Won Bin (Hangul: 원빈; born Kim Do-jin; Hangul: 김도진 on November 10, 1977) is a South Korean actor and model.
Won was born and raised in a hamlet in the north of Jeongseon in Gangwon-do, South Korea. He is the fifth and youngest child, with one brother and three sisters. His father was formerly employed in a mine and his mother worked on a farm; both of his parents are now retired. As was common for other children living in mountaineous regions, Won spent most of his time playing around with friends in the mountains and rivers, and later explained: "I came back home most nights at sunset with a black and dusty face." He was frequently shy, introspective, and quiet, character traits that would continue to follow him throughout adulthood. While not talkative or outgoing, he excelled at athletics. Won started taekwondo lessons and now holds a black belt. As a young boy, he initially planned to become a car mechanic due to his interest in car racing and motorcycling. Won graduated from a mechanical high school, where he studied car repair and mechanics.
In November 1995, a cable television station was looking to recruit and hire new actors; Won applied and was accepted in his last semester of high school. He started to take acting classes at the station's headquarters and appeared in several dramas. The following month, Won signed an acting contract with a talent agency.
Won made his screen debut with a supporting role in the 1997 drama Propose. His role in Ready Go! (1998) helped hone his acting chops. After Ready Go!, he took a break and entered a college called Paekche Institute of the Arts in 1998 to take acting classes. In 1999, Won came back to the screen with a lead role in drama Kwangki from which he was recognized as a promising young actor and a teen heartthrob.
He made his big breakthrough in 2000 with drama Kkokji and Autumn Fairy Tale. His role as a rebellious youngest son in Kkokji proved his acting potential and his role in the widely successful drama Autumn Fairy Tale landed him on the A-list for Korean performers. Autumn Fairy Tale gained wide popularity in Asia and he became one of the most popular Korean actors in Korea and Asia as well. In 2002, Won became the first Korean actor to get wide popularity in Japan through the first Japan and Korea joint production drama Friends.
Won also had roles in several popular movies, including Guns & Talks and My Brother, but it is his portrayal of the sensitive younger brother in the blockbuster war movie Taegukgi (aka Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War) (2004) that has truly cemented his fame in the international realm. With the success of the critically acclaimed Taegukgi, recognition of his acting skills has reached an ever-wider international audience. Taegukgi is the best selling movie in South Korea in 2004 with 11.75 million admissions.
His career was interrupted by his mandatory service to the South Korean Army. After graduating from the Graduate School of Arts in Yong-In University in 2005, Won started his military duty in November 2005 and stationed at the Korean Demilitarized Zone, a position for which he volunteered. On June 2, 2006, the military officially confirmed Won Bin's discharge. The decision was made by the military when Won Bin sustained injury to his ACL. He had undergone surgery and was officially discharged on June 7, 2006. After the surgery, he had gone through rehabilitation program for more than one year to recover from the injury.
Won was appointed as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador of the Korean Committee on September 6, 2007. He has participated in various programs and charity events in Korea for UNICEF from that time on, and has appeared in several promotional videos.
In April 2008, Won finally confirmed that his comeback project would be Mother directed by Bong Joon-ho. Filming started in September 2008 and finished in February 2009. The film was selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. He walked the red carpet at the film's world premiere on May 16, 2009 in the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Won's new movie The Man from Nowhere was released in August 2010.
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