Yeo Jin-goo is a South Korean actor known for his roles as a child actor in films like ‘Sad Movie’ and ‘A Frozen Flower’ in the early stages of his career. His adorable presence on screen earned him a nickname ‘Nation’s Little Brother’. During his early teenage years, he was the most famous child actor, known for portraying the younger versions of the lead characters on-screen. Born in Seoul, Yeo always wanted to be an actor and started auditioning at a very young age, and eventually succeeded in getting a role in ‘Sad Movie’ at the age of 8. He was selected among 150 kids who came for the audition for the same role, and Yeo charmed the producers with his talent. After his first film, Yeo showed his acting prowess in ‘Antique’ and ‘A Frozen Flower’.He has also appeared in many successful TV series’ such as ‘Tazza’, ‘Gourmet’ and ‘Swallow the Sun’. He transitioned to the leading roles with ‘Hwayi: A Monster Boy’, a film for which he received several awards.
Childhood & Early Life
Yeo Jin-goo was born in Seoul on August 13, 1997 into an upper middle class family. He grew up with his younger brother. Both brothers were addicted to television shows and films, a taste they had inherited from their father, who too happened to be a big cinema fan.
Around the age of 5, Yeo started pushing his parents about his dreams of appearing in Television shows and movies. This came as a shock to his parents as they wondered how could such a young kid be this serious about his career. Proving that age is just a number, Yeo started auditioning for several roles in Television shows, and the support of his parents was always with him, and his mother would usually take him to the auditions.
Yeo took some informal acting lessons after going through a few failed auditions, but eventually he was selected for the ‘Sad Movie’, where he played the role of Park Hwi-chan. Yeo was 8 years old at that time and was selected from among around 150 child actors.
Yeo went to all boys’ school, which sometime became awkward for him as he became a relatively shy person around girls later. And after he became an actor, he managed his time between his studies and acting projects, eventually graduating from Namgang high school in 2016. Around that time, his film and TV career had picked up the pace rather well but on the insistence of his parents, Yeo went ahead with pursuing his higher education in the Department of Theatre from the prestigious Chung-Ang University in Seoul.
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In 2005, Yeo Jin-goo appeared in the film ‘Sad Story’ as an 8 year old, which paved the way for his future film and TV assignments and he didn’t even have to wait much as a good opportunity came his way in the drama series ‘I Want to Love’ in 2006, where he happened to play the role of sick child of a single mother. Although his role was minor and the series itself wasn’t a big deal, Yeo successfully managed to grab the attention of several talent agencies.
In 2006, he played the younger version of the killer in the dark thriller film ‘No Mercy for the Rude’. In 2007, he appeared in two films ‘Santamaria’ and ‘Dance of the Dragon’, and both films brought him further attention.
The year 2008 proved to be a relatively good one for Yeo as he got his hands on his first acting award for his performance in the series’ ‘Iljimae’ and Tazza’. In both the series’, he played the role of the younger version of the lead characters. He received the SBS Best Child Actor Award in the same year.
He also appeared in two big films in 2008 titled ‘A frozen Flower’ and ‘Antique’, and both films went on to become commercial successes. There was a dearth of good roles in 2009 and the only notable that came his way was ‘Swallow the Sun’, a TV series. For his role in the 2010 series ‘Giant’, he immersed himself deeply into the character, and promised to approach all his future acting roles with the same intensity.
By 2011, Yeo had grown up and started playing mostly teenager characters. He appeared in the drama ‘Deep Rooted Tree’, which he did on insistence of actor Jang Hyuk, who had also played the older version of Yeo’s character in the series ‘Tazzo’.
In 2012, Yeo played the role of a young prince in the historical drama ‘Moon Embracing the Sun’, which turned out to be the defining role of his acting career. He also appeared in the same year in the drama ‘Missing you’. Both the shows were super hits and Yeo was honoured the MBC Best Young Actor award for his portrayal in both the shows.
The 2013 film ‘Hwayi: The Monster Boy’ was the first time Yeo played a lead role in a film which was a thriller revolving around a young boy raised by five criminals to turn him into an assassin. The film opened to critical and commercial success, and Yeo won several awards for his portrayal as a confused young man. He received the Blue Dragon Film Award for Best Actor and became the youngest actor in the history of Blue Dragon Awards to receive such honour.
In 2015, he appeared in the film ‘Shoot me in the Heart’, which was based on a Korean novel of the same name and in the same year, he appeared on television as the leading man for the first time in ‘Orange Marmalade’, which was based on a webtoon. Both the projects did well.
In 2016, Yeo’s portrayal of King Yeongjo in the SBS drama series ‘Jackpot’ earned him another acting award at the SBS Drama Awards.
The year 2017 turned out to be quite a happening one for Yeo as he appeared first in the science fiction drama series ‘Circle’ and a historical film titled ‘Warriors of the Dawn’. Both were mega budget ventures and Yeo had meaty roles in them, and his performance was termed as ‘quite solid’ by the critics.
In July 2017, he was seen in ‘Reunited Worlds’, an SBS Romance Drama and he also provided his voice for SBS documentary ‘Animal Farm’. Over the years, he has done quite a few variety shows as well such as ‘The Running Man’ and ‘Happy Together’.
Yeo Jin-goo likes to remain secretive about his personal life and says that he hasn’t experienced love ever in his life. Going to all boys schools has made him shy around girls, and he says that he insists his friends to set blind dates for him, but he hasn’t succeeded in finding the ideal partner.
Yeo has stated openly that for some reason, he connects well with negative characters and that he would like to play an all-out negative role in one of his films.