The cinematic world mourns the loss of Namkoong Won, the iconic actor whose career spanned over four decades, marking him as a significant figure in the golden era of Korean cinema. Namkoong Won passed away at the age of 90 at Asan Medical Center in Seoul due to old age after a long battle with lung cancer, his family announced on Monday.
Won’s journey in the film industry commenced with his debut in When the Night Comes Again in 1959. He quickly rose to fame, becoming a household name with his roles in The Red Scarf (1964) and Woman of Fire (1971), among others. His filmography is vast, including 345 films, with L’amour (1999) marking his final appearance on the silver screen.
Often referred to as the “Gregory Peck of Korea” for his western looks and charismatic on-screen presence, Namkoong was a contemporary of other legendary actors such as Shin Seong Il, Shin Young Kyun, and Choi Moo Ryong.
His talent and contribution to Korean cinema were not just admired by audiences but also recognized by his peers and the industry, earning him prestigious awards, including the Best Supporting Actor at the Buil Film Awards, the Popular Star Award at the Blue Dragon Awards, and Best Actor at the Daejong Film Awards.
Beyond his cinematic achievements, Namkoong Won was honored with the Eungwan Order of Cultural Merit in 2016. This award, the second-highest class of South Korean cultural decoration, was a testament to his substantial contribution to the development of the nation’s culture, encapsulating his legacy beyond just his acting career.
Namkoong’s legacy is survived by his family, including his wife, a son, and two daughters. Notably, he is the father of Hong Jung Wook, an ex-lawmaker and the founder and chairman of the plant-based food producer Organica, marking a lineage that continues to influence and shape Korean society.