The Curious Case Of Won Bin — Korea’s Most Famous Actor Despite Not Acting The Past 12 Years

How is he still so popular after 12 years of not acting?

Won Bin is one of Korea’s most recognized actors, yet his popularity is honestly perplexing for many new to the Korean entertainment scene. How did he get so popular? Why hasn’t he been acting? These are just some of the questions fans have had since getting to know about him.

Won Bin debuted in 1997 with a small role in the movie Propose. He continued to take smaller roles until 2000, when he made his breakthrough to the Korean public in Kkokji and Autumn in my Heart. Autumn in my Heart in particular shot him to stardom, not only in Korea, but throughout Asia. Won Bin would ride this popularity with roles in the drama Friends, plus lead roles in highly popular films Taegukgi and My Brother.

Then came a 5 year hiatus, where during that time, he served his mandatory military service. Following his military service and a few more years of not acting, he joined the cast of Bong Joon Ho‘s movie Mother, and followed that up with his most notable work that Korean entertainment fans will recognize: The Man from Nowhere.

The Man from Nowhere was released in 2010. That was 12 years ago. Since then, Won Bin has had ZERO acting projects, and yet remains one of Korea’s most beloved actors. So why hasn’t he acted since then? The answer is a combination of his extreme pickiness in selecting works, and some bad luck.

Won Bin got married to Lee Na Young in 2015, and following his marriage and birth of his first child, he was looking to get back into the acting industry. In 2016, he was offered the lead role in the Korean remake version of Umberto Pasolini‘s film Still Life. However, due to differences between the director and Won Bin, he ultimately refused the role.

That same year, The Man from Nowhere was in discussions for a Hollywood remake, and Won Bin was a part of those discussions. He tried to make his comeback through the remake, but poor coordination between the production team and Won Bin’s side caused the appearance to fall through. Director Lee Chang Dong, who produced Burning, was also in discussions to join the production team.

More recently, Won Bin was in discussions to make his return through a drama instead. He was considering a role in ₩40 billion KRW blockbuster drama The Immortal. Directed by Mr. Sunshine PD Jang Young Woo, the 16 episode drama features a woman who remembers her past life after continuously dying and being reincarnated for 600 years, and a man who is immortal for 600 years. He ended up rejecting this drama as he felt like he was too burdened with returning to the industry through a drama, even though the script and screenplay was excellent.

Through this whole time, Won Bin has only been participating in CF’s, and was most recently spotted filming for another one in May of this year. Part of what makes Won Bin attractive to Koreans are his extremely handsome visuals, but only time will tell when Won Bin makes his long-awaited return to the screen, whether it be the small screen or movie, to show them again.