With a warm smile and gentle personality, it is no wonder that Kim Rae Won has mainly played the romantic hero for his roles on television.
Known for his passionate acting and for throwing himself fully into his roles, it may come as a surprise that Kim Rae Won’s childhood dream was actually to become a professional basketball player, not an actor. However, when that dream was crushed by an injured ankle tendon, he turned to acting and studied Theatre and Film at Chung Ang University.
He debuted in 1997 at the tender age of 16, but rose to fame in 2004 for his portrayal of a law student in Love Story in Harvard, for which he won both popularity and acting awards. The film My Little Bride in 2004 further elevated his popularity as the ‘King of Romance’, clinching him the Best New Actor Award at the 2004 Grand Bell Awards, and Most Popular Actor at the 2005 Baeksang Arts Awards.
He first broke out of his romantic hero image in the 2011 melodrama A Thousand Days’ Promise, and went on to explore darker roles in Punch, a legal thriller in 2014 where he played a dying prosecutor who is determined to expose his boss’s corruption within the legal system. This was followed by Gangnam Blues, a 2015 film in which he portrayed a fist-fighting gangster. In a prime example of Kim Rae Won’s total commitment to the roles he plays, he shed a whopping 15kg off his weight for Gangnam Blues – all in a single month.
His edgier roles notwithstanding, Kim Rae Won is extremely popular thanks to his wholesome image and boyish grin. In fact, his nickname is ‘Smile’ because of his pleasant smile. In his spare time, Kim Rae Won enjoys fishing and playing golf.