People #3: Jang Dong Gun (Article Courtesy of

Jang Dong Gun (b. March 7, 1972), who has starred in not one but two record-breaking box office hits, first entered the entertainment world in a talent contest in 1992.
He began by acting in TV dramas such as The Last Match, co-starring Shim Eun-ha, and he eventually made his film debut in Repechage (1997) together with Kim Hee-sun. By the late 1990s he had become quite popular in Korea, but he also became one of the very first Korean stars to garner a fan following in other parts of Asia.
Vietnamese audiences in particular fell quickly for Jang after several of his TV dramas were screened there in the late nineties. In 1999, after acting in the critically acclaimed Nowhere to Hide as Park Joong-hoon’s younger partner, Jang moved on to star in a feature that was filmed on location in Shanghai. Titled The Anarchists, this tale of five young terrorists from 1930s China helped to elevate his status even further.
Jang’s real breakout came in early 2001 in Friend, which smashed the box office record set by Shiri to become the biggest Korean film of all time. After playing the nice guy in almost all his previous roles, this portrayal of a tough-talking gangster from Pusan led him to local stardom.
The following year he also starred in the popular action blockbuster 2009 Lost Memories set in a futuristic Great Japan.
After appearing in the low-budget film The Coast Guard by controversial director Kim Ki-duk, Jang then took the lead role in Kang Je-gyu’s Taegukgi, an epic film about two brothers set during the Korean War. Sure enough, this film would beat Friend’s record with an astounding 11 million tickets sold. By this time, Jang’s name had become known widely throughout Asia.Jang followed this up with two more high-profile roles. The Promise is a $30 million pan-Asian production by Chinese director Chen Kaige in which Jang plays opposite Hong Kong star Cecilia Cheung. Meanwhile, Typhoon by director Kwak Kyung-taek (Friend) set a new record for the highest production budget in Korean film history at $15 million. Jang stars as a modern-day pirate who has been betrayed by both North and South Korea.

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Written by
Darcy Paquet

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