazza: The Hidden Card’, her first award for a film appearance.
For ‘Six Flying Dragons,’ she was awarded two Seoul Broadcasting System Awards (excellence award, actress in a series drama and best couple award with Yoo Ah-in) in 2015.
Personal Life & Legacy
Though Shin Se-kyung has been linked with several of her co-stars throughout the years, the only relationship she has ever acknowledged was with Jonghyun, a member of the Korean boy band SHINee. A local news outlet reported on October 20, 2010, to have spotted them out on a date. Their respective agencies later issued statements to the press confirming the relationship. They dated for about nine months before parting ways in June 2011 due to their busy schedules.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named her the goodwill ambassador for their Korea Commission on January 15, 2014 to commemorate its 60th anniversary. The honour serves as recognition for her contributions in promoting Korean culture and education and her advocacy for the Korean language, especially by acting in ‘Tree with Deep Roots.’ In this capacity, she endorses the vision and the mission of the UNESCO Bridge program, both in Korea and outside.
Shin is represented by Namoo Actors Co. Ltd., a talent management agency based in Seoul.