Korea’s Bad-boy sweetheart takes off his mask

Woo-Bin Kim’s uniqueness extends beyond his edgy roles and looks, as he reveals a character truly unexpected.



Woo-Bin Kim, Korea’s bad-boy sweetheart, takes off his mask with Taste of Life, revealing a tender, traditional side too few know. The lead actor of the box office smash hit The Con Artists — which broke Korean box office records — says that growing up, he was introverted and plain-looking. But as fate would have it, he rocketed up to 6’2” in high school and matured into an untraditional good look, a uniqueness the modeling industry grabbed onto. 

In 2009, at Seoul Fashion Week, he lit up the catwalk with an easy-going, natural charisma, drawing support not only from attendees. “At that time, my parents believed and supported me, saying, ‘You can do it better than anyone else.’ Thus, I started on this road with confidence,” Kim told Taste of Life in an interview. “My father is my life model. He always considers and takes care of people around him.” 


Though his parent’s confidence lived inside of him, Kim’s successes weren’t given to him on a silver platter. He began hitting the gym to put on weight for modeling, gaining 12 kilograms, eating a plate of eggs every day for months. To balance his strength with fluidity, he took up ballet and jazz dance. 
Soon auditions for commercials began to pop up, so he began studying acting. Instantly, he fell in love with the craft, saying he got the same rush in acting as he did on the runway. His aggressive work ethic only grew with his newfound passion. 

“I don’t want to disappoint people’s expectations. So I try my best to prepare well. Every time we read the script and prepare, I will write a biography for the character, and a ‘hundred questions, hundred answers’ for the character. Through doing these, I can get closer to my role. I seem to become that person in my daily life.”

Kim’s commitment to method acting led to an instrumental decision he made — one that enchanted girls across Asia. In the script of his first TV drama, White Christmas, his character, a genius prankster who gives payback to bullies, had bright red hair. While the director didn’t require him to dye his hair, he wanted no distance between him as an actor and his character. And it was his red hair, with, of course, some unruly charisma, that ignited his popularity. 

“Right now there are many truly beautiful charming male actors, and all of a sudden a weird-looking person comes out and seems to have very cool acting. I’m guessing that’ll attract more people’s attention,” said Kim.

Kim’s striking appearance goes beyond the colour of his hair, as he admits he’s been described as having a “next generation look.” Kim and his parents agree: had he been born a decade before, they don’t think he would have made it. Today, unique faces are well-received for their individuality. 

 The Con Artists
The Con Artists

Kim’s humility and charm is never far removed. When asked in a previous interview what kind of animal he would be, he jokingly replied, a dinosaur, since he has the eyes of a T. rex. It’s that easy-going mindset, a sincere humility of not taking himself too seriously, why he’s able to embody rich, multi-faceted characters in each new role.

“I’m constantly studying, and try to act a new side of me as much as possible,” Kim says. When the norm for Korean heartthrobs is more of a dreamy, soap-opera personality, Kim takes creative risks… and they don’t go unnoticed. 

In the TV series A Gentleman’s Dignity and School 2013, where he played more variations of a charming rebel (think a young Leonardo Di Caprio or Marlon Brando), his characters started off as supporting roles. But with his brave acting style — toughness mixed with open-hearted, teary-eyed scenes with his onscreen girlfriends — the writers wrote him more deeply into the core fabric of the story. 

Kim’s hit TV series The Heirs followed, landing him more attention and film offers, including his biggest production yet, The Con Artists, which came with a new level of pressure. He said, “It’s impossible that there is no pressure. However, the director and senior actors helped me go through the difficulties and to perform more comfortably. I kept learning on-set.” 

A philosophy that pulls Kim through during trying times is one he wrote on his first audition resume: “God will bestow hardships to those who can bear it.” And with his forbearance came record-smashing success: The Con Artists broke the $100 million mark as 2.3 million people in South Korea saw it within the first ten days.

When asked about his future plans and endeavors, it’s clear that underneath the black leather jacket is a caring, modern-day gentleman who follows the course of nature. 

“I hope that I am a trustworthy actor for the audience,” Kim said. “I think if the character is too far from reality, I will have a distance between the audience. On the career side, it’s not good to be too ambitious; things might go wrong. In the current environment, I just deal with what’s in front of me well.” 

Interviewed by Hyesoo at HallyuWorldOfficial.com
Photos Courtesy of sidusHQ