Childhood & Early Life
Sung Dong-il was born in Incheon, South Korea on 27th April 1967. According to him, he was born into a strict household that had many rules and restrictions. Sung’s parents were quite orthodox in their beliefs, but couldn’t stop their son from dreaming big. Sung always had an impeccable sense of humor, which he exhibited perfectly among his schoolmates and family members. But making a career out of it was a thought, far away from his head.
He was good in academics, and hence was looking forward towards a career in engineering. But the acting bug bit him while he was in his high school. However, he considered it as more of a hobby than a passion.
After finishing his schooling, he struggled to earn an admission into a technical college and finally got enrolled in the Yuhan University’s Mechanical Design programme. But somehow, he never gave up on acting and kept participating in the local theatres. He considered this as a leisure activity and the routine continued until 1987 when he ventured into the professional theatre. His reputation grew further, and when he gave a shot at the SBS Open Talent auditions in 1991, he was one of the very few who succeeded. And hence, a career in acting took off.
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The talent hunt SBS organized landed Sung a role in the network’s comedy series ‘Gwanchon Essay’. Once he was done with the series, everything was back to square one and after an ordinary beginning, he started getting more roles, most of them being insignificant ones. But since he was getting enough money to survive in a big city like Seoul, life was pretty okay, as far as Sung was concerned.
He accepted every offer that came his way and kept on making people laugh, thanks to his comic timing. In the late 90s, he appeared in series like ‘Korea Gate’, ‘The Bicycle-Riding Woman’ and ‘Snail’. In 1999, ‘Love In 3 Colors’ happened, in which Sung played a relatively significant role for the first time. The romantic drama series was low on comedy but high on romance, and that helped Sung to explore different genres. In due course, he gained the necessary experience which would come in handy when he first appears in a movie, which he had already signed.
In 2001, he made his film debut with ‘Running 7 Dogs’. Although the film wasn’t a big hit, it did open the path for Sung that led him to grab more such meaty roles.
Sung continued to appear on TV all this while with series like ‘Rustic Period’ and ‘South of the Sun’. His role as a manager in ‘Drama City’ was admired by a wider audience.
Sung’s perpetual hunger for stardom eventually came to an end with his 2006 film ‘200 Pounds Beauty’. It was a romantic comedy which revolved around the life of struggling musicians and Sung played an executive of a recording company. It was a major role and was well under his comfort zone as it involved comical elements. And Sung succeeded in making the audience laugh and was later touted as one of the main reasons for the film’s success.
He was now being cast among the main characters and next up was a period heist comedy film ‘Once Upon a Time’, which was set during the Second World War. Sung played a very interesting role in the film as that of a night club owner. The film turned out to be a success, resulting in more roles for Sung.
During this phase of his career, Sung was being hailed as one of the most bankable supporting actors, in both films and TV series. While he was being part of successful TV series such as ‘My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox’ and ‘New Heart’, he was focused on landing decent film roles. He also went on to appear in variety shows such as ‘Delicious Asia’ and ‘Dream of Goose’, among other successful variety shows of that time.
With the 2010 series ‘The Slave Hunters’, he had a massive change of image as he ventured into playing a negative role for the first time in his career. The successful historical drama earned him accolades and he proved to the world that he can fit into playing any kind of role. He also went home with the Best Supporting Actor Award at that year’s KBS Drama Awards.
For his 2009 film ‘Take Off’, an award-winning sports drama, Sung ended up winning the Best Supporting Actor Award at the Blue Dragon Film Awards, Max Movie Awards and Chunsa Film Art Awards.
Sung once again displayed an award-winning performance when he played Jang Hyun in a period drama series named ‘Jang Ok-jung, Living by Love’, for which he was awarded with the ‘Excellence Award’ at the SBS Drama Awards 2013. The same award was won by him for the second consecutive time in the year 2014 for the series ‘It’s Okay, That’s Love’.
Apart from his acting roles, which the country already adored him for, he also was seen in the reality show ‘Dad! Where Are We Going?’ He participated in the show along with his biological son. The show featured five celebrity dads and their children on camping trips. The relationship that Sung shared with his son became one of the talking points of the entire show.
2015 turned out to be a busy year for Sung as he appeared in six back-to-backfilms such as ‘Chronicle of a Blood Merchant’ and ‘The Accidental Detective’. He played his roles with panache, for which he was well known by then.
He continued his success streak on television as well, as he featured in various fictional series and variety shows. In 2016, he appeared in series such as ‘Dear My Friends’ and ‘The Legend of the Blue Sea’.
Currently he is looking forward to the release of his series ‘Wise Prison Life’ and is shooting for the big budget film ‘The Accidental Detective 2’.
Sung Dong-il dated Park Kyung-hye for quite a few years before marrying her in 2003 and the couple gave birth to three children, born in 2006, 2008 and 2011.
Sung is very close to his son, Joon, and said that when he got an offer to feature on a show with his son, he was initially confused. But later he was happy to have said yes as he believes that the show made him more aware as a parent. He also said that it introduced him to some of his own drawbacks as a person.