Actor Gong Yoo turned 41 just a few days back – yes, the iconic Goblin ahjussi is in fact, an actual ahjussi, but the man has aged like fine wine. We’d honestly believe it if you said that he was still in his early thirties. Here are 10 moments to take you back in time as we look back upon his roles in dramas and movies from his debut in 2001 up to now.
1. As a young teen in “School 4”
Gong Yoo’s first acting gig was 19 years ago, in the School franchise. He played Hwang Tae Young, high schooler, when he was actually 22 years old in real life. His ever youthful features surely helped him clinch the role!
2. As a hopeful college kid in “Whenever the Heart Beats”
A 2002 show about college students aiming for a job in the airport, the show was his second lead role following his successful stint in School 4.
His boyish charms did not go anywhere. In fact, we’re starting to wonder if he stopped ageing in 2002.
3. Back to high school in “My Tutor Friend”
Alongside Kwon Sang Woo, this was Gong Yoo’s first role on the big screen! He played a kingka of his high school, often getting into brawls with Kwon Sang Woo’s character. Sad to say, he lost both the fight, and the girl.
4. An undercover spy with a crush in “She’s On Duty”
We’re just pretty amused that most of his roles involve him playing a high school student. Here, he plays an undercover spy seeking to take down a gang. He begins to fall in love with his next-door neighbor, who also is a spy.
Hijinks ensue as his neighbor remains under the assumption that he is still a student, while she is a working adult, and tries to stop herself from falling in love with him.
5. “Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy”
The name might be funny to international drama fans but geonbbang (biscuits) and byeolsatang (star candies) were iconic childhood snacks for students in South Korea back then. The drama propelled both Gong Yoo and his co-star, Gong Hyo Jin, into mainstream popularity.
They do look pretty cute together even though he had to compete with Ji Hyun Woo for her affections. The drama is mainly about a clumsy new teacher, played by Gong Hyo Jin, that is wooed by one of her students, played by Gong Yoo.
6. Finally! His iconic role in “Coffee Prince”
Ah, we’re finally here! Released in 2007, we’ve hit the halfway mark with his career as this was the one that really pushed him into the megastar stratosphere. He became an instant hit both domestically and globally with his role as the prickly but actually sweet owner of a coffee shop that eventually falls in love with his cross-dressing employee played by Yoon Eun Hye.
He went on to win the Top Actor award for his role, at the MBC Drama Awards.
7. Tackling social issues with “Silenced”
His first serious role, the movie made headlines as it was based on a true story in South Korea, where a school for the disabled was caught to have been abusing its students, both physically and sexually. Gong Yoo played the role of a new teacher who uncovers the dirty secrets of the school and attempts to bring them to light.
This is his first role with Jung Yu Mi, with the two to be reunited five years later in 2016 with Train To Busan and again in 2019 with Kim Ji-young: Born 1982.
8. Zombies aplenty in “Train to Busan”
A tragic action story which juxtaposes human selfishness and love, Gong Yoo plays a father that is estranged from his young daughter as he is a workaholic. Later as the zombies attack, he works to bring him and his family to safety, as well as the other passengers. The movie did extremely well, both in Korean box offices and overseas.
9. Everyone’s ahjussi in “Goblin”
We still can’t get over this one. Gong Yoo proves that age may be just a number, with his handsome looks and quirky charms in Goblin. The drama took over the world as we watched enraptured by the magic being that falls in a forbidden love with his “wife”, Ji Eun Tak.
Hey, if Bella and Edward could do it, so can these two! What’s a 920-years age difference in the face of love?
10. A loving husband in “Kim Ji-young: Born 1982”
This one made us bawl like a baby in cinemas. A gripping tale that exposes the Korean society for its intrinsic sexism, Jung Yu Mi plays Gong Yoo’s wife that is suffering from mental health issues as she is increasingly depressed by the pressures of society to be a good wife, mother, daughter and daughter-in-law. Gong Yoo as her loving husband, tries to do all he can to help, but sometimes, you need to save yourself.
While we remain ever-charmed by Gong Yoo, he’s been slated to play the lead in Netflix‘s new original series, The Silent Sea, opposite esteemed actress Bae Doo Na. The drama is set to be 8 episodes long, about a scientist that sets off for the moon to retrieve some mysterious samples from an abandoned research station.